Overview Of The CompTIA A+ Exam
The CompTIA A+ is the de facto standard certification for aspiring and established IT Support Professionals, from the same group that brings you the Network+ and Security+ certs. If you’re studying for these as well, checkout our handy Network+ Study Guide and Security+ Study Guide reviews. It signifies an excellent grasp of IT support fundamentals, an ability to think on your feet, and is trusted by employers around the world. The certification process includes 2 Exams: Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002), covering a wide variety of topics that are kept up to date by experts around the world.
We’ll cover the exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best CompTIA A+ study guides, review guides, and practice tests to ensure your test prep success! The details are below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:
A+ Exam Details
The ComptTIA A+ Exam is composed of 2 different exams, Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002), both of which must be completed to certify.
The exams are currently priced at $232 (for each exam, so $464 for both).
The CompTIA A+ 220-1001 covers mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, virtualization and cloud computing and network troubleshooting.
The CompTIA A+ 220-1002 covers installing and configuring operating systems, expanded security, software troubleshooting and operational procedures.
Both exams are 90 minutes in length, and include multiple choice (single and multiple response), drag and drop, and performance-based questions. Before taking the exams, its recommended that you have roughly 1 year of hands-on experience in the field or in a Lab.
Throughout the tests, you’ll demonstrate knowledge of skills including IT security, Operating systems (both mobile and desktop), basic infrastructure and networking, and hardware configuration
You’ll also be required to show proficiency in troubleshooting concepts, and best practices in change management, documentation, and scripting.
The receommended experience level is about 9-12 months of hands-on work in the lab or field.
The CompTIA is administered by Pearson VUE, and your results will be calculated on completion of each exam automatically. It’s scored on a scale of 100-900, and a passing score is 675 for Core1 and 700 for Core2.
Best CompTIA A+ Study Guides
The Official CompTIA A+ Certification Study Guide
Pros: Complete and comprehensive review of all exam topics, direct from CompTIA.
Cons: None of note.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5
The Official CompTIA A+ Certification Study Guide is our overall top pick for people studying for the A+ Exam. As the name suggests, this is the official guide from the certification org, which means the material is the most reflective of what they expect you to know in order to pass the exams. The link here is for the Core1 Exam, but they have an identical guide for Core2 (or buy as a bundle and save).
The full list of features include:
- A complete look at all topics covered in the CompTIA A+ Exam.
- Representative practice training questions and tests so you know what to expect on test day.
- A strong, logical layout of material that’s easy to digest.
With incredibly strong content and essentially nothing in the negative column, this book is an easy recommendation for A+ test prep. If this is your first time taking the exam (as opposed to a recertification), we strongly advise picking up this book. It’s great as your sole training resource, or to compliment other materials. Either way, you’re sure to be satisfied with the results!
CompTIA A+ Certification Premium Bundle
Pros: Extremely strong supporting content (e.g. videos, etc).
Cons: Organization isn't great, and access instructions for supplements are unclear.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5
The CompTIA A+ Certification Premium Bundle covers content for both exams and is a close runner up behind the official one. In addition to excellent in-book content, this bundle includes a vast array of online resources like videos and practice questions. Be advised! There are multiple access codes in the book and you have to enter them both to access all of the online material.
The full list of features include:
- Comprehensive coverage of all topics.
- Detailed test-taking strategies and rationale for all practice questions.
- Access to 200+ simulations 750+ practice questions, 60+ episodes of video training.
- Includes a 10% off the exam voucher coupon
While it didn’t take the top spot, it’s still a viable resource, and sure to have everything you need to succeed! There are a number of great study guides on this list, and this is definitely one of them. This book is exactly what it says - a comprehensive training review, and everything you need to succeed.
CompTIA A+ Exam Cram
Pros: Narrow focus is great for last minute preppers.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as other resources on this list.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
If you’re short on time and need an accelerated review, or just going for recertification and want to brush up on a few topics, CompTIA A+ Exam Cram is a great pick for your specific needs. There’s a special focus paid to the most critical topics, with all of the fluff and extras cut out.
- Laser focused review of just the material you need to know.
- Coverage and practice questions for every exam topic, including substantial new coverage of Windows 10, as well as new hardware devices
- Two full practice exams in the print book and an additional two exams in the online test engine.
While you’re doing your last minute review, it’s great to have a book that’s focused on the critical components, and this is it. On the other hand, if you want a more in-depth textbook style training guide, this may not be your best bet.
CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide
Pros: Another abbreviated review for both exams that still manages to touch all topics.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as the more expensive study systems above.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
The CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide is another great budget pick, suited for last minute preparations or for seasoned IT professionals who just want to brush up on the specific topics on the exams. As with the book above, this covers both Core 1 and 2, and manages to touch on every topic (though not in as much depth obviously). This book also has great practice test and review questions to get you into the right frame of mind for test day!
- Fully updated for the A+ 220-1001 and 220-1002
- Exam objectives; includes access to interactive online learning environment
- 200 electronic flashcards, and a searchable key term glossary
As with the book above, we don’t recommend this as your only book unless it’s a recertification or you’re already a pro. That said, the narrow focus can be a great help in the final days leading up to it, since it can be easier to review the more condensed training material.
For IT Professionals, the A+ Certifications is a great way to signal to current and prospective employers that you’ve got what it takes for the job. Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.
We’ve rounded up the top A+ study guides and flashcards and presented them above.
Our top pick for most people is the The Official CompTIA A+ Certification Study Guide. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, and is the single best resource available.
For those shorter on time, or just needing a quick review, the Exam Cram book is a safe bet for touching on all the most critical aspects.
Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success. We’ve listed some of the best books available. Good luck, and study hard!