I received my CompTIA A+ Certification in December of 2010, and I would just like to share some of my experiences with the exam, and some recommendations for study materials. The CompTIA A+ exam was in two parts: The CompTIA A+ Essentials (220-701), and the CompTIA A+ Practical Application (220-702).
I used several methods to study for the exam. Luckily, my employer paid for me to take a 1-week A+ Training Bootcamp course. This is simply a 1-week classroom course with an instructor who goes over the main areas covered in the A+ exam (you can Google search for the objectives, or purchase a training book which will usually list them).
With the course, we were provided some book materials. In particular, we were provided with Element K A+ study materials, as well as Mike Meyers’ A+ Certification Passport, Third Edition (over time, the editions will change). In addition to the book materials, we were also provided with access to sample questions. We had access to both Kaplan and MeasureUp test questions.
In the end, I felt that the classroom course was not needed. Yes, you can pass the A+ exams without the classroom course!
What you need to pass:
Honestly, the book materials and sample test questions are all you really need. Of the two books, Meyers’s book was the best. In fact, for me and my colleagues who also took the exam, the Meyer’s book was outstanding. The best part about his book was that it contained exactly what you needed to know. Everything was nicely explained and to the point. The accompanying CD with the book also contains very good test practice questions.
The Element K books basically just contain a lot of information. They will teach you a lot about computers; however, as extensive as those books are, they simply will not help you pass the exam. They don’t really help you tackle the questions that are asked on the test.
Passing the exam is more than just knowing a lot about computers. You need to understand how to answer the questions they ask. By and large, the questions asked were very straight-forward. However, there are some questions that can easily throw you off if you are not careful. The only real way to familiarize yourself with the test questions is to do lots of sample questions, over and over again.
With regards to test questions, I highly recommend MeasureUp’s exam questions. They were up to date, realistic, plentiful, and mostly accurate (more on this below). I can’t say the same for Kaplan. Kaplan’s sample questions were unrealistically difficult, very outdated, and worst of all, contained a lot of obviously incorrect answers. Did I say outdated? One of the Kaplan questions was in regards to the upgradability of Windows 3.1x! (You will not get questions older than XP)
Unfortunately, not all sample questions are accurate. MeasureUp’s were pretty good, but you may find a small hand few that are wrong. Kaplan had way too many mistakes to keep track of. Obviously, if the answers are wrong, you can’t rely on them for help.
Completing practice questions repeatedly along with reading Meyers book for me was enough to successfully pass both exams.
P.S. Make sure you know the full operation of laser printers. They are fair game on the exams!