From 2019, the CompTIA A+ exam is part of CompTIA’s Core Certifications. Anyone at the start of their career in the IT industry should have this certification since it demonstrates a clear commitment to the profession and provides a solid foundational understanding of computer systems. But how hard is CompTIA A+ exactly? How much time and energy do you need to invest in getting a passing score?
The simple answer is – it depends on how much knowledge and experience you already have. It also depends on how technologically savvy you are and how easy it is for you to learn about new software and hardware features and components. (Hint: if you sign up with MyComputerCareer, it’s not that much effort at all!)
If you read the personal accounts of CompTIA A+ certificate holders, you will get a variety of answers. To better understand how hard this CompTIA exam will be for you, it’s best to assess its topics and subtopics yourself.
The A+ consists of two exams: Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002).
Both exams can have a maximum of 90 questions. The questions are performance-based and multiple choice. A performance-based question provides a scenario that you need to troubleshoot as you would in a real-life situation. It requires you to connect your theoretical knowledge with practical examples.
Core 1 and 2 last for 90 minutes each. There are no prerequisites for them, meaning you can be a complete IT beginner before you start preparing for them. However, CompTIA does recommend that you have anywhere between nine and twelve months of experience as an IT support specialist. This is not mandatory in any way, and there are plenty of examples of people who have had no prior work experience who passed the A+ without any problem.
Core 1 Exam
Core 1 consists of the following exam objectives broken down into percentages (the extent to which they are represented in the exam):
- Hardware (27%)
- Hardware and Network Troubleshooting (27%)
- Networking (20%)
- Mobile Devices (14%)
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing (12%)
The passing score for Core 1 is 675 on a scale of 100 to 900.
Core 2 Exam
While Core 1 focuses more on hardware, Core 2 is more about software, cybersecurity, and operational procedures:
- Operating Systems (27%)
- Software Troubleshooting (26%)
- Security (24%)
- Operational Procedures (23%)
To successfully pass Core 2, you must have a minimum score of 700 on a scale of 100 to 900.
Combined, Core 1 and Core 2 focus on these IT sectors:
- Hardware and Infrastructure (35%)
- Security (21%)
- Ops and Service (19%)
- Software (19%)
- Data (7%)
Taking a closer look at each exam objective will give you a great idea of what to expect. Exam objectives are essential when you’re developing your study guide and strategy – they tell you exactly what topics and subtopics you need to focus on to get a passing score.
The A+ CompTIA certification goes both broad and deep. It covers many areas – meaning many different IT branches – but it also goes into technical details. You need to know acronyms for pretty much everything computer system and computer networking related – CPU, GPU, HDD, SSD, NFC, IMAP, POP3, you name it.
The operating system section covered by the current cycle of CompTIA A+ includes:
- Windows (Win 7, 8, 8.1, 10)
You must know how to install and set up these operating systems and troubleshoot the most common issues.
There is also a section on virtualization and cloud computing. It consists of subtopics such as cloud resource terminology (pooling, elasticity, etc.), hypervisors, cloud file storage, virtual apps and machines, and cloud models (PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, etc.).
Furthermore, performance-based test questions will present you with different scenarios that you need to solve. These can be software or hardware issues that a computer technician needs to know how to work through.
One of the best methods for preparing for the PBQ questions is to set up your own test lab of sorts. There, you can dismantle and assemble desktop configurations and practice installing operating systems and simple networks such as basic home networks or small office ones. There is no better way to prepare for working in the field than hands-on exam preparation and experience.
The name of the A+ CompTIA course game is memorizing. Depending on how much you already know, you need to absorb a lot of new information about various aspects of information technology.
One way to make the process easier for yourself is to go the practical test lab route mentioned above. An alternative is to write flashcards with unknown words and phrases so you can quiz yourself whenever you have the time.
You can also find practice tests online, though be wary of answers that aren’t verified by official material. Practice questions will give you a great idea of what the actual certification exam looks like so you can judge its difficulty level.
How challenging the CompTIA A+ will be for you depends on your previous experience and knowledge of a desktop computer’s workings, PC hardware, computer networks, security, various mobile devices, and similar. Work experience in the IT field isn’t mandatory, but it will come in handy since you will better understand IT.
This certification requires you to pass two exams: Core 1 and Core 2. They cover a different set of topics, with the Core 1 more focused on hardware and Core 2 on software. You will need to learn about other operating systems, procedures for troubleshooting the most common issues, and how to assemble or dismantle a PC configuration. Additional knowledge in cloud computing and transferring storage from an offline space to the cloud is beneficial. The critical thing about the A+ is that you need to remember many technical terms and acronyms and not get them confused on exam day.
If you’d like to know more about the CompTIA A+ or would appreciate some help and guidance on getting ready for the certification exam, reach out to MyComputerCareer. We’re looking forward to bringing you through this certification process!