Sep 8, 2021


Business Intelligence Skills

Excel MO-201 Exam Prep Tips from Certified Experts

9 min read

Sep 8, 2021


Business Intelligence Skills

Excel MO-201 Exam Prep Tips from Certified Experts

9 min read

Sep 8, 2021


Business Intelligence Skills

Excel MO-201 Exam Prep Tips from Certified Experts

9 min read

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Excel MO-201 Exam Prep Tips from Certified Experts

Right before launching my Excel MO-201 Exam Prep course, I had a quick Q&A session with John where we dove into the ‘skills vs certifications’ debate.

Luckily, we had no trouble settling it… certifications AND skills go hand in hand.

Skills are required to earn certifications, and certifications are essential to validate skills.

We had a great discussion, but his final question has lingered in my mind ever since…

“What advice do you have for folks looking to pass the MO-201 exam?”

My advice was (and still is) to make sure you understand the skills measured in the exam, and that you take the time to prepare. Some of the topics covered are pretty specific, so winging it may lead to disappointing results even if you have years of experience working with Excel.

That’s valuable advice! So… why did I keep thinking about this question?

It’s because my process in getting certified was very different from the process any of the readers were going to follow. I wasn’t just preparing for the exam, I was also preparing the curriculum for an entire exam prep course!

The most valuable advice would come from students that decided to pursue Microsoft’s Excel Expert certification and went on to earn it.

So, I reached out to these Microsoft Certified Excel Experts:

  • Branislav Poljašević

  • Buket Yasar

  • David Murray

  • Engels Rojas

  • Jihwan Kim

  • Karim Niang

  • Ricardo Romo

  • Stacey Thienel

These are their stories and their advice for you…

Branislav Poljašević

Many of you may know Branislav from being a remarkable teaching assistant on Maven’s Udemy courses, but what you may not know is that he is a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert and had to wait almost a full year to be able to take the exam in person.

For those unaware, the MO-201 Excel Expert exam is conducted at Certiport Authorized Testing Centers, so if you cannot find an option to have the exam proctored remotely it can be challenging to find a center near you in certain countries.

This was the case for Branislav in early 2020, as the only vendor in his country was in the process of renewing their contract with Microsoft. However, he made the most of this time and went through the entire suite of Maven’s Excel courses and topped it off with the MO-201 Exam Prep course which came out near the end of the year. Once he got the final confirmation that the testing center was authorized, he retook the course for good measure and aced his certification exam!

Here is Branislav’s advice for those looking to get certified:

“Do NOT underestimate the curriculum! I cannot say this enough. You may be able to use functions, charts, and pivot tables in your sleep, but if you fire up the exam and the first question asks you to create a custom theme with green colored text, you’re going to be in trouble. Granted, you can spend a lifetime using Excel and never use a custom theme, but it’s part of the skills measured in the exam so it’s important to study it – that’s something a good prep course like Maven’s is very useful for!”

Buket Yasar

Buket has been using Excel since 2007 and crushed her MO-201 exam with a score of 945 earlier this year, earning her the title of Microsoft Certified Excel Expert. Even though there was only one exam provider where she lives as well, she was able to take it remotely due to special circumstances regarding the global pandemic.

Here is Buket’s advice, even for experienced Excel users like herself:

“The exam structure is different from the standard Excel experience, so taking practice exams like those found in GMetrix and Maven’s MO-201 Prep course is very helpful to see what you will face in the real thing.”

David Murray

David’s journey towards becoming a Data Analyst has been a pleasure to witness for anyone in LinkedIn’s data community, and it all started with a Google search:

Which core data competencies should I have?

Three items kept coming up: Excel, SQL, and Power BI / Tableau

After choosing to focus on these areas, he sought out the most relevant and highest-level certifications for each in order to be classified as an expert in the field. For Excel, this meant obtaining the MO-201 Excel Expert certification.

He had already completed a few of Maven’s learning paths and was about to transition into Excel, so he decided to dive straight into the MO-201 Exam Prep course.

He booked the exam remotely immediately after completing the course and obtained his certification immediately after finishing the exam.

David Murray, Microsoft Certified Excel Expert and a valuable asset to any company.

Here is David’s advice to anyone thinking of taking the MO-201 exam:

Time management is key. You have 50 minutes to complete the exam, which doesn’t leave much time to be double checking every formula. Don’t get caught up in one question, it’s best to move on and come back later if you have time. It’s a tough exam that requires speed and accurate knowledge, but Maven’s MO-201 Exam Prep course will give you all the necessary information and skills to pass.”

Engels Rojas

Engels’ story is one of perseverance and hard work. He made a promise to himself and his family to become a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert in 6 months. He got to work immediately on Maven’s Excel Specialist path with this mission in mind, putting all his effort into finishing a course every two weeks.

By the time the MO-201 Exam Prep course launched, he knew his chance to earn his certification had come. Engels finished the course in January 2021 and by February he was officially a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert. The sacrifice paid off and his family couldn’t be prouder!

Here’s the advice that Engels has for you:

Practice every day. Fifty minutes go away fast, so practicing will make sure you are even faster. Remember to time yourself while taking the practice exam in Maven’s course or in GMetrix to make sure that the experience is the same. If you love something, the sacrifice is worth it – never give up!”

Jihwan Kim

Two fun facts about Jihwan:

  1. He is a Maven Analytics Hall of Famer

  2. He passed the MO-201 Excel Expert exam in a foreign language

Yup, you read that right.

Even though he selected the English version of the exam when he registered, and the questions were in fact in English, the Excel interface was in Dutch.

He had no idea what each formula was called or how to read anything on the ribbon, so he had to rely on his memory to find the location and sequence of each icon’s correct function.

When he submitted the exam, he was only able to answer around 70% of the questions.

And yet… Jihwan is now a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert 🤯

When I asked him if he had any advice for anyone interested in the certification, this is what he had to say:

“Even though I was in quite an unfavorable situation, being prepared with Maven’s courses gave me the confidence to know that I was getting the correct answers, even without being able to check them. I took all the Excel courses myself, but in my opinion the Prep course is enough to pass if a person has enough working experience with Excel before that.”

Karim Niang

Karim has been working with Excel for quite some time and completed some of Maven’s Excel courses prior to preparing for the Excel Expert exam.

Once he knew he wanted to obtain the certification, he did some research to compare prices and set the date. During this research, he noted that some test centers offer packages to prepare for the exam as well as the exam itself, but they aren’t very affordable. Therefore, Karim’s preparation for the exam was solely based on Maven’s MO-201 Exam Prep course.

Karim is now a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert.

His advice for people looking to earn their certification is very clear:

“Take the course, save the pro tips, practice a lot, and don’t diminish details (especially for little things like changing settings and languages).”

Ricardo Romo

As an Industrial Engineering Consultant, Ricardo is no newbie to Excel. On top of that, he had already taken all of Maven’s Excel courses before he even knew that an Excel Expert certification existed, which helped him really fly through the MO-201 Prep course.

After finishing the course, he had no trouble scheduling his exam remotely, and even less trouble acing it.

Here is Ricardo’s advice as a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert:

“I would personally recommend taking the full stack of Maven’s Excel courses to truly become an Excel expert. Even though the exam certifies you as an expert, there are a lot of things that the exam does not cover but that you might need on your job or career. It is not just about being certified, but about being able to prove your skills when needed.”

Stacey Thienel

Stacey's story is close to my heart, as she was the first Maven student to finish my MO-201 course and become a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert.

Of course, the Excel Expert certification wasn’t Stacey’s first rodeo. In fact, she’s completed SIX certification exams in under two years. For anyone that knows Stacey, this should come as no surprise. Her determination and work ethic are part of the reasons why she was inducted into Maven Analytics’ Hall of Fame, and why she has a fulfilling role as an Accounting Manager!

With all that experience behind her, these are the tips Stacey has for students looking to get certified:

Confidence and practice. They are intertwined. With confidence comes practice as you tell yourself YOU GOT THIS! With practice, you realize YOU REALLY GOT THIS! Just keep at it. Some of Excel is easy and some is not. But I guarantee you, once you get started, you will be successful.”


Thinking about becoming a Microsoft Certified Excel Expert yourself?

  1. Do NOT underestimate the curriculum

  2. Don’t diminish details when learning

  3. Have confidence in yourself

  4. Practice every day

  5. Be prepared for challenging scenarios

  6. Take practice exams to be ready for the real thing

  7. Manage your time when taking the exam

  8. Remember that it’s not just about being certified, but about applying those skills

Get to work!


P.S. Check out my Excel MO-201 Exam Prep course!

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