When there are so qualified individuals vying for the same positions, how exactly would do companies and groups distinguish the skilled who bring their skills to the table from the amateurs who just come to the same company looking for a job?
The CompTIA A+ Certification may be entry-level by most standards, but it is an essential entry-level qualification for any prospective employee to enter the lucrative information and computer technology field! In this article, we will inform you of the knowledge, patterns, and advice you need in order to ace the CompTIA A+ Core Exams and become a certified CompTIA A+ professional.
What is CompTIA A+ Certification?
The Computing Technology Industry Association (also known as CompTIA) was founded in 1982, but quickly became the rock in which qualified professionals in the industry earn special certifications.
When you pass these two exams, you become a CompTIA A+ certified professional. Think of it like a badge of honor that proves your basic capabilities in the field of IT.
As the world of computer science is a fierce and worldwide industry, you will face competition in vying for the same positions and jobs. How do you distinguish yourself among the crowd? becoming certified under their standards will be very valuable for any employee or budding computer science student to succeed in the world of IT. CompTIA A+ professionals handle a number of difficult and involved tasks: they solve problems, and in order to solve problems, you need to be well-equipped with the prerequisite skills and techniques. In other words, CompTIA A+ certification is a practically required if you want to succeed in computer science and security.
Becoming CompTIA A+ certified means placing your skills among one of four major IT groups:
“Core Certifications” are based around the fundamental IT skills:
- IT Fundamentals+: you possess keen pre-career foundational knowledge on IT frameworks,
- CompTIA A+: you are skilled with device connectivity and user support skills (not to be confused for the general CompTIA A+),
- CompTIA Network+: you are skilled in system connections and being a network support specialist,
- CompTIA Security+: you have entry-level skills in cyber security.
“Infrastructure Certifications” are about expanding the knowledge around IT infrastructure:
- CompTIA Server+: you provide server support and administration,
- CompTIA Cloud+: you deploy network storage resources, virtual system administration, and hybrid clouds,
- CompTIA Linux+: you administer and manage Linux operating systems.
“Cybersecurity Certifications” focus around skills and knowledge on cyber security:
- CASP+ (short for “CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner”): you design and implement security solutions,
- CompTIA CySA+ (short for “CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst”): you become an IT security behavioral analyst,
- CompTIA PenTest+ (short for “CompTIA Penetration Testing): you work in penetration and vulnerability testing.
“Additional Professional Certifications” do not fall into the categories mentioned above:
- CompTIA Cloud Essentials: you have advanced knowledge of cloud computing and shifting from in-house to cloud storage,
- CompTIA Project+: you manage projects, such as bringing a project from planning to completion, finishing in time, etc.,
- CompTIA CTT+ (short for “Certified Technical Trainer” ): you have expertise in technical training and become a computer technology instructor.
We have established what being a CompTIA A+ certified professional is like. What exactly do your hurdles consist of?
What to Expect on CompTIA A+ Exam?
The CompTIA A+ Core Series ask that candidates pass two distinct exams: Core 1 and Core 2. These exams each deal with two very distinct disciplines in the realm of computers and thus will test your computer science knowledge. Core 1 is the exam that deals with hardware, networking technology, and troubleshooting, while Core 2 deals with software, operating systems, and security.
According to CompTIA, it is recommended that candidates have nearly a year of field experience in computer technology before they attempt the test.
The exams are held in a designated test center, in which the candidate performs them online. For the performance-based questions, you use the software that the examiners present to you in order to perform and answer the simulations.
If a test taker fails their first time taking the exams, they can immediately retake it. However, from the third time they take the exam onward, they will have to wait two weeks (or exactly fourteen calendar days) to retake it. Additionally, you have to pay for each retake. However, once the exam is passed, the CompTIA A+ certified individual could not retake the test without explicit permission from CompTIA (for that particular certification, mind you). You do not need to (nor could you) retake the test to renew your certification if it is expired.
Like most things useful or necessary to live life to the fullest, it costs money to become CompTIA A+ certified. Think of it less as “buying your certification” and more “paying money just to earn your certification.” To take the CompTIA A+ certification exam, you need to buy an exam voucher—and you need to buy an exam voucher for each exam. An exam voucher is around $232, or $464 altogether. We recommend not purchasing the voucher until you are sure you are prepared for the exams and ready to pass with a high grade.
You can in fact retake the CompTIA A+ Core Series Exams to earn different, specific certifications as well—though those each require their own vouchers. Generally, if you want to avoid having your certificates expire at the worst possible time, it is an excellent investment to go and get multiple different certifications. Additionally, you can retake it an unlimited amount of times if you fail, but at the cost of higher and higher prices for the next voucher.
So if there are different exams for different certifications, then what topics would be covered on the CompTIA A+ Core Exams?
What Topics are Covered in CompTIA A+?
CompTIA cites the nine core skills the candidate needs to develop and understand before they take the exams, namely:
- Hardware: the ability to identify, use, and connect hardware components and devices,
- Networking: the ability to explain types of networks and connections, including TCP/IP, WIFI, and SOHO,
- Mobile Devices: how to install & configure laptops and other mobile devices,
- Operating Systems: installing, understanding, and supporting Windows OS, Mac OS, Linux, and mobile OS (including command line & client support),
- Hardware & Network Troubleshooting: or the ability to troubleshoot device and network issues,
- Virtualization & Cloud Computing: how to compare & contrast cloud computing concepts & set up client-side virtualization,
- Software Troubleshooting: how to troubleshoot PC and mobile device issues, including application security support,
- Security: the ability to identify and protect against security vulnerabilities for devices and network connections,
- Operational Procedures: following and upholding the best practices for safety, environmental impacts, communication, and professionalism.
How Many Questions Are on the CompTIA A+ Exam?
Each exam is made up of a maximum of ninety questions. These questions include:
- multiple choice questions that ask you to choose the correct answer out of a number of responses,
- “drag and drop” questions that require you to match the responses with the proper definitions,
- and finally, performance-based questions, which test a candidate’s ability to solve problems in real-world settings and are delivered as either simulations or within virtual environments. Candidates approach these situations as if they are actually working on a real project themselves.
Each exam has a separate passing score, though both are rated on a scale of 100 – 900. The Core 1 exam’s passing score is 675, while the Core 2 passing score is slightly higher at 700. The weighted questions are known only to the proctors and the CompTIA organization; however, the performance-based questions tend to be the most difficult.
The format of the questions may differ depending on which class of certification you are aiming for. With this in mind, the number of possible subjects you must be knowledgeable on may increase almost exponentially–ninety questions among thirteen different disciplines.
How Long Does It Take to Study for CompTIA A+ Exam?
As we have mentioned before, CompTIA recommends that the test takers for the exams have at least nine months of on-field experience, which is asking a lot for someone to take a test. However, this shows how precious and essential the certification is: the sort of candidates expected to pass the exams already know how these concepts and projects play out.
The kind of person who should take up CompTIA A+ is generally a person keenly interested in becoming a professional in the field and hopefully attaining higher and more valuable certifications in the future.
There is no hard limit or cap to how long you need to study for the CompTIA A+ exams. We would say that how much you study in a given time, and having a consistent study schedule that you follow through with, is more important than the length of time you study. Even so, it will take you hours every week for many, many weeks to get the knowledge and patterns high enough to complete the exams with a passing grade.
Prospective CompTIA A+ candidates who are very serious about passing the exam should take regular study periods, up to five or six hours of studying per week.
3 Best Ways to Study for CompTIA A+
Becoming CompTIA A+ certified is a significant effort towards a lucrative IT career, but do not get cocky. The core exams ask that its potential candidates know exactly what they’re getting into, and more importantly, how to get themselves out. Only when you prepare yourself, study the material, and learn how to answer questions correctly can you pass the CompTIA A+ Core Exams with flying colors.
The CompTIA A+ exams are incredibly hard for exams that block the pathway to a certified life as an IT professional. If you believe you can take up this challenging task, you will see your efforts duly rewarded. We collected three key tips that will help any prospective candidate pass their exams.
Practice Those Practice Tests
As for any and all important exams, the CompTIA A+ Core Exams have a number of different official and unofficial practice tests and exams online. These materials allow you to get a good idea of what is on the test, and how you would need to answer the questions. What is more important than the basic, fundamental knowledge is knowing what the exams ask of you specifically.
When you have completed a round of study, digging into the textbooks and study guides, you should take the time to go through a few questions on a practice test related to the material you have studied.
Get Some Real Experience
As stated before, the CompTIA A+ Core Exams recommend that you need at least nine to twelve months of experience on the field. This means that you need quite a bit of time working on information technology, handling hardware and software, and getting a taste of a life of computers and computer science before you can succeed in taking the test.
While we notice that trying to gain experience in the IT field in order to pass the exams in order to get into the IT field seems a bit counterintuitive, we recommend that you get some personal insight onto the field: perhaps by checking with experienced professionals, particularly those who have already cleared the Core Exams themselves, and asking for tips on how to answer questions or what to expect on the final exams.
Hit the Books, Champ!
Saving the best for last, the most obvious way to build up your resistance to failure is to get deep into the existing study guides and textbooks. There are entire series of textbooks and helpful books written about the various certifications, including Network+, Cloud, Linux, Security, and PenTest.
You would want to invest in textbooks that deal with the specific skills and material that the CompTIA A+ Core Exams would deal with. However, it would also not hurt to expand your horizons and become knowledgeable in specific fields, which may help you understand other fields as well.
Since we are discussing buying and reading textbooks, we would like to recommend just a few books that will help you properly study for the exams.
3 Top Books for CompTIA A+ Exam
Now that we have talked about how important it is to study and engorge yourself on textbooks, it’s only fair for us to give you some direction in finding the best books to study for the CompTIA A+ Exam. These top three books will be a godsend for any particularly anxious candidate.
The CompTIA A+ Study Guide
The CompTIA A+ issued CompTIA A+ Study Guide is the first and foremost guide to studying for the CompTIA A+ Core Exams. A wonderfully intuitive guide as to how to develop the specific study habits and knowledge in which to pass the exams, including study patterns and resting.
- Docter, Quentin (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 1696 Pages - 04/30/2019 (Publication Date) - Sybex (Publisher)
Last update: 2023-05-30
The CompTIA A+ Complete Practice Tests
The CompTIA A+ Complete Practice Tests series of books give you a handy booklet of practice tests with which you can practice and develop your exam-taking skills, with almost 1,200 unique questions to answer. The books go for cheap and comprise of material on both the Core Series Exam 1 and the Core Series Exam 2.
- Parker, Jeff T. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 560 Pages - 07/18/2019 (Publication Date) - Sybex (Publisher)
Last update: 2023-05-30
The CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide
If you are having trouble finding the above books or simply don’t want to go all through Amazon to get several books, then the CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide is perfect for you. Priced as cheap as the Complete Practice Tests on Amazon and other bookstores, the Certification All-in-One Exam Guide covers all sorts of exam topics, including:
- working with processors, power supplies, and other personal computer components,
- managing input devices and removable media,
- setting up, upgrading, and maintaining all versions of Windows,
- installing printers and other peripherals,
- configuring and securing mobile devices,
- and setting up wired and wireless networks.
You cannot possibly go wrong with investing in the CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide! We highly recommend them!
- Hardcover Book
- Meyers, Mike (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Last update: 2023-05-30
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for CompTIA A+?
The CompTIA A+ Core Exams will be difficult. If the article has not painted you a good enough picture of its difficulty, then let us say, with confidence: yes, it is incredibly hard. You need an intense amount of experience and study time to pass it. But once you do pass it, the benefits will be worth it. You have to be a very dutiful student, ready to accept failure, and dedicate yourself to hours upon hours of studying to ace that exam and become a fully-certified CompTIA A+ professional!