Microsoft Certification Exams: 4 Tips for Success

Microsoft Certification Exams: 4 Tips for Success 

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Whether you are taking Word, PowerPoint, Excel Associate, or an Excel Expert exam, we have some proven strategies for you!

#1: Know what you are getting into!

You are about to take an industry-standard certification created by Microsoft’s experts and the most fluent in those applications across the country. Did you know that the average user utilizes about 5-10% of a particular application, and many users are only barely introduced to the power behind the software? So, if you think you can cram for this exam a day or two before the test, you may want to think twice.

One of the best things you can do to start preparing is to review your exam objectives. All courses that require an Office exam have a Canvas page with the objectives listed, or you can check them out at Microsoft’s Certifications and Exams site.

#2: Begin Practicing NOW

Are you aware that you have access to a free practice exam and study materials that will help you get an idea of what’s on the exam? 92% of SMU students who have received at least an 800 using the Testing mode on their GMetrix practice exam pasted the certification on their first attempt. If you think you can just walk-in and get certified, students who DO NOT take a practice exam about 90% will fail on their first attempt. The only exception is for those who’s professor is teaching the application in class.

When you have the free resources at your fingertips, why wait? After all, no one wants to take the exam twice. If you still don’t feel prepared with GMetrix practice exams, you can access for a LinkedIn certification prep course. See your Canvas course for more information.

How do I access the practice test?

You’ll need an access code to access the software. You can get that from your Canvas course, and be sure to watch our video on how to access the software!

#3: Register & Develop a Study Plan

Exam appointments are limited. With over 500 students taking certification exams, if you wait until the last minute to book an appointment, you may not get one. Due to social distancing guidelines, we administer exams to fewer students at a time. For those learning remotely off-campus, we have access to a limited number of online exams provided by our vendor. If you call our office at the last minute needing an appointment, our options to help might be limited.

When you are ready, visit to book your appointment. Then, plan out your study time, so you are prepared. Even if you just block out 30 minutes a day to study, you’ll be well on your way to success!

#4: Pay Now or Pay Later

There IS a cost for the exam, but there is no need to get your wallet out yet. Since Technology fees do not fund this program, OIT is covering the cost for your practice test, the exam proctor, and even the first two attempts for an exam. If you fail to cancel your appointment or need to take an exam three or more times, you will have to pay a small fee of $50 before you can take your next exam. Plan now so you don’t have to pay later.

Passed Your Exam? Celebrate Your Success!

Since we kicked off the certification program, we’ve seen almost 1,700 individuals achieve certification. Students have contacted us to tell us how it’s helped them secure internships and permanent positions as certification makes them stand out from other applicants. When you pass your exam, let us help celebrate your success by tagging @SMUOIT on social media and don’t forget to add your digital badge to your LinkedIn profile. After all, you’ve worked hard to get certified, so be sure to promote your success!

Bonus Tip: Keep it up!

Now that you have successfully completed one certification, try your hand at another. OIT offers certifications for the entire Microsoft Office suite and many of the Adobe Creative Cloud applications, including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premeire. Find out more at

If you have any questions, feel free to contact

Best of luck!
– The IT Training Team

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Laurene Klassen

Laurene is the Director of SMU’s IT Training & Communications Team. She enjoys reading, writing, and outdoor activities with her family in her spare time.