How to Learn Revit in 1000 Difficult Lessons

In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists
. – Eric Hoffer

No matter where you fall on the BIM continuum, there is always more to learn, further you can take the tool and process.

You may know the program but can you, for example, get it to address the entire building lifecycle?

And there have never been so many ways to learn.

Books and , tutorials, webcasts, gurus, on-demand video, pilot projects, in-house and out-of-housetraining at local tech school or software reseller, regional training centers, bootcamp, side-by-side training and DIY.

Our friends Eddy Krygiel, Phil Read and James Vandezande are working on a Revit series for new users.

(I am so excited I get to write another spoof!)

Learn tips and tricks in forums such as AUGI forums.

You can order dvds and videos and learn at your own pace in pajamas.

Paul Aubin even has a Revit Architecture 2011 quick reference guide that doubles as a reusable dinner placemat for $4.95

It depends on what you are looking to learn.

And where you are on the BIM journey.

And whether you’re the office or in the field.

You alone know how you learn best and how you retain what you learn.

And that is key to learning.

So chose the method that is a good fit for you and your needs wherever you are on the learning curve.

There is no one size that fits all when it comes to training, retraining and retaining.

Take Revit (please)

You can actually learn it quite easily – several places offer ½ day, 1 day and 3 day training sessions.

Some offer cut prices for those out of work, both onsite and remote learning in the privacy of your home.

So why is learning so difficult?

The way we make learning anything difficult is by any one of  four reasons:

  • stopping and starting.
  • forgetting what you learned by not using it.
  • using a method that isn’t a good fit for your budget, lifestyle, mindset.
  • doing it for the wrong reasons,

such as being forced by your employer before you’re ready, through peer pressure, fear of not keeping up or being left behind.

There are those who will read the title of this post and either 1. feel justified in their having worked in ArchiCAD, a perhaps more intuitive BIM program or 2. empathize because they too struggled with learning the program and then struggled to keep up with the inevitable changes with each new release.Take a deep breath

Before you pounce – this site is vendor agnostic.

Revit was merely used in the title to provoke and incite a riot – two requirements of any effective blog post headline.

So take a deep breath.

It is not that the lessons themselves are difficult.

Or even that the program application is difficult – though once you do learn to work in BIM you may find some advanced uses difficult to grasp.

The fact is, we each make learning difficult by not honoring the way we best learn.

And by ignoring other basic signs and practices.

Professional practice is hard enough – don’t also make the learning hard.

You owe it to yourself to make learning interesting.

Some training sessions meet from 8am to 5pm in a plain vanilla box of a room.

Not for you.

Can you sit still for that long, let alone learn a new application?

Ask yourself some basic questions

Ask yourself: What’s the best environment for you to learn in?

Doesn’t exist? (Then make it your pilot program and design it in Revit!)

Ask yourself: How important is it that your instructor be fun or at least interesting? Making the information and learning process interesting?

Make sure you are challenged – it is important that the instruction isn’t too easy (you’ll be bored) or too hard (you’ll feel defeated and give up.)

Look for a challenge worthy of your effort – one that will maintain your interest and engage you.

Get your hands dirty.

Work in the program as you go.

And be prepared. Have everything you need at hand before class begins.

Your instructor ought to be prepared as well – for students who are quicker or slower at picking-up the software – and be prepared to make adjustments accordingly.

Ask yourself: How do you know you’ve learned the program?

Having endured the tutorial many only mean you can produce what you were told to do in the tutorial.

Real projects have many more nuances.

The best way to know whether you’ve learned something?

Its very old school.

Take a test.“To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test” found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods.

“One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts.”

But don’t take my word. Read the blog post and its over 320 comments.

Ask yourself: How do you know you’ve learned the program?

Teach it.

Those who are fortunate enough to attend training are sometimes asked to go back and teach those back in the office who did not, could not or would not attend training.

No better way to learn than teaching. If given this opportunity, jump at the chance.

Teaching BIM to others is a great opportunity to discover just how well you learned – and retained.

Turn off distractions including smart phones (you can leave this blog on.)

Kids might be able to study algebra while posting on Facebook.

You? Not so much.

In The Power of Mindful Learning, Professor Ellen Langer suggests that all of the all-nighters we pulled in college were for naught.


According to Langer, real learning takes place in a “mindful” environment, one that provides a context for the subject we are studying and allows us to bring something of ourselves into the process.

Make your training an extension of you.

Know what motivates and what de-motivates you.

Know why you are learning and have some sense about how far you want to take it.

Know who you are doing it for. As with anything you’re going to indulge time and effort in, you’ve got to own it.

Not only the tool but the process.




Filed under BIM, BIM expert, BIM instructor, BIM trainer, education, modeling, process

14 responses to “How to Learn Revit in 1000 Difficult Lessons

  1. Subair Shamsudheen

    Nice post and great insights to learning. “How important is it that your instructor be fun or at least interesting? Making the information and learning process interesting?” – This is of immense value and a great challenge for the trainer/instructor. These days learners have shorter spans of concentration as they are trained to skip from channel to channel on TV. Converting ideas into stories pertaining to real – world scenario is a better way to present topics, as we all are trained to listen to stories right from childhood. Ideas embedded into stories stick fast. Adults learn best by working on projects. So hands-on training is of primary importance than listening to boring theory – Regards, Subair Shamsudheen.

    • Thanks Subair! You’re absolutely right about short attention spans – and the need for instructors to teach with so many screens and memes competing for our student’s attention. Your suggestions are all spot-on.

  2. Mike Jones

    I was thrown in the deep end of the pool, and had to learn Revit Structure 2011 on my own while working on an actual project (I’m a structural engineer). A

    Needless to say, I spun my wheels a lot, but the project did get finished, albeit with a lot more time spent then if it had been done in the old fashioned AutoCAD manner.

    Another engineer in our office has begun his first Revit project, and I’ve been able to help him out through the pot holes and stumbling blocks. He was also thrown in the deep end and expected to produce. Is that the best way to learn. Just by doing?

  3. randydeutsch

    There’s a lively discussion in response to the questions raised in this blog post currently going on at the LinkedIn Club Revit group site.

    If you happen to be a member, stop by.

  4. marylynn g. stults

    I work for a major publisher and we are currently seeking paid, freelance college professors/instructors to write courseware for us in the field of drafting and design technology (for example, BIM). If you are qualified, interested, and/or are acquainted with someone who is, please email me at Many thanks!

  5. Pingback: BIM and Integrated Design Top 10 Posts for 2011 | BIM + Integrated Design

  6. Suzy R

    HI! I am a beginner. Starting building design school this coming semester. I want to start teaching myself how to use design software (as I’m slow at tech stuff and need to practice a lot to get anywhere).
    My question is- do I need both autocad and Revit? can I just skip straight to Revit if I’ve never done any computer design ever?
    I tried finding info online but there doesn’t seem to be anything re the relationship between the two.
    Any info would be a big help.

  7. randydeutsch

    Great question, Suzy. AutoCAD and Revit – while both produced by Autodesk – use completely different skillsets and mindsets. Revit is certainly easier to learn if you have never used AutoCAD, for example: you won’t find yourself falling into old 2D CAD habits as you learn the BIM tool. That said, from an employment standpoint, many firms still have not made the leap to Revit, an even those that have, continue to work on projects using the legacy software. BIM is definitely the future of the profession and industry, so any time you can devote to it – inside or outside the classroom – will be beneficial. Having some basic AutoCAD skills – in the near term – will help you to be a more well-rounded, resourceful professional: and also help you to appreciate just how powerful a tool Revit is. Hope that helps! Note: If anyone else reading this disagrees or has something to add, please feel free to chime in here.

  8. Suzy

    Thanks very much for your well thought out response! I started playing with Revit today and can see how powerful it is. Do you have any tips as to where I can learn it more in depth? My preferred learning method is on-line
    (as opposed to books or classroom), it can be pre-recorded or live. I don’t have much time to spare and would like to become proficient in a short period of time (3-4 weeks at most).
    As for Autocad, I hear what you say- will make sure to get a good basis when it’s being taught in school.
    Thanks so much!!!

  9. CG artist aspiring to be architect

    I’m a 3dsmax animator who basically works with modelling, lighting and rendering etc. I have produced a few archviz animations but I just use 3ds max. Do I need to learn BIM? I definitely love architecture but I do not have a professional or academic degree such as B.Arch. Can revit help me visualize complex structures like metal support grids, webs etc…basically structures like the the swiss re-insurance building (The Gherkin in London) and other complex architectures. I know a lot is parametric and also that revit is used where building documentation is needed along with models but I don’t know how it compares to 3ds max for an archviz person like me. Long question cut short – Do I need to be an architect and a BIM specialist to learn revit? What are the requisites to learn revit and how can it help me?

    • randydeutsch

      The only prerequisites to learn Revit is a willingness to learn the software…and, beyond the basics, a thorough understanding of how buildings are put together. For that reason, and the fact that a program like Revit allows you to build virtual models that contain information that can be used during construction and after the building is completed, I would recommend any other 3D program if your primary use will be visualization. Hope that helps!

  10. Anton

    I’d really like to have your advice. I am REALLY interested in learning REVIT and become a professional certified Revit expert. Do you think this could be possible without having the appropriate university degree? In short, do you think I would be considered by any Revit schools or architectural firms? Hope to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s