CompTIA A+ Tips: An Insider’s Guide

I’ve lost track of all the IT certifications I’ve taken in my IT career. It has become second nature to me, as far as knowing how to learn another certification. One of my very first certifications was the CompTIA A+. Because taking certifications were a new concept for me, the A+ was somewhat intimidating. Looking back, this didn’t need to be the case. If you’re interested in my insight’s on for CompTIA A+ Tips and it’s success.

1. Build a Computer

Nothing prepares you for a certification more than hands on experience. Building a computer provides exactly this for the A+.

Start with the computer’s case and backbone known as the motherboard. From there you can piece together parts. This can be costly, but it is wise to consider it as an investment for your future IT career. You can eventually use this computer to perform sophisticated processes for advanced virtual labs later.

The process of building the computer is a good educational tool. Since you’ll have to order and understand each part you put into the computer: RAM, CPU, cooling systems, power supply, etc.

But beyond these parts are also the processes. For instance, you will learn the importance of securing your hardware by maintaining an antistatic environment.

And of course, this will be covered in your CompTIA A+ studies. But this will be the most enjoyable and most practical part of your learning.

2. Use CompTIA’s A+ Practice Tests

Repeating practice tests is a sure why to become comfortable with the real live exam. This is probably the best CompTIA A+ tip you’ll get. Most people who take the A+ are usually new to the certification world. This can be super intimidating. To get over that, taking practice tests from CompTIA’s official resources will help get you acclimated.

Once you start taking these practice tests, there will be a lot of questions you just don’t understand. Even though, you may have studied it earlier, you may not remember it. That’s definitely okay. The idea is that repetition over time allows you to build a longer-term memory for that concept.

That’s why it’s okay to fail your A+ practice tests the first several times you take it.

I would advise to treat it like flash cards. There should be a place in these tests where you can categorize the questions. Practice these categories until you start memorizing the questions and answers. You may not understand it at this point. That comes later.

3. Join an Online Community for Accountability

You become the five people that you surround yourself with. That includes the world of online exam takers.

If you start becoming involved in forums like InfoSecInstitute, you’ll start to realize there are others who have achieved your goals before you. They’re usually pretty open with their information if you ask them. But more than that, the information can already be posted in previous forum posts.

Get familiar in these communities, and treat it like you would a real life meetup. It’s amazing how you’ll begin to develop a sense of belonging. More than that, joining the mindset of the likeminded to move forward with your IT career by getting certifications.

4. Memorize A+ Concepts, then use Intuition

Sometimes, you’ve got to brute force knowledge, before your mind begins to make neural connections.

Earlier I talked about memorizing practice exams. This is the same idea. You may not understand what you’re memorizing. But the more you ingrain it in your head and see it over time, there will inevitably new connections formed in your brain saying “Hey I remember you, this is what you do.”

Over time, you’ll get bursts of “aha!” moments while you memorize the A+ concepts. But it starts with memorizing as to allow your brain a place to reference.

5. Use the Feynman Technique to take Good Notes

The idea here is to simplify what you learn. This is where you’re actively learning. It’s not brute force memorizing for this CompTIA A+ Tip number 5. You’ll need to put effort to understand through summarization.

Richard Feynman was a famous scientist who believed that if you can’t explain it to a five year old, you yourself don’t understand the concept enough.

When you read a chapter with electrostatic discharge or what RAM is, try to summarize what you’ve learned. The more you do this, the more you’ll be able to recall and create the building blocks for understanding.

6. Use Multiple Study Materials for the A+

This tip could be a given. But I need to restate it here. You’ll need to use multiple primary sources. At the very least two.

If you learn better by watching video courses, then pick two separate video based training. It’s the same that goes for books. If you learn better by reading, then pick up two different books to learn the CompTIA A+.

I always point people to Professor Messer’s videos. He doesn’t just have A+, but a slew of CompTIA courses. They’re very good for beginners. The best part of it all, is that you can get the material all for free on YouTube.

7. Plan Your Rest Before Exam Day

The final tip to have a successful CompTIA A+ experience can be overlooked in the planning process. And that is rest.

Plan it a week out to have an empty schedule on the night up to the day of the exam. You don’t want to go rushing in on chores undone and loose focus. Make it a night where you rest and do something relaxing knowing that you’re prepared and will be energized for the upcoming A+ exam.

Your IT Career with A+

It’s only the beginning of your journey, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. IT is a space that is in demand by large employers. For some this journey can be life changing I know it was for me.

If you don’t know my background, I formerly delivered pizzas for a living. Although I enjoyed that job, it barely paid my bills. Seeing my salary take of to six figures in the short years ahead was incredibly exciting.

Your IT Career will be what you make it. If you use you’re A+ wisely, you’ll sling shot yourself into a funnel of possibilities.

Interested in learning more about IT salaries? Check out my e-book, “6 Figure Guide to Info Tech.”

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