May 21, 2011

Passing the CompTIA A+ Exams

Due to a requirement on a job application, I earned my CompTIA A+ certification with only two weeks of studying for it.

I studied for two weeks, and took both the 220-701 and 220-702 tests back-to-back on 5-20-11.  I scored a 765 (passing=675) on the 701 Essentials test and a 700 (passing=700) on the 702 Practical exam.  I will explain how I was able to pass both exams and my thoughts of the entire process.

These are the two resources (yes, only the two) I used and I'll tell you what I thought of each.  I personally read the entire first book and then went onto the second in that order.
CompTIA A+ Exam Cram by David L. Prowse (4th Edition)
ISBN-13: 9-0-7897-4242-1
ISBN-10: 0-7897-4242-X
ISBN 978-0-7897-4242-1

My thoughts:  This is an excellent book to get you started if you have no idea where to begin.  I purchased it as an ebook, but it on my computer and my phone and studied everywhere I went.  I'll throw in one caveat right away though and that is it claims there are not questions about the Windows 7 operating system.  The test has been revised since then and there are a couple questions regarding Windows 7.  The book does not cover material about this operating system other than it exists.  There are many "Exam Alerts" that are good to know.  I focused my studies around them mostly.  *The physical book contains a CD that the eBook does not provide.

CompTIA A+ Exam Cram Practice Questions by Patrick Regan (4th Edition)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-4791-4
ISBN-10: 0-7897-4791-X

My thoughts:  If you only have a week to study, I would recommend spending 80-90% of your time going over the sample questions in this book.  They are GOLD!  Some are even found on the tests.  The book contains an overview of each chapter, its weight on the test, a plethora of questions and immediately following the set of questions are the in-depth answers.  I found a couple grammatical errors here and there and a couple solid errors where the quick answer letter was not the actual answer.  If your studying time is limited, choose to work on either all odd or even questions rather than the first or second half as they're broken up into segments.

Overall:  I did get frustrated with a few conflicting recommendations from each of the authors.  Hopefully by addressing them now they won't affect you when you're going through the books.  The first is whether or not Windows 7 was going to be on the test.  It is so keep that in mind.  The other is whether or not you should use vacuums to assist you in cleaning out dust within a computer.  The first book by Prowse claims to absolutely not as it can create static, however, in some practice questions in the second book by Regan, it says that using a 'computer vacuum' is alright and in fact better than gently blowing dust out using your mouth.

If you're taking the exam I wish you the best of luck!

Additional info about me:  I scheduled a date to take the exams in two weeks thinking they would be no problem.   Four months ago I earned my BS degree in Information Systems and figured my knowledge with computers was pretty good for my age.  I registered to take the two exams because a job I was applying for required that I was CompTIA A+ Certified.  After picking up the first book (by Prowse) I realized I had some studying to do.  I'm pretty strong on the software side of computers and not so much with the hardware and knowing the technical names of internal components of a computer system (such as how many pins does an IDE ribbon for a FDD have or what are the pixel dimensions of a WUXGA).  After reading the first book by Prowse I took the two 100-questions practice exams at the end and was not satisfied nor felt prepared to take either of the two exams.  I picked up book #2 by Regan on a Tuesday and went through all 400 pages of practice problems in the following two days.  If that isn't cramming I'm not sure I know what is.  I would spend an hour and a half or so per chapter, take a break, and go at it all day long for two straight days.  I went through every question in chapters 1-5, and realized I didn't have enough time to cover every question in the remaining chapters so I did every odd question in chapters 6-10.  By the end I could barely read the instructions on setting up my newly purchased UPS (Universal Power Supply).  If I had additional time I would cover the remaining even numbered questions in chapters 6-10 in book 2 by Regan and then start to hit up the practice questions on the CD at the back of the book.  I barely made it through the 202 practical exam and I'm pretty sure my score would reflect a higher number if I had additional time to study the questions I missed out on.

1 comment:

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