Excel and MS Word as Learning Aids NK

Setting up an Excell-At Application


A practical Excell-At Application will have at least 5 worksheets:-

  • Master: This contains everything you want to know, and may also contain other columns such as the date added, or a reference to a text book page etc.
  • Master Backup: A copy of Master, needed in case you forget to do manipulations and selections using the Working-Master.
  • Working Master: A Quiz will normally contain a small selection of rows from the Master worksheet.  The easiest way to gather these rows is to
        add an extra column to the table,
        enter a character (say 1) into this column for each row you want to select,
        sort-descending the table on this column, and
        copy the top rows, then paste them into a Quiz worksheet.
    This procedure changes the Master worksheet, and so should always be carried out using a copy of the Master worksheet which I will call the Working Master.
  • Quiz: A quiz contains a selection of rows and columns from the Working Master. It also has a header row (usually in Bold) and an extra column in which each cell contains the formula =Rand().
    It is important that there are no empty rows or columns in the Quiz data.
    A copy of the answers can be stored on the same sheet as the Quiz data but there must be at least one empty column separating the main Quiz data from the answers.
  • Quiz Backup:  When a quiz is used the rows get shuffled.  It is very useful to have a backup copy of the original quiz worksheet.

You may want to have more than one Master worksheet.  For example if you are learning a foreign language the nouns might have a gender and vary according to whether they are the subject of object of a sentence, or singular or plural.  The verbs might vary significantly according to their tense or the subject of the verb.  It might be convenient to keep each kind of word in its own Master table.

You will almost certainly generate several Quizzes from each Master.  Each Quiz can be stored in its own worksheet.  Alternatively you can store several Quizzes in a single worksheet, as long as each quiz is isolated by at least one empty row and column.

Setting Up a Quiz


I will use an example with the dates of classical composers.


Apart from the Select column, the Master, Master Backup and Working Master worksheets are identical.


Select rows by putting a character in the Select cells, click in a cell in the Select column and click on the Sort Descending button.


The selected rows rise to the top of the Working Master sheet from where they can be copied and pasted into a Quiz worksheet.

In the Quiz Worksheet delete unwanted columns, add a Shuffle column, and type the formula =rand() in the top shuffle cell.  Select this cell, click on the small square in the bottom right corner of the cell and, when the mouse pointer changes to a black +,  drag the formula to the last row.

It is now time to decide which column(s) will be the "answers".  I will assume that you want to learn the years in which the composers died.  I show you elsewhere how to keep the possible answers on display while you are using a Quiz

Now select all the answers in the main table and change their font colour to match the background.  The answers effectively disappear.



This is a good time to copy the Quiz worksheet to create the Quiz Backup worksheet.



To use the Quiz, think of an answer and then click in the concealed answer cell.  The answer will appear in in the formula bar.  When you think you know the answer you may like to change the font colour back to automatic.  You can then concentrate on learning the items which you don't already know.



To shuffle the rows, click on any cell in the Shuffle column and then click on one of the Sort Buttons in the Standard Toolbar.


In Excell-At in Real Life - Adding sound, and other techniques I discuss using sound files both as questions and as answers.

Techniques and tips are also discussed in Excell-At Examples.

In Excell-At for Beginners I discuss in detail the computer techniques used in creating and using Excell-At applications.  Unless you fully understand sorting it is worth looking at Sorting in Excell-At for Beginners.


Excell-At Overview
Setting up Excell-At
Excell-At in Real Life
Excell-At Examples
Excell-At For-Beginners
Which-Word Overview
Which-Word - Details
Which-Word Summary
Word Techniques
Which-Word Resources

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