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MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) Certification
According to Microsoft, by obtaining a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification, it demonstrates that you have the skills needed to get the most out of a specific Office Program.
The specific office programs for which you can obtain this certification are:
Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, SharePoint, OneNote, and Office 365.
In the past, I have been a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and a Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist, and both look pretty on a resume, but I would never go so far as to say that I won a position over another candidate due to one of these. Instead, it's really a reinforcement of the other efforts that you make in your daily employment. For example, if you've worked in an accounting firm for 5 years, you're going to have the skills needed to pass the Excel MOS, and having it just reinforces that you've paid attention during that time.
The tests are typically multiple choice. So, with the knowledge of the product that you already possess, and some basic standardized-test practices, like process of elimination and "Choose C" when you don't know, you'll have no problem achieving a passing status. I hear that some people have test anxiety, but these are typically low-stress as you're not graded, and your graduation or employment probably isn't based on the result. Also, they always offer a second-chance retake for free. They REALLY want people to succeed, because it's just a good business model for all involved. Think about it, restaurants don't thrive when the customers don't return.
There probably isn't a huge line items on Microsoft's Profit and Loss statement with the entry of Certification Revenue, but let's face it, they're still making money from the effort. There are the companies that pay to be a Microsoft Certified Training Facility, and then you the consumer paying to buy the books, take the courses, and take the tests. So, there must be some benefit to them other than the warm feeling of certified users.
Benefits of Microsoft Certifications
But, what's in it for you if it won't help land you a job? (I'm not saying that it won't, but I can't ever say that it has been a defining factor in my career. You're results may vary.) Depending on the certification that you pursue, your current company may pay you for obtaining it. The reason that they would do this is that a company can become a Microsoft Certified Partner, and every certification within the company is aggregated and contributes to the level of partnership. Silver, Bronze, Gold, Plutonium, Unobtainium, etc. With each level. your company gets more honor and privildge from Microsoft, which will save your company money, and they can pay some of it to you.
Even better, there are some certifications where you can visit the training facility for a week, and take the test at the end of the week. I got my MCTS by spending a week in San Francisco and went home "Microsoft Certified" Grade A Beef. A little immersion training / vacation isn't the worst thing that's ever happened in your career, right?
There are plenty of companies that offer sample tests, that include snazzy timing, scoring, and reference materials. These are a great way to figure out what you don't know, and brush up on it. If you miss a question, the reference material will guide you through the specifics of the question, and then the next time you have a question like that, you'll know what to do. There is some memorization, but typically when you learn something new about an application, you'll tend to use it to your advantage.
For example, if you don't understand what Goal Seek is within Excel, after the first time you use it, you'll find yourself using it to solve all of your pesky What-If type problems. if you've never used it, go ahead and try it now. Solve a simple math problem, like What percent of 400 is 20?
Hint: Cell D1 is: =B1 * C1
Excel What-If Analysis Goal Seek
It would be impossible to discuss standardized tests without mentioning how to cheat at them. Whether it be the SAT, ACT, GRE, or your driver's exam, the fact is that people just want the piece of paper that says they passed. And, there are some Microsoft Certifications that absolutely ARE required to get a job in that field. Networking, Security, and superior knowledge and trust paths like these are in high-demand and pay well. So, the Brain Dumps for these are readily available.
But, let's face it, if you simply tried to memorize the info in a brain dump and regurgitate it on the exam, you're still going to have to answer to it when you have a job interview. Trust me, having been on the other side of the table, you know when somebody doesn't have a clue. Cheating is never a good idea,
So, if you're going to go through the effort, take the time to learn the information, and keep it with you for a lifetime.