Updates from QA Training

Inside the SharePoint 2013 MOS Exam

Microsoft and Certiport release the MOS exams for Office 2013. We review the SharePoint exam.

John Day | 27 August 2014

Microsoft and Certiport release the MOS exams for Office 2013. We review the SharePoint exam.

So a new Office, a new SharePoint, and as natural as babies following procreation comes the MOS exams.  So as any good mid-wives would do - or as we a so pro "Political Correctness" - mid-husbands - my team and I decided to venture into taking the exam and feeding back to you the experience.  I was joined by SharePoint designer and developer author Jonathan Venables, SharePoint Business Consultant Scott Harvey-Hall and SharePoint trainer and mentor Richard Bean.


If you don't know the background, Microsoft and Certiport have banded together to release the Microsoft Office Specialist Master exams (MOS for short).  The exam interface has been re-designed and the Specialist and Master accreditations have been increased.   Previously the MOS Master accreditation for 2010 consisted of 4 exams out of the 8 they released (there were two Word and Excel exams).  The 2007 was not too dissimilar.

MOS Master 2010

3 Mandatory exams

  • 77-887 Microsoft Word 2010 Expert
  • 77-888 Microsoft Excel 2010 Expert
  • 77-883 Microsoft 2010 PowerPoint

1 elective exam

  • 77-884 Microsoft Outlook 2010
  • 77-885 Microsoft Access 2010
  • 77-886 Microsoft SharePoint 2010

However this time around the MOS Master is a lot more challenging with 6 exams required to pass:

MOS Master 2013

5 Mandatory exams

1 elective exam

Exam review

After trying out the Office 2013 exam interface and finding it intolerable compared to the 2010 I was relieved to find the SharePoint exam interface much similar to its predecessor.  The general Office exams require you to complete a very long stream of tasks in succession not as separate questions, therefore it is highly likely for one mistake to mess up the entire exam rather than just one question.  However, with the SharePoint exam you are tested with multiple choice questions and with a series of short tasks to complete, so you get a good range testing your understanding of theory and practise.

The exam tests your understanding and ability on the following areas: 

  • Create and format content (approximately 30%)
  • Manage SharePoint Sites (approximately 30%)
  • Participate in user communities (approximately 20%)
  • Configure and consume site search results (approximately 20%)

However whilst taking the exam there seem to be an awful lot of questions around the Social Networking aspect of SharePoint.  Scott was one of the first of the candidates to witness this.  "The exam focus is Social Media and Content Types."  Jon pointed out "realistically companies are more interested in using SharePoint for Business data than they are on creating a social networking system."  This is a good observation.  Enterprise content management and data reporting are the key areas that most business will focus their SharePoint customisation on.  However Social Networking has come a long way in SharePoint with this latest venture so it is only natural that Microsoft will promote and encourage it.

The interface was very simple and you could complete the tasks with no worries of it being made over complicated by an interface with more boxes than a shipping warehouse unlike the other 2013 exam screens. 

"The interface was much better than the Office exam one" Scott explains.  "The time duration was actually enough to answer and tag a couple of questions for review."

However it was not a completely happy environment.  The wording of the exam questions and task objectives did leave a lot to be desired.  The one question that the majority of us face referred to Document Set content types but provided Document content types as part of the solution to complete.  Of course you spend a lot of time looking to see if the question is the best action to take or the options provided towards the answer.  This confusion consumes time.  Scott is very clear to mention "Make sure you tag the questions you're not sure of for review before the end of the exam."  Marking a question for review is not required as you get to go through the exam questions again at the end.  However marking them does remind you quickly which ones you intended to come back to.   However I would support Scott's advice here, if you are not sure of a question, pick an answer if it is multiple choice and mark it for review.  That way if you do not get time at the end to review it you have covered an answer.  Try not to overthink an answer and if you do have answer to begin with and you cannot justify it is wrong, do not change it.  I did that to one question that mentioned Booleans.  I made my choice but marked it for review.  At the end I was between two possible answers and I changed it.  Only to discover my first choice was right, and changing it cost me 100% exam pass.  Not saying I'm a perfectionist or anything but it still eats at me. 

Happily we all passed with flying colours, but we could have done with a test exam first which at the time was not available.

Exam Study

So what do you need to take this exam with a higher chance of passing?  Well, QA provides what we call the SharePoint core training courses.  These are:

These courses take 6 days in duration.  What we at QA have decided to do is put together a new course combining all 3 of these into a single 5 day course.  This new course is the Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Master Class and is ideally suited for any IT Pro looking to train or support SharePoint in their business and needs to get up to speed fast which includes the best experience of preparing for the SharePoint exam.  We are looking to release this new course in September and hoping to package this course together with exam study guides and an exam voucher.  We will update you with the progress of this in due course. 

For more information about QA SharePoint courses contact info@qa.com.

QA Training | John Day

John Day

Office Applications Principal Consultant - SharePoint

John has worked in the IT training for 29 years, 20 of which have been with QA. Through this time John has gained “in-the-field” experience with database administration, VB and VBA programming and development, and web design. With almost 10 years of SharePoint administration experience, John heads the Microsoft SharePoint curriculum, where he authors QA’s SharePoint and related Office 365 courses for business professionals. John also supports the SharePoint training team and reviews the latest technologies associated with SharePoint as he eagerly grows his knowledge and experience in Microsoft cloud technologies.
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