As you may have read on the Community Business College Twitter feed, we had another examinee pass the Microsoft Office Specialist Excel Expert exam yesterday. The goal of the certification is to provide people a chance to show others (e.g. current bosses, prospective employers, patronizing computer-savvy high school children) that they know their stuff. It’s been a way for employees to differentiate themselves in competitive job markets and broaden employment opportunities by displaying advanced skills.
Why Excel Certification?
The Microsoft Excel certification is part of the set of Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications that is offered by Microsoft. Community Business College instructors have certifications but they’re not just designed for the academic community.
Microsoft Office Specialist certification can also lead to increased job satisfaction. Research (conducted by Microsoft, of course) indicates that certified individuals have increased competence, productivity, and credibility.
For employers who are looking for specialized computer skills, Microsoft Office Specialist certification provides skill-verification tools that help assess a person's skills in using the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program. It’s also nice to have an official-looking certificate with the Microsoft logo to hang on your wall. The boss might tell you that you don’t know what you’re doing, but you can point to it and say that Bill Gates’ Microsoft says you know what you’re doing.
Excel has come a long way…
The days of VisiCalc are gone, of course. For the uninitiated in personal computing lore, VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program for home computers. It was also the first “Killer App” - a good reason to pay a thousand bucks (or more) for a box that nobody else in the house seemed to think had much potential. There was really no practical need for a home computer – word processors could do your word processing and typewriters were getting pretty sophisticated. Games could be done cheaper on game consoles and sometime the graphics were a LOT better. The Internet was still just a twinkling in DARPA’s electronic eye.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t word processing but spreadsheet software that made the whole home computer revolution possible. There was nothing else that could do spreadsheets like a personal computer. And so the worksheet became the face that launched a thousand-thousand PCs.
Since those days filled with simplistic dreams of what spreadsheets were for, though, they have come a long way. From PacMan games programmed in Excel to “extreme couponer” organizers to “million-dollar idea” business plan templates, Excel has shown its versatility. The program has become so specialized that it’s official certification exams have been broken into two tiers.
“Core” Excel Versus “Expert” Excel
The Microsoft Office Specialist exams come in two versions – Core and Expert. Core covers the basics of spreadsheet layouts and is designed for regular users to get certification. The expert exam gets more advanced, obviously.
For most people who come to Community Business College, the core exam is what they’re looking for. Learning Microsoft Excel is not difficult but as someone once said, “it takes a few minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.” When first learning Excel, it’s also a good time to put your hours of game time to good use, especially if you’ve played Battleship. Battleship, by the way, is an excellent way to understand the coordinate reference system Excel uses. At Community Business College, we’ve seen Excel students who have played Battleship and those who haven’t (yes, it’s true, some people have never played Battleship). Those with the “Battleship background” pick up on how Excel functions a lot faster than those who don’t.
The core exam is the exam that covers the fundamental and most common uses of Excel, such as:
· Formatting Cells and Worksheets
· Creating Cell Data
· Cell Functions
· Changing Worksheets in a Workbook
(By the way, Community Business College offers some free materials if you’re interested in taking the exam, just ask us for a copy of the Microsoft Excel study guide).
If, however, people want to prove they are true Excel aficionados, test takers will tackle the expert level. Expert exam certifications demonstrate proficiency in the more advanced Excel features and uses.
The other advantage of buying a Microsoft Excel expert voucher (they cost the same as the core voucher), is once you pass the expert level exam, you are on your way to becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist Master. The master certification is an extra certification received after passing all of the following Microsoft Office exams: Excel and the Microsoft Word expert exam and the MOS: PowerPoint exam and MOS: Outlook exam (either the Microsoft Access, OneNote, or SharePoint exams can be substituted for the Microsoft Outlook exam).
We’re glad we had another candidate pass the Microsoft Excel expert exam and is on his way to becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist Master. By the way, the way he passed it was he purchased the MOS exam voucher with retake. We strongly encourage test takers to do this because, although the voucher with retake is initially a bit more expensive than just the single voucher, it can save money in the long run because it gives you two shots at passing the exam without having to pay full price for each exam. This can save you money in the end, especially for examinees who have never taken one of these interactive exams before.
Once again, congratulations to our newly minted Microsoft Excel expert and good luck to all those in the future who plan to take the exam!
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