Office Specialist

The Microsoft Office Insider newsletter had a link for becoming certified in Office 2007. I took the sample test for Excel and got 1000.

I’m not sure how I get 1000 for three questions. I thought I was going to fail. The sample test is administered via Shockwave. It seems that you have to do things in the proper order or it doesn’t react. For example, I was not able to select cells on the first sheet because the “first step” was to select the proper sheet. It was strange.

It also appears to only give you one option for completing a task. I don’t do much charting, but I can honestly say that I don’t recall there ever being a Chart menu item. I have always used either the Charting toolbar or the right-click menu. It’s a good thing they gave me five minutes for each question because it took a while to figure out how they wanted me to do things. Has anyone taken the full blown test?

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10 thoughts on “Office Specialist

  1. Yes I’ve taken the Excel & Word 2003 Specialist exams and that’s how it works–not much room for your preferred way of doing things. Fortunately I had bought some test preparation software (since I still had Office 2000 on my PC) so I got used to it.

  2. I don’t like these tests. They expect you to know a lot of crap off the top of your head. But I don’t care if I can remember which menu contains the item I want when I’m doing something else. When I need that menu item, I can select two or three menus, find and execute the item, and move on, in oinly a couple seconds. What if you know where everything is, and then Microsoft changes the menu?

    As you say, they only usually give credit for one correct way, and they also only give credit for what the designer of the test knows. I got around 50% wrong on the charting test, because I know how to do stuff that the people re completely ignorant of. I also had to ask them to take some of my copyrighted content off of their site. They never responded, but a week later the offending page was gone.

  3. I agree. The algorithms behind these tests seems to be very basic, often expecting you to know the one “prescribed” way of performing a task.

    Plus, these types of tests overlook the soft skills that make up 80% of an analyst’s/developer’s/programmer’s necessary skill set. (problem solving, creativity, research).

    Certifications have become little more than a check box on your resume and a revenue stream for Microsoft and testing providers.

  4. I installed the new shockwave, ran the test and it wouldn’t let me enter any input whatsoever, except for dropping down the menus and changing sheets. Junk.

    I hate these kinds of tests, too, even when they work. I took a vb6 test for a large consulting company a couple of years ago (when I had 7-8 years full-time experience under my belt). About a fourth of the questions were about the buggy, largly-discredited, unusable and unused Data Environment. Another fourth were about whether or not specific controls had specific (and relatively obscure) properties and methods. Who the hell memorizes that stuff? That’s why we have intellisense and context sensitive menus. Only about 10% of the test was actually relevant to whether or not I had any vb6 chops. I barely made the 50% threshold for passing the test.

  5. When I took the MOS test for the Office 2003 applications, you weren’t limited to only one way of doing things, unless the question specifically asked you to do it a certain way.

    So does the MOS certification mean anything in the real world?

  6. I was part of the group that defined the skills to be tested and generated some sample questions for the Excel and Access 2007 tests. I can’t speak to how the tests are implemented now, but I can say that with these tests Microsoft wants to certify individuals as being “minimally qualified” to use a particular application in a business environment. It’s more difficult to test whether an individual has the soft skills Mike brought up, so the certifications seem much more relevant for screening admin job applicants than potential analysts or developers.

  7. Oh well

    I’m not allowed to be a specialist as I live in Australia?

    Strange that we are allowed to purchase Office 07 at an exorbitant markup to other countries but not allowed to be specialised?

    Maybe we should be certified for buying it ?

  8. cfrye
    I think implementation is the problem in these kinds of tests. Of course you’d like to see if I’m able to move and rename a worksheet before hiring me -I sure would. But I’ve always drag-dropped the sheet tab, doubleclicked it and typed the new name. Test applications like this won’t accept that. And it won’t provide sensible assistance that we all use (click Tools and see if it’s there or maybe it was in View).

    I did this for real in an european equivalent. My diploma reads 93% for Excel and 100% for Windows. I know less than 20% of Windows and my Excel pretty well :-)

  9. Jon Peltier said:
    “…they only usually give credit for one correct way, and they also only give credit for what the designer of the test knows.”

    I am looking for examples of written tests for Excel that do NOT involve the actual use of Excel; rather they require a written answer to a theory question. I suppose I should be asking this on a website dealing with third world education where they don’t use computers in tests, but as I found this page when searching Google, I thought I’d ask here first.

    Even better would be some commentary on the educational or assessment principles behind such tests and why they do or do not work.

  10. hey…
    the idea out here is to ensure that,
    i)the candidate knows the required menus
    ii)short cuts comprehension is discounted
    iii)to comprehend the terminology
    iv)the text book way of doing things
    v)perhaps the only way to bench mark, folks who say we know MS-Office apps.



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