How to Pass Your Microsoft Word Skills Test
Updated May 17, 2022
If you have been invited to attend a job interview, it is increasingly likely you will be asked to complete a series of tests as part of it. These tests allow hiring panels and recruiters to understand more about your technical capabilities and proficiencies, as well as learning about your approach to work-based tasks.
One of the most common test types is the Microsoft (MS) Word test.
This is not designed to check how quickly you can type or how accurate your spelling and grammar is. Instead, this test sees if you can use the software effectively and if you can edit, format and share documents with minimal input or support from other colleagues.
If you are worried about what to expect from an MS Word test or assessment, then this article will help you understand what it involves and how to fully prepare. By the end, you should feel confident you know how to pass a test on your MS Word skills.
Microsoft Word is a core component of the Microsoft Office suite of computer programs.
Most companies worldwide use MS Word as it has huge capabilities for word processing. You will likely be well acquainted with the software already, likely having used it for homework or study tasks, writing your cover letter, CV or resume and using it as a key element of your typical working day.
The MS Word test will look at how capable you are when using the software.
Some employers may create an informal test that allows them to see how you use the software. The employer wants to know that you have the office skills required to simply get on with the task at hand, rather than asking others how to do basic activities like formatting tables, inserting graphics, using the spelling/grammar proofing tool or creating a mail-merged document.
Alternatively, an employer may invest in a formal MS Word test to measure your ability. Numerous third-party companies provide official MS Word tests that can be administered and assessed on the employer’s behalf.
This article will look at a couple of the common external testing companies and explain what you may expect and how you can pass the Microsoft Word test.
If word processing is a key element of your job role’s daily activities, then it is likely you will be asked to pass a Microsoft Word test.
There are different types of tests available, from basic administration through to intermediate and advanced assessments.
You may find that the test you are given by your prospective employer differs per your experience and level of seniority (for example, those applying for managerial roles may be offered an advanced MS Word test).
Common job roles routinely expecting participants to pass a Microsoft Word test include:
- Administrative assistants
- Production assistants
- Virtual assistants
As you may expect, your assessment is highly likely to be interactive.
You will be asked to complete certain tasks replicating Microsoft Word’s day-to-day use.
Your task will pop up at the bottom of the screen and you will have to complete it before moving on to the next. There will likely also be questions to test your theory.
Within your Microsoft Word test, you may find a mix of interactive tasks to complete as well as some multiple-choice questions.
This is so the employer can differentiate between your practical capabilities (your ability to complete tasks within the software) as well as your theoretical knowledge of the application (your ability to answer questions about how to use it).
You will likely find the interactive scenarios easier to complete because you will likely have intrinsic, intuitive knowledge of how to use the program quickly and easily, whereas the multiple-choice questions require a detailed, conscious knowledge of the various functions and layout of the program.
As mentioned above, there are different levels of Microsoft Word proficiency. The MS Word test that your prospective employer chooses will depend upon what capabilities you are expected to have.
Here is a quick breakdown of the three proficiency levels and what you can expect within those tests:
At this level of ability, you should know the fundamentals of using MS Word.
This includes how to write, edit and save documents and recognition of basic icons.
Intermediate users should have a greater understanding of MS Word’s capabilities.
You should understand how to use advanced editing tools, such as how to insert images, wrap text and create borders, headers and footers.
You should also be able to change page layouts, insert columns and page breaks, and work across multiple windows.
Also, you should be able to edit PDF documents in MS Word and use the mail merge function to send letters to multiple people.
Advanced users will have greater insights into making the most from MS Word. You will know how to compare and combine documents, use macros, restrict editing functionality and add passwords to your document.
You should also know how to use and insert specific characters and include custom color sets and custom fields in your document.
Top tip! It is helpful to understand the difference between the expected knowledge at different proficiencies because you can use these insights to add any specific Microsoft Word skills to your resume.
If the prospective employer has used a third-party company to administer the test, then you could ask the recruiter to confirm who the test provider will be.
This will allow you to align your pre-interview study with that specific provider.
Knowing what the test is likely to entail allows you to use your time to study so you pass your Microsoft Word test.
ISV specializes in providing candidate testing and training for employers.
It has a variety of tests dedicated to the Microsoft Office suite, for differing ability levels and knowledge areas. It also has an online testing platform that can be fully branded and set up to match an employers’ look and feel.
As well as having some pre-determined MS Word tests available, the company also allows firms to set up their own, which could link in specifically with a certain job description.
ISV uses a variety of question types to test proficiency, including multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and consecutive ordering. There are also dedicated videos available as part of the assessment.
It should be noted that different assessments are available for different versions of MS Word, from 2010 up to 2019.
As a participant, you should be clear with your prospective employer which version of MS Word you use, as different updates will have different functionalities.
Participants can expect to receive between 25 to 40 questions within a 15 to 20-minute test.
With ISV, participants can also participate in a series of practice questions before starting their official assessment, which can help settle their nerves and feel at ease. The difficulty of the test will be determined by the skill needed for the job position.
As the skills testing is available online, participants can take part in the MS Word tests from anywhere in the world.
Some employers may ask you to conduct the assessment in their office, whilst those who are working from home for the foreseeable future and are conducting virtual interviews may ask you to take the test from the comfort of your own home.
The Kenexa Prove It word tests are another variation of MS Word assessment commonly used by employers.
Kenexa tests typically use interactive, task-based questions, showing participants’ practical abilities.
The Kenexa tests are broken down into two distinct subcategories:
The normal user test (which is 30 questions) – The normal user test will be for those with a basic/intermediate understanding of Microsoft Word. Users can expect questions on basic skills such as text formatting, layouts and general properties such as saving or printing.
The power user test (which is 25 questions) – The power user test looks at the more complicated aspects of MS Word, as it is designed for intermediate/advanced users. You may be questioned on areas including mail merges, templates, and inserting tables.
In some instances, an employer will ask prospective candidates to complete a dual test which will encompass both the normal and power user tests.
However, this is time-consuming, and most employers will base their choice of test on the seniority of the position that they are recruiting for.
The Kenexa tests are more attuned to testing your practical abilities to use MS Word rather than your theoretical knowledge.
This can suit many candidates who instinctively know how to use the software and will be able to navigate their way around the MS Word toolbar.
However, Kenexa tests do not offer the opportunity to practice in advance, unlike the ISV tests.
You only have one opportunity to get your question right, so you must feel confident in your answer. You may find that, because of the interactive nature of the test, some functions or shortcuts within MS Word may be unavailable, so if you need to be aware of multiple ways accessing certain toolbars/functions.
Officially, it is not a timed test. However, the amount of time you take may influence your final score.
To help you understand how to pass a test of your MS word skills, here are examples of the types of questions to expect.
Both basic and advanced level answers are given to show the difference in expectations.
Please cut and paste the following text into a new word document:
Perform the following:
- Add a headline at the bottom of the page that says, ‘Visit the group website’ and add in a hyperlink to www.thisisthegroupwebsite.com.
- Show how you would find the readability statistics of your document.
- Show how you would add password protection to your document.
If you are concerned about how to pass your Microsoft Word Test, here are some handy practical tips that may help you prepare:
Do not be afraid to ask your recruiter or prospective employer what to expect from the test. It is in their interest for you to successfully pass the test, so they will likely tell you whether it will be an in-house or third-party test (for example, ISV or Kenexa) and whether it will be remote or in-office.
Remember – everything in the test should be directly related to the job role itself. Therefore, pay close attention to the job description and expectations of the job role.
Make sure you are clear on the tasks your potential job entails and use them as a starting point for what to expect in the MS Word test.
For example, if you are applying for a senior position, you may need to know how to create templates and password protection on a word document, whereas for an entry-level job you can expect the test to be focused more on basic functionality.
Prepare in advance with the numerous practice tests and online tutorials available. If you know the company who will be giving the test, you can tailor your practice.
There are thousands of questions that could be asked in an MS Word test, so try to be clear about the differences between basic, intermediate and advanced tests to refine your study.
Reputable sites include:
Each site has a comprehensive write up of what to expect from a Microsoft Word test, as well as sample questions that you can use as part of your practice.
There are also further practice tests available here.
Also, you can look at the official Microsoft certifications.
There is a wide range of certificates available (broadly priced at $100), which provide a guarantee to employers as to your level of knowledge. Through online training and distinct modules, they improve your expertise.
As well as being highly sought-after by employers and valuable to have on your resume or CV, these certificates could help you to pass your MS Word test with flying colors.
During your preparation and test practice sessions, you should pay close attention to how long it takes you to read and interpret the questions and long you take to find the correct answer.
The ISV tests should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes and the Kenexa ones consider your time as part of your score.
Therefore, you need to be confident enough in Microsoft Word to use it quickly and competently.
Whilst speed is important, do not sacrifice accuracy for it. You may wish to remind yourself of the proverb, ‘More haste, less speed’.
Although the focus of this article has been the Microsoft Word test, you should be prepared for the employer to ask you to participate in a series of tests to determine your suitability for the role.
Recruitment is extremely expensive, and employers need to feel confident that they are making the right choice the first time around. Thanks to a the variety of employment tests, they can use data to see who you are and how you would fit into their team.
Common tests include:
Administrative Tests – This is where you may be asked to complete a series of admin-based tests that will judge your ability to handle your workload. Common examples of administrative tests include understanding numerical reasoning, understanding written materials and checking your concentration abilities.
Microsoft Excel Skills Tests – Like the MS Word tests, there are also various testing options to check your proficiency in Microsoft Excel and the wider suite of Microsoft Office products. This test is commonly used when spreadsheets and data calculations are a heavy part of the job. You may be asked to showcase how you can formulate a spreadsheet or make the software to automatically undertake calculations for you.
Personality Tests – A core part of any recruitment campaign is finding the right personality fit that matches the other people within the team. The personality/culture fit of recruits is almost as important as have the experience and understanding to perform the job role, and many unsuccessful hires are due to a lack of chemistry between applicants and their colleagues.
Therefore, many employers are turning to personality tests. They want to understand what motivates a potential employee, how they approach tasks and whether they have any key personality traits which could indicate leadership potential.
Aptitude and Reasoning Tests – There are a variety of reasoning tests available that allow employers to look at how a candidate can react to a specific piece of information. Two examples are tests for logical and analytical reasoning. The employers can find out how an applicant will interpret and apply logic to the given information to create an answer or solution.
In job roles that rely on understanding and interpreting data (such as IT, engineering or even the military), you can expect to be asked to complete a wide range of aptitude and reasoning tests including analytical reasoning, verbal or non-verbal reasoning, and mechanical reasoning, amongst many others.
Situational Judgment Tests – You may also be asked to participate in situational judgment tests. These assessments find out how you would react or cope in particular work-based simulations. Using hypothetical scenarios, an employer can look at some of your decision-making skills, ability to react under pressure and how you work as part of a team. These tests can give them a far greater understanding of who you are as a person and whether you are the right candidate for the job.
Top Tip! On Psychometric Success, there are informative articles about a wide range of tests that employers use extensively during recruitment.
It is increasingly common for employers to ask prospective candidates to participate in various aptitude tests. It therefore should not come as a surprise if you are asked to complete a Microsoft Word test.
After all, the employer needs to know that you have the technical capabilities to get on with the task at hand without requiring assistance for simple tasks.
Millennial and Generation Z workers who have grown up in the digital era, now make up most of the workforce.
If you are of these generations, you will likely have basic word processing abilities. But you should also learn less obvious MS Word functions such as formatting, mail merges and password protection/editing restrictions.
Improving your awareness of MS Word will help you pass your test and also provide you with new skills and attributes to add to your resume.
Even if you are confident in your MS Word ability, still take the time to prepare for your MS Word test.
You will have your personal preferences for using MS Word but need to be aware of other options available as well. This is particularly important for preparing for a Kenexa test, which sometimes limits functionality within MS Word. The last thing you want is to find that your usual working method is unavailable to you in the middle of an assessment.
Therefore, it is important to find out from your recruiter how they plan to administer the test. You need to clarify what you may be expected to know within the test, whether you will be quizzed on your practical ability, your theoretical knowledge or both, and whether you will be asked to complete an interactive quiz or answer multiple-choice questions.
There are both interactive and multiple-choice questions on the test.
Interactive questions measure your ability to perform functions within MS programs such as creating and saving files, highlighting text, formatting options, understanding shortcuts or adding in hyperlinks to documents.
For multiple-choice questions, you will be expected to select the correct answer from the possible answers given.
You can find samples of the test online. You can find prep packs on JobTestPrep.
LinkedIn users also have the opportunity to take a free MS Skills test to display on their profile, although this is just an informal assessment and might not reflect the most current questions.
If you fail, LinkedIn requires you to wait a certain amount of time before you can try again. This is not an easy test and it is good practice as it gives some insight as to the types of questions you might see on the Microsoft Skills Test and an indication of your proficiency with using Microsoft Word.
You should expect to be tested on your knowledge of the main functions of Microsoft Word such as editing a document, formatting, file management and how to create and insert graphics or tables.
There are different levels of difficulty for the test and you may be required to take the basic, intermediate or advanced test, depending on the level of proficiency your employer requires.
You can expect a mix of questions on the test that will assess your ability to use and navigate the MS Office program.
The MS program includes the use of Excel (spreadsheets) Word, Powerpoint and Outlook.
Assessments might include questions relating to creating, editing and presenting slides, using Outlook for email, advanced email and using Outlook calendar (including shared calendar), creating and managing tables and charts.
Employers can use different third parties to administer the MS Skills test.
The number of questions varies depending on which external provider is giving the test but will usually be between 25–40 questions.
Popular providers are ISV Online and Kinexa which have 24–40 and 30 question tests, respectively.
Kenexa also offers a ‘power user’ test which has 25 questions and is designed for the most advanced users.
The best way to practice initially is to familiarize yourself with the Microsoft Word program by getting practical, hands-on experience.
Take note of the layout of the program, click around the various drop-down menus and explore the different capabilities it has.
You can also search for information about how to perform tasks on Microsoft Word by looking online or asking questions in reputable forums.
There are also practice test samples available online that can help you to become familiar with the specific questions you may be asked.
For those who have grown up in the digital age, many of the tasks you are expected to complete within the Microsoft Word Skills Test will be inherent.
However, Microsoft exams are known to be hard and can sometimes be quite detail-focused.
By familiarizing yourself with the MS package, practicing exam questions and preparing for the assessment you will give yourself the best chance of passing the MS Skills Test.
You may be asked to complete a basic, intermediate or advanced test. The level of test you are required to take should relate to the position you are applying for or your current skill set.
If you struggle with the test, you will need to practice using Microsoft Word more and identify your weaknesses so you can strengthen those areas.