Recently I took my first Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) test. I found the experience to be quite different from taking an IT Professional test, so I thought that I would share my experience. Throughout my description, I am going to compare my experience with Prometric testing, since that is what I am used to. However, if you are just interested in MCAS certification, you can ignore the comparisons and still find out how to take a MCAS exam.
First of all, what is a Microsoft Certified Application Specialist certification test. An MCAS test will test you on Microsoft Office applications or on Windows Vista. It is certification for the office worker. There are tests available for:
- Word 2007
- Excel 2007
- PowerPoint 2007
- Outlook 2007
- Access 2007
- Windows Vista
MCAS tests are administered by Certiport, not Prometric. Registration for the test is completely online. In order to take a test, you must first purchase a voucher to take the test. That voucher is good for any of the tests for Vista or Office 2007. You must purchase a different voucher if you want to test on previous versions of Office. At this time, each test voucher costs $89.
Note that at this point, all we have done is purchase a voucher. We still have not scheduled the test. To schedule the test, you must call the testing center directly. To find a testing center, go to http://www.certiport.com/Portal/Pages/LocatorView.aspx. Make sure that when you call the testing center that you specify that you are taking a Certiport test. This is because some Certiport testing centers are also Prometric and/or VUE testing centers which expect you to call the vendor to schedule a test. The testing center may charge you a proctoring fee to take the test. This fee will vary from center to center and is in addition to the test voucher fee.
My test consisted of 26 mini tests where I was given one or two tasks to do. The time allowed for the entire exam was 59 minutes. To get a feel for how a test looks, go to this web page: Test Demo The sample tests use Adobe Shockwave. The actual test uses a live version of the application that you are being tested on. (note: the only exception is the Vista test). Even though the sample tests are for Word 2002 and Excel 2002, the test format is still the same. The top portion of the window is a live version of the application, while the bottom portion shows the tasks that you must accomplish.
During the actual test you can skip a section. That section will be presented to you again after you have gone through all of the sections once, if you have remaining time. Unlike the Microsoft IT Professional tests available through Prometric, you cannot go back to a previous question once you click on the next button. My tip is if you get stuck on a section, skip it and go on to the next section. That way if you have time, you can try it again. Tasks are marked as correct if you have achieved the end result of the objective. For example, if the objective was to bold some text, it would not matter how you went about bolding the text. One test candidate may have made the text bold by right-clicking on the selected text. Another test candidate may have selected the text and pressed CTRL-B. Both test candidates would have the objective marked correct. The test would just check that after you hit the next button, the requested text was bold.
For help in studying for the MCAS certification, I highly recommend The Microsoft Certified Application Specialist Study Guide. This book is a study guide for every MCAS test except for Windows Vista. I found this book valuable because it highlighted the features of the program that are tested, but I do not use on a regular basis. If you need a book that will teach you the programs beyond just the test objectives, I highly recommend the Microsoft Press Step by Step series. For MCAS Applications, the books are:
- Microsoft® Office Word 2007 Step by Step
- Microsoft® Office Excel® 2007 Step by Step
- Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 Step by Step
- Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2007 Step by Step
- Microsoft® Office Access(TM) 2007 Step by Step
- Microsoft Windows Vista Step by Step
You can become a Microsoft Office 2007 Master by passing the tests for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
For more information on the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist, please check the following links: