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The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification is a certification for a select few of Microsoft’s Office products. There are a total of five products that you can be certified in. Becoming successfully certified in one product gains you the MOS certification. Unless you are going for a higher Office certification, you should choose which products you need to be certified in and focus your efforts on those products.


Choose what test(s) to take

There are a total of 5 tests in the 2016 series of tests:

Word (77-725)

Excel (77-727)

PowerPoint (77-729)

Access (77-730)

Outlook (77-731)


Each program has its own skills to master and while some skills can transfer from one test to another, you should treat each test as its own standalone certification if you plan to take more than one.


Study Guides

There are many resources on the internet that you can use to study for this test ranging from free to paid in multiple formats. The best advice I can give is to use a mixture of both, so you get multiple views on the processes and requirements from multiple people. This will allow you to gain a better understanding of the competencies needed to pass the test.

For example, TestOut has a Desktop Pro Plus program that goes over all five programs and what you need to know to become MOS certified.

Another option is from Certiport (where you will buy your test vouchers). You can buy a bundle that includes your test voucher, a retake voucher, and access to a single Office product training course.

Microsoft also suggests books that they themselves have published for each test that you can buy.

Regardless of which path you choose to study with, you should review the skills list on Microsoft’s website. This list tells you the percentage of questions on the final test that will involve these skills. Below is an example gnatt chart for the 77-730 Access exam. This includes studying, practice tests, and finally the test itself.


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Practicing for the test

Practice always makes perfect, and the same goes for any certification test! These practice tests help you figure out your weak areas, so you can go back and reinforce them. Each test has its own minimum score to become certified. Microsoft does not release the minimum required to pass each exam, so you must prepare the best you can. You should aim for test scores that are 80%-90% correct consistently to be prepared for what the actual certification throws at you.

While the practice tests are a great way to prepare for the test as it highlights your weak points, you should use as many available practice tests at your disposal. Once you take the actual certification test, you will realize that the practice questions were not far off from the real question, so familiarizing yourself is key to becoming certified.

Finally, a few days before the test, you should make a cheat sheet for yourself of all the items you still struggle on and ways around those issues. While you will not be able to bring this paper with you into the testing center, the simple process of making this document will help with retaining information, along with being a final review before taking the actual test.


Pay for the test and schedule your test

Certiport has exclusive rights to provide test proctoring for the MOS test series. Each test requires a voucher to be purchased. The voucher for one test is $96. After it is purchased and issued, it is good for one year before it expires. The voucher is good for either the 2013 series tests or the 2016 series tests. There are other choices as well such as buying a retake code when you buy the voucher for $19 more and there is one voucher that includes a retake and study material for $54 dollars more from the base price.

Once you have paid for a voucher, you can search for your testing center and give them a call to schedule your test. Make sure that you are ready to take the test before scheduling. You have one year to use the voucher so make it count! You should also be aware that some tests have a Core and an Expert version of the test. For the MOS certification, you should take the Core test. If you are going for a higher certification, you MUST take the Expert test.


The day of the test

Test day has arrived, you are ready to go with your cheat sheet in hand. Your goal coming up to the test should be as stress free as possible. Have a good meal before leaving for the test and if possible, have someone drive you to and from the testing center. Once you arrive, you will have to provide multiple forms of identification, have various forms signed, and possibly have a fingerprint scan along with a photo taken. Listen carefully while you are going through these steps as they are giving you information about the test you are about to take and any special rules you need to follow.

Finally, you will be escorted into the testing room which is overseen by a test proctor. An employee will log you into your test, give you final instructions and wish you luck. All that is left to do is click the start button and begin the test.

Once you finish your final question, you will be presented with your results of the test. It will instantly tell you if you passed or failed. At the same time, a test summary will be printed, telling you what you had issues with. This sheet is printed regardless of what you scored, and you should keep it until you get your certificate number. If you did not pass the test, you have to wait 24 hours before taking the test again.



After reading this article, you should now know what you need to do to take any of these tests and become successfully certified in them. It is a long process, but once you get the certification, it will all be worth it in the end.


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