The CompTIA A+ 900 Series: What’s New

By: Robin Abernathy, Content Developer for Kaplan IT

It’s that time again! CompTIA has released a new version of the A+ certification by rolling out the 220-901 and 220-902 exams on December 15. The 220-801 and 220-802 exams are still available, but will retire June 30, 2016 in the United States. This deadline should give you enough time to finish studying for the 800 series if you have already taken one test, because you cannot mix and match exam versions. If you pass the 220-801 or 220-802 exam, you must pass the other 800-series exam to obtain your A+. If you pass the 220-901 or 220-902 exam, you must take the other 900-series exam to obtain the A+.

Once again, with a new release, we see another small shift in the structure and topic coverage of the two exams. Years ago (and I am going to date myself here), the two exams were referred to as a Hardware exam and a Software exam. While I think the topic coverage is moving in this direction again, CompTIA is NOT referring to them in these terms, and all documentation from CompTIA will refer to them as 220-901 and 220-902. Broadly, though, I think of the tests as “hardware and networking” and “software and security.”

For the 220-901 exam, you will be expected to understand installing, configuring, and troubleshooting desktop, laptop, mobile device, and printer hardware, as well as basic networking topics. The breakdown of the exam’s topics are as follows:

o    Hardware – 34% o    Networking – 21%

o    Mobile Devices – 17%

o    Hardware & Network Troubleshooting – 28%

For the 220-902 exam, you will be expected to understand installing, configuring, and troubleshooting Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Mac OS, Linux, and mobile device operating systems. (Notice that Windows 10 is NOT included in this list.) It  includes virtualization, cloud, and. server technologies. It also covers security, including security devices and configuring and troubleshooting security components. Finally, it covers those soft skills and operational procedures required by the IT technician. The breakdown of the exam’s topics are as follows:

o    Windows Operating System – 29%

o    Other Operating Systems & Technologies – 12%

o    Security – 22% o    Software Troubleshooting – 24%

o    Operational Procedures – 13%

When the 800-series A+ was released back in 2012, many test candidates decided to knock out both exams on the same day because there was so much overlap between the topics being covered. For those exams, this was probably a good strategy. But with the 900-series exams, the structure has changed enough that I would suggest that you prepare to take them separately, NOT on the same day. As you can see from the topic listings above, there is hardly any overlap between the two exams.

CompTIA has launched a new CompTIA Instructor Network (CIN), which I encourage all CompTIA instructors to join. It’s easy as going here to sign up. It is a great way to network with other instructors. Recently, they started a Deep Dive series of Webinars on the new A+ exams! To access the A+ Deep Dive series, go here.

Watch for my upcoming posts!