What you need to know about the CompTIA A+ Core Series Exam

Student taking the CompTIA A+ Core Series Exam.

CompTIA has been providing tests for basic IT certification (the CompTIA A+ certification) since 1993. Beginning in 2001, they have issued a new version of the test every 3 years to make their evaluation consistent with current IT practices and the newest technology available. The newest version, for which our test prep is designed, is called the CompTIA A+ Core Series and was first offered in January 2019. It contains two separate tests, and you must pass both to be certified. They are numbered 220-1001 and 220-1002. Be sure you are using the appropriate preparation materials for the test you are taking.

The previous version of the test was numbered 220-901 and 220-902. It will continue to be administered through July 2019. After that, only the newest version will be available for testing. Please note that you cannot combine tests from the two versions (e.g., #901 with #1002)—both tests must be from the same version for you to become certified. For more information about the two versions, look at this resource.

Like its predecessors, the new exams contain up to 90 questions each, including these question types:

  • multiple-choice (some with more than one correct answer to choose)
  • drag-and-drop (in which you move an answer to a place on the screen to answer)
  • performance-based questions (in which you manipulate parts of a screen diagram to answer)

The basic differences between the two tests (900 series vs. 1000 or “Core” series) are reflected in these main additions to the new version of the test:

  • Increased emphasis on security procedures and concepts
  • More concepts covered that fall under preventing and handling disasters
  • Introduction of scripting basics
  • Broader coverage of networking and connectivity

The CompTIA A+ test content is driven by industry, not vendors. If a specific identifying word of a device or system is not mentioned in study materials, it does not mean you won’t be tested on that system or device. It just means that questions won’t cover things unique to that device. The two tests and the competencies they cover are:

1001:
Mobile Devices (14%)
Networking (20%)
Hardware (27%)
Virtualization and Cloud Computing (12%)
Hardware and Network Troubleshooting (27%)

1002:
Operating Systems (27%)
Security (24%)
Software Troubleshooting (26%)
Operational Procedures (23%)

What are the costs?

Before you can schedule a CompTIA A+ testing session, you must purchase a test voucher for $219.00. This price covers the cost of one exam: either the 1001 or 1002. You must take and pass both of these to become certified. Purchase may be done online, through the CompTIA Marketplace or from a Pearson VUE test center.

Vouchers are valid for 12 months after purchase. Both your registration and the testing must be completed within that time frame. There is no way to extend the life of a voucher. For more details about voucher restrictions, look here.

What should I bring?

All you really need at the exam location are two forms of identification, and one of them must be government-issued. To be sure you have the proper type, you can find more information about forms of ID here. It is suggested that you not bring any form of electronics as they will not be allowed into the exam area.

How is it scored?

Scoring is essentially the same for the CompTIA A+ Core Series tests as it was for the previous edition of the tests. There is a possibility of scoring between 100 and 900 on each test and, to pass, you must achieve a score of at least 675 on the 1001 test and at least 700 on the 1002 exam. You’ll be notified of your score on the screen upon exam completion. There is the possibility of retaking either test if you do not pass the first time.

What kind of job can I get?

A career in Information Technology (IT) can make you a vital part of a business or most any other organization. In today’s world, a large number of daily activities require reliable computer systems for contact and information. And when something goes wrong with a system, it requires an immediate “fix” to avoid revenue loss. This is where the IT professional, or “tech support,” often comes in. As an IT professional, you must be up-to-date on all of the latest innovations in hardware and software, as well as being adept in problem-solving and customer relations. You may find yourself handling everything IT-related, from system security to mobile device management.

Am I eligible?

While taking the CompTIA A+ certification test has no age requirement, there is a strong recommendation that candidates be at least 13 years old. It is also recommended that you have 6–12 months of experience, either in the field or in a lab before attempting your CompTIA A+ certification.

Why does it matter?

Obtaining CompTIA A+ certification is the first step in proving your competence to a prospective employer. There are more advanced and specialty certifications available from CompTIA, but this one covers basic level competencies. It shows that you are proficient in the IT basics and have the knowledge and skills necessary to be an asset to that employer.

What salary can I expect?

The CompTIA website lists typical salaries for employees with a CompTIA A+ certification. Yearly earnings for jobs on this list range from $45,000 to $60,000.

When is it available?

To schedule an exam, you need to contact Pearson VUE online and you can begin the process here. You’ll need to find which of the Pearson VUE testing centers is most convenient for you and schedule your exam(s) through their website.

The CompTIA A+ exam is offered in English, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish.

Time Allowed

You will have 90 minutes to complete each of the CompTIA A+ Core Series exams—the 1001 and the 1002. Remember that each exam contains 90 questions.

Practice using our expertly crafted questions!