Office 2010 MOS study tips & tricks

September 1, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints | 68 Comments
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Before attempting a Microsoft Office exam, you should be able to complete each task of the exam objectives quickly. The fact that you know how to do a task in your daily job might not cut it.  You need to complete the task in the tight time constraints allotted for the test. Once you answer a question, you cannot go back.

First, a quick review of the objectives:

As we saw in the Office 2007 exams, the exam clock is 50 minutes. There are around 30 sub-objectives listed for each exam. Assuming one question per sub-objective, that’s 30 questions. When you remember that most questions ask you to perform multiple tasks, that’s more like 55 questions in 50 minutes – less than a minute per task. If you spend too much time on one question, you are losing time on the other questions. Time flies when you are under the gun. Most people I have talked to said that they could do all the tasks and pass the test…given enough time. However, they probably could not do it with the time constraints of the test. Practice each task until you know it like the “back of your hand.”

Here’s some MOS 2010 study tips from Ann, Josh, and George. It includes the stuff we did to prepare for the exam that worked for us, and the things we wish we’d tried.

Study Guides

First, free is free. Download the e-book First Look: Microsoft Office 2010 from (registration required). It’s not a very in-depth feature guide, but this book is useful on multiple levels; just looking at the features that Microsoft chooses to highlight gives you a feel for what might be asked on the exam. This is particularly useful if there are features you just don’t use daily and wouldn’t otherwise think to practice.

For more free instruction, don’t forget blogs and communities. You can find targeted, in-depth articles on certain features in many places, including:

What about official study guides? Well, at last check, the Microsoft Press MOS 2010 Study Guides are due out late fall 2010. Keep checking the Microsoft Office Training Portal for announcements.


Don’t have a copy of Office 2010 to practice on yet? You can download a trial of Office 2010 here: (requirements vary by system).

The key aspect to both Microsoft Word and Excel 2010 exams is the ribbon. You have to know where to find common functionalities, or else you will not complete the exam in the allotted time. Josh downloaded and used the free Ribbon Hero plug-in to practice for the exam, and I have to admit it was low on the goofy factor (this is not the talking paperclip of days gone by) and high on the challenge factor. Create a complicated Smart Art diagram in three clicks of the ribbon bar? Sure! I just…well, I’m used to using the menus, aren’t I? Huh. How do I do that again? (Fortunately, it tells you how if you get stuck.)

Remember: many roads lead to Rome

To succeed on the Microsoft Office 2010 exams, you should be familiar with the different ways to achieve a goal. For example, included in the description of the Create Tables sub-objective, under the Formatting Content objective of Microsoft Word, you should know how to use the Insert Table Dialog Box, draw a table, insert a Quick Table, Convert text to tables, and use a table to control page layout. I habitually create tables in Word from the Insert Table menu, so I took the time to practice those other routes.

Because the way we do things in our Office applications every day may not be the most efficient way when the exam clock is ticking down, we urge you to practice familiar tasks from multiple approaches (use a wizard, use a ribbon button, create a shortcut). This way, no matter how you are asked to accomplish a task, you’ll be familiar with the specific terminology used.

If you combine these techniques with a solid knowledge of how to use Word and Excel, you will be well prepared to pass your MOS 2010 certification exam. Good luck!


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  1. you should be able to complete each task of the exam objectives quickly??

    • Well, you can take the normal amount of time to complete the task. You don’t have to speed-type or use the mouse in double-time. But you should be able to find the solution quickly. If you waste time looking for the command you need by running up and down the menus, you might run out of time.

  2. Failed WORD 2010 test,WITH 596 marks. (100% proof reading & 100% References etc). Is it possible to find out where I lost marks in the 20 questions? [redacted] Any tips appreciated for the Gradient fill, text next to Cloud etc?

  3. Is the test set up to also count your mouse clicks? For example if you thought something was in one tab but after you clicked it it wasn’t there so you had to click the correct tab, would it count against you? Besides wasting time I mean.

    • All that counts is results. You can get to those results in any way you choose. Mouse clicks aren’t counted.

  4. I passed MOS Word 2010 with 700 marks!. I thought I got almost right. I passed anyway, but I don’t feel I did great. Anyway, I want to pass the Excel 2010 safely. Your test preparations only offered upto MOS 2007 version. Do you have 2010 practice version? Thank you!

    • Hi there – thanks for the kind words & congrats on your MOS Word 2010 pass! There are a few things we still need to work out before I can share details, but I expect to have a practice test offering for MOS 2010 available by the end of this month. Should you still be in need of study materials towards the end of the month, be sure to check our site and check our blog also as I’m pretty sure Joshua (codeguru) will be sharing more info on the MOS 2010 products as those become available!

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  6. I am struggling to pass the MOS Certification exam for Word 2010 expert.
    I have taken the test once and my voucher is about to expire. is there anyone who can help me learn the few tasks that are featured on the test.

    • If you could tell us what you’ve used thus far to study, my guys can probably recommend a few things to supplement your studies. Have you used our MOS training products for either 2010 or earlier versions of the MOS exams? Also, it would help us to know if you’re an experienced user of the Office suite or new to Word. Let us know & we can try to point you in the right direction and set you up for a successful 2nd shot!

  7. Is the exam a practical test or multiple choice?

    I have seen a few websites that say that they have example questions from the exam, but they are all multiple choice.

    • The exam is live in the application. You are given a series of tasks to accomplish; you can use whatever method you prefer as long as the result is correct. For example (not a live question) if the first task was “Create a new document,” you could choose to press CTRL+N, or mouse over to File –> New, or click an icon in the ribbon, and any would be accepted as the correct answer.

  8. I have study material from UCertify in addition to the MOS Word 2010 Step by Step Guide (from Microsoft Press). I am not new to word, but am somewhat newer to the 2010 office suite.
    The only “practice questions” I am having a hard time with are the type where you are asked to choose and correctly order the correct steps to accomplish a task (i.e. set up a template, convert text to table, insert watermark). Each choice is a click, so some have many, many steps. I can do all/most of these tasks in a couple different ways. I can visually go through and do it and also complete the task in a new word document on my own.
    It doesn’t sound like the exam is in the abovementioned format?????

  9. I am trying hard to pass MOS Excel 2010. Is there any study material or practice questions that will help to get through? Please advise. Thx!

    • As a matter of fact, Transcender and GMetrix have partnered to produce a thoroughly comprehensive practice test that both teaches the exam objectives and provides a testing interface that closely mirrors the live exam. The student is thereby prepared both for the content and the form of the test. Here you go:

  10. Do you have some practice questions on MOS Word 2010. I did the Certiport Mock Exam and Got 1000. I failed miserably in the MOS Word Exam. The mock questions were misleading.We were told that if we mastered the e- learning we would have no problem in the exam. Help,I feel so disillusioned.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your live exam experience. Transcender partnered with GMetrix to create an entire Word practice exam (

      Good luck with your testing! Feel free to ask any questions here.

      • I am a bit confused by Ann’s reply. The original question was with regard to MS 2010 word. The reply implies that the practice exam includes a 100% pass guarantee. Yet, when I follow the link one of the many exceptions to the guarantee are MS 2010 products. Am I misinterpreting the guarantee or was the reply and link misleading?

        • Hi Marie – that was COMPLETELY my bad. The MOS products are not covered by our test pass guarantee. It does not apply to a workstation license, LAN licenses, study guide or e-Learning purchases, Office 2010 products, or test voucher purchases.

  11. Hi, I have been studying for the Excel 2010 exam. I practiced with the GMetrix exams and I did really good on those. Now, I am thinking about studying for the Expert exam instead. Could you give me your opinion about this decision? Is the Expert exam much harder than the other one? What does it make it harder? Does the Expert exam bring more employment opportunities that the Excel 2010 exam? I would appreciate your answer. Thanks!

    • You should start small and work your way up. Not to be intimidating but excel is one of the hardest ones. PowerPoint and Word are easier

  12. Hi, I sent a post already, but I forgot to include my email to receive a future answer.

    I have been studying for the Excel 2010 exam using the Step by Step Excel 2010 book and the GMetrix practice exams. I haven’t took the exam yet, but as I have been doing really good in the GMetrix questions, I am thinking about taking the Expert exam instead, since I have time to study.
    But, as I am not 100% decided yet, I would like to hear your opinion about this decision. Is the Expert exam much harder than the other one? What does it make it harder? Do you think that by doing the GMterix practice tests I should be good for the real exam? Does the Expert certification bring more employment opportunities than the Excel 2010 test?
    I would really appreciate your help and opinion. Thanks!

    • The difference between the basic Excel 2010 exam (77-882) and Excel 2010 Expert exam (77-888) is not necessarily an increase in quantity or difficulty of tasks, but a difference of objectives. Whereas the basic exam covers the fundamentals of formatting content and creating formulas and charts, the expert exam goes into PivotTables/PivotCharts, workbook sharing, formula auditing, macros and form controls. Many of these expert exam topics are barely addressed in the basic exam (although they were tested in the previous Office 2007 MOS exams). I would recommend self-study to become familiar with these new objectives, because they require more conceptual knowledge and navigation know-how than what is tested on the basic exam. The GMetrix product for 77-882 alone will NOT prepare you for the 77-88 exam.

  13. Has anyone looked at the official MOS 2010 Study Guide for Excel, it seems to be badly written. Some of it explains things to simplistically and then it seems to randomly assume that we are experts.
    Some of the practice tasks don’t seem to match up to what has just been read.
    An example being the practice tasks on page 240 of the book, they follow a very basic section on functions. But the last 3 practice tasks bear no relation to what has been learnt in the chapter and ask you to create formulas.
    I have been using Excel for years, maybe not to a very advanced standard, but I found some of these practice tests a bit difficult.

    Is there anywhere that I can get solutions or answers to the practice tests as they seem to have forgotten to supply them with the book.

    • I agree wit you about this, quite a few of the excel practice tasks are difficult.

      I also read the Word study guide and found this to be a much better written guide.

      I thought it was just me who couldn’t find the answers to the practice tasks. You would think that they would have included them with the worksheets that you download.

    • Randall – since that’s not our product, we can’t speak to its quality. Perhaps you can get that information from the publisher. Good luck!

    • I just took, and didn’t pass, the Excel 2010 test. I have the MOS Study Guide and purchased a Certiprep practice test. While this worked well when I took the PowerPoint test, the Excel practice was much easier than the actual test.

  14. I have taken the excel 2010 exam and failed for forcusing to much on certain question how ever my question is in the pratice test form measure up Ive seen that there is not specific infromation as what manner it needs to be done. The test takes had diffrent manners to do thing yet the wording is the same. So I am conused as to what is the correct manner due to the test. An example is I am being asked to hide a colum some will say to do the short cut others will do the same operation form the home tab in the format cell. So my question is how to I choose which way to do things that are not clearly specified. Thank you Diana Gonzalez email if you have and insite I would appreciate it I have to test soon before my volcher experies.

    • If you use our live-in-the-app Practice Test, you will not need to worry about wording, because we follow the same style as the live exam. On the live exam, doing something different ways (using keyboard shortcuts or the Ribbon) will not affect the grading, since the end-state is the same.

      However, there are tasks that are explicit, such as using a specific function or selecting specific cells for a result.

      • What is the live-in-the-app practice test I already have the mos package through transender and I do grate on the practice but have yet to pass the exams they are worded differently as in trick questions so the guarantee has not worked.

        • Diana, a “live in the app” practice exam means that our test runs inside your version of the Microsoft Word software, so it’s not an emulation or a simulation. To answer our questions, you have to demonstrate the correct use of real Word features inside the real Word application, just as you do for the live exam. Our questions are worded differently from the real test because the live exam is constantly changing, and also because we cannot sell actual test questions. I am sorry to hear you haven’t passed the live exams; unfortunately, since these tests are licensed directly by GMetrix ( and not by Transcender, the Transcender test pass guarantee does not apply.

    • What is the live in the app practice test

  15. I would like to understand what is it that I am missing on my exam for excel 2010 I have praticed the test multiple times and know the pratice for the measure up from left to right I have even looked into all the wording and as to how it was done with certain specifications. How ever the pratice that I purchased does not have any explanations as to what my mistakes are it just gives an over view at the end. Is there something that you can advise me with or perhaps another study program I have another volcher that I purchased however I don’t want to test now and time is passing. I need to understand where I am going wrong. Please help Diana where can I get the Code Curu

  16. What test is this. I have the measure up but It has no indication as to what I have done wrong I know the pratice test like the back of my hand and I have failed for the second time.

    • I can’t speak to the quality of the MeasureUp test, since that is a product from a different company. Transcender sells a Word practice test and an Excel practice test in partnership with GMetrix. This is a download product that’s on sale for 20% off until 8/16/12 (a total of $55.29). We have a 6-month test pass guarantee, which states that if you take the live exam and don’t pass it, then we will refund the money you spent for your Transcender practice exam. Here’s the link to our practice test:

  17. How long do MOS exams last?

    • When I took the exam in 2010, it was 50 minutes.

      • it includes 20 tasks, lasts 50 min. it’s quite similar to the Microsoft.Press.MOS.2010.Study.Guide.for.Microsoft.Word.Excel.PowerPoint.and.Outlook. be careful because the time flies so quickly. :((

        • It only has 20 tasks? I thought I read somewhere that it had 38!!!

          • Edward, the exam may have changed since I took it, or else someone may have counted each individual action within a “task” as a separate task. For example, being asked to open a document, format a font, save it in a particular way, and perform another special action could be reported as many “tasks” even though on the exam, it counts towards one unit answered. Does this help?

          • There are 20 tasks in total. Each task includes 2-3 small questions.

            Task 1:
            – Border the content.
            – Save as PDF.

            Task 2:

            The trial software : GMetrixSMS_enUS_3.2.1.2 is really helpful. It’s close to the real test.
            We have to do as fast as possible. :D

          • There are 20 tasks in total. Each tasks includes 2-3 actions.

            Task 1:
            – Border the content.
            – save as PDF.
            Task 2:
            This trial software is really helpful : GMetrixSMS_enUS_3.2.1.2.
            I tried and it was rather close to the real test.
            We should do as fast as possible. :D

            p/s: why was my reply not posted. i had to post tiwce. ::

            • Xeki, our comments are moderated so they don’t appear until an admin approves them. That’s why you had to post twice! Thanks for reading.

          • the test itself has 40 tasks.

            • Excel has 18, Word has 30, and Powerpoint has 40

  18. I’m in the process of studying for the MOS 2010 for Word and Excel and I took the Word 2010 exam and failed. Your practice tests are somewhat pricey; will you be having any offers to purchase any time soon.

    • Cheryl, the best way to find out about our price promotions is to click “Get promotions and discounts e-mailed to you” on our home page and enter your e-mail address to subscribe. We do run several promotions a year. Good luck to you!

  19. Have you gotten 1000 in MOS Excel 2010? Please, I really want to know. I am fighting to get it.

  20. I’ve been using GMetrix to study for the MOS excel exam but was wondering about UCertify’s exam prep kit. Is UCertify’s kit worth getting? Is it based closer in style/format to the 77-882 exam?

    • Hi, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, we don’t create, endorse, or promote the uCertify products. I can tell you, though, that they offer a “Try before you buy” option. I would recommend (with this or any other training product, ours included) that you take it for a test drive & contact their customer support team if you have any doubts or questions before making your purchase. All our products are slightly different from the next vendor because we understand that people learn differently and you should choose the product that best meets your training needs. Best of luck & be sure to come back and tell us how you do on your Excel exam!

  21. Just checking through the test prep packages you offer and came across the 2010 Multi Pak – is this for Core level certification for Expert level certification? When taking assessment tests through staffing agencies, I typically test out at an expert level, so I don’t want to buy the lower level test prep material.


    • Hi Diane, great question! The 2010 Pak will include Core Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access as well as Expert Word and Excel. So the pak should cover you for any Office Suite training as well as those Expert level tasks in Word and Excel.

  22. I have taken the MOS 2010 Word a couple of times. Can seem to figure out how to replace a comment or table from the highlighted text. Can anyone help?

    • I’m not sure what you’re asking… Do you mean that you’re having this problem in the MOS exam engine, or that you can’t figure out this function in your daily use of Word?

  23. I am Microsoft Specialist certified in Outlook, Powerpoint, Word and Excel, office 2010. I did ALL of the certs in 1 month, this past month (March 2015). I had not used a pc or office in years (Im a mac person). I am currently unemployed and do not use any of these applications in a work environment (so you know my background). I would say I was at a newbie/beginner level.

    This is what I did:

    1) I found a good training center and took on-site classes in each of the applications. I took 2 classes in excel, 2 in powerpoint, 1 in word and 1 in outlook. Yes it costs money. The training center also offered free retakes of the classes for life. I did retake Word and Excel, but only because I neglected to do step 3 below the first time around.

    2) I did not have a pc so I bought a cheap used laptop on ebay that already came with Office 2010. You absolutely need easy access to the software so you can practice and you will need your own copy of the software to do the GMetrix practice exams.

    3) Immediately, that night, after each class, I would practice the application I had just learned. If you take a class, you must practice what you have learned within 24-48 hrs, so your brain retains the information.

    – I would also do my own projects in each application (minus outlook). I re-did my resume in word, I created a powerpoint presentation as to why I would make an awesome choice as an employee for my field and I created some inventory files in excel for my Etsy store.

    4) I bought the gmetrix practice/training modules for the MOS Specialist exams. This is important! Its a live environment and you get to practice in a simulated testing environment. Plus the more you do it, the more you become familiar with how to do things.

    5) I bought the MOS 2010 Study Guide on It was semi-useful in looking up things I could not figure out how to do. I could have done without it, by using online help.

    I hope this information helps! And good luck!

    • Thanks for posting! You make a good point on the live-in-the-app practice. We partner with GMetrix as well to offer those training products to our customers – the product we sell is actually theirs.

  24. Hello! I’m an 8th grader and I am preparing to take the excel certiport next Tuesday. I’ve already passed the Word certiport with an 850 and Powerpoint with a 867. I was just wondering if you had some study tips or tricks to help me pass the Excel Certiport. Thanks!

    • Oh, and I passed the GMetrix with a 793, and I’m not going to be able to retake it until after the Certiport.

      • IsJ, congrats on adding certifications to your resume well in advance of high school graduation. The tips for passing the Excel are really the same as for passing the Word exam. First, study each of the exam objectives and sub-objectives ( or, depending on the version you plan to certify with). Be sure you know at MINIMUM of one way to perform each task, but ideally two – for example, both a keyboard shortcut and a menu selection. Next, study ALL of the CBT Nuggets, which is a great free resource from Microsoft ( or Third, heed the warning to keep an eye on the time. If you can’t figure out how to execute a task, SKIP IT and move to the next. You run the risk of running out of time to answer the items you know if you idle on the one you don’t. Good luck!

        • Hi! I took the Excel certiport for the first time on Tuesday, May 5th. I missed the 700 mark by 25 pts (675 :/) There were two questions that I wasn’t able to complete because in the Page setup group, the margins and print settings buttons weren’t “Hot” Like, they were grey and I was not able to click on them. Two questions required me to change both of those and I wasn’t able to. I was wondering if you knew if that was a problem with my computer or if I wasn’t deleting/ changingsomething. Also I’ll be able to retake this exam on May 25th

          • If an option is greyed out, typically it isn’t something required to complete the task, OR you have not executed some steps or actions that are supposed to happen before you use that option. If you remember the topic of this task, be sure to study all of the official Microsoft references for how you’re supposed to set it up. Maybe you were trying to perform it in a way that works in real life but isn’t the “ideal” workflow. Luck with your retake!

            • Ok so I retook the Excel Gmetrix yesterday and scored 900 (which has 30 questions) and I had 15 min left. I’m taking the certiport tomorrow and I have studied thoroughly.

              • Keep us updated on your results!

  25. Any Tips on MOS Access, I have completed both the word and excess, but there are only 2 practice tests on GMetrix, and i am having difficulties with building blocks/expressions. Thanks

    • I recommend searching YouTube for video walkthroughs of building blocks & expressions. I have found some very useful and technically accurate tutorials that way. Good luck!

  26. I am continually browsing online for articles that can assist me. Thank you!

  27. I’ve taken the WORD 2010 Expert Exam 3 times – – – finally passed on the last try, but the main trouble I had was in the References Tab – – – You could click on the Reference Tab, but all of the info within that tab was greyed out, so I couldn’t click on anything to answer the question (Manage Courses, Insert Citation, etc.) – – – I knew how to do it, but it was all greyed out so I couldn’t “click” on anything – – – am I missing something? On practice tests and watching youtubes, I didn’t see anything that talked about an additional step to activate the Reference Tab (???) It’s been very frustrating and friends who are still trying to take it and pass are having the same problems. Can you help??

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