Best Comptia A+ Training in 2021
CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Tenth Edition (Exams 220-1001 & 220-1002)
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CompTIA A+ Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002) Cert Guide (5th Edition) (Certification Guide)
Becoming A+ Certified
If you are thinking about obtaining your CompTIA A+ Certification, or you have already embarked on the studying process, this article provides some useful information. It also provides suggestions based on my experience completing the certification.
It is important to note that simply getting your A+ does not guarantee you a job. Like any other field, the more formal education you have, the better off you are. A college degree from an accredited institution and/or additional certifications are nice gems to add to your resume and will help get you noticed in the sea of applicants. The fact is seemingly everyone has an A+ and Network+ Certification. Do not let this fact discourage you. Not having it simply places you further away from your goals.
To become certified you must pass two multiple choice exams. Mandatory for all candidates is the A+ Essentials (220-601) exam. Each candidate then has the option of taking one of three elective exams: The IT Technician exam (220-602), Remote Support Technician exam (220-603 ), or Depot Technician exam (220-604). The passing score for the A+ Essentials exam is 675 out of 900, and 700 out of 900 for each of the elective exams. Note that the aforementioned are "marks" not points, and the value of each question in the exam are not equal. Some questions are more heavily weighted than others. A total of 90 minutes is allotted for each test, and candidates are permitted to review questions at the end of the exam if desired before submittal.
Unless you are currently employed and are instructed to take the 603 or 604, the IT Technician exam is a safe bet. The proctor for my exam indicated that roughly 95% of test takers make this choice. The CompTIA homepage even highlights this combination.
Gauge Your Knowledge
The first step is to take a realistic snapshot of your knowledge related to the tested topics. These test objectives are available from CompTIA directly and will be included in any study material you may obtain (see below). Hardware, basic networking, printers and scanners, and operating systems (predominantly Windows) are some examples. One way to set this knowledge baseline is to take a practice test completely cold. Though some short practice exams can be found on line free of charge, purchasing an exam cram style book is a good idea. While it's true that full exams can be purchased in electronic format, having such a book will likely ensure exposure to a larger set of practice questions. It will also include explanations along with the answer keys to back up the correct responses. Such a feature can come in handy later down the certification road. Simply compile a test by selecting a few questions from each objective and trying your hand at those. If you get more than half of the questions right, you are likely not too far off from where you need to be knowledge wise. If not, no worries. It's time to hit the books!
So, you know where you are at knowledge wise. Now what? I suggest finding a complete study guide to fill in the gaps. A search on the Barnes amp; Noble or Amazon websites will garner dozens of books designed to prepare you for the exam. Use the experience of your fellow man here and read the reviews. Also, look for texts with additional features like a CD-ROM, practice exams, or review questions at the end of each chapter. It is extremely important to buy a book centered on the 2020 objectives. Used books are a great avenue to take in order to save money, and although there is much overlap from the 2003 version of the exam to the current version, you obviously want to have the latest and greatest information on hand. The average price for such a book is around $50.00.
Two books that are very popular are the "A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, Sixth Edition" by Michael Meyers and "CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide" by Docter, Dulaney, and Skandier. I myself used the latter and it served me well. The information included became redundant in the later chapters, but all of the objectives are covered.
For those already holding an IT related job, ask some of your fellow employees if they have taken the exam. Find out the methods they used to pass and ask them what topics they had to study up on the most. If you perform the same work as one of your peers and they struggled with security for example, that is likely a good indication you should do the same. Also, your employer might have a technical library available to search through for A+ related material.
Textbooks are not a cure all and nothing beats hands on experience. Still, do not let a perceived lack there of discourage you. As you get into the text you will likely find that you know more than you think you did. The key is to become comfortable with the way CompTIA asks questions. For example, if you have been using Windows operating systems for several years and are familiar with basic utilities such as Task Manager or Device Manager, you have a leg up. Windows Utilities just happen to be tested! How about navigating through files and folders via Windows Explorer? Same thing.
Taking The Plunge
Once you have decided you are ready for the exam, the next step is to purchase test vouchers. Vouchers are required before you are able to schedule an exam, and you must determine whether or not the closest test center is either Pearson VUE or Prometric. Both administer the tests and you cannot use a Prometric voucher at a VUE test center (or vice versa). The average cost for vouchers are $150.00, but like anything else it's important to shop around using the Internet. I was able to save money by buying both vouchers simultaneously, plus there are several sites that specialize in discount test vouchers.
Once purchased and delivered (usually via email), and once you have located a test center, simply call and schedule your test date. This generally does not have to be weeks in advance. The Pearson VUE test center I used accepted appointments as late as 24 hours prior to the desired date.
Applying the methods cited above, I was able to pass both the Essentials and IT Technician exams on my first try. Despite being around personal computers since a young age, having a decent amount of experience, and a technical degree from an accredited institution, I would have never passed the exam without studying. For me, extra study had to be given to printer types and processes, something I had worked with on an extremely limited basis. I cannot stress enough that knowledge alone will not get you through this test! Those in the industry I have spoken to share this sentiment, the most recent being the CEO of an IT services company in Upstate NY.
Having the certification completed has added to my confidence as someone returning to the job market after several years. There's no way to know for sure how much weight the A+ carried in getting the interviews I have so far (I'd like to think my other merits are equally important), but I feel much more comfortable with it then without it. In fact, in my most recent interview, all four of the people interviewing me had obtained the certification.
Whether you are an experienced technician, student, grad, or virtual "noobie" to IT, the A+ is a great place to start. Not only is it vendor neutral and recognized internationally, it ensures you possess a foundation of knowledge to take the next steps in your career...whatever that step may be.
The Computer Technology Industry Association, CompTIA Certification Program, , (accessed January 20th, 2020)