The CompTIA A+ certification is designed to prove that an exam candidate has competency in computer installation, maintenance, troubleshooting and security, as well as basic networking. The exam is vendor-neutral, which means that the certification does not focus on just one company's products. Instead, the certification objectives range across many technologies, services, hardware and software. It has great value in the marketplace as an indicator of a prospective employee’s skill level; proving to employers that a job seeker has the necessary computer knowledge to complete their tasks with minimal supervision.
In order to become CompTIA A+ certified, you must pass two exams: the Essentials Exam (number 220-701) and the Practical Application exam (number 220-702).
- Number of questions: 100 for each exam
- Type of questions: Primarily multiple-choice
- Passing scores: 675 for 220-701, and 700 for 220-702
- Time limit: 90 minutes each
- How to register: Vue testing centers
The exams each consist of 100 questions and are known as "linear exams". This means that you can go backward or forward within the exam, mark items, and change answers if necessary. It differs from an "adaptive exam" in that it has more questions, and the exam does not adapt to previous answers that the examinee has given.
The exams consist primarily of multiple-choice questions, but you might see an occasional matching question. CompTIA reserves the right to change the bank of questions, while still adhering to the objectives. The tests are administered on a computer within a very easy-to-use program. The majority of the time, you will simply click the letter of the corresponding correct answer. The exams can be taken in many languages including English, Spanish, German, and Japanese. The new exams (220-801 and 220-802) due out in October 2012 will include Performance Based Questions where the test taker will be asked to do a task in a simulated environment, but the 701/702 exams won’t have those types of questions added to their bank of questions. Also note that the 701/702 series of exams will be retired as of August 31, 2013, but between now and then you can choose to take either series of exams.
The passing scores are 675 (Essentials) and 700 (Practical Application) and are graded on a scale of 100-900. This equates roughly to 72% and 75% respectively, though it is difficult to compute exactly. Many candidates will prepare with practice exams and attempt to score 85% or higher in order to be ready for the real exams.
You have a full hour and a half to take each exam. If you finish early, you can (and should) return to the questions and review your answers. Although it is possible, it is not recommended to take both exams on the same day.
In order to take the exams, you must first register. This is not done with CompTIA, but instead with their authorized testing entity, Pearson Vue (http://www.vue.com). Have personal identification (such as a Social Security number) and a credit card ready when registering. Pearson Vue's website can aid in finding the closest testing center to you. They can also help you by phone if necessary.