This $34 course bundle will help you learn Microsoft Excel

(CNN) —  

We’d bet that you’re at least a little familiar with Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets or another type of spreadsheet software. But we’re willing to bet there are a lot of tools and features you aren’t taking advantage of. The All-in-One Microsoft Excel Certification Training Bundle has a set of courses that will help you make the most out of the datasheet program and move toward mastery.

For $33.99, you get 10 courses that cover the ins and outs of Excel and all the powerful integrations. With over 50 hours of lessons, there are tips and tricks for newbies and experts alike. And for those who prefer Google Sheets, the free spreadsheet platform, the courses cover this application a bit. We took a hands-on look at the courses to see what kind of skills we could learn.

Here’s how these courses work

As far as programs go, Excel appears pretty simple upon first glance. You can fill out columns, create dates and add values. But there’s so much more than meets the eye, and much of this bundle concentrates on illuminating Excel’s most powerful functions.

Still, many lessons are dedicated to beginners, and there’s a certain level of approachability that comes with those. Luckily, that remains true for the more advanced courses. Many of them are goal-driven, such as the course on pivot tables, which can be used to calculate and intuitively display otherwise complex information. Others, like the one we start with below, focus on giving you the lay of the land. And as with other courses we’ve covered, you get lifetime access to this Microsoft Excel bundle.

Microsoft Excel (365): Crash Course

This novice-oriented class taught by an instructor from Earn and Excel (an organization specializing in training courses for Microsoft Office) starts from the very beginning. In fact, it opens with Excel closed and walks you through setting up your first workbook while also touching on the user interface. This course includes some downloadable materials so you can keep pace with the instructor as well. It’s a nice touch and lets you actively engage throughout the lessons. After the basics, you’ll be entering data, formatting cells and creating charts. You’ll even learn basic formulas to add data together or reference other cells with various logic statements.

We found this course to be a great fit for Excel beginners. The instructor, while soft-spoken, does a great job at highlighting where he’s clicking and why he’s performing different actions. And he does so with example datasets so you can really see how it affects your active spreadsheet. The final lessons actually introduce some basic VBA for the creation of macros. This is an inclusion we absolutely love to see in Excel tutorials. It’s just such a useful and flexible tool that anyone can use in Excel with a little practice.

Overall, we highly recommend this course for Excel beginners. It lays down a foundation and sets you up for success with the more advanced courses included in the bundle.

Microsoft Excel: Data Analysis With Excel Pivot Tables

Pivot tables are vital for organizing, sorting and displaying complex or large datasets in Excel. This course taught by Chris Dutton, who’s specialized in data visualization and business intelligence for over 10 years, aims to get you up to speed with pivot tables, including how to set one up and make it work for you.

Chris’ lectures are very well organized, and they begin with a summary of what you’ll learn. He also explains not only how to create and manipulate pivot tables, but why they’re useful, and why each lesson is necessary. You’ll start with example datasets and then move into creating your own. A good chunk of the lesson is devoted to “displaying your desired summaries,” which we think is a necessary skill when working with this tool. These and other modules are full of quizzes and “homework” too so you can practice on your own and check your work with the sample sheets.

A highlight of this course would be the included datasheets and succinct instructor, who makes the course both approachable and easy to follow.

Data Science With Stocks, Excel and Machine Learning

As the name suggests, this course is one of the more applied ones in this bundle. The goal is to teach through hands-on time — you’ll be working on stock portfolios and even using machine learning to predict stocks. The instructor, from Mammoth Interactive (an online school that has been featured at Harvard and other organizations), walks you through the steps from the very beginning, in that you’ll be inputting raw data and creating a model out of it. You’ll even learn a bit of Python code to help train a machine learning model for stock prediction.

We really liked how practical this course was, and we were left with the realization that functional exercises are the best ways to learn software. Between the included files and the ways the lessons are split, it’s a hands-on approach that leads you with a tangible end result. And on the subject of when some Python coding is involved, the instructor shows off the effect of every line of code so you can understand the results.

We’d never implemented machine learning into an Excel project, and the instructor expertly turns it into a manageable task that you can work on from scratch.

Bottom line

The All-in-One Microsoft Excel Certification Training Bundle ($33.99; is all about delving into the best features Excel has to offer. Even if you’re just starting out, expect to learn a lot and bolster your data management skills all at once. We especially like how these courses mix classic teaching elements with a hands-on approach that puts you, the student, in control.

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