The CompTIA A+ exam was created by CompTIA, a company that has been providing tests for basic IT certification since 1993. The exam is updated every three years to reflect the evolution of IT technology and practices. The latest version was first offered in April 2022. It is recommended that examinees have at least nine to 12 months of hands-on experience in the lab or field.
The CompTIA A+ Core Series exam is actually broken into two tests, each of which includes 90 questions and has a time limit of 90 minutes, allowing approximately one minute per question during the exam. The questions are a mixture of multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and performance-based questions. Performance-based questions are designed to test a candidate’s ability to solve problems in real-world settings. They can be delivered as simulations or within virtual environments.
The first test (1101) contains the following topics (we’ve provided the proportion of questions related to each topic on the test):
The second test (1102) covers:
The Comp TIA A+ Core Series exam can be difficult to prepare for adequately, but sufficient study and preparation can significantly increase your chances of earning this certification on your first attempt. Taking the exam successfully often means knowing what to expect. It’s worth taking some time to understand each of the test sections in greater detail to better study for the exam.
Cables, connectors, RAM, and storage—just a few of the concepts you’ll be required to fully understand and work with when answering questions about hardware on this test. Many of the questions will ask you to envision a situation and recommend a “fix” or procedure that will help solve a problem. This section also covers printers and other devices, and the questions about this section make up about 27% of the 1001 test.
About 27% of the 1001 test questions relate to these areas, and they all will likely involve a “scenario” and ask for your suggestion to improve the situation, whether it is related to problems with the hardware, the network, or both. Wired or wireless, desktops or small devices, you’ll need to be able to troubleshoot them all.
Test questions about this content will cover all mobile technology, from laptops to cell phones and everything in between. You’ll need to know about synchronizing devices and giving support to folks whose device has suddenly started acting “weird.” About 14% of the questions on the 1001 test will be about this content, which also covers all the accessories used with such devices and how to apply them to best advantage.
Whether it’s a wired or wireless network, an IT professional needs to know everything about it and how to keep it functioning properly. Test questions about networking content will occupy about 20% of the 1001 test and will cover a myriad of topics, including configurations, hosts, connection types, and helpful tools to use. Of course, security concepts are also threaded throughout these questions.
There isn’t a lengthy list of terms to learn in this area of test preparation, but it’s really important that you understand the ones that are involved. Only about 12% of the 1001 test is about this topic, but virtualization is a big deal in today’s computer world, and cloud use is relied upon in many industries. There are also numerous requirements to keep in mind when dealing with virtualization and cloud computing.
Instead of dividing Windows and other operating systems, these questions deal with a wide variety of systems and include their installation and maintenance. You’ll need to know all about the capabilities of the systems and tools they feature. It’s also important to know which type of system may be better used for certain purposes. Approximately 27% of the 1002 test is devoted to questions about operating systems.
Managing IT systems is complicated and requires you to know a lot about operations and proper procedures. Knowing how to prevent a disaster is as important as knowing what to do if one happens, and doing so is always preferable. Then you’ll need to be familiar with aspects of safety and professionalism. All of these, and more, are covered in the questions about this topic, which occupy about 23% of the 1002 test.
These days, the IT world is all about security, and this test has stepped up its coverage of the concept, with about 24% of the 1002 test covering security concepts. Related questions will ask you to delve deeply into procedures that protect people and their information. Many times, you will be asked to imagine a certain scenario and apply what you know about security to maintain the integrity of operations.
Also related to security is the area of tainted software, and these questions thoroughly examine proper and safe procedures and all types of software with regard to security and function. Questions like these make up about 26% of the 1002 test. It was one thing to secure a stationary device, like a desktop, but today’s world requires many additional methods since our technology is often quite small and quite mobile.
The CompTIA A+ Core Series exam is administered by Pearson VUE, which requires online pre-registration before taking the exam. From the online portal, you can select your testing center, submit exam fees, and review testing policies and procedures. Testing vouchers are purchased from the CompTIA Online Store or from Pearson Vue.
It’s always a great idea to leave for the exam early to ensure you have sufficient time to get to the testing location and make it through the sign-in and verification procedure. You may opt to take both tests on the same day or break them up into different days. No matter your plan, you should be prepared to remain at the testing site until the exam time allotment is over.
The testing center will also take a photograph of you during the check-in procedure to ensure the highest level of security and authentication.
It’s essential that you bring two legal forms of identification, such as a passport or driver’s license and a secondary ID. The types of identification that are accepted are found in the CompTIA’s Testing Policies information.
Do not bring any personal items with you on the day of your exam. This includes purses, bags, study guides, notes, books, computers, tablets, smartphones, or smartwatches. While some testing centers have designated space to secure your belongings, it’s best to err on the side of caution and leave anything that is not essential at home or in your vehicle. You may also contact the testing site beforehand to find out if there is somewhere to secure your belongings.
The best possible move you can make to prepare for taking the CompTIA A+ Core Series exam is taking practice tests. These practice tests are especially important for the CompTIA A+ exam because of the performance-based questions. Test-takers can be thrown off their game if they aren’t familiar with this type of question before taking the exam. CompTIA A+ practice tests also help examinees become comfortable with the other types of questions, the subject matter, and the overall format of the exam. Practice tests are also a great way to identify any weak areas and ensure you build the confidence necessary to succeed on exam day.
While the practice exams are a great study tool, you can definitely boost your performance by adding supplemental study materials, like CompTIA A+ flashcards and CompTIA A+ study guides. These alternative study methods can help you ensure that you retain all of the information needed to ace both parts of the exam!
Another crucial study strategy is simulating the actual testing experience. Practice tests will give you some idea of the topics you need to study and your weak areas, but simulating the testing experience will give you a much better idea of how you will actually perform on the test day! Try timing yourself and taking both exams in one sitting. This is especially important if you registered to take them both in one day.
The CompTIA A+ Core Series exam is composed of two tests, which may or may not be taken on the same day. While some individuals opt to schedule both tests on the same day, this might not be the best plan if you are struggling with any of the material. If this is the case, it’s best to study and focus on one test at a time and tackle the second one after you have passed the first.
There are a number of performance-based questions on the CompTIA A+ Core Series exam, and generally speaking, these questions take longer to answer than other questions. To answer them adequately, you will have to manage your time effectively. While the 90 minutes allotted per test allows roughly one minute per question, you will likely spend less than that on many questions and more than that on the performance-based questions. So keep an eye on the clock while taking the exam.
As a strategy to optimize your time, you should always skip confusing questions and return to them after you have answered the straightforward ones. This will give you an idea of how much time you have left to spend on the more challenging questions.
Each test in the CompTIA A+ Core Series is $239. With two tests, this brings the total price to $478. You must purchase a voucher from CompTIA or Pearson Vue, either online or in person, prior to taking the tests. Vouchers are good for 12 months after the purchase date, and both registration and testing must be completed in that window.
Certification lasts for three years. There is a provision for taking continuing education courses that will automatically renew this certification so you can avoid having to retake the exam to be recertified.
Each of the two CompTIA A+ tests has 90 questions. The combination of the two tests required for certification totals 180 questions.
Yes, if you fail either part of the exam, you can retake that section immediately. If you fail on the second attempt, you must wait 14 days before you can take the exam again. This 14-day waiting period is required for all subsequent attempts at the exam. There is no cap on the total number of times you can take the tests.
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