How I Passed the CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam
The CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam requires you to take a slightly different approach than the 801 exam. Having recently become A+ certified, I want to give you a little insight into what to expect on the 802 exam and some extra tips for success!
CompTIA A+ 220-801 vs. 220-802
I have to admit that the CompTIA A+ 220-802 exam is a bit tougher than I expected. Compared to 801, the 802 exam I took had more interactive questions, required more in-depth knowledge, and covered information from the 801 exam topics as well. Now that I experienced both tests, I recommend that you take 801 and 802 as close together as you can. After passing 801 I had to put off my 802 exam for almost three months due to life circumstances. Then I had to restart the continue the study process.
So I found I was a bit rusty on some of those questions that covered material relating to hardware. Let me give you an example:
One of the many printer questions I encountered asked me to troubleshoot faded output on a laser printer. It specified that the toner cartridge was not the issue, and asked me to choose between the various parts that make up a laser printer.
Of course this question has nothing to do with software, but don’t be fooled into thinking you won’t get a similar question. Both A+ exams that I took seemed to borrow questions from one another so don’t be surprised when you see them.
Make sure you spend a lot of time learning to troubleshoot common problems with printers, network connections, monitors, and booting. Troubleshooting is a huge part of the 220-802 exam. Not only should you know the steps to remedy these issues, but you should also understand the best practices for problem solving. This helps you pass the exam and develop problem solving skills critical to an IT professional’s career.
Hands on experience is going to be very important for you to pass the 220-802 exam. You can get away without having that experience on 801, but in 802 it will come back to bite you. When it comes to working with software there is simply a lot more to remember. There are tons of command line utilities, administrative tools, and more that you need to know how to use. Reading about these will only get you so far, and you’re likely to forget important steps when actually performing tasks. Try to perform tasks on your own PC as you learn. Of course you may not want to practice things like installing windows on your only computer, so work within reason according to what you have available to you.
Troublesome Topics – Printers, Port Numbers, Windows Upgrade Paths, Network Configuration
I personally had an easy time with A+ but there are a few topics that definitely tripped me up. I found these areas primarily came from material that wasn’t interesting to me. So make sure you study extra hard on those topics that bore you or they might come back to haunt you! Here are a few that threw me off during my test:
Printers are a topic that will put me to sleep pretty quickly. If you find yourself in the same boat just try and push through. Set aside a time to focus solely on printing devices, especially on troubleshooting them. My exam had a fairly large number of questions regarding printer problems; answering them required knowledge of both the hardware and software. Make sure you know how to start and stop the spooler service, access the print-que, manage permissions, and I can’t emphasize this enough…troubleshoot!
This was something I knew well for 801, but I had trouble remembering on the 802 exam. Make sure you know mail port numbers and names. I encountered a question regarding common mail ports (IMAP, POP3, SMTP) but I didn’t come across any other questions relating to other ports.
Although I only encountered one question regarding ports, that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter more of them. One question might be the difference between passing and failing. Don’t skip out on studying any of the topics.
Windows OS Upgrade Paths
While I studied for 220-802, windows path upgrades were one of those topics I just couldn’t get interested in. You should have a general knowledge of upgrade paths for Windows. Don’t just study the path from XP to Vista, and Vista to 7. I was thrown off when I was asked for a suitable path from XP to 7. It threw me off at first, but I eventually did remember the correct answer.
You should keep in mind that depending on the OS to be installed, an in place upgrade might not be possible depending on the current version of Windows. You can do a clean install where in place upgrades are not possible (assuming the hardware is sufficient), but this makes for more work since you have to back up files, install the new OS, and then restore files and settings. This sort of material is important for you to know when planning OS upgrades across a company, and it’s probably going to be on your test at least once so you should know it well.
I encountered a couple questions that dealt with network adapter configuration and although I had no trouble, I can see how it could trip you up.
You should know how to do things like assign a static IP/DNS server, and configure alternate connection settings on a network adapter. This is easy to do assuming you know the proper steps, so if you can’t do this yet be sure to take some time to learn how it’s done. I would also recommend you familiarize yourself with configuration of a WAP. I encountered interactive questions regarding both scenarios.
Prepping For the CompTIA 220-802 Exam
As I said earlier, when you’re studying for the 802 exam be sure to get hands on practice! You need to be familiar with Windows XP, Vista, and 7. There’s a good chance you see a question asking you the proper path to a particular utility or tool for one of the three OS’s; and if it’s a multiple choice question you have no virtual environment to figure it out on.
Since this path will vary between the three versions, you will find it helpful to have worked with all of them. Personally I just used XP and 7, as I didn’t have access to Vista and I didn’t want to buy it. Windows Vista is very similar to 7. So you can get away with doing that, but if you have the means to practice with Vista, please do.
In case you missed it, check out my post on how to study for the CompTIA A+ exams. There’s a lot of good information on study tips, exam topics, and more information on what to expect on both of your exams.
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