A+ certification required reading?

I have been looking for a while now to attain my A+ certification and needed some help from the community regarding on what you might call a A+ "bible". I had toyed with the idea of New Horizons or My Computer Career.com, but they are financially out of my reach and I believe grossly overpriced. I will also be getting my MCTS, MCDST, and MCP sometime in the near future as well, but I need to start somewhere.

I am looking for something that will basically hold my hand through the processes. I want to teach myself so I can go in and take the exams without having to step into a classroom. I will have an old pc that I can take apart and put together during this process as well so that won't be an issue.

Any help in the right direction is incredibly appreciated.

I picked up The CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide from Amazon a couple of weeks ago for about $40.
Comes with a PDF version of the book, Flashcards (meh), plus some Assessment and Sample Tests.

This.

I did mine through self study, I got a textbook (A+ 2006 in depth, Jean Andrews) and used the web to learn. I'd say:
-Follow the syllabus, the one that is relevant to your version of A+ (year and specialisation). Some sources may be out of date.
-Use a variety of sources. I found this surprisingly useful. Wikipedia is your friend.
-Keep testing yourself, and noting what you're weak on. Very few questions from free test quizzes are like the actual test ones. Use them as a learning aid, not a simulation of the real test. I found proprofs.com to be the best of what google turned up.
-Make sure you're learning the content, not learning the tests. Besides that it's like any other exam, take your time and make 100% sure you understand the question and answer what it's asking for.

Half.com is great for IT books like this (Rezzy's book is 29$ there). If you have been doing support on PCs you may find a lot of it is review and can just walk in and take the test. However, at the price point of Comptia exams I can understand your not wanting to take it blind especially if this will be your first IT exam experience.

Edwin just took this last month or so and I believe he pretty much walked in, he may be able to give you some details.

Scratched wrote:

I found proprofs.com to be the best of what google turned up.

I've just spent a little time going through their OSI module and that is an excellent site! Their review questions do a great job of offering almost correct answers to discourage guessing. Something that I'm sure will be found in the actual test.

The A+ Complete Book for Dummies I got through Amazon was everything I needed to pass my A+ exam. Honestly you won't have to read it all either since a lot of stuff in it is common sense. The history parts of old components that aren't used much these days are the only sections that I really had to write notes for.

Eezy_Bordone wrote:

Half.com is great for IT books like this (Rezzy's book is 29$ there).

I'm sure that the more expensive Amazon book comes with some redeeming features like not utilizing child-labor, not being bound with the pulped remains of ancient and malevolent tomes, and uhm... not being delivered by crazed hobos looking for a place to crash.

If I may ask, what are you obtaining the certification for? Is there a particular job you want that specifically needs it? The reason I ask is that at least where I live, the A+ (and mostly the MCSE as well) have become somewhat of a joke. The market's currently flooded with people who don't actually know anything but went to an "IT school" where you pay them a couple of grand to teach you how to pass the test rather than any actual knowledge. Most employers have stopped requiring A+ because most of the people they're hiring with it turn out to have no knowledge at all. That's just in Ottawa though so it may still be more valuable elsewhere. I'm just curious if you have a specific need for it or if it's something you just want to get in the hope of general advancement. It was too funny to see these people at Geek Squad who were terrified that not wearing their wrist strap meant they were going to kill any piece of electronics they touched because their A+ course told them that. Oh how I laughed.

Take the practice test three times. If you pass just go take the test. If you know how to use a computer then you can just go in cold and take it. The only thing I didn't know was how to fix a printer. I went in cold one day, took both tests and that was it. Super easy for me.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

The market's currently flooded with people who don't actually know anything but went to an "IT school" where you pay them a couple of grand to teach you how to pass the test rather than any actual knowledge.

Heh. In my senior year of high school, my school created a computer class whose raison d'etre was that students would be prepared to pass the A+ exam at the end of the year.

Thanks for the advice folks, I sincerely do appreciate it.

If I may ask, what are you obtaining the certification for? Is there a particular job you want that specifically needs it?

I am in the RTP of North Carolina and it's a VERY tech heavy area with a proliferation of jobs that only require that you have your A+ certs in order to get hired on. I plan on evolving beyond A+ of course, but a lot of jobs will pay for your certs beyond A+ so they can utilize your skills to their benefit.

I am fairly computer literate, but want to have more "book knowledge" so I can walk in and take the exam one time and blow it out of the water. I am a BIG plan ahead kind of guy (sometimes a detriment) and don't want to be blindsided and have to pay the money more than once to attain the certs.

Edwin wrote:

Take the practice test three times. If you pass just go take the test. If you know how to use a computer then you can just go in cold and take it. The only thing I didn't know was how to fix a printer. I went in cold one day, took both tests and that was it. Super easy for me.

I know man, but you are a bit more ahead of the curve than I am in this area, that and I got into this field later in life than you.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

If I may ask, what are you obtaining the certification for? Is there a particular job you want that specifically needs it? The reason I ask is that at least where I live, the A+ (and mostly the MCSE as well) have become somewhat of a joke. The market's currently flooded with people who don't actually know anything but went to an "IT school" where you pay them a couple of grand to teach you how to pass the test rather than any actual knowledge. Most employers have stopped requiring A+ because most of the people they're hiring with it turn out to have no knowledge at all. That's just in Ottawa though so it may still be more valuable elsewhere. I'm just curious if you have a specific need for it or if it's something you just want to get in the hope of general advancement. It was too funny to see these people at Geek Squad who were terrified that not wearing their wrist strap meant they were going to kill any piece of electronics they touched because their A+ course told them that. Oh how I laughed. :)

Yea my company's official policy for hiring new tech's is A+ certification but we make sure that during the interviews we throw some real situations at them to see if they actually know anything or not. With folks who have nothing but A+ the answer is usually not.

I've always joked that my A+ certification is the "I can touch a computer without breaking it" card. Mind you, I took it back when it required you to know how to do more than figure out which button was used for right clicking.

Nosferatu wrote:

I've always joked that my A+ certification is the "I can touch a computer without breaking it" card. Mind you, I took it back when it required you to know how to do more than figure out which button was used for right clicking.

That's a good summary. Anyone with two braincells can fix a PC if they put their mind to it, A+ is a formal cert you can show to someone to prove it.

Arise!

I've been studying the past few weeks for the A+ exam, mostly due to a local job opportunity. Also, I haven't been up to much lately and it's nice to have a goal in front of me again. So, to take advantage of this job I've had to cram everything into 2 1/2 weeks. I started off with a practice test, and ended up starting further back knowledge wise than I anticipated. Cue trip to library, and TotalSem's A+ All-in-one Exam guide. Enjoying the book, seems to teach the subject and not just the test.

Something I didn't realize until today was that any certification after Jan 1st 2011 will require the newly A+ certified person to recertify every 3 years! Crap. Wish I'd decided to do this a few months ago. The nice folks from Pearson Vue will be soaking up a fair bit of change from me, thanks to my EMT-B also needing a recert this year. Even more if the nice folks on post here don't allow spouses to take CompTIA exams at their testing center. If I end up on the economy I'm looking at about $600 USD to get A+ certified.

Just finished the second exam today(I passed), and some thoughts on Mike Meyer's TotalSeminars A+ All-in-one Exam. If anyone decides to use this, definitely find an additional source for info on Command Prompt commands and networking. Otherwise, I felt I received most of the info I needed, in addition to good stuff that wasn't required but will be handy in the future.

I feel like I just earned my training wheels.

Congratulations!

Congrats indeed. Welcome to the long career of upgrading certs to stay relevant in the work place.

Eezy_Bordone wrote:

Congrats indeed. Welcome to the long career of upgrading certs to stay relevant in the work place.

Ditto.

Or like me, having a long list of certs and not able to use a single one of them! I got A+, Network+, Security+, MCSE (this one was a BITCH!), MCITP: Enterprise Administrator (pretty much MCSE for Server 2008) and finally CCNA. The problem was I didn't bother getting any real experience to go with them. So now I have all these certs and forsee a lifetime working in fast food management. The market is so tough right now, I can't even get the most entry-level help desk spot. I spent a total of $26k getting all of these (2 were in a 2-week bootcamp environment) and as of right now, might as well have given it to a homeless person.

Sucks to be me as my kids say. Hope Druid has better luck than me!

Just don't go in there acting like this, wherever you work, and you'll be fine.

IMAGE(http://www.dilbert.com/dyn/str_strip/000000000/00000000/0000000/000000/00000/6000/800/6858/6858.strip.gif)

Coolbeans wrote:

Or like me, having a long list of certs and not able to use a single one of them! I got A+, Network+, Security+, MCSE (this one was a BITCH!), MCITP: Enterprise Administrator (pretty much MCSE for Server 2008) and finally CCNA. The problem was I didn't bother getting any real experience to go with them. So now I have all these certs and forsee a lifetime working in fast food management.

There are very few places that will hire someone without experience. I've sat in on interviews where the person seemed eager to learn had a crapload of certs and the CIO was like, "He has too many certs." I personally don't see how someone can have too many especially since that guy fired half the IT department 4 months later for not getting a single MCP. Keep trying, you may not get the server admin job off the bat (however if there are government gigs where you are and you can get a clearance you'd be surprised) but once you have a year or two in the industry no one will care about the certs.

Eezy_Bordone wrote:

There are very few places that will hire someone without experience...

Yeah, certs are a way to get motivated to study about something but never really a substitute for real experience. If you cram and pass the test but don't retain anything that won't help you at all.