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CompTIA A+ certification: studying, achieving, getting into the workforce

This is a discussion on CompTIA A+ certification: studying, achieving, getting into the workforce within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hey guys, Lately I've been studying for my CompTIA A+ and quite frankly I'm desperate to pass this one.....does anybody


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Old 06-17-2013, 06:32 AM   #1
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Hey guys,
Lately I've been studying for my CompTIA A+ and quite frankly I'm desperate to pass this one.....does anybody have any tips or advice to make studying for the 801 +802 any easier? I'm reading through Mike Meyers' All-in-one complete guide to the CompTIA A+ exams and I have just recently finished up with a basic computer support certification from my local community college. Are there high career hopes as far as A+ certification goes? Would I need to see about going for a full blown degree? I unfortunately still live with my folks and these questions are the subject of the (near daily) shouting matches.

As this is my first post, I'll give a little background on my history. My actual name is Jim and I'm 29. I have always had two passions in life, music and computers. I followed music as my major when I went between becoming Mr. Fixit ( highly unlikely at the time or seeing about becoming a music educator (a shaky alternative to not going to school at all). A transfer student, I had no trouble until changing schools, where I quickly found my department, despite accepting me, sabotaging my involvement until I was forced to flunk out or lower my degree. I stepped down.... Taking a strong interest in computer music composition with me instead.

AC (after college) has been an interesting five years....I've found the auto industry is a wonderful place to find scrap jobs (dead end), starting from insurance claim handler all the way down to tire biller (and a short bump on auction driving along the way) for a warehouse....I swear toddlers have more discipline....this gets me all of 10.50 an hour.....I can't live on this...ever.


Anyhow, I'm not an expert(as in not a guru....I haven't even built a computer before, but I do understand the basics of hardware), but I'm willing to do anything to claw my way out of here!
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:12 AM   #2
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You don't need a degree or certifications to get an entry-level IT job. Certifications like the A+ will give you an advantage over your competition. The experience you gain in your first IT job will enable you to get better and better IT jobs as time goes on.

Entry-level IT jobs pay entry-level wages, so you're not likely to do better financially. But future opportunities are much, much better, and your pay will absolutely get better over time.

A little background - I started in IT 15 years ago at the age of 28. Computers were my passion as well - I'd been messing with them since the age of 10. After being the unofficial go-to computer guy at a telemessaging service for a few years, I got my first "real" IT job making $11/hr. Got my first raise 3 months later, and the pay got better from there.

Certification isn't easy, but it is doable. For the A+, the AIO that you have is what I would recommend. If you want hands-on experience with A+ concepts, I recommend PC Technician Street Smarts by James Pyles.

Other than hands-on practice, the only other thing that can make a certification exam easier is by taking practice exams. These practice exams will simulate what a real exam is like so you can find out if you're ready for the "real thing". Good ones will also contain detailed explanations of why the right answer is right and the wrong answers are wrong as well as references to back up their information.

One important note: there are good, legit practice exams, and there are "cheat sheets" or "braindumps". Braindumps contain the exact questions you'll see on the exam, but using them can get you decertified for life if CompTIA suspects that you've used them to study. Totally not worth it... stay on the "light side". Look at it this way: if you NEED a braindump to pass, you're not ready to hold the certification. But you CAN pass legitimately.

There are good practice exams out there. Keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for. Think of it as a small investment in your career... and we're not talking about thousands of dollars like a class would cost you. I'd give you recommendations, but my opinion is highly biased, as I currently write practice exams for a living. Do your research. And if you need to know whether a practice exam company is legit, just ask, and I'll answer truthfully. :)

Hope this helps. :)
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:25 AM   #3
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what he said ^

Michael won't advertise his own products so he doesn't seem biased as there are other good exam providers out there but I can as I have no affiliation to any of them.

When I did my A+ which was the 600 series at the time, I used exams fro preplogic and trancender. After I passed my A+ I had the chance to review the Boson Ex-Sim max A+ exams and I can say this I would have scored higher and could have used the Boson exam engine as an extra study tool. Here is the link Cisco Network Simulator | IT Practice Exams | IT Training | Boson.com
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BosonMichael View Post
You don't need a degree or certifications to get an entry-level IT job. Certifications like the A+ will give you an advantage over your competition. The experience you gain in your first IT job will enable you to get better and better IT jobs as time goes on.

Entry-level IT jobs pay entry-level wages, so you're not likely to do better financially. But future opportunities are much, much better, and your pay will absolutely get better over time.

A little background - I started in IT 15 years ago at the age of 28. Computers were my passion as well - I'd been messing with them since the age of 10. After being the unofficial go-to computer guy at a telemessaging service for a few years, I got my first "real" IT job making $11/hr. Got my first raise 3 months later, and the pay got better from there.

Certification isn't easy, but it is doable. For the A+, the AIO that you have is what I would recommend. If you want hands-on experience with A+ concepts, I recommend PC Technician Street Smarts by James Pyles.

Other than hands-on practice, the only other thing that can make a certification exam easier is by taking practice exams. These practice exams will simulate what a real exam is like so you can find out if you're ready for the "real thing". Good ones will also contain detailed explanations of why the right answer is right and the wrong answers are wrong as well as references to back up their information.

One important note: there are good, legit practice exams, and there are "cheat sheets" or "braindumps". Braindumps contain the exact questions you'll see on the exam, but using them can get you decertified for life if CompTIA suspects that you've used them to study. Totally not worth it... stay on the "light side". Look at it this way: if you NEED a braindump to pass, you're not ready to hold the certification. But you CAN pass legitimately.

There are good practice exams out there. Keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for. Think of it as a small investment in your career... and we're not talking about thousands of dollars like a class would cost you. I'd give you recommendations, but my opinion is highly biased, as I currently write practice exams for a living. Do your research. And if you need to know whether a practice exam company is legit, just ask, and I'll answer truthfully. :)

Hope this helps. :)
I hear that; I'm not really looking to take expensive practice exams just yet, but I was looking to see if I got the right book.

Looking over a full stack of 1500+ pages tho I was wondering what I was getting myself into. Just lately the A+ is portrayed as this baby step to awareness of computers and like I said, plenty of arguments I've had have revolved around whether its "enough" to end up in a job, not as a means to an ends but definitely a beginning to a better start.

Well, looks like I'll have to finish up the other 1000 pages and get back to you.

I've just been trying to soak up every word on the page and frankly was beginning to panic. I've went through other processes like This that haven't worked out (weichert real estate school comes to mind).
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:55 AM   #5
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There are two questions you must ask yourself:

1. Can IT certifications give you an advantage over your competition?
As someone who has sat on both sides of the interview table, I can say with some authority that yes, it absolutely can. Only problem is, nobody can tell you exactly how much advantage it will give, because the answer depends on the employer. Some employers couldn't care less about certifications. Others require them. But if I didn't believe in how certifications can give someone an advantage in getting an IT job, I wouldn't waste my time creating practice exams to help people pass certification exams. :)

2. Is the advantage offered by getting the certification worth the price?
I guess that depends on how much you spend. In my opinion, the advantage is worth the exam price, and books are cheap. Practice exams, in the grand scheme of things, are relatively inexpensive, and good practice exams can help you focus your study efforts by showing you where you are weak (or showing you that you are ready), thereby saving valuable time. Training classes, which can cost thousands of dollars, is often where many people draw the line... however, if you're someone who doesn't self-study well, it can be an effective option.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:25 PM   #6
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Have you heard about Professor Messer's CompTIA 220-801/802 A+ Training | Professor Messer - CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, Linux, Microsoft Technology Training ?

This site has generated some buzz from what I see on the 'net.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:28 PM   #7
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yes prof messer is great and his videos are free.
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:16 AM   #8
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I'm also studying towards my A+. I hadn't stumbled across that Professor Messer link before. It looks incredibly handy!

I share your pain, Fatdrifter. There is so much in the book to study and remember - a lot of it I consider not really relevant (on practise tests, I've had some questions as to the year that TCP/IP is introduced. Not too sure how that helps me with servicing a machine, but I guess knowledge is knowledge!).

My plan is to go through one of the online practise test, and mark the areas in which I'm getting a low score. Printers and Networking are my two lowest - at 25% and 40%, so I know those are two areas that I really must focus on.
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Odim View Post
I'm also studying towards my A+. I hadn't stumbled across that Professor Messer link before. It looks incredibly handy!

I share your pain, Fatdrifter. There is so much in the book to study and remember - a lot of it I consider not really relevant (on practise tests, I've had some questions as to the year that TCP/IP is introduced. Not too sure how that helps me with servicing a machine, but I guess knowledge is knowledge!).

My plan is to go through one of the online practise test, and mark the areas in which I'm getting a low score. Printers and Networking are my two lowest - at 25% and 40%, so I know those are two areas that I really must focus on.
I'm about 600-700 pages in. Plan is finish up, take the practice tests, listen to professor messer in areas related to where I falter, repeat practice test, and then go for real thing.

Networking is a nightmare. I had a prof for the school's part of my computer support certification who was convinced the best way to teach the class was having every homework as an online exam, gave nothing but pop quizzes, and had a gigantic Nigerian accent (don't get me wrong but if I can't understand you to start off and the subject matter is already complicated, learning is probably not happening) that nullified any part of his lecture not crudely plastered into a PowerPoint project.

In other words, it's hard for me too lol.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:46 AM   #10
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Exam cram by David L. Prowse is a good alternative to Mr Mayers book, read it along with looking at prof messers videos and you should get the jist of it...
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:13 AM   #11
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Exam cram by David L. Prowse is a good alternative to Mr Mayers book, read it along with looking at prof messers videos and you should get the jist of it...
Always came across as a fast and dirty route to it tho. I like some detail. But I get you.

I guess the whole stress deal came from the idea that I wanted to prevent additional events of me throwing myself at a subject if I would reach the point where I dropped it when I was done, along with the fact that while I consider myself intelligent in handling computers, that by no means makes me educated.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:26 AM   #12
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FYI if any of you are doing free exams be wary they are not braindumps. Visit CertGuard | IT Certification Exam Security & Integrity and put the URL of the website intot he braindump search. If CG says its a braindump do not use it
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenbrucelee View Post
FYI if any of you are doing free exams be wary they are not braindumps. Visit CertGuard | IT Certification Exam Security & Integrity and put the URL of the website intot he braindump search. If CG says its a braindump do not use it
Unfortunately, CertGuard was sold by its founders to a certification training company who hasn't kept the database updated... worse, they seem to have turned it into nothing more than a vehicle to advertise their products. After not finding several dump sites listed and seeing no effort made to add them, I've stopped recommending their site.
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:14 PM   #14
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Apologies for the minor thread hijack here, but does anyone have a list of useful resources for the CompTIA? I was surprised to see there wasn't a sticky! (There should be!)

I'm using an assortment of online 'practise tests', to gauge my weak-points, and following up with Professor Messer's videos (thanks to this thread) and the Meyers book to brush up.

Has anyone tried utilizing flash cards? How did it work out for you?
Is note-taking of the entire book necessary? I have (currently) 60 pages of notes, and not even halfway through the Meyer's book yet! I'm not too sure I'll be able to cram all of that in my head - is general understanding good enough? (EG: Not necessary to remember the year in which TCP/IP was introduced!)

Also, to the OP, I suggest booking the exam far in advance and working towards it. I found myself procrastinating far too much when I didn't have a set exam date!
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Unfortunately, CertGuard was sold by its founders to a certification training company who hasn't kept the database updated... worse, they seem to have turned it into nothing more than a vehicle to advertise their products. After not finding several dump sites listed and seeing no effort made to add them, I've stopped recommending their site.

Didn't realise certguard Robert wasn't doing it anymore. I just wrote the link as I knew it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Odim View Post
Apologies for the minor thread hijack here, but does anyone have a list of useful resources for the CompTIA? I was surprised to see there wasn't a sticky! (There should be!)

I'm using an assortment of online 'practise tests', to gauge my weak-points, and following up with Professor Messer's videos (thanks to this thread) and the Meyers book to brush up.

Has anyone tried utilizing flash cards? How did it work out for you?
Is note-taking of the entire book necessary? I have (currently) 60 pages of notes, and not even halfway through the Meyer's book yet! I'm not too sure I'll be able to cram all of that in my head - is general understanding good enough? (EG: Not necessary to remember the year in which TCP/IP was introduced!)

Also, to the OP, I suggest booking the exam far in advance and working towards it. I found myself procrastinating far too much when I didn't have a set exam date!
there is asticky in the articles section. I wrote it.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:46 PM   #16
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Here is the article, now it was over a year ago it was written and mentions the 700 series exams but the main points in it are still relevant.CompTIA A+ update | Tech Support Forum
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Old 06-22-2013, 03:37 AM   #17
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Here is the article, now it was over a year ago it was written and mentions the 700 series exams but the main points in it are still relevant.CompTIA A+ update | Tech Support Forum
Ah brilliant! I didn't think to check the article section.
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