Resources to refresh Excel skills

New answer on May 22, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 08, 2020

Dear Community,

I got an offer from a top consulting firm and will be starting soon. Until then, I am seeking to refresh my Excel skills, are there any recommended resources to do so? I would say I am on an intermediate level.


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Content Creator
replied on Apr 08, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Congrats of that offer!

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

  • Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT
  • Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,
  • Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())
  • Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA
  • Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials:

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Apr 08, 2020
McKinsey / ex-Interviewer at McKinsey / I will coach you to rock those interviews


For sure! Here are some good ones I can recommend:

  • Finance & Quantitative Modeling for Analysts This is good if you are a beginner. What I like about this one is that you will be creating your own model as part of the course (financial modelling is all about learning by doing)

  • Excel Skills for Business Specialization This one is also good for beginners – it gives you an overview of how to work with big data sets (like using vlookup)

  • Excel Skills for Business: Advanced As the name says it, it's for a bit more advanced excel users. It gives a lot of best practice recommnedations on how to design your models (keeping spreadsheets clean, data organization, etc.)




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Anonymous replied on Apr 08, 2020


Great to hear about your offer. Congrats!

Training the Street is great, but unfortunately they are quite expensive.

Coursera has some free courses now. You can check on their web. E.g.

Have fun!


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Katharina replied on Apr 08, 2020
MBA candidate, 8+ years experience in gov affairs & a tech startup

Hello, I guess there are Excel courses on all major MOOC websites, on LinkedIn too... I like AbleOwl, it's maybe less well-known so I am sharing it here :-)

Kind regards,

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Apr 09, 2020
FREE 15MIN CONSULTATION | #1 Strategy& / OW coach | >70 5* reviews |90% offers ⇨ | MENA, DE, UK

Congrats and well done on your offer! Its great you are thinking about preparing well ahead of time.

To get really good at Excel as consultants use it, approach it in terms of:

  1. Mechanics - use Excel quickly and efficiently
  2. Tools - learn the tools you will need
  3. Process - understand how to think about what you need it to do

1. Mechanics

  • Use the keyboard, only!
  • Learn the Alt Key shortcuts (type alt shows you all the shortcuts for accessing the toolbar)
  • Memorise the key ones - Shift + Arrow (select cells), Ctrl + Space (select column), Shift + Space (select row), Ctrl + Shift + +/- (add or remove Columns or rows)
  • Find more here:

2. Tools

  • The other answers have covered most of these - Lookups, Sum Ifs, Count Ifs, Sum Products, Index Match, Pivot Tables
  • This is good enough for 90% of what you will need to know

3. Processes

  • This is more around how do you think about how to build a model and run analysis
  • Instead of jumping straight into, consultants will spend time thinking about the structure of their model first
  • Ask friends in banking or consulting or those who were in the year above you at university, for examples of these - DM me if you want some examples
  • Also, running checks are super important - having checks throughout is commonplace in good models - if you show this when you join, you will be a step above most others in your class


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replied on Apr 09, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


You need to master the following:


  • Fast excel - throw away your mouse and put some tape on your touchpad. Do everything with your keyboard!
  • The main formulas (especially vlookup, column, etc)
  • Pivot tables
  • Nice formating
  • Modeling - you need at least to know how to structure your sheets (Inputs, outputs, sources, versions, etc)

Advanced skills include:

  • Financial modeling (making proforma statement)
  • Valuation of projects / companies

The best offline courses are Training the street.


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Anonymous updated the answer on Jun 08, 2020

Dear A,

Congratulations to your offer!

It would be helpful for you to learn the business-focused Excel features.

In business, about 80% of your work will come from 20% of the functionality of the Microsoft Excel.

The core skills of a competent business Excel user are something like:

  • Formatting & basic formulas
  • Mouse-free Excel navigation
  • Vlookups & conditional statements
  • Data analysis - filtering, sorting, and analyzing data
  • Data visualization - tables, charts, and dual axis charts
  • What-if-analysis
  • Pivot tables

If you can do these things, you’ll outperform 95% of people in the workplace.

To learn these concepts, you could:

  • Learn the concepts online for free
  • Take an online course

If you’re looking for something free, I’d recommend Googling & Youtube-ing those topics on my list. Tons of free material online. On Udemy you can also find some courses.

If you’re short on time, take a short business-focused online course.

I’d recommend the following business-focused course focused on mastering the 20% of functions that make up 80% of Excel work.




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Content Creator
replied on Apr 30, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, on edx and coursera, by simply digiting "excel" in the search engine, you are going to find some good materials.


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Clara gave the best answer


Content Creator
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
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