A+ Certification is a testing program sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) that certifies the competency of service technicians in the computer industry. Many computer hardware and software manufacturers, vendors, distributors, resellers, and publications back the program.
Earning A+ certification means that you possess the knowledge, skills, and customer-relations expertise that are essential for a successful computer service technician. The exams cover a broad range of hardware and software technologies, but are not related to any vendor-specific products.
Benefits of Certification
For most individuals entering the computer industry, A+ Certification is only the first step. If your goal is to enter the profession of computer service and repair, this might be all the certification you need. However, if you are interested in becoming an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), this course provides just the foundation you need to get on your way with confidence.
As an A+ Certified Technician, you will receive many benefits, including:
- Recognized proof of professional achievement. The A+ credential asserts that the holder has reached a level of competence commonly accepted and valued by the industry.
- Enhanced job opportunities. Many employers give hiring preference to applicants with A+ Certification. Some employers require A+ as a condition of employment.
- Opportunity for advancement. The A+ credential can be a plus when an employer awards job promotions.
- Training requirement. A+ Certification is being adopted as a prerequisite to enrollment in certain vendors' training courses. Vendors find they can cut their training programs by as much as 50 percent when they require that all attendees are A+ Certified.
- Customer confidence. As the general public learns about A+ Certification, customers will request that only certified technicians be assigned to their accounts.
- Companies benefit from improved productivity. Certified employees perform work faster and more accurately. Statistics show that certified employees can work up to 75 percent faster than noncertified employees.
- Customer satisfaction. When employees have credentials that prove their competency, customer expectations are more likely to be met. More business can be generated for the employer through repeat sales to satisfied customers.
The A+ Exam Modules and Domains
To become certified, you must pass two test modules: the Core and the A+ DOS/Windows module (includes Windows 3.x and Windows 95). Individuals are permitted to take the test as often as they like, but in the case of A+ Certification, the Core and one specialty module must be passed within 90 calendar days of each other in order for the candidate to become certified.
This text prepares you to master the A+ exams. By completing all course work, you will be able to complete the A+ Certification exams with the confidence you need to ensure success. More importantly, you will be able to conduct your business with the knowledge that you are among the best and that you really "know your stuff."
This examination measures essential competencies for a microcomputer hardware service technician with six months of on-the-job experience. It is broken down into eight sections (called domains). The following table lists the domains and the extent to which they are represented.
|Domain ||Percent of Examination |
|1.0—Installation, Configuration, and Upgrading|| 30|
|2.0—Diagnosing and Troubleshooting|| 20|
|3.0—Safety and Preventive Maintenance|| 10 |
|4.0—Motherboard/Processors/Memory|| 10 |
|6.0—Portable Systems|| 5|
|7.0—Basic Networking|| 5|
|8.0—Customer Satisfaction*|| 10|
*This Domain will be scored but will not impact final pass/fail score.
1.0 Installation, Configuration and Upgrading
This domain tests the knowledge and skills needed to identify, install, configure, and upgrade microcomputer modules and peripherals. Included is the ability to identify and configure IRQ, DMA, I/O addresses, and set switches and jumpers.
- Identify basic terms, concepts, and functions of system modules, including how each module should work during normal operation.
- Identify basic procedures for adding and removing field-replaceable modules.
- Identify available IRQ, DMA, and I/O addresses and procedures to configure them for device installation.
- Identify common peripheral ports, associated cabling, and their connectors.
- Identify proper procedures for installing and configuring IDE/EIDE devices.
- Identify proper procedures for installing and configuring SCSI devices.
- Identify proper procedures for installing and configuring peripheral devices.
- Recognize the functions and effective use of common hand tools.
- Identify procedures for upgrading BIOS.
- Identify hardware methods of system optimizations and when to use them.
2.0 Diagnosing and Troubleshooting
This domain tests the candidate's knowledge and skills in diagnosing and troubleshooting common problems and system malfunctions, and requires knowledge of the symptoms relating to common problems.
- Identify common symptoms and problems associated with microcomputers.
- Identify basic troubleshooting procedures and good practices.
3.0 Safety and Preventive Maintenance
This domain tests skills regarding safety and preventive maintenance. Safety includes identifying potential hazards to personnel and equipment. Preventive maintenance includes preventive maintenance products, procedures, environmental hazards, and precautions to take when working on a microcomputer system.
- Identify the purposes of various types of preventive maintenance products and procedures.
- Identify procedures and devices for protecting against environmental hazards.
- Identify the potential hazards and proper safety procedures in relation to laser and high voltage equipment.
- Identify items that require special disposal procedures in order to comply with environmental guidelines.
- Identify ESD (electrostatic discharge) precautions and procedures.
This domain tests skills related to specific terminology, facts, and ways and means of dealing with classifications, categories, and principles of motherboards, processors, and memory in a microcomputer system.
- Identify the differences between the popular CPU chips.
- Identify the categories of RAM and their locations and physical characteristics.
- Identify the most popular motherboard.
- Identify the purpose of CMOS.
This domain tests knowledge and skills related to printers.
- Identify the basic concepts, printer operations, printer components, and field replaceable units.
- Identify care and service techniques common to printers.
- Identify the types of printer connections and configurations.
6.0 Portable Systems
This domain tests skills related to the use of portable computers. It focuses on the unique features and problems associated with portables.
7.0 Basic Networking
This domain tests the skills and knowledge of basic network concepts and terminology.
- Identify basic networking concepts, including how a network works.
- Identify procedures for swapping and configuring network interface cards.
- Identify ramifications of repairs on the network.
8.0 Customer Satisfaction
This domain tests the skills and knowledge of customer relations and satisfaction.
- Distinguish effective from ineffective behaviors.
- Recognize communication skills.
- Recognize how to instill customer confidence.
A+ DOS/Windows Service Technician Examination
Also referred to as the Microsoft Windows/DOS Specialty Exam, this test measures essential operating-system competencies for a break/fix microcomputer hardware service technician with six months of on-the-job experience. It examines a basic knowledge of MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95, including how to install, configure, upgrade, troubleshoot, and repair microcomputer systems. It is broken down into five sections (domains). The following table lists the domains and the extent to which they are represented.
|Domain ||Percent of Examination |
|1.0—Function, Structure, Operation, and File Management|| 30|
|2.0—Memory Management|| 10|
|3.0—Installation, Configuration, and Upgrading|| 30 |
|4.0—Diagnosing and Troubleshooting|| 20 |
|5.0—Networks|| 10 |
In terms of operating systems, Windows 95 is covered in about 75 percent of the operating-system exam materials, while MS-DOS & Windows 3.x are covered in about 25 percent of the materials.
1.0 Function, Structure, Operation, and File Management
This domain tests skills and knowledge of operating systems.
- Identify the operating system's functions, structure, and major system files.
- Identify ways to navigate the operating systems and how to get technical information.
- Identify basic concepts and procedures for creating and managing files and directories in MS-DOS and Windows.
- Identify the procedure for viewing files and changing file attributes, and the ramifications of these changes.
- Identify the procedures for basic disk management.
- Identify how the operating system stores information on the hard disk drive in file allocation tables.
2.0 Memory Management
This domain tests the skills and knowledge of the various types of memory and how to manage them.
- Differentiate between types of memory.
- Identify typical memory conflict problems and how to optimize memory use.
3.0 Installation, Configuration and Upgrading
This domain tests the skills and knowledge of installing, configuring, and upgrading MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95.
- Identify the procedures for installing MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95. Bring the software to a basic operational level.
- Identify steps to perform an operating system upgrade.
- Identify the boot sequences for MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95.
- Identify how Windows 95 uses Plug and Play and how it functions.
- Identify procedures for loading/adding device drivers and the necessary software for the devices.
- Identify the procedures for changing options, configuring, and using the Windows printing subsystem.
- Identify the procedures for installing and launching typical Windows and non-Windows applications.
4.0 Diagnosing and Troubleshooting
This domain tests the skills and knowledge of diagnosing and troubleshooting problems related to MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95.
- Recognize and interpret the meaning of common error codes.
- Identify the steps required to correct a startup or boot problem.
- Identify the steps required to create an emergency boot disk with utilities installed.
- Recognize Windows-specific printing problems and identify the procedures to correct them.
- Recognize and categorize common problems and identify their possible causes.
- Identify the purpose of and procedures of using various MS-DOS and Windows-based utilities and command switches to diagnose and troubleshoot problems.
- Identify the procedures to install and configure MS-DOS applications and potential problems in Windows 95.
- Identify concepts relating to viruses and virus types.
This domain tests the skills and knowledge of the network capabilities of MS-DOS and Windows.
- Identify the networking capabilities of MS-DOS and Windows, including procedures for connecting to the network.
- Identify concepts and capabilities relating to the Internet and basic procedures for setting up a system for Internet access.