Practice Materials

The Excel Competency exam requires you to know, understand, and apply both the terminology and functionality of Excel. If you have previously taken a BCIS 1305/1405 course that taught you foundational Excel skills, you may also have earned an Excel Certificate from your school or from Microsoft. However, please make sure that the contents covered in prior courses or programs add up to what is expected of you on the Excel Competency Exam.

Be realistic. Know how your prior courses compare to expectations on the Excel Competency exam and prepare.

Studying the items listed in the Excel Topic list will allow you to realize specific learning objectives adopted from a set of generally accepted goals for education regardless of the field of study. These learning objectives call for you to demonstrate the following within the context of using Excel:

  • KNOW the terminology used to specify items in Excel,
  • UNDERSTAND how that terminology connects with the functionality and purpose of Excel,
  • APPLY concepts on content presented to you on the tutorials and on examples that depend on KNOWING and UNDERSTAND the same concepts in a new context presented in an Excel workbook,
  • ANALYZE alternative approaches and select the best solution for the problem presented,
  • SYNTHESIZE and EVALUATE concepts and select a solution based on available criteria.

For instance, do you know what a cell reference is? Do you understand how a cell reference behaves when you copy and paste it to a new location as part of a formula? Can you apply your skills to solve a problem you haven’t seen yet using cell references, functions, and formulas? Can you interpret an Excel output based on a screenshot or by pivoting a larger data set? Can you consolidate data from multiple locations, then find, confirm, and interpret an output?

Your open textbook has detailed directions, practice problems, and sample assessments at your disposal. You may test yourself on the Chapter Assessments for each topic. Once you know which chapters you need to study in greater detail based on how you do on the end of chapter Assessments, you will know how much time to set aside and prepare.

We recommend you spend at least 60-90 minutes’ worth of time on each chapter. Practice using the problems and data files included in your books. Do not just skim the contents. Open Excel, add and manipulate data, download the data files and work with those. This is something that will be asked of you on the exam itself, too.

Each chapter in your book starts with an overview, then provides a walkthrough with a data file to practice the use of Excel features. Each chapter also includes Practice Problems and Assessment questions. The Assessment questions included in your textbook are sample problems. You will have to memorize the terminology for Excel, the names for the functions and the tools you use. However, you should also focus on finding solutions to questions through the processes included in the textbook and not simply memorize the answers you get while manipulating data in Excel.