CompTIA A+ Study Guide
Introduction to the CompTIA A+ Certification
The CompTIA A+ certification exams cover a wide array of computer knowledge. If you’re also considering taking CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+, read these blog posts to help you decide the best path forward to build a career in IT or cyber security:
A+, Network+, or Security+: What Should I Take First?
Do I Need My CompTIA A+ Certification Before Taking Network+?
Here is a breakdown of the basic topics each exam will cover:
- Mobile Devices
- Networking Technology
- Virtualization and Cloud Computing
- Network Troubleshooting
- Installing and Configuring Operating Systems
- Expanded Security
- Software Troubleshooting
- Operational Procedures
The CompTIA A+ exams will each have a maximum of 90 questions, both multiple choice and performance based. You will have 90 minutes to complete each exam. Testing centers do not allow any personal belongings in the exam room, but scratch paper is usually provided.
Also, here is some additional reading on content related to the hardware exam topic area:
A good study routine is key to earning your A+ certification!
- When studying for the A+ exams, be sure to establish a consistent time to study. This will help you manage your time wisely, and speed up the learning process. Find a clean and quiet area to study in, avoid listening to any music with lyrics while you work as this may distract you.
- Be sure to pull information from multiple sources, sometimes one explanation of a topic just doesn’t cut it. If you find yourself struggling with a particular topic, another resource might give the same information in a way that makes more sense to you.
- Use flash cards to help boost your memory, especially on difficult topics. Be sure to include some questions you know very well in your flash cards. Look at this blog post on Anki to use digital flashcards.
- Hands on experience is worth far more than any other means of study, find an old computer to take apart and identify all the parts. Try to get experience with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 if you can. They all have slightly different means of navigating to commonly used tools and applications. Completing tasks physically not only helps with retention of knowledge, it will also help you complete performance based questions on the exams.
- Learn from other students such as Vincent C., who explains how he passed the CompTIA A+ exam with 6 days of preparation.
Since A+ exams cover such a wide range of computer knowledge, it can be difficult to discern just what exactly you need to know. Try talking to someone who is A+ certified and ask them about their experience taking the exams.
CompTIA Exam Tips
The CompTIA Exams have some tricky questions, and some quirks that may trip up first time exam takers. Watch out for the following when you take your exam:
- CompTIA exams are mostly multiple choice, but some allow you to mark multiple answers. These are indicated by a square check box instead of a circle, and also usually say something like “check all that apply, or “choose two.”
- You will encounter many questions asking you to choose the BEST answer. These questions will include multiple options that are reasonable, to find the right answer be sure to follow CompTIA’s guidelines on trouble shooting. Start by checking for a simple solution and escalate from there.
- Be sure to watch your time while taking the exam! Don’t get tripped up on questions you don’t know. Mark them, make a note on your scratch paper, and come back to them. You might even find the answer in a later question, or something that will jog your memory.
- If you see questions that were not in your class, book, or other study material, don’t panic! CompTIA puts sampling questions into the exams that do NOT count towards your score. If you studied hard and encounter material you have never seen, don’t let it shake your confidence; it is most likely a sampling question and you don’t need to worry about it.
- Expect to see interactive questions on your exams. You may be asked to do things like set up MAC filtering on a SOHO router, choose pc components to build a home theater PC, and more. These are usually near the start of the exam so be sure not to get hung up on them, you can always come back to questions you didn’t know.
- Take a few moments to relax yourself before you start the exam. The timer does not begin until you go through a few pages confirming your name, and agree to CompTIA policies. If you are nervous take some deep breathes, stretch out a little bit, and then have at it!