STUDY THE EXAM OBJECTIVES
We can apply good teaching techniques by downloading and studying the CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exam blueprints. The Exam Objectives can be found on the GetCertified website (under the Exam Tab). On this same GetCertified page you will see each domain and it’s associated weighting on the certification exam. Additionally, you can ascertain data on the length of the exam, the number of questions, the type of questions, time limits, and the passing exam score required.
The exam objectives exam/ blueprint is an excellent way to record your progress through the material, and verify that your students are prepared to sit for the exam. When entering the Exam room, your students should be intimately familiar with each item from the detailed the exam objectives. Remember; your students can access MP4s associated with the domain topics from this website should content refreshers be needed.
UNDERSTAND THE THEORY
Given that the 220-901/902 objective blueprints are several PDF pages, we’re clearly talking about a huge volume of computer repair technician skills. How in the world can you master the knowledge?
A common question I receive from students is, “Should I start with the hardware or the software exam?” You know, it truly doesn’t matter, but based on my experience, I advise taking the 220-901 before the 220-902. I advise you to start your studying and preparation where you’re most comfortable, given your background with computers.
Two important points to note as you are studying/teaching: First, make sure you use the student supplemental resources available. My second important point to maximize absorption of the A+ material is to participate in class discussions with your students relating the content to real life work examples.
MASTER THE SKILLS
Understanding the theory behind computer hardware and software support is one thing–being able to actually perform these tasks is quite another. Please understand that CompTIA gives you several performance-based items in addition to the standard multiple-choice questions.
In these performance-based questions you are given a simulated environment; for instance, a Windows 8.1 Desktop, and asked to perform a particular configuration change. Maybe you’ll be asked to statically assign an IP address. Perhaps you’ll be required to disable a device driver. The bottom line is that it is crucial that both you and your students know how to apply the knowledge that you build within the course learning paths. To this end, I strongly suggest that you build a practice networking lab so you can practice the software-related procedures.
You don’t have to spend money to build a practice lab.
Here’s the recipe:
VMWare Workstation: This is free desktop virtualization software for ECPI University students that runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux. To download VMWare, log into Canvas, go to ECPI resources, and click on DreamSpark. This is a single sign on link and you can then get the software you need and download it to your computer. With each free purchase you will get a one year access code which can be renewable every year you are a student.
VMWare images: Every ECPI campus has a library of VMWare images that you can use to create your own virtual network. Talk to your local IT help desk for details.
Microsoft Software: There is free client and server Windows software for ECPI University students. To download Microsoft software, log into Canvas, go to ECPI resources, and click on DreamSpark. This is a single sign on link and you can then get the software you need and download it to your computer. With each free purchase you will get a one year access code which can be renewable every year you are a student.
Linux: CompTIA requires us to know our way around the bash command shell. Bash is present in just about all UNIX and Linux distributions.
Building your virtual lab is only half of the work. The other side is making sure you know how to perform every single task indicated on the aforementioned exam objective blueprints. To develop computer hardware skills, you will need to have some small items in the classroom: PC technician tools, current and/or old, broken hardware.
DRILL ON PRACTICE QUESTIONS
Have you ever taken a computer-based exam? They are a different beast from the old pencil-and-paper tests that you may have taken in the past. I strongly suggest that you invest heavily in the CANVAS exam simulation software in your course preparation and before your students sit for their 220-901 and 220-902 certification tests. Students and faculty can register for the CANVAS exam simulations on this site. Remember, your students are not allowed to print these documents and must use the exam simulation only online. To print hard copies of the exam simulation would be a disservice to the student, as the University wants the student review to be in the same format as the official certification exam ensuring the students are best prepared for the exam format they will be experiencing in the testing center. Before being issued an exam voucher, students must successfully complete all the quizzes and the competency exam at 85% proficiency level. The student must achieve this goal within three months of receiving the CANVAS exam simulation. Faculty can use the exam simulations in the classroom and use the questions as discussion topics. Why is this the right answer? What eliminates this answer?
Passing a CompTIA Certification doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By applying these simple tips your students can show up on test day, ready to go and confident of success.