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MOS Certification Tips + Why YOU Need Spreadsheets

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

Why Spreadsheets? Are you a business student? Are you interested in accounting or financial analysis? Heck, are you going to be joining the workforce anytime soon?

Well, you will need to know your way around a spreadsheet one way or another. Whether it be formatting and processing vast amounts of data in Excel or creating a monthly budget for your own business in Google Sheets, I can guarantee you'll encounter spreadsheets software on your career path (and in many cases, get to know it quite intimately).

A piece of advice - focus on readily marketable skills you can attain in college. Seek out courses that provide tangible proof or a certificate of your newly acquired skills - a "badge" you can wear with confidence at your next interview. While an Excel class may not be required for transfer (a criterium many CC students seem to fixate on rather than the content of the course itself), it can help you secure an internship and, ultimately, a job offer more readily than any economics class you take.

After all, isn't that why we're all in college anyway? We're all here to learn our field's fundamentals, get some useful skills, seek out internships, and prepare ourselves for the modern workforce. Don't lose sight of those goals and find smart ways to be proactive with your education. Overloading yourself with general business classes isn't going to do you a whole lot of good if you don't know the first thing about spreadsheets or your communications skills are a no-go.

And, if you're at a 4-year university, swing by your local community college to increase your ROI substantially - it's not a secret that a unit of CC classes is substantially cheaper than a university unit, and if you're taking an Excel class, the software itself is not going to change whether you learn it at Stanford or IVC.

Personal Take: Thanks to my awesome accounting professors, I learned about my CC's offered spreadsheets sequence very early on. I took my first class in the summer of 2020 (ACCT 112.1 at IVC) and finished up the second one (ACCT 112.2) this October. Just 5 months later, I am MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) certified in Excel! I'll be taking the third, and last, class in the sequence next month which will prepare me for the MOS Excel Expert exam, so VBA and macros, here I come! For anyone worried about fitting these classes into their schedule, let me assure you - the benefits you'll reap from taking these classes far outweigh the time commitment. I spent three hours weekly on completing assignments - yup, just three. So, don't let those extra units deter you.

How to Prepare for MOS 77-727 Excel 2016 Exam:

Keep in mind that I took two Excel classes at my CC before taking these next steps, but self-learning is only encouraged when it comes to this exam.

  1. Before you do anything else, head to and download the exam skills outline. This is everything you will be tested on - so don't expect VLOOKUP or INDEX MATCH to pop up.

  2. Next, head to Brendan Sinclair's channel and watch his playlist to prepare: Make note of any task you're unfamiliar with while watching.

  3. Practice! Here's the GMetrix bundle for the exam that simulates the exam's format to a T: Get used to this layout and you'll be golden for your Certiport exam.

  4. Take one final look over your notes and watch a few videos to refresh your memory on the day of the exam. Take some deep breaths and begin. If you're not sure about a task, mark it for review and come back to it later. Be mindful of the time and trust your own preparedness. You got this!

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