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902 Exam Feedback

From a recent exam taker…

A+220-902 test must know items:
1.   Linux terminal window / learn how to operate in order to answer any Linux questions
2.   Vulnerabilities in Linux
3.   Windows network configurations / vulnerabilities
4.   Disposal of drives – when / how / why
5.   Security / threats to PC
6.   Simulations:
  • how to change domain, user name, password, and share a file
  • how to set up an email in a mobile device: difference between POP3, IMAP
  • how to repair a BOOTMAG in Windows 7
7.   Windows CMD commands (command prompt to include running as administrator)
8.   Error Messages and how to fix it
9.   Learn ICloud. What they do / configurations / how they work
10. Learn the different types of fire extinguishers
11. CRT monitor disposal / how to properly dispose
12. Theory of troubleshooting
Please visit the Simulation Videos and Resources Links to find resources for studying the information listed above.
Keith (Thanks to Harry for providing feedback)

Feedback and Suggestions from Tim

Agree with Keith, 802 sucked.  I was not confident going into it, but once I was actually taking the test and seeing the questions I felt a bit better.  But I felt like I was coasting on my background computer knowledge, not what I had learned in study materials.  This was especially true about the simulations and a lot of the networking info.

Here’s how I studied:

  • Do Global Knowledge. Take lots of notes.
  • Use Professor Messer’s youtube channel to get more info about anything that you don’t understand, or need to see demonstrated.
  • Take lots of practice tests in study mode. Click on both the right and wrong answers to see the explanations for why they’re right or wrong.  The wrong answers also contain valuable information.
  • Look over the videos posted on this site.
  • Look at the CompTIA A+ 802 objectives and make sure you know something about each of them.

Here’s what I did (and would recommend) on the test:

  • Write down the troubleshooting process on your dry erase note sheet ASAP. If you can’t remember it, write down as much as you can remember and then fill in the blanks as test questions jog your memory.
  • Read the simulations. Do them if they’re a slam dunk.  Otherwise skip them and come back at the end.  Don’t waste time trying to “figure it out” until you’ve done the rest of the test.  Some of the multiple choice questions may give you clues that are helpful in the simulations.
  • Do the multiple choice. I noticed a lot of questions on PXE – not so much how to use it or do it, but it was the answer a lot.  That sticks out in my head for some reason.
  • Write down any of the command line prompts that you come across in the multiple choice. You may need your memory jogged when you go to do the simulations, and it’s super handy to have a list of them written down so you’re not trying to remember an obscure one.
  • Simulations:
    1. One that was a matching game – match the feature to the version(s) of windows
    2. Partition two hard drives with certain names, drive letters, and partition sizes using Windows Disk Manager
    3. Fix a computer that’s getting a boot error after a power surge without losing any user data. You have a recovery CD or can use the command prompt.  I used the recovery CD and did a repair install – not sure if that’s right, but it’s what I did.  I tried messing around with the command line for a while with the various boot record commands, but since the program doesn’t give you any indication when you’ve fixed the computer, I wasn’t confident in my answer.  So I did the repair install instead, since I couldn’t test my answer.
    4. Fix a computer that can’t talk to the printer after some IP address changes have been made, using only the command prompt. You could use certain commands like ping and ipconfig with the /modifiers.  I’m not sure I got it right (there’s no indication when it’s correct) but I think I got it by doing an ipconfig/release, /renew, and then a /flushdns.  I followed with another /release/renew, just for good measure.

What I would have done differently if I had to take it again:

1)  Spend some time in each of the utilities, doing things like formatting and partitioning drives.  Maybe do it on a flash drive you have lying around so you’re not reformatting a real hard drive.

  • Do lots of stuff with the command line commands. Be able to use them.  Some of them I just kind of knew what they did on an academic level, but didn’t know how to really use them.  On the one simulation, if you didn’t know how to use ipconfig/flushdns, you were hosed.  You either knew how and when to use it or you didn’t.
  • Get into a router’s setup/config program.  You can do this on your home router, and if you screw it up you can always reset it to factory defaults.  Try setting up things like MAC filtering, port forwarding, turning SSID broadcast off, and assigning fixed IP addresses vs dynamic.
  • Take lots of practice tests!  Same as  I mentioned above, understand both the right and the wrong answers.

Hope that helps!



AAR from Passing 802

802 is a kick in the nuts.

I like the SkillSoft stuff for 801, especially the practice tests in study mode so that you can take notes and learn from your mistakes as you go.  But for 802 the practice tests covers about 50% to 65% of the test at best.  The rest is going to come from other resources that you seek out or that others post here.  Don’t forget the new page: Simulation Videos and Resources Links

My second time through was heavy on command prompt knowledge – nbtstat, ipconfig, ping, tracert, etc… Know when to use those and what problems they can help resolve.  Including tons of questions on boot errors in various situations.

For networking using the command prompt I recommend practicing on your own computer.  Most wifi router’s in your home are already enabled with MAC filtering and DHCP.  Practice releasing and renewing your DHCP address.

Sims this time:

  1. I got a sim on this one where Computer A was reconfigured from a private static IP address in the C class to an A class private address.  It stopped being able to communicate with Computer B directly from its DNS settings.  I had to resolve the error using CMD Prompt only.  Only three were used: nbtstat, ping, ipconfig.  I was lost.  The CompTIA help function in command prompt doesn’t work correctly either.  To see a list of available commands for your sim run ‘ping ?’ instead of the other two ways that all the resources teach: help ping or ping/?.
  2. Create to partitions in NTFS on one drive with the supplied drive names and allocation sizes.  Then make them usable as recovery drives (I assumed RAID so I made them into dynamic drives at the end).
  3. Given various applets, select which OS belongs with each applet (i.e. Printers is only written that way for Windows Vista, Home Groups are only for Windows 7, etc…)
  4. They gave me a boot error after a power surge or something like that and then I had a startup disk available to me.  I was supposed to get the system working again without losing the files.  I chose to do a recovery from an image but I don’t know if that is correct.  Your other option was to boot into CMD Prompt and give it a go there.

What worked for me (I made a 656 on my failed test and a 777 on this test after a week of studying) was taking tons of practice 802 tests.  I would do them in study mode and take notes on what I missed to include looking up anything that didn’t make sense (I still don’t entirely understand why a Static IP address is any different than a router using MAC filtering – the MAC address never changes!).

Extra resources:

command prompt from Professor Messer

Professor Messer is a good resource for getting an alternate explanation of things you are not understanding.


From CompTIA

CompTIA Suggestions with links for Performance Based Test

I still need guys putting their lessons learned for how they passed in the comments of these threads or send them to me and I can post them directly as a new post.

Study your butt off and then some.


801 and 802 After Action Review

This page is for sharing insights into taking the CompTIA A+ 801 and 802 exams.  It is entirely subjective and learner dependent.  I highly encourage any lessons learned to be posted in the comments section for all to read.

My two cents:

Unless you are confident in your ability to pass both exams I DO NOT recommend taking them the same day.   April 30th is the current deadline for MOST folks to pass these before punitive action by the company.  Plan accordingly based on the information below.

Complete review of all topics for a week to two weeks.  Then buckle down on 801.  Take 801 after a week of review when you are passing practice exams in the high 80’s or higher.  Take the week after you pass 801 and buckle down on 802 with the same expectations.  Practice exams passing in high 80’s or higher.  Keep in mind that you need to schedule your exams probably a week out at a minimum.  Testing centers get booked up this time a year with teachers taking their PRAXIS exams.

CompTIA’s retest policy is that you can retake the exams immediately after failing for the second attempt, however you have to wait 14 days before your third attempt.

801 Possible Simulations (you are not penalized for incorrect inputs)

Sim1: Most challenging SIM. You need to build a Virtual Server running Win 2008 with 10 users, a CAD PC, and AV editing machine. This Sim has a lot of options/parts and this is where you can do a lot of mistakes, because there is no process of elimination

Sim2: Three columns, given a Virtual PC, Thick Client and Gaming PC, match computer components/hardware to each

Sim 3 Complete the motherboard layout – RAM slots, 24pin ATX Main power, Fdd, IDE connector, SATA connector, front panel connector, CMOS battery, PCIe16x (Longest), PCI expansion port, PCIe 4x (yellow) and PCIe 1x (smallest one), Front USB connector (blue), CPU socket, CPU fan power, and CPU additional 4pin power (see here for example to study)

Sim 4 The connector type matchup: VGA, DVI, HDMI, then s-video.

input connectorsSim 5 Bluetooth =100m;  Infrared <100m; Satellite or Fiber >100km

Sim6 Given two motherboard layouts, select hardware for a Gaming PC and a Server (RAM, CPU, KVM vs Dual Monitor, basic I/O video card, high end graphics card, etc…)

Sim 7 Small Office Home Office – The SOHO interface setup has 3 tabs that you can click on, you need to setup the router to broadcast to Library and change the admin password to Secure$1. It has another network nearby and their SSID and Channel, you need to input the SSID given, disable the Mac filter address and also change the channel.

Sim 8 SOHO – all the information is given, 2 IP Addresses, 2 Mac addresses, they are for a phone and  laptop, SSID is given, don’t forget to change the channel again, you need to change your encryption level from WEP to WPA so that you can be able to put the security password, check all the tabs before you save.

All simulation info is pulled from this webpageThis was probably one of the best helps for me in terms of knowing what to study for on the simulations and labeling a motherboard.

Otherwise I would take a ton of Practice Exams in study mode.  Take notes on what you miss and look up anything you don’t understand.  I bought a copy of Mike Meyer’s All-in-One CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Guide off his website for $45ish.  Get the eight edition with the 2012 objectives.  I highly recommend purchasing his Total Tester with over 1000 questions in it.  It is a download off the same website for $100.  If you can consistently pass his practice exams then you SHOULD pass the real thing too.  I like his study exams because it will tell you why the answer was correct and why the wrong answers are incorrect…most of the time.

802 Lessons Learned:


I am not sure where to find examples of the simulations.

I was given three simulations that involved:

  • partitioning a drive into a dynamic disk and creating two encrypted (or able to be encrypted) partitions with given amounts of data;
  • the second was configuring a cellphone to sync with a desktop computer remotely without using the office WLAN, and when given information for POP3, IMAP, and SMTP settings (I still have yet to figure out how I botched this one, or if I did);
  • and the third was knowing how to repair a faulty boot record from the command prompt screen.  You are only given access to the main commands like CHKDSK, BOOTREC, and a few others. I was able to run a successful CHKDSK accidently but could not figure out how to do BOOTREC at all.  You have to know the little add-ons like -a, -h, +h, -af, or whatever all those are.

Keep in mind that the three simulations are only three questions.  If you can’t do them right away then go ahead and answer all of your multiple choice questions and flag anything that you need to go back to.  You will get a review screen that shows you the flagged questions for quick reference at the end.

The rest of 802 deals with printer, network (wireless and wired), and computer trouble-shooting.  Know how printers work, especially laser and impact but all of them really.  You need to know the different 802.1x networks – connect speeds, transmission freq, single or dual channel, which tools are used for a given situation (crimper, loop back, cable tester, multimeter, etc…), Bluetooth ranges and functionality, and various cmd prompts (when do you use ntslookup, bootcfg, ping, ipconfig, etc…).

Please comment with any other lessons learned or advice below.  Hope this helps.  Hit me up with any questions.  I am going to retake 802 either Friday or Monday/Tuesday and will post any other lessons learned there.  Devin in Pennsylvania has some resources as well.  Just stick to one or two though and hit those hard in my opinion.

If you do nothing else then take practice exams in both study and certification mode.

Keith Wadley, 238th AAJTS Operator and Maintainer