We get it. Sometimes the hardest part of learning something new is knowing where to start. You need to pass the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam, and it’s a little bit intimidating.
Computers aren’t easy, the available resources for the CompTIA may be outdated, and there is nothing worse than spending a bunch of money on an Exam only to fail it. Nobody likes a dent in the wallet and a dose of internalized shame. We understand. We’ve been there too. We know the challenge of studying for the A+ Exam, but we also know, there is hope!
Passing a CompTIA Certification doesn’t have to overwhelming. If you listen to these seven simple tips on CompTIA A+ Certification preparation you can show up on test day, ready to go and confident of success.
1. Build your own desktop computer (or build one for a friend)
CompTIA A+ Certification exams test you on a large amount of hardware knowledge. One of the most rewarding experiences you can have in IT is the satisfaction of building your first computer. Few things are so intimidating and yet so simple. Building a desktop computer is an exhilarating way to familiarize yourself with hardware and components. The muscle memory and time-intensive process teaches you in a way that reading and watching just can’t. Building a desktop helps clarify what the RAM, HDD, SSD, GPU, CPU, MOBO and a host of other acronyms mean. CompTIA A+ exams have MANY questions covering a large spectrum of hardware and software knowledge that is required at an entry-level Information Technology job. Building a desktop gives you experience in setting up an OS, running through a BIOS, hardware differences, selecting case and motherboard type, and much more. It is a great way to feel confident on exam day, knowing that the hardware portion of the CompTIA exam is not just theory but real world practice.
2. Set up a CompTIA A+ test lab
Be honest. You wouldn’t get on an airplane with a Pilot who has never flown an airplane. Experience matters. While a significant amount of time can be spent on CompTIA A+ certification preparation, the best study guide is experience. Nothing prepares you more for a test than fixing a computer and running through the operating system to get a feel for it. A test lab is easy to set-up and requires very little in terms of money. In fact, any laptop will do. At worst, if you lack of funding, using Ebay, Offerup, Thrift Stores and more can net you some basic parts from ancient times to set-up your lab.
A typical test lab would contain, a monitor, a desktop computer, networking components (such as a router, switch, and other networking components) and a current OS covered by the 220-901 and 220-902 Exams. With this basic set-up, you can start to tinker and practice for the 220-901 and 220-902. Don’t just set-up a lab, USE IT! Practice complex tasks like overclocking your CPU and becoming an expert at BIOS management. For CompTIA A+, the test is a general knowledge test, vast in span but not very deep. Using a test lab will help solidify concepts in your mind.
3. Select a CompTIA A+ certification study guide
People don’t care until they have skin in the game. Certification exams cost money. Sometimes a lot of money. Yet, when you are first starting on your journey to certification master, there is this temptation to achieve good results with minimal cost. This frugal attitude can sometimes be our downfall. Buying a CompTIA course not only gives you access to massive amounts of resources but forces you to be a steward of your time and education. When things are free, they often aren’t as valuable to us. This is why it is great to buy a book or course covering the CompTIA A+ exam. Not only does money put teeth into studying, (you want to pass so you can earn money and make that purchase worth it) premium resources usually cost money. This is good news though! Education in certification is an investment and it is a far better deal to spend $10 on some serious material then pay another $300 to retake a failed test. Seriously consider fasting from Starbucks for a few a drinks to save some cash and buy some premium Study Content.
The internet is full of beautiful videos that help illuminate aspects of computers. Several professionals release constant content through Youtube and other outlets on CompTIA Certs and computers in general. From LinusTechTips to Professor Messer, different YouTube channels are a great way to learn an informative lesson and study up on computer subjects. Nearly any subject has some educational series on it, including video series on the Exam. Find a good Youtube channel, ask questions to the creator, get involved, and study. While you can’t always interact in a way that leads to real-life practice and solidifies concepts, the visual aspect is a great way to understand something before diving in deep.
5. Practice Tests
Nothing builds confidence like a practice exam. Learning to ace the CompTIA course with REAL questions that can be found on REAL exams is a huge boost to morale. Several IT Professionals have passed these tests and taken the time to create AWESOME materials that push you towards success. Exam-Labs offers excellent tests that cover a wide range of tech topics such as CompTIA A+ Certifications. These are an invaluable asset to passing the A+! It is critically important to look over some real-world problems and study what the Exam feels like before dropping hundreds of dollars to pass on Exam day. Practice exams for the CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 can be found below and will help you feel cheerful and bold on Exam day, instead of fearful and stressed.
220-901 practice exam
220-902 practice exam
6. Find a Mentor
This is an undervalued step in being successful in the IT world. Often a question is beyond the scope of a student until they learn foundational knowledge. Yet without that foundational knowledge, you may not know what you need to study in order to answer the question! This creates a terrible cycle of feeling confused and leads to being unable to achieve success. This is where the Mentor is invaluable. Having someone to talk through hard to understand problems and discuss IT is one of the most powerful tools you can have for passing the exam. Take the time to find a local mentor from a neighboring college or information technology field. If that isn’t possible, USE THE INTERNET! It sounds obvious, but we often forget how useful something as simple as Reddit can be for finding help.
7. Read the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Objectives
It is astounding how many people attempt the CompTIA A+ 901 and 902 Exam without taking the time to simply read through the test objectives. The Computing Technology Industry Association has laid out a pretty explicit and easy to read list of necessary objectives and steps required to pass the exams. Not only do these give a glimpse into what can be found on the test, they are great windows into the world of CompTIA A+ exams. The tests are updated roughly every three years and continually drop old legacy items from the needed knowledge as well as look forward toward new Tech. A good sign you can pass the exam, is when you feel confident you can do all the objectives laid out by CompTIA. Both of the objective lists can be found below,
220-901 Exam Objectives
220-902 Exam Objectives
You Can Pass the CompTia A+ Certification Exams!
With a bit of determination and some resources, you can get certified! Many have gone before you. It is possible. Remember to take these steps seriously and practice, practice, PRACTICE!
In fact, if you are still nervous after this and have a few minutes, head on over to Exam Labs and take a dummy test. It won’t hurt, and will give you a little bit more awareness, and hopefully a boost of confidence in seeing what the CompTIA actually looks like.
Good luck, and always keep learning!