For many IT professionals, the notion of taking a certification exam can be stressful and harrowing. Wondering how to fit in studying with the demands of professional and personal life can feel overwhelming.
When you’re looking for IT certification, you don’t really have much choice. CompTIA’s A+ certification is the industry standard for entry-level IT pros. By attaining this certification IT pros can propel their new IT careers forward.
There are shortcuts, false flags, and other methods that promise to lead you to a quick-fix certification, but those methods don’t really help you in the end. Here are some A+ exam study tips and helpful information that will help make your exam prep that much smoother, and will help drive you toward certification.
How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the A+ Exam?
The first, and probably the most common question among those preparing for the A+ exam is “how long do I have to study?” The answer to that question varies greatly depending on your level of experience and skill, your natural aptitude for the material, and how quickly you learn and how much information you retain.
In short, there is no easy answer to this question, but the best general guideline is to give yourself at least a few weeks to prepare.
What Is the Best Study Guide for the CompTIA A+ Certification?
Where you get your study materials makes a huge difference in the quality of information you’re getting. Be sure to always use official CompTIA content and other materials from well-established industry professionals if you want to ensure you’re getting accurate, up-to-date information.
Some learners, unfortunately, choose to use “brain dumps” to study. “Brain dumps” come from learners who take the exam, then post the exam questions online, sometimes including answers. This may sound appealing, but keep the following in mind: 1) it’s cheating, and if you are caught your certification may be revoked, along with other consequences; 2) the information may not be accurate, and 3) CompTIA frequently changes exam questions.
In addition, the A+ exam is meant to be an evaluation of your skill level. By misrepresenting that, you are shortchanging yourself; what is the purpose of having a certification if you don’t truly hold the skills the certification measures?
How Should I Study for the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam and Pass?
While you’re using official CompTIA exam prep materials, you’ll also find more success if you choose to study smart while you’re studying hard. To start, memorize the exam objectives. They’re your roadmap to certification, and knowing them well gives you a solid foundation on which to build.
Also, get your hands dirty. Build a computer, or work on setting up a network. It’s an elemental part of the A+ certification to have intimate knowledge of the hardware. The 901 exam is based on hardware, and having the hands-on experience of building a computer or network will give you in-depth expertise by doing that book work or lectures just cannot provide.
Use CompTIA Approved Practice Tests
Practice exams will help familiarize you with the A+ exam and can help you gauge how close to certification you are as you study. It will also give you a glimpse into the types of questions you’re expected to know, and let you know which areas you’re still deficient in, and which you’ve mastered. Particularly with performance-based, and “best, most, least” questions, you can learn to navigate them and get used to their styles, which means less struggle on exam day.
By targeting your weaknesses, you can focus on your areas of need, strengthening your skills and working to increase your score. The more you know, the easier it will be to earn your certification.
Use Test-taking Approaches That Will Help You Pass
Remember standardized tests in grade school? Your teachers had a host of tips and tricks for you to increase your score, helping you to guess correct answers if you didn’t know them. For the multiple choice portion of the exam, you can do the same thing. If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip it and come back to it later. The answer may come to you later on.
If you still don’t know the answer, eliminate obviously incorrect answers. In addition, you can typically guess that if two answers are related, one of them is probably the correct answer.
Finally, don’t forget the small things. Get plenty of rest the evening before, and eat a healthy meal before leaving for testing. Arrive at the testing facility a few minutes early and make sure you are able to eliminate stressors and remain as calm and focused as possible.