How to Prep for and Hopefully Pass the CompTIA A+ Exam

By Sarah Myers

Technology is the backbone that makes a business run. And today, it’s clear that every company, in every industry, in every location requires IT support. From trouble-shooting to running diagnostics to upgrading systems, businesses would grind to a halt without adequate IT support.

If you’re looking to make a career change and think IT might be a good option – you’re right. The IT job market is stronger than ever. In fact, there’s currently a skills gap in the IT workforce. Meaning employers are looking for trained, skilled workers, but in many cases, there are more jobs than qualified candidates.

Not only is the IT job market robust, but careers in tech provide opportunities for advancement, a more comfortable lifestyle and sustainable wages. In fact, according to CompTIA’s CyberstatesTM data, tech jobs have a median wage of nearly $82,000 – that’s almost double the median national wage across all occupations.


But, how do you get the necessary skills and training?

If you’re thinking of launching a career in IT, there are a few things you’ll need to get started:

  1. Passion for tech and a drive to succeed
  2. Skills
  3. Certification

Those second two go hand-in-hand. You might have the technical know-how, but most employers are looking for proof that you’ve got the skills necessary to succeed. Adding IT certifications to your expertise can open a whole world of opportunity.

The CompTIA A+ certification is the industry standard for kick-starting a career in IT and many top employers look for the CompTIA A+ certification when hiring. Here are a few job titles that require CompTIA A+:


Great, but how do you pass the CompTIA A+ exam?

No one said success would be easy. Prepping and planning for the CompTIA A+ certification is necessary to pass the exam.

Luckily, Ben Rohling, manager of academic affairs at CompTIA, breaks it down for us with some helpful tips:

  1. Prepare. This exam is not a “cram the day before” type of exam. You must dedicate the time to truly understand the objectives and how they’re used.
  2. Repetition. Repetition is the key to remembering. Repetition is the key to remembering. Repetition is the key to remembering. The IT world is full of specifications and acronyms correlating with other specifications. Transfer rates and ports numbers are a classic example. Find a way to commit the key numbers to memory.
  3. Printers, remember printers. Printers are everywhere in business. They’re also everywhere on the exam! Surprise!
  4. Seek out various sources. If you are struggling with a specific topic, utilize multiple sources! The exam’s topics are extremely complex at times, so it’s only natural to assume that the manner in which they’re instructed also can be very different.
  5. Stay current. Stay in touch with current technology. Rohling suggests and The more you research new technology, the more you will be exposed to those standardized objectives actually being utilized in the real world.
  6. Don’t over-study, you’ll burn out. Don’t study TOO LONG! Rohling suggests an hour of study and a break. Typically, memorizing information from a five-hour study session without a break will benefit far less than a study session with hourly breaks.
  7. Strength in numbers. Study groups are your best friend! Find a group of individuals also prepping for the exam. Comradery helps!
  8. One step at a time. Focus on one exam at a time! The suggested progression is CompTIA A+, then Network+, and then Security+.
  9. Know the tech lingo. Be familiar with the verbiage of the tech world. There may be ten different ways to describe one piece of hardware.


How hard is the CompTIA A+ exam? How long does it take?

If you're truly prepared for the exam, then within three hours of testing, your new IT career future awaits. There are two sections of the exam, and you're allowed 90 minutes to complete each section.

The CompTIA exams are updated every three years. To see what the exam objectives are on the latest version, see CompTIA’s blog post published last January.

There are plenty of study guides and training courses to prepare for the CompTIA A+ exam. If you need more of a classroom setting, adults in Chicago and Minneapolis can sign up for the IT-Ready Technical Support program at Creating IT Futures, the charity arm of CompTIA. CompTIA Tech Career Academy will offer similar classes later this year. Sign up here and we’ll let you know when our full class schedule is available.


If you're ready now, where can you take the CompTIA A+ exam?

If you feel like you're already prepared to take the exam, you can purchase a certification voucher from the CompTIA Store. Then schedule your testing with Pearson Vue, which offers testing across the U.S. and in many countries worldwide. CompTIA details all the steps for how to take the exam on their website.

Don’t wait to start your future. Career opportunities in tech are there if you have the drive to roll up your sleeves and get to work.


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