Microsoft Office Specialist Exams and Test Prep Information

Microsoft Office Specialist certification is an optional credential for administrative and business professionals throughout a variety of industries. Get some quick facts about the training and skills necessary to qualify for positions that require Microsoft Office knowledge.

Those whose work involves Microsoft Office may consider adding the Microsoft Office Specialist certification to their resume. This certification is offered at three levels: specialist, expert and master. Candidates choose a version of Microsoft Office, level of certification, and specific applications in which they are seeking certification.

Essential Information

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) is a certification offered by the Microsoft Business program to demonstrate proficiency in the use of specific Microsoft Office applications. MOS certification exams are offered at three levels - specialist, expert and master.

Required Training Candidates should use practice tests and instructional books or study kits to prepare; they may also enroll in a training class offered by colleges or vocational schools
Required Skills Must demonstrate proficiency and skill in specific program(s)
Exam Requirements Registration is completed online or by phone; candidates must pay registration fee and take exam at Certiport testing centers
Specialization Options Specialist, expert and master level certifications offered in a variety of Office programs

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Microsoft Office Specialist Exams: Overview

MOS certification exams are available for Office 2000, Office 2003 and Office XP. Certification for newer editions of MS Office is offered through the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) program.

Applicants must pass one or more exams depending on the level of certification they're attempting to achieve. The specialist level offers exams in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access and Outlook. Word and Excel exams are available at the expert level. Applicants wishing to obtain master-level certification must pass the PowerPoint specialist exam, the Word and Excel expert exams and an elective exam in either Access or Outlook.

Pursuing Certification

To begin the MOS certification process, applicants must register online or over the phone with the Microsoft-certified exam administrator, Certiport ( Following registration and payment of the registration fee, applicants are provided with study tools, exam preparation options and the location of the nearest Certiport testing center.

The Microsoft Office Specialist exam is taken online at the testing center using software that replicates specific Office applications. During the exam, applicants are asked to perform tasks using an application and are evaluated by their demonstration of proficiency and skill. After passing the exam, graduates receive certification credentials, exam transcripts and a certification logo.

Preparing for the Exams

Online practice tests, formal classroom programs, instructional books and self-study kits are a few of the MOS certification preparation options available. Microsoft offers an array of exam prep programs and tools, and it has also authorized many outside vendors, known as Microsoft Gold Certified Partners, to carry these items. A number of vendors and institutions not partnered with Microsoft also offer Office exam preparation tools, courses and programs.

Test Prep Options

MOS practice tests simulate the actual exams and give users a better understanding about what the actual exam will look like. Practice tests are typically offered online and often include feedback on scoring and performance.

Many technical schools and colleges have preparation training classes, either through distance learning or on-campus programs. Classes are instructor-led and usually combine textbook study with online practice.

Test preparation books, DVDs and training kits are designed for people who may not have time for scheduled classes or who may not need a full training program. Self-study tools allow candidates to study at their own pace and focus on the specific areas where they need help

Certification includes registering for and taking the official certification exam at a testing center. Microsoft offers training materials and sample tests, as do other vendors. Achieving certification proves proficiency in use of the suite or particular applications in the suite.

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