If you’re applying for a job that requires knowledge of Microsoft Excel, there's a good chance you will need to take an Excel skills test. Taking an Excel assessment is part of the pre-employment process to ensure that qualified candidates get hired. Scoring high on the skills test can be the deciding factor on whether a company offers you a job or not, so practice tests, like those offered by JobTestPrep, can be incredibly valuable.
We outline everything you need to know about an Excel test, and how can you be prepared so you’ll pass with flying colors. Let’s take a look.
How to Prepare For an Excel Skills Test
1. Understand the Job Requirements
It's important to understand what sort of excel skills are required by your potential employer. Are they expecting advanced analytical capabilities or very basic excel abilities? This information can help remove some anxiety around the assessment, and you'll know exactly what to practice. Read the job description closely and don't hesitate to ask the hiring manager for a detailed job description if it's not available.
One of the best ways to prepare for an Excel test is by practicing. To practice, we recommend using a service like JobTestPrep. They’ve been helping people prepare for and pass various skills tests since 1992.
If you’re already familiar with Microsoft Excel, the practice tests and tips provided by JobTestPrep serve as a helpful refresher course. If your Excel skills leave a lot to be desired, you’ll need more help preparing. JobTestPrep allows you to not just take practice tests, but also learn as you go through their preparation packs. They offer detailed explanations that will help grow your knowledge of Excel. JobTestPrep has preparation packs available for Excel 2010, Excel 2013, Excel 2016, Excel 2019 and Office 365. Each includes general test practice in case you don’t know what format you’ll be tested on ahead of time.
Excel preparation packs offer comprehensive features to help ensure you’ll be fully prepared come test time. This includes features such as:
- Excel training software
- Full-length Excel assessment tests
- Additional Excel practice questions
- Detailed explanations for each question
- Score reports so you can see where you stand and track improvement
- Excel project practice
3. Be Confident
As you prepare for your Excel test, it’s important to prepare not just to pass the test, but to perform well and with confidence. This will help you stand out from other job applicants.
Keep these tips in mind to perform confidently and showcase your skills:
- Don’t rely on Excel features, such as autocorrect and shortcuts. If the company is using software that simulates Excel, you may not have access to features such as these.
- Test questions are often randomized, meaning you may not be asked the same questions twice or the same questions as other applicants. Familiarize yourself with all aspects of Microsoft Excel.
- Take time to refresh your skills before taking the test. You can do this by creating a project in Excel or by taking practice tests. You want to go into your test with confidence. If it’s been a while since you’ve used Excel, don’t trust that your memory is going to pull you through.
What is an Excel Skills Test?
Microsoft Excel is a computer program that's part of Microsoft's Office Suite. Excel is a spreadsheet-based computer program utilized by millions of people around the world. While other spreadsheet programs have been created, including cloud-based applications, Microsoft Excel is still the go-to spreadsheet used by many companies. Because of this, many companies implement an Excel skills assessment during the interview process with prospective employees.
Excel tests measure your ability to perform specific tasks within the software. Often, the format is multiple-choice, interactive, or both.
There are typically three different Excel skills tests available to employers, depending on the level of knowledge required by the job. Testing at the correct level ensures a company is getting an employee skilled enough to thrive within their business. The three skills test levels include:
Basic / Beginner Excel assessment test: Used more with administrative or clerical jobs, the basic test evaluates your ability to perform basic Excel functions, such as formatting cells and inserting tables.
Intermediate Excel assessment test: This Excel test requires more in-depth knowledge and understanding of Excel and can include questions from both the basic and advanced tests.
Advanced Excel assessment test: Some jobs will require high-level Excel skills, including functions like VLOOKUP and SUMIFS. You may also be tested on the use of pivot tables, filtering and creating macros.
When taking the test, you may find companies that have created a custom test built in-house or one using various online platforms available. Some tests utilize Excel, while others use a simulated Excel environment. Other popular test options include CEB SHL's Excel Assessment Tests and Kenexa Prove It Excel Test.
Types of Jobs that Require an Excel Skills Test
In a report sponsored by Capital One, Burning Glass Technologies discovered that 82% of middle-skill jobs require digital skills, including spreadsheets. Excel skills are essential to day-to-day functions in several career fields. Career fields that may require the Excel skills test include:
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Various other jobs may require an Excel assessment as well. As you look at job listings, pay close attention to desired skills and any requirements listed. This may clue you into whether you'll be required to complete an Excel skills assessment.
What is the Format of an Excel Skills Test?
Employers may use slightly different variations of the Excel skills test. The majority of tests feature two sections: A multiple-choice portion and an interactive portion.
With the multiple-choice portion of the Excel skills test, you won’t actually use Excel. You will, however, be tested on your knowledge of the program. The test may include questions about definitions of various parts of a spreadsheet or functions. It’s important to be familiar with the program layout and what features are under each tab within Excel. The multiple-choice portion of the Excel skills test may be perceived as the easier part, but you also won’t have access to Excel during this time, so you can’t look at the program while answering questions.
The interactive portion is where you’ll have to put your Excel skills to the test. This could mean using Microsoft Excel or using simulation software. This part of the test is where you’ll actually perform tasks within Excel. Tasks could involve formatting, pivot tables, filters, functions (such as Sum and IF), and environmental features, like printing and saving.
You may or may not know what type of test you’ll be taking prior to testing. If not, you could ask the company’s human resource department for more information. It’s important to be prepared for both types of Excel skills test formats.
List of Other Skills Tests You Might Encounter
The Microsoft Excel skills test isn’t the only test given by potential employers. Companies often rely on various tests to analyze whether an applicant is a good fit for their company and the specific job in question. Here are a few that you might encounter:
Word Skills tests
Word is a word-processing computer program in the Microsoft Office Suite. Skills tested may consist of typing ability, layouts, formatting, printing, filtering, and more.
Aptitude & Reasoning tests
Some companies want to test applicants for general cognition. They want to see how you process various numerical, verbal, and mechanical functions to predict outcomes and make deductions. For more detailed information, check out our comprehensive guide to the most common career tests.
Just because an applicant is qualified for a particular position doesn’t mean they are a good fit. Personality tests look at your personality traits to make sure they fit the job role as well as within the work team and company.
Situational Judgment tests
Companies want to know how you’ll think and act within various work-related situations. These skills are put to the test during a Situational Judgement test.
For clerical jobs, you may be required to take tests that evaluate your clerical abilities. Skills tested may include record-keeping, coding, numerical functions, and verbal skills.
Data Entry tests
For Date entry tests, applicants are given data, either written or verbally, and asked to enter it quickly and accurately. Error checking is another skill that is tested, often through the use of comparing tables of information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is on an Excel skills test?
You can expect to be tested on your ability to perform basic Excel functions, such as formatting cells and inserting tables. For jobs with higher level Excel skills, you may be tested on pivot tables, filtering and creating macros, etc.
What questions are asked on an Excel test?
Questions will be asked about how Excel works and how to do certain things (like formatting cells) in Excel.
How can I practice my Excel skills?
One of the best ways to practice your Excel skills is by using a service like JobTestPrep. They’ve been helping people prepare for and pass various skills tests since 1992.
Career tests may seem a bit intimidating, but quality preparation and resources like JobTestPrep help grow your confidence and skill set, increasing your chances of landing the job you want.
As you continue to seek out work in a competitive job market, it’s crucial to take measures to ensure you’re prepared for whatever a potential employer may require. If your desired job requires Excel skills, don’t wing it. Ensure that you are well-prepared and ready to impress.
About the writer: Kevin is a former human resource administrator who made the successful transition to a full-time freelance writer. Kevin likes to learn about leadership and he writes about skill development and personal finances.