PivotTables | CSE 148 – Excel Exam 2

Before starting this article, I'm going to level with you...

PivotTables having a LOT of working parts. Therefore, they can get pretty confusing.

However, they are extremely valuable to know how to use. So, let's first understand the value, that way we can comprehend why they're so important. Then, we'll get into how to configure them for problems on your exam.

That's because it includes the majority of what you'll need to know to work with PivotTables.

If you have a general understanding of how to use PivotTables, I'd recommend utilizing the "Table of Contents" links above and jump around to where you need help with.

Otherwise, go step-by-step, skimming through the parts that you already understand.

PivotTables explained

Imagine you were recently hired as the school administrator of the prestigious Coding for Crammers Academy.

To begin your new role, you first want to determine which courses have the lowest grades, that way you can contribute your efforts to improving the learning experience in them. To help you gain this insight, you have the following table of student records.

As school administrator, you've been given a table full of all students at the school and important metrics about them.

Let's first quickly walk through how we'd gain this insight without PivotTables, and then learn how to do so with PivotTables.

Solving without a PivotTable

Imagine that we wanted to see the average GPA for each Secondary Focus.

Without PivotTables, we'd have to manually put rows for each Secondary Focus in a group...

...and then use the AVERAGE function on all GPAs in each grouping.

While this works, it's inefficient and not flexible to other future insights we might want to make on our data. What if we wanted to determine how many students were in each course? Or what the average grade was for each year of student? These insights would all require more copying and pasting... and messiness.

Solving with a PivotTable

We can do the above analysis in literal seconds with PivotTables like so:

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