The CompTIA A+ is an entry-level certification that over 1.2 million IT professionals hold. It lays the groundwork for everything you’re going to learn about information technology in the future: software, hardware, network troubleshooting, operational procedures, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and more. It is an extensive exam that encompasses plenty of topics. Those who intend to pass it could benefit from this guide on how to study for CompTIA A+. MyComputerCareer has plenty of experience in guiding students through their IT beginnings.
The A+ certification consists of two exams:
- Core 1 (220-1001) covers mobile devices, computer hardware, networking technology, troubleshooting, cloud computing, and virtualization.
- Core 2 (220-1002) teaches about software troubleshooting, security, operating systems, and operational procedures.
Each exam lasts for 90 minutes (180 in total). There are no prerequisites for this CompTIA exam, but those who have 9 – 12 months of hands-on IT experience might have an easier time handling the curriculum.
Here’s how you can make the most out of your study time.
Familiarize Yourself with the Study Material
Before you make any big decisions or start creating a study guide, you first need to have a complete overview of what you need to learn. It will also help you determine the amount of studying time required before you’re confident enough to take the exams.
Find out what is included in the CompTIA A+ course. Assess each exam objective and look at all the available resources – they typically consist of textbooks and video lessons. Even if they are unfamiliar to you initially, glance at all the topics and subtopics of each chapter or exam section, that way, you will know what to expect and how much ground you have to cover.
Self-Studying or Instructor-Led Training
Once you know what lies ahead, it would be wise to decide whether you will tackle it on your own or opt for some training led by an instructor. Some people don’t have the focus or patience to work independently; they study better in a classroom or group setting. And that’s okay.
Others might go faster if they’re studying by themselves. Find out what your learning style is. Are you a visual learner? Then watch videos, color-code your notes, or draw small diagrams. If you’re more comfortable with audio information, you might want to record important sections and play them back for yourself when it’s convenient.
Build a Computer
The Core 1 CompTIA certification exam includes questions about PC hardware. There is no better way to learn about all the different PC components and what you can do with them than building your own computer. Assembling a desktop configuration will help you understand what all those strange acronyms mean: RAM, HDD, SSD, CPU, GPU, and more.
Once you put together the hardware, you can also dabble in setting up an operating system, potentially access BIOS, and similar. This type of hands-on practice will make it so much easier to remember all the different components, their purpose, and configuration than merely reading about them from a book or watching a video.
You can also set up a basic home network to prepare for the network troubleshooting part of the exam.
Prepare for Performance-Based Questions
On the CompTIA A+, the exam questions are both multiple-choice and performance-based. A performance-based question means that you will be given a specific troubleshooting scenario. This isn’t just a simple repeat of what you’ve learned. It requires you to apply your knowledge in a simulation of a real-life situation.
There are several things you can do to better prepare for these PBQ questions:
- Pay close attention to the terminology and word choice so that you don’t get confused on exam day.
- Build yourself a test lab at home where you work as you would in the field (building a computer or setting up networks from our previous point). Practice different tasks, such as overclocking the CPU.
- Review the test objectives thoroughly because they will show you which sections to pay close attention to.
Avoid Unreliable Sources
Doing practice exams or going through practice questions is more than okay. There are plenty of online communities where those who have taken the CompTIA A+ will post the questions they had.
However, be careful about such public spaces answering these questions. You may not want to rely on the knowledge of a strange person on the internet. Before you accept their answers as the correct ones, better check them against official study material.
Furthermore, think twice before you decide to post the questions you might have had on your exam. CompTIA asks their exam candidates to sign non-disclosure agreements, meaning that they are prohibited by law from revealing the contents of those exams to other people. If those who post the questions online get caught, they could be facing a lot of legal trouble.
The CompTIA A+ is a powerful credential to have on your resume when you’re just starting in IT. Even though it is a big exam covering a lot of software and hardware information, there is no need for you to get overwhelmed with exam preparation.
The first step would be to get familiar with the study material. Study the exam objectives and collect all the official resources you can find. These include textbooks and video material together with a practice test or two.
Find the study method that works best for you. Organize your study time around your work schedule and other responsibilities, and figure out what helps, such as colorful highlighter pens, rewriting what you read, listening to audio lessons, etc. Set up your test lab and get some hands-on experience by putting together different desktop configurations and playing around with operating systems and network troubleshooting.
Since you will be answering performance-based questions as well, try to connect the theory you learn with practical examples.
When searching for advice and online help, make sure to avoid unreliable sources. MyComputerCareer can make the entire process of getting ready for the CompTIA A+ a breeze. If you want more information on this topic or are prepared to start your CompTIA journey, don’t hesitate to contact us.