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Are you a whizz on the computer but can't prove it - get certified
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Member Name: sandra101
The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)
Advantages: Great all round computer qualification
Disadvantages: You have to study and take 7 exams
There are a large number of people out there a bit like myself who left school with a smattering of O'levels and possibly RSA stage 2 typing but who have been working on computers for many years, be it wordprocessing, spreadsheets, finance packages. They can't however apply for a job because although they can write a wee macro, add up figures, send emails they don't have the piece of paper to prove it. I decided to rectify this situation a couple of years ago and enrolled to take an ECDL course by elearning.
- - The Certification - -
Once you are registered with an ECDL Centre, a logbook with the 7 modules printed in it is issued. As each module is completed your logbook is stamped so you can take a partially completed logbook to a new provider if you move etc.
The modules may be taken in any order and over any period of time up to three years from the date of the first exam. When all 7 modules have been successfully passed, a certificate will be produced by BCS.
The ECDL also known as the ICDL is a recognised qualification in 148 coutries.
The ECDL covers a very broad range of skills: The exams can be taken using Office 2003 or 2007 whichever one you are more familiar with. Depending on where you take the exam it can be paper based e.g. you take the exam and have your work marked and the result in a few days or you can take the exam online (my preferred method) where you get the result immediately on completion.
- - The Modules - -
1. Basic concepts of IT
2. Using the computer and managing files
3. Word processing
7. Information and Communication
The pass mark for each of the modules is 75% so be warned while it's not the most difficult exam in the world this is quite a high mark to pass
- - Breakdown - -
ECDL Part 1 Basic concepts of IT
This module introduces you to the basics of a computer and the concepts of IT. It covers types of computer, processors, applications, data storage and memory and the uses of information networks.
You will also gain an understanding of how IT systems are found in everyday situations like ATMs; and will cover issues such as RSI, security and the data protection act.
ECDL Part 2 Using the computer and managing files
This module introduces the basic functions of a computer and the operating system. It teaches the desktop, understanding and organizing files, formatting and backing-up, directories/folders. You learn how to copy, move and delete files and directories/folders.
It also covers how to work with desktop icons and to manipulate windows and to use search features, simple editing tools and print management and using the recycling bin.
ECDL Part 3 Word processing
This module teaches from basic operations to the more complex. You will create, format and print documents, set page sizes experiment with tabs, tables, inserting pictures, etc. as well as covering merge letters and tables.
ECDL Part 4 Spreadsheets
This module teaches you to create a spreadsheet, format it and use basic formulas and functions. You will also be expected to import objects and create graphs and charts. Editing of graphs, using colours, shading, different types of tables will also appear on the exam. You will be required to find values in a column such as the maximum, minimum and average.
ECDL Part 5 Databases.
This module teaches you the basic concepts of databases. On completion you will be able to design and create a simple database, retrieve information from an existing database by using the query tool , create and amend reports and create and amend forms.
ECDL Part 6 Presentations.
This module teaches you the basics of using presentation software. You will be able to accomplish basic tasks such as creating, formatting and preparing presentations to make a powerpoint show. It covers how to create a variety of presentations for different target audiences or situations. It also teaches how to insert, pictures, clip art and use various slide show effects.
ECDL Part 7
Internet and Email. This module teaches you how to search the web to get better results. It also covers how to use search engine tools, to bookmark search results and to print Web pages and search reports. It also covers how to use electronic mail software to send and receive messages, how to attach documents or files to a message and to organize and manage message folders or directories within your email software. The exam is not based on any specific email programme.
- - The most popular ways to take this course are - -
An intensive course where you attend a College, Training provider for 7 days and take an exam at the end of each day
One Year Course - You attend College for 3 hours per week, from September to June taking an exam every 4 weeks or so.
Elearning - Study the course at home and attend a local College\Training Centre to take your exams.
As I was already pretty computer literate I chose the elearning method, I was able to access the online materials at a time which suited me and could choose whether to take days, weeks or months over the study. Access was via the internet 24 hours a day, a broadband connection being pretty much essential.
E-learning is particularly suitable for those with other commitments or a busy lifestyle; it is also appropriate for those who require certification as fast as possible. I only really concentrated on the Access Module as although I have used it I hadn't been using it on a daily basis. I was then able to go into College and take 3 exams one day and 4 the next. After 2 days studying and 2 days of exams I had the piece of paper proving that I could use a computer.
- - Tips - -
Just because you use Word and\or powerpoint everyday does not make you an expert, these two modules are the most commonly failed as folks don't bother attending class or studying the elearning course as they think they know it all. You may be surprised
For the online exam check your spelling - a human may be able to see what you mean and mark it correctly - a computer cannot.
Practice, practice, practice - Keep a spreadsheet and make a graph of your Christmas or monthly spend. Create a database of relatives, names, addresses and birthdays. Use these tools in every day life and they will stick with you.
Access is usually the most frightening exam as people do not tend to use this very often. Don't worry - if you can create a table, query it and make a report and form from it and have the ability to edit these pages then there is nothing new which will be thrown at you in the exam. Surprisingly this exam gets the highest pass rate.
For online exams you need to know how to print to file and how to paste a screen dump.
I hope this is helpful - good luck
Find the full ECDL syllabus at
The price for an elearning ECDL from my local College is £43 for the course, £27 for the logbook and £50.00 for all seven exams. You can purchase the course as a standalone for £43 but I would advise you to take the exams and gain certification.
I wouldn't recommend you jump in at this level if you are only a beginner on the PC or if you only use it for dooyooing and surfing - try clait first.
Summary: If you are already computer literate - get certified
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