How to Get the CompTIA A+ Certification

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

The A+ certification requires passing two exams that show you know how to work with hardware, computer systems, and networks. Learn more about how to prepare.

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Earning your CompTIA A+ certification can be an excellent way to prepare for an entry-level role in IT. The two exams required to become certified demonstrate that you know how to work with hardware, computer systems, and networks. 

The Computing Technology Industry Association—otherwise known as CompTIA—issues the A+ certification, which employers trust given the industry standards it follows. It’s a valued credential to feature on your resume, showing that you have both the knowledge and skills to work in IT. 

In this article, we’ll review how to get your A+ certification, tips to help you prepare, and the jobs you can pursue once you’ve passed both exams.

What does it take to earn the A+ certification?

Taking the CompTIA A+ certification requires passing two core exams: 220-1001 and 220-1002. Let’s review more about each exam: 

Core 1: The 220-1001 exam covers mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, virtualization, and cloud computing. 

  • Cost: $246 USD

  • Length of time to complete: 90 minutes

  • Minimum passing score: 675 (out of 900) 

Core 2: The 220-1002 exam covers operating systems, security, software, and operational procedures.

  • Cost: $246 USD

  • Length of time to complete: 90 minutes

  • Minimum passing score: 700 (out of 900) 

You can expect to answer up to 90 questions per exam, which include multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and performance-based questions. For performance-based questions, you’ll be asked about hypothetical scenarios, such as connectivity issues, in order to test your problem-solving abilities. 

While there are no prerequisites to take the exam, it’s generally a good idea to have some knowledge of the areas that each test covers. CompTIA also recommends having around nine to 12 months of previous experience. 

Learn more: IT Certification Roadmap: A Guide

How to get your CompTIA A+ certification

When you’re interested in taking the A+ certification, you’ll need to create an account with CompTIA in order to purchase the vouchers needed to schedule your exams. You can take both exams online or at an in-person testing center. Keep in mind that online exams are only available in English, whereas testing centers offer other language options. Check with CompTIA for more details. 

Taking the A+ exam online

If you choose to take your exam online, you may need to run a systems check first to ensure you’re able to complete the certification on your computer. During the exam, you’ll want to use just one computer, double check to ensure you have a strong internet connection, and make sure to close all other applications. 

Once you complete your exam, you’ll immediately get your score results. If you’re not satisfied with your results, you can take the A+ exams again. There’s no waiting period if you want to take the exam a second time, but if you need to take the exam a third time, you will need to wait at least 14 calendar days. You must pay for the cost of the exam each time you take it.

5 study tips for the A+ certification

Before you register for the A+ certification exams, it can be worthwhile to spend some time reviewing the subject matter both exams will cover. You can expect questions about mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, virtualization, cloud computing, operating systems, security, software, and operational procedures. The questions you’ll get will test your knowledge about each subject as well as your ability to think critically about different scenarios.  

Follow the tips below to help study for your A+ certification:  

1. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses.

Of the subjects we’ve listed above, what do you feel most knowledgable about? If you have a firm understanding of certain subjects, you may not need to spend as much time reviewing them. Instead, focus on the subjects that you don’t know as much about. 

2. Take a free practice test.

CompTIA offers free practice questions for the A+ certification, which you can request online. Use this type of practice to get a feel for the subject matter and question types. Are there subjects that felt particularly challenging or that you didn’t do as well on? If so, plan to spend extra time studying them so you feel more prepared when you go to take your certification. 

3. Use an official study guide.

Once you know how you’d do on a practice test, look into using CompTIA’s official study guide to review the areas that you’ll need to spend more time developing. Study guides are self directed, meaning you can work at your own pace and at a time that best suits you. 

4. Sign up for an online training.

If you do better with instructor-led training, sign up for CompTIA’s online training. These take place at a set time, so you’ll need to find one that works with your schedule. Being taught by an instructor can be helpful if you appreciate having a structured study schedule rather than planning on on your own. 

5. Look for other online resources.

You'll find lots of free online resources to help you prepare for the A+ certification, including on YouTube and Coursera. For example, you can use the materials in the Google IT Support Professional Certificate to learn more about each subject the A+ certificate covers. 

Here are a few additional articles you can use to learn more about the certification and compare it to related options:

Jobs you can get with an A+ certification 

Once you have your A+ certification, you can apply for a range of roles in IT. Besides the ones we’ve listed below, learn more about what kinds of entry-level IT positions you can explore. 

  • IT technicians also respond to IT problems, but they may be more complicated and require a greater depth of knowledge. 

  • Service desk analysts work to resolve hardware, software, and network problems for both customers and company staff.

Learn more: 7 IT Career Paths and How to Get Started

Prepare for the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam with Coursera

Learn cybersecurity fundamentals directly from CompTIA with CompTIA's a+_ cyber Specialization. You'll receive targeted, guided practice and training for the CompTIA Security+ certification, another popular entry-level certification for aspiring cybersecurity professionals.

Or, earn the Google IT Support Professional Certificate while you prepare to take the CompTIA A+ certification. The flexible schedule means you can study at your own pace while learning about how to provide end-to-end customer support from the experts at Google. Get started today. 

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