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Exam Profile 77-888: Excel 2010 Expert

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This article profiles the Microsoft Excel 2010 Expert exam (77-888), which certifies knowledge in advanced Excel topics such as functions, macros, and forms. Pearson IT Certification provides a variety of exam preparation tools to help our customers in their quest for certification, including the Exam Profile series. Each profile is developed based on the testing experience of one of our trainers or authors. You won’t get exact questions or answers, but you will get a real feel for the exam. Each profile describes question forms, trouble spots, hints for exam preparation, and recommendations for additional study resources. Find out what you can expect to see on the exam and how you can better prepare for it.

Microsoft offers two separate exams for those wishing to demonstrate expertise with Excel 2010. The entry-level exam, 77-882: Excel 2010, is covered in another article. Exam 77-888 is an expert level Excel 2010 exam that is geared toward those with advanced knowledge of things like formulas, functions, macros, and forms.

Exam Details

  • Number of questions: Microsoft does not disclose the actual number of questions on this exam, but those who have taken the exam report seeing
  • Type(s) of questions: Microsoft does not disclose the types of questions that appear on their exams, but some have reported that this exam is completely simulation based.
  • Passing score: 700 / 1000
  • Time limit: Microsoft does not disclose the exam’s time limit, but it is estimated to be about 50 minutes
  • How to register: Certiport

Trouble Spots

Exam 77-888 is probably Microsoft’s most difficult exam that is targeted toward end users. As such, one could conceivably think of the entire exam as one big “trouble spot.” All joking and cynicism aside, there are four main things that candidates need to watch out for on this exam.

First, don’t make the mistake of ignoring the objective items pertaining to sharing and maintaining workbooks. While it is true that this is probably the easiest part of the exam, you will likely see a lot of questions pertaining to this seemingly simple topic. Specifically, you will need to know how to create workbook templates, as well as how to protect individual workbook cells or even the entire workbook structure.

This area of the exam also deals heavily with security, so make sure that you know how to restrict user permissions and how to set passwords on workbooks.

The official exam objectives (which are presented in their entirety later on) also stipulate that you need to know how to use Track Changes. Track Changes is a relatively basic feature. If you don’t know how to work with Track Changes, then it is a good sign that you aren’t ready for an expert level Excel exam.

The second thing that you will really need to focus on as you study for this exam is formulas and functions. Exam 77-888 is an expert-level exam, so simply knowing how to create a formula isn’t enough. Microsoft expects you to know how to trace formula precedents, determine formula dependents, and to troubleshoot formula errors. This is especially true for errors related to invalid data.

You should also be prepared to see a lot of questions related to functions. Be prepared to answer questions related to statistical, financial, text, date and time, and basic mathematical functions. Additionally, you will need to know about arrays and how to apply array data to a function or formula.

The third area that warrants a significant amount of attention is the visual presentation of information. As you might expect, this exam objective focuses heavily on pivot tables and pivot charts. Once again, however, this is an expert-level exam, so merely knowing how to create a pivot table or a pivot chart isn’t enough. Be prepared to see several questions related to the slicer. You should know how to use the slicer to filter and segment pivot table data and to examine external data sources.

This particular exam objective also tends to place a heavy emphasis on charting. Be sure that you know how to create various types of charts and that you know how to work with sparklines. More importantly, make sure that you know how to use trend lines and that you know how to perform statistical analysis of the data that you are charting.

The last major area of focus on this exam involves working with macros and forms. As you would probably expect, you need to know how to create and edit all manner of macros. For example, you should know how to create a macro that executes when a workbook is opened. You should also know how to build a macro that executes when a command button is pushed, as well as how to create a custom macro button that appears on the quick access toolbar.

Microsoft’s exam objectives pertaining to the use of forms is a bit vague. Even so, the most important thing to study is the use of form controls and form properties. In other words, you need to know how to create a form as well as how to validate the data that is entered into a form. You will presumably also be expected to know how to configure Excel to take action on data that is entered into a form.

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