Join Mike Meyers for an in-depth discussion in this video What is on the 220-901 exam?, part of CompTIA A+ Cert Prep (220-901 and 220-902): The Basics.
(upbeat music) - Hey everybody, your favorite nerd, Mike Meyers here, answering the big question, what exactly is covered on the CompTIA A+ 220-901 exam, which many people consider the first of the two exams? Well, it's a very interesting exam in that a lot of people call it the hardware exam, but I don't think that's an accurate description at all.
To me, the 220-901 is the concept, who connects to who. Certainly is a lot of hardware, but there's plenty of operating system and utilities and whatever software we need to talk to and deal with and configure and tweak and make that hardware work. So the best way to understand 220-901 is to understand the four objectives that are covered on that exam. They are, in order, number one is hardware. Hardware is 34% of the exam. Number two is networking at 21% of the exam.
Three is mobile devices at 17% of the exam, and number four, hardware and network troubleshooting, which is 28% of the exam. What exactly do these four objectives mean? Well, the first thing you need to do is you need to go to the CompTIA website. So you've got to go over to www.comptia.org and you can actually download these objectives for the 220-901 exam. Now I've actually done that here, so let's kind of go through 'em a little bit, and I can give you an idea of what objectives look like.
So as we scroll through this PDF, there's a bunch of stuff at the beginning, but really it starts right here. So here is objective 1.0, Hardware. Now as you look underneath each of these objectives, you'll see there's actually sub-objectives, 1.1, 1.2, it goes on and on, but you'll notice, let's just pick one of these. So 1.1 says, Given a scenario, configure settings and use BIOS/UEFI tools on a PC. So they're really talking about very specific things you need to be able to do on the exam.
So let's drill down even a little bit more. So underneath that second level objective are the specific things you need to do, the actions and the understandings you need to have in your head when you're walking in to take that test. So let's work with something easy, so we'll talk about, under BIOS configurations, we see BIOS security, passwords, drive encryption, TPM, lo-jack, secure boot, so let's just talk about passwords for a minute. Based on the objective and the way I'm reading it, the Comptia A+ 220-901 expects you to be able to go into your system setup, whether it's old-school BIOS or newer UEFI, and go in and set up passwords so that people have different types of access to the system setup itself.
So be aware that that's the type of stuff that you're gonna be seeing on the exam. Okay, so keep in mind that that is only one question under one sub-objective for just one objective on the 220-901, so what I'd like to do right now is drill down through each of the four upper level objectives and talk a little bit about what you're going to expect to see. So let's start with number one, hardware. The hardware objective on the 220-901 is probably what most of us think about when we talk about being a nerd, 'cause it's all about the hardware, baby.
I'm just gonna give you a quick rundown of some of the things you'll be expected to know. Like for example, here's a power supply. Sure, everybody knows it's a power supply, but do you know the names of all the connectors? Do you know how many rails is on this thing? Do you have any idea of what modular means when we're talking about a power supply? Or how about a little stick of RAM here? Is this DDR2, DDR3, what speed is it, how many pins are on the connector, and do you have the right one for your motherboard? Speaking of motherboards, when you talk about a motherboard, what kind of form factor are you staring at right here? What's a PCI express versus an old school PCI? What type of socket, and what is an Intel versus an AMD socket, and do you know the names of all of them? Hard drives are covered like crazy under the hardware objective.
Are these SATA, are the PATA? God I hope not, that's not on the A+ anymore. Make sure you know three and a half versus two and a half, make sure you know your SATA speeds, make sure you know your connectors and what they look like just by looking at them on a test question. Way over here is, I was gonna say old school, this is a pretty new video card. When we talk about video cards, we talk about all things like resolution and color depth and the different types of connectors, what's DVI versus HDMI and all those things. And if that's not enough, hey, how about monitors while we're at it? LCD versus LED versus OLED, making sure you have the right types of connectors and how these things connect together to your video cards.
And then if you're not done with that, how 'bout printers? The hardware objective covers printers like crazy. Do you know the difference between a laser printer versus a dot matrix versus a thermal, and can you plug it in via USB or even parallel or even networking? So the hardware objective is a big deal, and it's really all about the who connects to who, what size is it, what color is it, how many of 'em, and where does it fit within the overall scheme of your system. Now if you think hardware is fun, wait 'til you get into networking.
The networking objective covers a lot of phrases that people use but don't truly understand. How about ethernet? What really is ethernet? People talk about ethernet cables or ethernet ports. Well, under the networking objective of 220-901, we really get into it, yeah, we've got all kinds of ethernet cables, but did you know that we also use fiber optic for this type of stuff? And by the way, do you know the difference between multimode and single mode? Well you need to to pass the 220-901. But it doesn't just stop with cabling. Here I've got myself a switch, I've got myself a router, and the 220-901 makes sure that you understand conceptually what these different types of boxes do and how to configure them.
By the way, 220-901 concentrates on a small office, home office type network, or a so-ho network, so you're never gonna be seeing bit switches and routers, but you're gonna be seeing these little guys who are pretty much just as powerful as the big guys. And speaking of power, there's lots and lots of questions on all types of networks, in particular 802.11 networks and setting up wireless access points and routers and firewalls and doing all that stuff, and by the way, this is why it always drives me crazy when people talk about the 220-901 as a hardware-based certification.
It's not, the 220-901 expects you to fire up a Windows system and go in and do the configurations, setting up IP addresses, setting up default gateways, making sure your DHCP is running, and be able to diagnose it when you have trouble. So networking is a challenge every time. Speaking of challenges, let's talk about mobile devices. I'd think the mobile devices objective on the 220-901 is a little mis-labeled, because it covers a lot about laptops.
To me a laptop is not a mobile device, mobile devices are gonna be things like tablets and smart phones and things like that, but this is how the 220-901 does it, so you need to be ready for it. So you're gonna get questions like, on this laptop, what type of RAM do I use, how can I change out RAM, what can I change out on it? What if I have battery issues? What type of screens do I use? So there's tons and tons of laptop questions under the mobile devices objective, but there's also plenty on mobile devices too.
For the 220-901, make sure you know the difference between say, Android versus iOS versus Windows Mobile. Make sure you can recognize the difference between a tablet versus a smart phone versus a fablet, and things like that. What does wireless charging mean, and how can I use that on my systems, and what systems can use it? So while the mobile devices covers both laptops and mobile devices, the one thing it's gonna be concentrating on more than anything else is the hardware and the setup stuff.
How do I reset, can I reset, what does synchronization mean? So it's really gonna stick to the hardware aspect of laptops and mobile devices. The last objective on 220-901 is hardware and network troubleshooting. Let's take a look at that. The hardware and network troubleshooting objective basically takes everything you've learned from the first three objectives and makes you start fixing it. So if it doesn't work, if it won't start, if it's making smoke come out, it's gonna be under this objective.
So for example, with a printer, if I can't print or if I'm getting print jams, what am I gonna be doing about it? When it comes to networking, if I can't get on the network, if everybody can get onto the network but me, how do I deal with it? If we can all talk to each other but we can't get on the internet, what's wrong? If I can't get to a network printer, what mistake have I made? So all of the networking stuff in terms of troubleshooting is gonna be covered right here. And they don't forget about mobile either. I have started up my laptop, plugged in an external monitor, and I can't make it work, what have I done wrong? Every time I plug in my laptop, it works great, but the moment I unplug it, the battery dies.
What's wrong? And it's not just laptops, there's lots of questions on mobile devices as well, in terms of being able to charge them, being able to reset them, lots and lots of questions like that. So the 220-901 has a lot of coverage over the hardware type of stuff for the A+ certification, but let me warn you, it's not just hardware. It's also all the software, all the utilities, everything else you need in order to make all this stuff go.
Mike Meyers is the industry's leading authority and bestselling author on CompTIA certifications. In this short course, he explains why anyone looking to get hired in IT should earn A+ certification, and how to go about studying for and passing each 90-question exam.
When you're done, check out our CompTIA A+ Exam Prep (220-901) and CompTIA A+ Exam Prep (220-902) series for targeted lessons on each domain of the exams.