The New A+ 900 Series: What’s New (Part 3 of 5)

February 10, 2016 at 10:56 am | Posted in CompTIA, Study hints, study tips | 1 Comment

Welcome back to my series of posts on the new A+ exam. The old 220-801 and 220-802 exams are still available, but they will retire on June 30, 2016 in the United States. CompTIA has released a new version of the A+ certification by rolling out the 220-901 and 220-902 exams on December 15, 2015.

  • In my first post, I went over the timeline and what to expect from the exam changes as a whole.
  • In my second post, I went into detail regarding the first two objectives for 220-901, Hardware and Networking.

In this post, I will cover the second two objectives for 220-901, Mobile Devices and Hardware and Network Troubleshooting. I’ll give you the entire overview of each objective, list each subobjective, tell you where each topic fell in the old A+ 800-series (if applicable), and put all changes or additions in RED ITALICS.

I will not call out any deleted topics, although CompTIA has removed some topics. This is because I am not really sure if those topics were actually removed from the exam, or if they are just so insignificant that they aren’t called out in the objective listing, but are still floating around in some test questions. Remember that CompTIA’s objective listing contains a disclaimer that says,

“The lists of examples provided in bulleted format below each objective are not exhaustive lists. Other examples of technologies, processes or tasks pertaining to each objective may also be included on the exam although not listed or covered in this objectives document.”

For this reason, I didn’t want to focus on what was removed. My exam experience has shown that the bullet lists are not exhaustive. Spending time focusing on what was removed may give you a false sense of security by making you think you don’t need to study those topics. So I am just ignoring any topic removals.

First, a note about “Bloom’s Levels”

You’ll see me refer to topics changing their Bloom’s level. In the instructional design world, Bloom’s taxonomy is used to describe the depth or complexity of a learning outcome, just as the OSI model describes the level at which a network component operates. Level 1 is basic memorization (what is a router?), where level 6 is complete mastery of a concept (designing a network from scratch).

If I mention here that a Bloom’s level has changed, it generally means that CompTIA is asking for something more complex than memorization. While these changes shouldn’t scare you, there is a bit more “rubber meeting the road” to the higher Bloom’s levels. For example, instead of recognizing various LCD technologies from a list, you may be asked to evaluate which LCD is the best choice for a given scenario. Instead of answering a question about how CIDR notation behaves in the abstract, you may be asked to configure a subnet mask.

220-901 Objective 3: Mobile Devices

A+ 220-802 covered mobile devices in its own domain. It included features of mobile operating systems,  basic network connectivity, configuring email, securing mobile devices, hardware differences in regards to tablets and laptops, and mobile device synchronization. Laptops were covered separately, in the 220-801 Laptops domain.

What’s changed? In A+ 220-901, mobile devices now includes laptop hardware and components, laptop display components, laptop features, features of other mobile devices, and accessories and ports of other mobile devices. In some cases, minor wording changes occurred at the subobjective level.

3.1 Install and configure laptop hardware and components. – From Objective 3, subobjective 1 in the old 220-801. New topics were added:

  • Ports/Adapters section  – added entire section
    • Thunderbolt – added to the Ports/Adapters section
    • DisplayPort – added to the Port/Adapters section
    • USB to RJ-45 dongle – added to the Ports/Adapters section
    • USB to WiFi dongle – added to the Ports/Adapters section
    • USB to Bluetooth – added to the Ports/Adapters section
    • USB Optical Drive – added to the Ports/Adapters section
  • SSD vs. Hybrid vs. Magnetic disk – added to the Hard Drive subsection
  • 1.8in vs. 2.5in – added to the Hard Drive subsection
  • Smart card reader – added to the Hardware/Device Replacement section
  • Optical drive – added to the Hardware/Device Replacement section

3.2 Explain the function of components within the display of a laptop. – From Objective 3, subobjective 2 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level has increased. “Explain the function of” requires applying your knowledge, rather than the old wording of “Compare and contrast” (demonstrating knowledge without application). These new topics were added:

  • TTL vs. IPS – added to LCD subsection
  • Webcam – added
  • Microphone – added
  • Digitizer – added

3.3 Given a scenario, use appropriate laptop features. – From Objective 3, subobjective 3 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level (and therefore the difficulty) for this objective changed, because the “Given a scenario, use” phrase replaced “Compare and contrast” (demonstrating knowledge without application) in the old version. One new topic was added:

  • Rotating / removable screens – added

3.4 Explain the characteristics of various types of other mobile devices. – This objective was not part of the A+ 900-series exams. The topics in this objective are:

  • Tablets – added
  • Smart phones – added
  • Wearable technology devices section – added entire section
    • Smart watches – added to the Wearable technology devices section
    • Fitness monitors – added to the Wearable technology devices section
    • Glasses and headsets – added to the Wearable technology devices section
  • Phablets – added
  • e-Readers – added
  • Smart camera – added
  • GPS – added

3.5 Compare and contrast accessories & ports of other mobile devices. – This objective was not in the A+ 900-series exams. The topics in this objective are:

  • Connection types – added section
    • NFC – added
    • Proprietary vendor specific ports (communication/power) – added
    • microUSB/miniUSB – added
    • Lightning – added
    • Bluetooth – added
    • IR – added
    • Hotspot / tethering – added
  • Accessories – added section
    • Headsets – added
    • Speakers – added
    • Game pads – added
    • Docking stations – added
    • Extra battery packs/battery chargers – added
    • Protective covers / water proofing – added
    • Credit card readers – added
    • Memory/MicroSD – added
220-901 Objective 4: Hardware & Network Troubleshooting

The old A+ 220-802 covered troubleshooting in its own domain. It included the troubleshooting theory, hardware troubleshooting, network troubleshooting, operating system troubleshooting, security troubleshooting, laptop troubleshooting, and printer troubleshooting.

In A+ 220-901, this objective covers hardware troubleshooting, network troubleshooting, mobile device troubleshooting, and printer troubleshooting. The other aspects of troubleshooting have been moved to the A+ 220-902 exam. All changes are in RED ITALICS.

4.1 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common problems related to motherboards, RAM, CPU and power with appropriate tools. – From Objective 4, subobjective 2 in 220-802. This subobjective had no changes.

4.2 Given a scenario, troubleshoot hard drives and RAID arrays with appropriate tools. – From Objective 4, subobjective 3 in 220-802. This subobjective had no changes.

4.3 Given a scenario, troubleshoot common video, projector and display issues. – From Objective 4, subobjective 4 in 220-802. This subobjective had no changes.

4.4 Given a scenario, troubleshoot wired and wireless networks with appropriate tools. – From Objective 4, subobjective 5 in 220-802. This subobjective had no changes.

4.5 Given a scenario, troubleshoot, and repair common mobile device issues while adhering to the appropriate procedures. – From Objective 4, subobjective 6 in 220-802. The old version of this objective only mentioned laptops, not mobile devices. So keep in mind that you must expand all of the troubleshooting scenarios to include all other mobile devices, including laptops, tablets, and smart phones. New topics include:

  • Touchscreen non-responsive – added to Common symptoms
  • Apps not loading – added to Common symptoms
  • Slow performance – added to Common symptoms
  • Unable to decrypt email – added to Common symptoms
  • Extremely short battery life – added to Common symptoms
  • Overheating – added to Common symptoms
  • Frozen system – added to Common symptoms
  • No sound from speakers – added to Common symptoms
  • GPS not functioning – added to Common symptoms
  • Swollen battery – added to Common symptoms

2.6 Given a scenario, troubleshoot printers with appropriate tools. – From Objective 4, subobjective 9 in 220-802. This subobjective had no changes.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, I am just covering the high points and not delving too deeply into these topics. My point here is to help those who already know the A+ understand exactly what new topics they need to study. CompTIA has started a series of Webinars called Deep Dive: A Look Inside the A+ 900 Series Objectives that cover these topics much more deeply than I do. You can access these Webinars  by joining the CompTIA Instructor Network at

Remember, this post is part of a series of posts I will be completing. Here are the details for those posts:

To help you start your A+ 900-series study schedule off right, we have launched our 220-901 practice test! It includes performance-based questions and covers all the 220-901 topics.


Thanks again for reading!

-Robin Abernathy

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  1. […] compared with 801/802 and suggests that test-takers adopt a different study approach. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and (forthcoming) Part 5 drill down into the nitty-gritty differences between the two […]

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