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Osceola high student earns top 10 spot at Microsoft Word world championship

Aydan Soto, 14, often works on gMetrix practice tests for Microsoft Word 2016 using an HP Elitebook laptop, at right, in the bedroom at his home in Seminole. Aydan recently won Certiport's Microsoft Office Specialist U.S. National Championships (6/14/18) that named him the best at Microsoft Word in the United States. He beat out 350,000 people and 147 finalists in Atlanta, GA where he won. He will be competing the world championship next month. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Aug. 9, 2018

SEMINOLE — The only thing Aydan Soto was worried about was making it to AP Calculus on time.

He was taking the Microsoft Office Specialist Word certification exam in his intro to technology class at Seminole High and had only about 50 minutes to complete 50 questions. So, he just tried to go as fast as he could.

"I'm the only freshman in AP Calc and I didn't want to walk in late," Soto said.

Soto got a perfect score — one of 63 in the state. He did it the quickest, only taking 20 minutes.

The exam Soto was taking is something kids in high school and college do all around the world. It certifies them in a particular Microsoft program. It's something that can boost their resumes and let employers know they're efficient at the program, Certiport spokeswoman Allison Yrungaray said.

The rising Osceola Fundamental High sophomore was invited to compete at the Certiport Microsoft Office Specialist U.S. National Championship in Atlanta early in July. He'd battle against 147 other finalists who beat 350,000 entrants for the title of best in the United States at Microsoft Word.

He won.

"I thought maybe if I was lucky I would place but I definitely didn't think I would win," Soto said.

Soto advanced to the World Championships in Orlando where last week he competed against 152 finalists from 52 countries.

The test he took at school was project based, having to insert photos and create tables. But the test at the competition was document based. Meaning Soto was handed a packet of papers and had to re-create exactly how it looked.

Yrungaray, spokeswoman for the competition, said every single stroke is graded. If the competitors accidentally hit the wrong button or click on the wrong tab, points are deducted from their score.

"It's an exam they've never seen before so they must be pretty good at it because they just have to know the program," Yrungaray said.

Soto didn't win at Worlds, but he still cracked the top 10, finishing in eighth. Soto said he wishes he had slowed down and been more careful with his answers.

"I was going for speed and I should've slowed down for accuracy," Soto said.

But, the lessons he learned will help him next year. He plans to try and qualify again either with Excel or PowerPoint — he's not sure which one yet.

But for now, he's not losing too much sleep over his performance. He's too busy texting his new friends from around the world from the championships. A group of 20 of them are in a group chat.

"It's always blowing up. Being all around the world, somebody is always awake and something is always happening," Soto said.

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