• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Taking a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification Exam

Taking a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification Exam

As desktop computing technology advances, more employers rely on the objectivity and consistency of technology certification when screening, hiring, and training employees to ensure the competence of these professionals. As a job seeker or employee, you can use technology certification to prove that you have the skills businesses need, and can save them the trouble and expense of training. Microsoft Office Specialist is the only Microsoft certification program designed to assist employees in validating their Microsoft Office System skills.

About the Microsoft Office Specialist Program

A Microsoft Office Specialist is an individual who has demonstrated worldwide standards of Microsoft Office skill through a certification exam in one or more of the Microsoft Office System desktop programs including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint®, Outlook®, Access and Project. Office Specialist certifications are available at the “Specialist” and “Expert” skill levels. Visit www.microsoft.com/officespecialist/ to locate skill standards for each certification and an Authorized Testing Center in your area.

What Does This Logo Mean?

This Microsoft Office Specialist logo means this courseware has been approved by the Microsoft Office Specialist Program to be among the finest available for learning Access 2003. It also means that upon completion of this courseware, you might be prepared to become a Microsoft Office Specialist.

Selecting a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification Level

When selecting the Microsoft Office Specialist certification(s) level that you would like to pursue, you should assess the following:

  • The Office program (“program”) and version(s) of that program with which you are familiar

  • The length of time you have used the program

  • Whether you have had formal or informal training in the use of that program

Candidates for Specialist-level certification are expected to successfully complete a wide range of standard business tasks, such as formatting a document or spreadsheet. Successful candidates generally have six or more months of experience with the program, including either formal, instructor-led training or self-study using Microsoft Office Specialist-approved books, guides, or interactive computer-based materials.

Candidates for Expert-level certification are expected to complete more complex, business-oriented tasks utilizing the program’s advanced functionality, such as importing data and recording macros. Successful candidates generally have one or more years of experience with the program, including formal, instructor-led training or self-study using Microsoft Office Specialist-approved materials.

Microsoft Office Specialist Skill Standards

Every Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam is developed from a set of exam skill standards that are derived from studies of how the Office program is used in the workplace. Because these skill standards dictate the scope of each exam, they provide you with critical information on how to prepare for certification.

Microsoft Office Specialist Approved Courseware, including the Microsoft Press Step by Step series, are reviewed and approved on the basis of their coverage of the Microsoft Office Specialist skill standards.

The Exam Experience

Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams for Office 2003 programs are performance-based exams that require you to complete 15 to 20 standard business tasks using an interactive simulation (a digital model) of a Microsoft Office System program. Exam questions can have one, two, or three task components that, for example, require you to create or modify a document or spreadsheet:

Modify the existing brochure by completing the following three tasks:

  1. Left-align the heading Premium Real Estate.

  2. Insert a footer with right-aligned page numbering. (Note: accept all other default settings.)

  3. Save the document with the file name Broker Brochure in the My Documents folder.

Candidates should also be aware that each exam must be completed within an allotted time of 45 minutes and that in the interest of test security and fairness, the Office Help system (including the Office Assistant) cannot be accessed during the exam.

Passing standards (the minimum required score) for Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams range from 60 to 85 percent correct, depending on the exam.

The Exam Interface and Controls

The exam interface and controls, including the test question, appear across the bottom of the screen.

  • The Counter is located in the left corner of the exam interface and tracks the number of questions completed and how many questions remain.

  • The Timer is located to the right of the Counter and starts when the first question appears on the screen. The Timer displays the remaining exam time. If the Timer is distracting, click the Timer to remove the display.


    Transition time between questions is not counted against total allotted exam time.

  • The Reset button is located to the left of the Next button and will restart a question if you believe you have made an error. The Reset button will not restart the entire exam nor extend the total allotted exam time.

  • The Next button is located in the right corner. When you complete a question, click the Next button to move to the next question. It is not possible to move back to a previous question on the exam.

Test-Taking Tips

  • Follow all instructions provided in each question completely and accurately.

  • Enter requested information as it appears in the instructions, but without duplicating the format. For example, all text and values that you will be asked to enter will appear in the instructions with bold and underlined text formats (for example, text), however, you should enter the information without applying these formats unless you are specifically instructed to do otherwise.

  • Close all dialog boxes before proceeding to the next exam question unless you are specifically instructed otherwise.

  • There is no need to close task panes before proceeding to the next exam question unless you are specifically instructed otherwise.

  • There is no need to save your work before moving on to the next question unless you are specifically instructed to do otherwise.

  • For questions that ask you to print a document, spreadsheet, chart, report, slide, and so on, please be aware that nothing will actually be printed.

  • Responses are scored based on the result of your work, not the method you use to achieve that result (unless a specific method is indicated in the instructions), and not the time you take to complete the question. Extra keystrokes or mouse clicks do not count against your score.

  • If your computer becomes unstable during the exam (for example, if the exam does not respond or the mouse no longer functions) or if a power outage occurs, contact a testing center administrator immediately. The administrator will restart the computer and return the exam to the point where the interruption occurred with your score intact.


At the conclusion of the exam, you will receive a score report, which you can print with the assistance of the testing center administrator. If your score meets or exceeds the passing standard (the minimum required score), you will be mailed a printed certificate within approximately 14 days.

College Credit Recommendation

The American Council on Education (ACE) has issued a one-semester hour college credit recommendation for each Microsoft Office Specialist certification. To learn more, visit www.microsoft.com/traincert/mcp/officespecialist/credit.asp.

For More Information

To learn more about Microsoft Office Specialist certification, visit www.microsoft.com/officespecialist/.

To learn about other Microsoft Office Specialist approved courseware from Microsoft Press, visit www.microsoft.com/mspress/certification/officespecialist/.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint