CompTIA A+ – Passed 220-701: CompTIA A+ Essentials and 220-701: CompTIA A+ Practical Application Today


I passed the 2 required exams for CompTIA A+ today.  These are entry level exams, and if you have some computer experience, they are not too challenging.  The reason I took these, and maybe why you should as well, is that it is one of the required certifications for Federal Information Assurance employees, as recently required by DoDD 8570.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be a Federal employee (or contractor) someday…

Read more on what they were like and why you should take them…

Typically, CompTIA A+ is considered an entry level certification.    The reg says: “The certification requirements of this Manual apply to DoD civilian employees, military personnel, [Local Nationals], and support contractors performing [Information Assurance] functions…”  When I used to work as a civilian Federal employee (GS-2210-13) at the United States Property and Fiscal Office for California, even though I was assigned as a system administrator, I was considered to have IA duties, and was therefore required to be certified as specified in this regulation.  Although I’m happy in my current role at Cal Poly, I like to keep my options open, and I might be a Federal employee (or contractor) again someday.  (If nothing else I’d like to contribute to the Thrift Savings Program again.  TSP rocks!)

As far as getting ready to take these, they were straightforward to prepare for.  One gotcha is to make sure that you get test prep materials for the latest version of these, the “2009 Objectives”.  There are still a lot of preparation materials out there for the old “2006 Objectives” which are deprecated now.

I used David L. Prowse’s “CompTIA A+ Exam Cram, Fourth Edition”, ISBN-13: 978-0789747921.  This was a good refresher on basic computer maintenance skills.  If you’ve been doing computers for a while like I have, it’s a fast read.  I went through the whole book in a weekend.

I bought Kaplan SelfTests for 220-701: CompTIA A+ Essentials and 220-701: CompTIA A+ Practical Application.   I took both exams at least once a day for a month or so, like 30 times.


Each exam is 100 questions, and you get 90 minutes for each.  The actual questions are very much like the book, and very much like the practice exams.  There was perhaps a couple of questions I need to think about, but in general I blasted through each exam as fast as I could click the answers.  Even with completely reviewing my work at least once, I completed each test in less than 30 minutes.

Next up:  CompTIA Security+.  I expect this to be a bit harder.



  1. The Security one *is* a bit harder…a lot of acronyms to remember and a lot more theoretical “situations” on that exam. But it is certainly doable!

  2. Greg,

    Need your expertise in regards to this:

    From the CompTIA website:

    “Microsoft accepts a combination of CompTIA A+ with either CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Server+, as an elective for their MCSA (Microsoft Certified System Administrator) certification program for Windows Server 2003 and earlier operating systems only.”

    “For certifications after the Windows Server 2003 program, Microsoft does not accept any non-Microsoft exams as electives in their programs, including those from CompTIA.”

    “The Microsoft exams that provide an upgrade path from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 are scheduled for retirement July 31, 2013.”

    Looks like we are running out of time…

    Is there any point taking the old 2003 exams and then upgrade by taking 2008 / 2012 exams, or is it easier just to jump straight on 2008 / 2012?

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