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Microsoft Excel Certification Program

Why should you get certified in Excel?

Excel certification is important for two reasons:

  1. Microsoft Excel is an industry-standard tool in the business world.
  2. The recruiters that work with Whitman ask us for students who have a solid foundation in Excel.

This certification, called Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Excel 2016, is recognized around the world. It’s proof-positive that you are proficient with Excel; it will set you apart from your peers, and it will give you a competitive edge that Whitman wants for all our students.

To read more about the Microsoft Office Specialist exam, click here.

Please note: Whitman's Excel Certification Program is only for Whitman matriculated students who are actively enrolled in courses during the semester they are attempting to participate. If you have not declared a Major or Minor in Whitman and are not actively enrolled in courses, you are not eligible to participate.

What do you need to do?

  1. Study. Complete the self-paced pre-work using the instructional material provided to you via Blackboard.
  2. Practice. Use Gmetrix to take practice exams. Click here to learn about Gmetrix, what it's for, and how to use it.

    Effective Dec 1, 2016, any student desiring to register for/take the MOS Excel or Excel Expert Certification Exams will observe the following required steps (Items marked with *** are new, the rest are previously established):
    • Complete the instructional material from relating to the level of certification exam you wish to take
    • Complete five different practice exams using Gmetrix which meet the following criteria:
      • Each qualifying practice exam will have a minimum score of 800.
      • Each qualifying practice exam will be taken within one month of your desired exam date. ***
      • At least one practice exam will be in Multi-Project format. ***
    • Satisfy these requirements before registering for the exam on Handshake. Do not register before you have completed the required preparatory work.
    • Register for your desired exam slot on Handshake no later than 12:00PM (noon) the Thursday before your desired exam date. ***

    There are nine practice exams that cover all the skills required to pass the MOS Excel Exam: six that are delivered as question/answer, and three that are delivered as a cumulative project. Any of these nine main exams will count towards the requirement described above. Specifically, for Excel Specialist, the exams which count have names that start with "Excel 2016 Core."

    Additionally, we have created five supplemental skillset-focused mini exams that are designed to further your abilities in the various skillsets required for the MOS Excel Certification. These are accessible using information available in the Supplemental content detailed in our Blackboard course. Please note that because these are not skillset-complete exams, they do not count toward the requirement of the five exams.

    Prospective test candidates should also be aware that taking a very small amount of exams (such as 1-2) repeatedly and scoring above 800 in testing mode does not constitute adequate preparation and does not fulfill the preparatory requirement. As there are nine exams that are applicable to the preparatory requirement, you should take five different exams, with at least one being one of the project based exams.

    You can see how many Gmetrix exams you've taken, their scores, and what areas you need to work on, by logging into using your Gmetrix username and password, and clicking the "Completed" button on the left of the page.

  3. Register for an exam. Log in to Handshake at, search for Events called "Whitman Excel Certification", choose a date, and reserve your spot!

    Please note:
    • If you have not completed the practice requirement mentioned above using Gmetrix prior to registering, your reservation will be cancelled.
    • Whitman students are allowed two attempts at the Certification exam at no charge. Students wishing to take the exam after their second attempt must pay for subsequent exam attempts.

Exams are scheduled for Fridays during Spring and Fall semesters, between 12pm and 5pm, and are given in Whitman 009.

What things do you need?

It is possible to study for this certification using either your own computer, or using Whitman's computer labs. Regardless of where you study, you need access to our Blackboard Course. If you're a Whitman student, you probably already do, so log into Blackboard and look for "Whitman Excel Course" in your course listing. If you don't see it there, fill out and submit the form at
If you would like to use your own computer to study and prep, here's what you need:
  • Microsoft Windows is an absolute requirement - you cannot fully participate with Mac OS. Click here to find out why, and what you can do if you already own a Mac.
  • Gmetrix, our practice test utility, and its supporting software is required as well. Click here to read about all the required software.

What do you need to know?

Facts about certification exams in general

A certification exam follows a general but specific guideline: you will be tested on your knowledge of specific categories/topics that have been selected specifically to demonstrate proficiency in a particular skillset or area.

While the categories are specific, the questions will be random. This means is that you probably won't see the same questions you saw using Gmetrix, but you'll probably see ones that are topically similar. This is because a certification exam is designed to certify that you know how to solve a problem – not just that you know the answer. It’s the same reason your grade-school math teachers asked you to show your work: How is important!

Facts about the MOS Excel 2016 exam

  • The exam you will take this semester is called  Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Excel 2016.
  • The test is delivered by Certiport, a Microsoft Partner and Authorized Testing Authority. This means that Microsoft has approved all of the test content.
  • The score required to pass is 700.
  • You are required to have scored 800 or better on at least five exams using Gmetrix, taken in testing mode. Ideally, these scores should be consecutive.
  • It is a time-metered test – maximum allowable time is 50 minutes.
  • You can register for an exam using Handshake. Exams are every Friday from 11AM-5PM. Last registration of the day is at 4PM.
  • The exams will be taken in Whitman room 009, our testing center, unless otherwise noted.
  • Your test will be administered/proctored by Whitman staff.
  • Cell phones and/or other network/internet connectable devices are not allowed during the test.

Taking the Exam

When you are ready to take the exam, register through Handshake, as instructed above. We will verify that you’ve achieved the appropriate number of passing scores with Gmetrix, and then accept your registration. At that time, you just need to make sure you’re on time, with your SU ID card, and ready to go.

Have Questions?

Do you have a question about the Microsoft Excel Certification Program? Visit our FAQ.