Microsoft Office Specialist Qualifications – A review of their value to students

What is a Microsoft Office Specialist Qualification?

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) qualifications enable users to become fully certified in Microsoft programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint at core or expert level. After achieving a qualification at core level, expert level can be completed which is much more highly valued by employers due to the increased level of skill required.

How does it work?

The exams are designed to test all aspects of a specific Microsoft program; the exam is made to get the candidate to complete various tasks which you would need to use when operating the program, so a rate of 70% is required to pass. In order to achieve this, practice tests can be taken on software called Gmetrix, which is set out similarly to the MOS exam; it is advised that you pass 2 tests on Gmetrix to ensure that you have the knowledge to be able to pass the MOS exam.

Before completing a test on Gmetrix, training versions of the exam can be carried out. Below is a screenshot of the Microsoft Excel training:

Gmetrix .0

Here, the format is the same as the real MOS exam, however it can be completed without a time limit. As you can see, each task is given at the bottom of the screen with the option to skip or move on to the next task when the current one is complete. In the training version of Gmetrix, it provides help for tasks which you are unable to complete, which teaches students who are maybe less competent in the software further skills as they go through. The help box can be found by clicking the light bulb at the bottom right of the screen, an example is shown below:

Gmetrix 1.0

After completing the training version of Gemtrix you should be competent enough to be able to carry out tasks in all aspects of the Microsoft software, to prove this before sitting the MOS exam, a testing format can be carried out on Gmetrix.

Gmetrix 2

As you can see above, the testing format has a time limit (of 1hour) at the bottom, a task bar on the left, as well as the option to check off each task as it is completed. Furthermore, the help boxes aren’t available in the testing format as they are designed to be exactly like the MOS exam. After completing two tests at 70% or higher, the student should be ready to sit the MOS exam.

Are MOS qualifications valuable to students?

As MOS qualifications are so globally known and recognised by employers, having the qualification makes a student look more employable and enables them to stand out from other candidates when looking for a job or placement position, especially when it is noted on their CV. Aside from providing the student with more employable skills, the skills that are learnt through completing the exam, especially when training on Gmetrix, can be beneficial through the whole of the students study, including giving presentations and writing assignments, as both could be completed to a higher standard. For these reasons, I think the MOS qualifications are highly valuable; personally, having a qualification in excel has provided me with skills I need for modules in my course, including business finance where the assignment was excel based.








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