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Getting prepared to take a Microsoft Office exam is one of the best things you can do in any profession. It is used by administration, management, IT, and just about every department within a company. Not having strong Microsoft skills may prevent you from getting management positions. Trying to train yourself on-the-job, as you will have to do, is much more challenging than preparing a head of time for a position. Every IT job that I’ve had, for example, I have used Microsoft office and other software the entire day every day. You also get approached with support questions related to these products, which are often out of the support scope, but it would be beneficial if a top-tier manager asks you for some Excel or Outlook assistance and you are available to provide knowledgeable help to someone that makes important decisions within a company.

There are five parts to the Office 2016 exam. Other exam versions would be beneficial, but used so minimal that extra cert time would be better spent on a newer version of a different software program, or even a different scope like hardware or project management.  The five parts are Word, Excel, Power Point, Access and Outlook. At minimum 3 of these will be extremely important in most career choices, possibly all 5. Word is your typical document writing. Excel is a spreadsheet workbook format that allows cells within rows and columns organize your data and has built in formulas that will calculate what you want in the cells for you. PowerPoint includes premade slideshows so you merely have to input text and pictures to show for background when getting your point across at a live presentation. Access you may never use, but has many beneficial tools for you if you choose to explore this lesser used version. Outlook organizes your email to your entire life allowing you to manage everything from one central location. Outlook is able to be manipulated by software engineers within a company to plugin sections of their software directly to the end user. These include attachments to other software or websites, built in company instant message chats, alerts about due dates and finances, as well as calendar attachments to sync your schedule to the Outlook calendar (allowing email alerts, of course).

Let’s just take a look at one section of the Microsoft exam for example, how about the ever famous Word. Assuming you are familiar with this text document style for writing and organizing your print, let’s see what will be involved in the exam itself. You will be able to demonstrate the correct application of principle features creating and editing 2-3 page documents. These include professional-looking reports, multi-column newsletters, resumes and correspondence. Task instructions no longer included the command name like previous versions. Function names are replaced with descriptors so you must understand the purpose and common usage of program to complete tasks. In addition, you will cover text, formats, paragraphs, sections, tables, lists, references, and inserting things like graphics. Prepare to be tested on all objects within Word.  My recommendation is before you get started, open a word document and go through everything in the home tool bar and test and practice on the doc like scratch paper. Using this will help prepare you for memorizing where tools are locating and developing the hand-to-eye coordination while testing the program.

A good candidate for the Word exam, or any part, will have the ability to work commands and instructions currently independently. You must be able to demonstrate the application effectively prior to testing. Many things are left out from previous exams so you must be able to operate the program utilizing the majority of its functions and formats.

In addition to prepping for the exam on the platform itself, I recommend studying the exam site in its fullest so you maximize your preparation time. This will help prevent you from spending time on things that will not effectively increase your score. Remember, points are important and effective test taking skills will just be as important as experience navigating the site. You also want to have some reading material that will help prep your brain for studying, and the best place to start for that is on the exam site itself. Included on the site is links to studying videos and tutorials that may help. YouTube and Google are some of the best places to look for training materials to help guide your training.

Along with studying online materials for your training, I have created a spreadsheet timeline that is an example of managing your resources and times in a format that allows you to set goals, created deadlines, and monitor you work. Monitor you work not only assists your organization, but gives you a sense of accomplishment which makes the work more enjoyable to learn.

The cost of this exam is roughly $100. You could set $20 per paycheck aside in a jar and watch it grow while you follow your study timeline and get excited about getting closer to the overall goal of being experienced enough to pass the exam which will allow you to have evidence that you are a professional ready to utilize some of the most relied upon software in the world. These achievements will also allow you tools to use at home to manage your finances and life, and give you tools you may use later in life for other positions. In addition, you may use this for proof for an earn wage increase at your employer. Employers know that someone putting time into learning important things can make the company more money and be coachable to future tool utilization when new programs are brought into the work place.

This is one of the most effective certifications you can take. It is cheap and is used at any job and is extremely important to an IT professional to assist their work and documentation for accountability towards operations within a company to manage their support resources and access to support. Assistance with applications is often expected so the experience will be utilized that way too. Most importantly, it labels you as a marketable professional that should be sought after.