The Ultimate IC3 Certification Study Guide Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on August 18th, 2015

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The Ultimate IC3 Certification Study Guide

Computer Applications | IC3 Certification

How can I align my content to IC3 certification? If you’ve asked yourself this question, you aren’t alone.

We recently did a training session for business teachers in Pinellas County, Florida. Our product development manager, Ken, went through the normal routine of talking about the organization of modules, teacher resources, and management software features.

At the end of the session, one of the teachers told us that she really would have like to hear more about best practices. Ken asked for some details and she explained that the IC3 certification was important for her students and that she would like more information. We gathered some material for the teacher and decided to share with everyone.

For business and computer applications teachers and CTE directors and administrators getting students prepared for IC3 certification is an ongoing responsibility, and frequently a struggle. But a necessary struggle…as Certiport so effectively puts it:

"A job candidate or college applicant with IC3 Certification is instantly recognized as already having the critical entry-level skills needed to function effectively in academic and work environments."

That’s what you are providing for your students when you prepare them well for IC3 certification.

But why is it such a struggle? Well, there’s making sure you know what needs to be covered, making sure that content gets covered, and then making sure your students are proficient with that content. Add to that the fact that IC3 certification requirements can change, starting that cycle all over again.

What is IC3?

The Constance Hospitality Academy nicely defines IC3.

"IC³ stands for Internet and Computing Core Certification. It is the first globally accepted, standards-based, validated certification program for basic computing skills and is often the first certification individuals pursue to show competence in computer skills. Becoming IC³ certified demonstrates that you possess the knowledge required for basic use of computer hardware, software, and the Internet."

Total Seminars describes IC3 this way:

"IC3 certification documents your digital literacy skills. The exams generally cover how computers work, how to work within the Windows operating system, basic operation of office applications, networking basics, electronic communication (e-mail), and the Internet."

To achieve IC3 certication, students must pass three exams in these areas:

  1. Computing Fundamentals: Computer Hardware, Computer Software, Using an Operating System
  2. Key Applications: Common Program Functions, Word Processing Functions, Spreadsheet Functions, Presentation Software Functions
  3. Living Online: Networks and the Internet, Electronic Mail, Using the Internet, The Impact of Computing and the Internet on Society

How can you make sure students are prepared for IC3 certification?

Administrators and teachers have the same goal here…they want to make sure students are being well prepared for the IC3 certification exams. Experienced teachers know that an effective certification program is much more than a practice test and a seat for the exam.

Effective IC3 Certification

Students enroll into certification programs with a wide range of understanding and experience. Some may already have relevant work experience and just need that piece of paper to move up in their job. Others are looking for their first job and need help with the fundamentals.

The instructor’s job is to assess the needs of the students and provide instruction and material to give each student the best chance to succeed. Blended learning is an important tool for a diverse student population.

Remember high school? Remember all those language arts and math classes that you attended for many years? Those classes were designed to help you learn something. Something that you would take with you from that institution and use it in your career or next level of education and for the rest of your life. You can still add 2 + 2, help your kids with their long division, communicate effectively with colleagues and friends, and figure out what your 20% off coupon will get you at Target.

Remember those SAT test prep courses? Those classes were designed to help you score well on a test. That’s pretty much it.

Both types of courses filled a need.

There’s no way you’d score well on your SAT without taking the language arts and math classes. The SAT prep course alone won’t get you there.

Likewise, preparing students for IC3 certification involves more than simply test prep materials. For students seeking certification, they can’t just take the test prep course and use the test prep tools. They need the foundation first.

Provide more than just an IC3 study guide

Teachers with a large toolbox of resources will be able to show students their personal path to certification. For many students, that will include foundation instructional material, lecture, hands on practice activities, exam study guides, practice tests, and an actual seat to take the exam.

Think you can get away with just an IC3 study guide? Think again…

Administrators, directors, and teachers are telling us, “we would like something to cover enough content AND have test prep for certifications covered.”

Business&ITCenter21 rounds out prep materials and provides in-depth understanding of tested material rather than just ability to check the right boxes. Business&ITCenter21 provides an extensive library of resources that can be used for students interested in completing the IC3 certification. This is more than checking the certification standards boxes. 

And Total Seminars's Mike Meyers Presents: Computer Literacy, Your Ticket to IC3 Certification provides an in-depth certification roadmap for users and professionals who want a solid grasp of the three basic individual exams.

Mentioned above is Certiport, a Pearson VUE business, and a world leader in performance-based certification exams and practice test solutions. Check out what they have to offer!

So how can you align content to IC3 certification and other exams?

The bottom line is, you don’t have to! You don’t have to create this content from scratch or struggle to align curriculum you already have. There are great tools out there that are developed based on alignment with IC3 certification and other certifications like MOS!

Business&ITCenter21 covers most of the topics required for the IC3 certification. If you are really concerned about how to align content to IC3 certification, take a look at our correlation to the IC3 certification standards. Those standards are covered in these modules:

Computing Systems
  • Computers, Information Processing and Storage

  • Operating Systems and Networks
  • Web Browsers, Email and Safe
  • Computing
Microsoft Office Fundamentals
  • Office Fundamentals
Microsoft Access Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Microsoft Access
  • Database Tables
  • Queries & Reports
Microsoft Word Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Microsoft Word
  • Paragraph & Document Formatting
Microsoft Excel Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Excel Formatting
Microsoft PowerPoint Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Text Boxes, Links & Graphics
Microsoft Excel Skills Project
  • Worksheet Data and Cells
  • Functions, Formulas and Tables
  • Workbooks, Worksheets and Charts
  • What-If Analysis and Printing
Microsoft Word Skills Project
  • Research and Draft a Document
  • Peer Review a Document
  • Revise, Edit and Publish a Document
Microsoft PowerPoint Skills Project
  • Start Your Presentation
  • Build Slides and Format Objects
  • Animations, Transitions, and Final Review
Microsoft Publisher Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Microsoft Publisher
  • Creating Publications
Digital Citizenship
  • Digital Literacy
  • Digital Communication
  • Online Safety
Web Research
  • Seek It
  • Find It
  • Evaluate It


Preparing middle and high school students and beyond for IC3 certification doesn't have to be overwhelming. There are some solid, proven tools and resources out there that can help you help your students be successful.

Take the time to investigate some of the suggested resources above, or do a little digging of your own. Just don't go and reinvent the wheel!

IC3 Certification Checklist


About Sarah Layton

Sarah is a contributing author to the AES blog. She is committed to helping instructors and students succeed both in and out of the classroom.