Posted by Danielle S on Dec 15th 2020

5 Tips for Passing Your CompTIA A+ (220-1001 & 220-1002) Exams

CompTIA’s A+ certification is the industry standard for those entering the field of IT. A+ is vendor-neutral and foundational and is the core certification for IT careers in any field of specialization, from networking to cybersecurity. Some examples of jobs that people with an A+ certification have are:

  • Field Service Technician
  • Service Desk Analyst
  • Technical Support Specialist
  • Help Desk Technician
  • Associate Network Engineer
  • System Support Specialist
  • Data Support Technician

A+ is unlike other CompTIA certifications in that it requires taking and passing two exams (220-1001 and 220-1002). They confirm knowledge in nine key areas: Hardware, Operating Systems, Software Troubleshooting, Networking, Hardware & Network Troubleshooting, Security, Mobile Devices, Virtualization & Cloud Computing, and Operational Procedures.

If you’re thinking of earning your A+ certification, here are five tips to help you prepare

  1. Understand the exam objectives. It is important that you know the topics that will be covered on the exams so that you can be certain that you are familiar with them. CompTIA is constantly reviewing and updating their exam questions, but the exam objectives can act as a strong guideline to areas of study.

Exam 220-1001 consists of questions that fall into the following domains

1.0 Mobile Devices (14% of the exam)

2.0 Networking (20% of the exam)

3.0 Hardware (27% of the exam)

4.0 Virtualization and Cloud Computing (12% of the exam)

5.0 Hardware and Network Troubleshooting (27% of the exam)

Exam 220-1002 consists of questions that fall into the following domains

1.0 Operating Systems (27% of the exam)

2.0 Security (24% of the exam)

3.0 Software Troubleshooting (26% of the exam)

4.0 Operational Procedures (23% of the exam)

  1. Get some real-world experience. CompTIA recommends that you have 6-9 months of hands-on experience in the field or in a lab. Just having knowledge is not enough. CompTIA wants to see that those holding their certifications can actually apply that knowledge in their careers.

Like many of the CompTIA exams, A+ exams include performance-based questions (PBQs). PBQs test a candidate’s ability to solve problems in a simulated environment. These are designed to see how you can perform in realistic situations.

How do you get experience without having a job in IT? There are many options for you, including labs or volunteering for local organizations. You can also merely practice on your own.

  1. Take a practice exam. Practice exams can help you in a number of ways. Going through practice questions early in your preparation can help you identify where gaps exist in your knowledge and enable you to focus your study on those areas. Once you think that you are ready, successfully going through practice tests can give you confidence that you are ready to sit for and pass the exams.

There are two additional benefits to utilizing practice tests. First, they provide good examples of what the questions will be like on the actual exams so that you go into your tests knowing what to expect. Lastly, going through practice exams can make you comfortable with the testing process itself, ensuring that you are more relaxed when the time comes to actually test.

  1. Read ebook study guides. Earning CompTIA’s A+ certification requires foundational knowledge in a broad number of areas. Even if you are prepared in many of them, you will likely identify some that you should review. Whether they are topics that you missed on the practice exams or just subjects with which you don’t have much experience, ebook study guides can be helpful tools in your preparation. They contain the essential skills and information required for the CompTIA certification exams.

Ebooks contain everything from important terms and acronyms to lessons organized by functional area. Written by professionals with extensive experience, these guides are useful for both the self-learner and those who just need a little boost.

  1. Register to take the exams. By this point, you have done just about all that you can to prepare. You have a good understanding of the objectives covered by the CompTIA A+ exams and have real-world experience. You have taken some practice tests and gone over areas needing review in your ebook study guides. It is time to purchase your test vouchers and register for the exams.

You can take both exams on the same day, or on separate dates. On the night before your exams, be sure to get some sleep. If you are well rested, you will be fresh and better able to focus. On the day of the exam, you will be asked to present a photo ID, so be sure to bring one with you. Once you complete each exam, you will immediately receive a score. The passing score for exam 220-1001 is 675 and the passing score for exam 220-1002 is 700 (both on a scale of 100-900).

Passed both exams? Great – you are now CompTIA A+ certified and have a head start in your IT career!