What Is the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification Test?

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What Is the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification Test?
The MOS Certification test demonstrates proficiency with MS Office software. (certificate for you to fill in image by Peter Baxter from Fotolia.com)

Becoming a certified Microsoft Office Specialist is a way to document proficiency in one or more Office software applications. The "Specialist" title means you passed at least one application-specific certification exam focusing on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, or Outlook in Office 2000, Office XP or Office 2003. The certification test focuses on performance-based objectives specific to the application you choose.


Office Specialist tests are on-site exams only available through the Certiport Company, an authorised Microsoft testing provider. In turn, Certiport authorises local agencies, such as colleges, technical schools, and private computer training facilities, to administer tests through their Certiport Partner Program. You can locate a testing centre in your area by visiting the "Find a Testing Center" page on the Certiport website, selecting the exam category, and entering your city and postcode.


Certification tests follow a series of stated objectives, or task categories. For example, exam objectives for the Excel 2003 Office Specialist exam include "Creating Data and Content," "Analyzing Data," "Formatting Data and Content," Collaborating," and "Managing Workbooks." Tasks within each objective demonstrate mastery. Test questions focus on a scenario format rather than a yes/no, true/false, short-answer, or multiple-choice format. The testing software determines and displays test results immediately following the exam. If you pass the exam, you will receive a certificate via postal mail within a few weeks, and if you fail the exam, you can retake it.


Each certification test contains 15-20 questions that must be complete within 45-60 minutes. Each question involves completing a certain number of tasks worth one to three points, depending on the task. A tally of task points determines the final score you receive. For example, if the test you take has 20 questions and each task is worth two points, the highest score you can receive is 40 points. The total task score then converts to a percentage to determine whether you pass or fail. A passing exam score is 75 per cent or higher.


Benefits of becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist include both tangible and intangible benefits. Tangible benefits include access to the Microsoft Certified Professional website, an identification card, and the opportunity to add your credentials to a resume or professional bio. Intangible benefits include a sense of confidence in yourself and your abilities, along with increased opportunities in hiring, and for advancement and promotion with a current employer. If you choose to obtain the Office Specialist certification in more than Office software product, intangible benefits become even greater as you can demonstrate proficiency both within and between Office products.


The Office Specialist certification tests, or tests, are the base level certification for Office users. Additional certification levels include the Expert and Master levels. Expert level certification is available for Word and Excel by completing an additional, Expert level exam. Master level certification demonstrates a high level of proficiency within and between multiple Office products. Achieving this level of certification requires exams in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and a choice between the Access or Outlook exam.


Individuals with documented disabilities can apply for "Special Accommodations." These provide extended testing times, a reader, or an exam surrogate, depending on the disability involved. Requests for special accommodations go through the Certiport Customer Service Center at 888-222-7890.

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