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Ladies and gentlemen: it’s time to start your spreadsheets, fine-tune those formulas 3 Crazy Excel Formulas That Do Amazing Things 3 Crazy Excel Formulas That Do Amazing Things I have always believed that Excel is one of the most powerful software tools out there. It's not just the fact that it's spreadsheet software. No, Microsoft Excel 2013 simply has an awesome collection of... Read More , and ready yourself for the inaugural Excel World Championship! That’s right — the world’s favorite spreadsheet software now has a Microsoft-sponsored competition, complete with a grand prize for the overall winner.

Excel World Championship entrants will be tested in several key Excel areas. They’ll be competing for “a trip to Seattle, USA and a meeting with Excel Product Leads to provide feedback on the next features added to Excel.” And of course, the title of “Excel World Champion” will be bestowed upon the eventual winner. Add that to your letterhead!

Competition Format

The brave competitors must display exceptional skills in the following areas:

As you’d expect with a competition, it won’t be straightforward. Competitors will receive a notification when a test spreadsheet becomes live. Those competing must download the test, complete it, and return it to the email address provided at the time (“Details on where to send your workbook will be provided with the test”).

This is a skill-based contest. The objective of this contest is to empower people to learn and do more by creating awareness of the modern features of Excel 8 Types of Excel Charts & When You Should Use Them 8 Types of Excel Charts & When You Should Use Them Graphics are easier to grasp than text and numbers. Charts are a great way to visualize numbers. We show you how to create charts in Microsoft Excel and when to best use what kind. Read More and how to access and use these new features through Office 365. In this contest, Excel fans can show their skills and creativity How to Create Powerful Graphs & Charts in Microsoft Excel How to Create Powerful Graphs & Charts in Microsoft Excel A good graph can make the difference between getting your point across or leaving everyone dozing off. We show you how to create powerful graphs in Microsoft Excel that will engage and inform your audience. Read More as they work through a series of questions around data manipulation, data visualization, and formula writing Power Up Excel with 10 Add-Ins to Process, Analyze & Visualize Data Like a Pro Power Up Excel with 10 Add-Ins to Process, Analyze & Visualize Data Like a Pro Vanilla Excel is amazing, but you can make it even more powerful with add-ins. Whatever data you need to process, chances are someone created an Excel app for it. Here's a selection. Read More .

Competitors will be scored based on their performance in the aforementioned areas. The weighting for those areas is as follows: Data Relays (35%), Chart Gymnastics (30%, driven by community), Formula Wrestling (35%).

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“Driven by community” refers to the Excel Tech Community. Competitors will upload their Chart Gymnastics into a public area and receive votes. This seems like an interesting idea for a competition. Given that this will be a public vote, I’m sure it will be susceptible to the same “hivemind” social influence bias How Upvote Systems Have Damaged Online Communities How Upvote Systems Have Damaged Online Communities Read More we see in other open voting systems.

Competition Dates and Entry Requirements

If your interest has been sufficiently piqued, take note of the competition start and end dates.

  • Round 1 “Trials” — October 3 00:00 UTC to October 9 23:59 UTC
  • Round 2 “Qualifying Heat” — October 12 00:00 UTC to October 21 23:59 UTC
  • Round 3 “Semi-Finals” — October 26 00:00 UTC to November 2 23:59 UTC
  • Round 4 “Finals” — November 18 00:00 UTC to November 18 23:59 UTC

The first two rounds are open to everyone. After round two, all entries will be graded on the criteria detailed in the following section.

Determining a Winner

All entries will be reviewed at the end of each round. The following criteria will be used to select the winners:

  • 25% — Data Accuracy
  • 10% — Data Access and Structure
  • 30% — Social Score
  • 25% — Formula Accuracy (answers question with current data and answers question with refreshed data)
  • 10% — Formula Efficiency (higher score for using fewer formulas and arithmetic operations)

After round two, the top 20 highest scoring entries will progress. Following round three, the top 3 highest scoring entries will progress. Round four will see the highest scoring entry declared Excel World Champion.

Entry Requirements

The competition will be run under the Excel World Championship banner, but there are entry restrictions for a number of countries:

Residents of those countries can find information on how to enter by following this link.

Otherwise, you’ll be testing your mettle in the International group. Whether or not this increases the competition difficultly is yet to be seen. I imagine the bar will be set pretty darn high!

Tips for the Trial

The first trial workbook can be downloaded via this link.

Excel World Championship Round One Download

Here are my immediate impressions: Power Query and Power Pivot are definitely going to be your friends in the first task. However, some users have reported difficulty using those tools within the protected workbook. This means to complete the trial, you’ll have to devise a workaround.

Excel World Championship Data Relay Questions

The second task tests your chart skills. The data provided should give you ample opportunity to display your prowess. That said, if you’re stuck for an aesthetic, why not look at the existing submissions (scroll down to the comments) for some inspiration?

Caveat — Upvote those you find interesting and display the data accurately. This section considers the community opinion too.

The final section requires you to answer a series of questions using formulas. You should find the questions relatively easy, especially for those using the integrated functions offered in Excel 2016. Remember, the judges want the correct answer, but also want a nice, efficient formula. You’ll lose points if your formula is convoluted or overly complicated. Keep it simple!

Excel World Champtionship Formula Wrestling

Compete With the Finest

Do you have what it takes to become the first Excel World Champion? Microsoft regularly provides sponsorship for other competitions. They provide a healthy backdrop for technological development while allowing Microsoft the first glance at anything groundbreaking. Most importantly, they give competitors a chance to illustrate their expertise in any given area, with the chance of winning exciting prizes.

And let’s face it, everyone loves an exciting prize.

Do you think you have what it takes? Do you think the level of expertise will be too high? What Microsoft-sponsored competitions would you like to see next? Let us know your thoughts below!

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