Flash sale! CompTIA A+ Exam Series Will Retire June 30, 2016

May 4, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Posted in CompTIA | Leave a comment
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Have you been studying for the A+ at a leisurely pace, figuring there’s plenty of time to knock it out? Did you pass the 220-801, only to wait for the right time to take the 220-802? If so, time is no longer on your side. The 800 version of CompTIA’s flagship certification exam will retire in just under two months. This is relevant because you cannot mix and match exam versions. If you passed the 220-801 or 220-802 exam, you must pass the other 800-series exam to obtain your A+, or else take both 900-series exams.

You will need to complete the English-language 800 series exams by June 30, 2016 to see the old test objectives. After that time, all test takers will have to sit for the 220-901 and 220-902 instead.

Our CompTIA specialist, Robin Abernathy, has covered the updates to the A+ exam in a series of blog posts. Part 1 explains how the exam topic breakdown differs in 901/902 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 knowledge banks.

If you don’t feel like clicking over right now, suffice it to say that Robin (and most test-takers) felt that the 801/802 topics had enough overlap that the test taker could (and probably should) schedule both exams to fall as close as possible to each other – even within the same day – and knock out their A+ certification in one fell swoop. Both tests covered aspects of the same technologies, so studying for one meant studying for the other by default.

By contrast, there is almost NO overlap between the topics tested on 220-901 and 220-902, which means that you’ll want to study and sit for each exam separately.

The 901/902 drops some outdated topics (no more questions on CRTs or Windows XP) and modernizes device coverage – instead of laptops, “mobile device” questions also cover tablets and phones. It also moves the OS focus beyond Windows to acknowledge the presence of both Linux and Mac OS X in the workplace. The 901/902 is also more hands-on than in previous generations – some may say it’s harder; others may call it more realistic. For example, instead of being asked to define a given command’s function, you could be given a scenario and asked to choose the best command to troubleshoot this device. Instead of simply identifying what a setting does, you will likely be asked to choose the correct setting for a given set of conditions.

There is still plenty of time to buy your 800-series A+ practice exams, and to help you study, Transcender has put them on sale.

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on the 30-Day Online Access practice exams to test your knowledge for the 220-801 and 220-802 certifications.

Enter promo code: T2016EXP

Pass Guarantee not valid for last minute study aid promotions.

 

The New A+ 900 Series: What’s New (Part 4 of 5)

March 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Posted in CompTIA | 1 Comment
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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 my third post, I went into detail regarding the last two objectives for 220-901, Mobile Devices and Hardware & Network Troubleshooting.

In this post, I will cover the first two objectives for 220-902, Windows Operating Systems and Other Operating Systems & Technologies. 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.

220-902 Objective 1: Windows Operating Systems

A+ 220-802 covered Windows operating systems in its own domain. It included Windows operating system (OS) features and requirements, installation, command-line tools, tools and features, Control Panel utilities, networking, and maintenance. The biggest change in this objective is the OSs versions that are included.

What’s changed? In A+ 220-902, Windows operating systems now include Windows 8 and 8.1. No big surprise: Windows XP was removed. But contrary to popular belief, Windows 10 is NOT included. Often I hear complaints that the A+ certification doesn’t include the latest Windows version (because this happens in almost every iteration of A+.) But keep in mind that the objectives for this exam were ironed out last year while Windows 10 was still in its infancy.

1.1 Compare and contrast various features and requirements of Microsoft Operating Systems (Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1). – From Objective 1, subobjective 1 in the old 220-802. New topics were added:

  • Features 
    • Side by side apps – added to the Features section
    • Metro UI – added to the Features section
    • Pinning – added to the Features section
    • One Drive – added to the Features section
    • Windows Store – added to the Features section
    • Multimonitor task bars – added to the Features section
    • Charms – added to the Features section
    • Start Screen – added to the Features section
    • Power Shell – added to the Features section
    • Live sign in – added to the Features section
    • Action Center – added to the Features section

1.2 Given a scenario, install Windows PC operating systems using appropriate methods. – From Objective 1, subobjective 2 in 220-902. These new topics were added:

  • Boot methods 
    • Solid state/flash drives – added to the Boot methods section
    • Netboot – added to the Boot methods section
    • External/hot swappable drive – added to the Boot methods section
    • Internal hard drive (partition) – added to the Boot methods section
  • Type of installations
    • Recovery partition – added to the Type of installations section
    • Refresh/restore – added to the Type of installations section
  • Partitioning
    • GPT – added to the Partitioning section
  • File system types/formatting
    • ExFAT – added to the File system types/formatting section
    • NFS – added to the File system types/formatting section
    • ext3, ext4 – added to the File system types/formatting section
  • Properly formatted boot drive with the correct partitions/format– added

1.3 Given a scenario, apply appropriate Microsoft command line tools. – From Objective 1, subobjective 3 in 220-802. The Networking command-line tools that were included in this objective in 220-802 have been moved to the Networking objective in 220-901. These new topics were added:

  • GPUPDATE – added
  • GPRESULT – added
  • DIR – added
  • EXIT – added
  • HELP – added
  • EXTRACT – added
  • Commands available with standard privileges vs. administrative privileges. – added

1.4 Given a scenario, use appropriate Microsoft operating system features and tools. – From Objective 1, subobjective 4 in 220-902. These new topics were added:

  • Disk Management
    • Initializing – added to the Disk Management section
    • Shrink partitions – added to the Disk Management section
    • Assigning/changing drive letters – revised to include changing
    • Storage spaces – added to the Disk Management section
  • Other
    • Windows Upgrade Advisor – added to the Other section
  • System Utilities
    • DEFRAG – added to the System Utilities section
    • System restore –  added to the System Utilities section
    • Windows Update –  added to the System Utilities section

1.5 Given a scenario, use Windows Control Panel utilities. – From Objective 1, subobjective 5 in 220-802. These new topics were added:

  • Display/Display Settings – revised to include Display Settings
    • Color depth – added to the Display/Display Settings section
    • Refresh rate – added to the Display/Display Settings section
  • Folder Options
    • General options – added to the Folder Options section
    • View options – added to the Folder Options section
  • System
    • Hardware profiles – added to the System section
  • Programs and features – added
  • Devices and Printers – added
  • Sound – added
  • Network and Sharing Center – added
  • Device Manager – added

1.6 Given a scenario, install and configure Windows networking on a client/desktop. – From objective 1, subobjective 6 in 220-802. The Bloom’s level has increased. “Given a scenario” requires applying your knowledge, rather than the old wording of “Setup and configure” (demonstrating knowledge without application). These new topics were added:

  • Network shares/administrative shares/mapping drives – changed to include administrative shares
  • Printer sharing vs. network printer mapping – added
  • Remote Desktop Connection – changed to proper name of tool
  • Remote Assistance – added
  • Network card properties
    • BIOS (on-board NIC) – added to Network card properties section

1.7 Perform common preventive maintenance procedures using the appropriate Windows OS tools. – From objective 1, subobject 7 in 220-802.

  • Best practices
    • Scheduled disk maintenance – changed to disk maintenance instead of separate check disks and defragmentation
    • Antivirus/ Antimalware updates – changed to include antimalware
  • Tools
    • Disk maintenance utilities – changed to disk maintenance utilities instead of check disk and defrag
220-902 Objective 2: Other Operating Systems & Technologies

This is a mostly new objective for the A+ certification. For those of you that go way back (and I am talking way, way back here), you’ll remember that the A+ certification used to cover the Apple and Linux operating systems, cloud technologies, and network hosts. With this latest version, you will see a return of those operating systems in this objective, as well as covering the mobile device operating systems, virtualization, mobile device connectivity and email, and mobile devices synchronization, which were all covered in 220-802.

Continue Reading The New A+ 900 Series: What’s New (Part 4 of 5)…

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 http://bit.ly/1Sxj3h9.

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.

cert-220-901

Thanks again for reading!

-Robin Abernathy

The New A+ 900 Series: What’s New (Part 2 of 5)

January 28, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, CompTIA, Study hints, study tips | 1 Comment
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As I explained in my last post, CompTIA has released a new version of the A+ certification by rolling out the 220-901 and 220-902 exams on December 15, 2015. The old 220-801 and 220-802 exams are still available, but they will retire on June 30, 2016 in the United States.

In this post, I will cover the first two objectives for 220-901, Hardware and Networking. 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 (for example, floppy drives and SCSI). 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”

In this and subsequent posts, you’ll see me refer to topics changing their Bloom’s level. In the instructional design world, Bloom’s taxonomy is a model for describing the depth or complexity of a learning outcome, much like 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 abstract, you may be asked to configure a subnet mask.

220-901 Objective 1: Hardware

A+ 220-801 covered hardware in its own domain and included BIOS, motherboards, RAM, expansion cards, storage devices, CPUs and cooling, connectors and cables, power supplies, custom configurations, display devices, and peripherals. In A+ 220-901, hardware has been expanded to include UEFI and printers and multi-functional devices (which  was its own objective in 220-801). In some cases, minor wording changes occured at the subobjective level.

1.1 Given a scenario, configure settings and use BIOS/UEFI tools on a PC. – From Objective 1, subobjective 1 in the old version. The Bloom’s level for this objective increased, because the “Given a scenario” qualification is now part of this objective. Instead of simply identifying what a setting does, you will likely be asked to choose the correct setting for a given set of conditions. There is only one new topic:

  • Secure boot – added to BIOS security sub-section

1.2 Explain the importance of motherboard components, their purpose, and properties. – From Objective 1, subobjective 2 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level (and therefore the difficulty) for this objective changed as well, because the “Explain the importance” phrase is used instead of “Differentiate between” (demonstrating knowledge without application) in the old version. One new topic was added:

  • Mini-ITX – added to Sizes section

1.3 Compare and contrast various RAM types and their features. – From Objective 1, subobjective 3 in 220-801. One new topic was added:

  • Buffered versus unbuffered – added to Types section

1.4 Install and configure PC expansion cards. – From Objective 1, subobjective 4 in 220-801. One new topic was added:

  • Storage cards – added

1.5 Install and configure storage devices and use appropriate media. – From Objective 1, subobjective 5 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Hybrid and eMMC – added to Solid state/flash drives section

1.6 Install various types of CPUs and apply the appropriate cooling methods. – From Objective 1, subobjective 6 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level for this objective changed because the “Install” phrase (using acquired knowledge) is used instead of “Differentiate among” (demonstrating knowledge without application) in the old version. New topics include:

  • Intel 1150, 2011 – added to Socket types section
  • AMD FM2, FM2+ – added to Socket types section
  • Disable execute bit – added to Characteristics section
  • Fanless/passive – added to Cooling section

1.7 Compare and contrast various PC connection interfaces, their characteristics and purpose. – From Objective 1, subobjective 7 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Analog and Digital (Optical connector) – added to Audio sub-section
  • NFC – added to Wireless connections section
  • Quality and DRM – added to Characteristics section

1.8 Install a power supply based on given specifications. – From Objective 1, subobjective 8 in 220-801. One new topic was added:

  • Dual rail – added to Specifications section

1.9 Given a scenario, select the appropriate components for a custom PC configuration, to meet customer specifications or needs. – From Objective 1, subobjective 9 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level for this objective was raised to include “Given a scenario.” New topics are:

  • Multicore processor – changed from Powerful processor in Graphic / CAD / CAM design workstation section. This change simply updates the test’s language to current PC technology, as all “powerful” processors today will be multicore by default.
  • Multicore processor – changed from Powerful processor in Gaming PC section.  Again, this is not new knowledge, but rather an update of the test’s nomenclature.
  • Meets recommended requirements for selected OS – changed from Meets recommended requirements for Windows in Standard thick client section. This is an important change because it shows a shift back to including other operating systems besides Windows, which hasn’t been the case in the past few A+ releases.
  • Meets minimum requirements for selected OS – changed from Meets minimum requirements for running Windows in Thin client section.
  • Network connectivity – added to Thin client section.

1.10 Compare and contrast types of display devices and their features. – From Objective 1, subobjective 10 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level for this objective changed because the “Compare and contrast” phrase is used instead of “Given a scenario, evaluate” in the old version. New topics include:

  • TN vs. IPS and Flourescent vs. LED backlighting – added in the LCD sub-section
  • Refresh / frame rates – added frame rates
  • Aspect ratios (16:916:10, and 4:3) – added specific ratios

1.11 Identify common PC connector types and associated cables. – From Objective 1, subobjective 11 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Adapters and converters (DVI to HDMIUSB A to USB BUSB to EthernetDVI to VGAThunderbolt to DVIPS/2 to USB,  and HDMI to VGA) – all added, and all reflective of the cables commonly available in today’s computing environments.

1.12 Install and configure common peripheral devices. – From Objective 1 subobjective 12 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Biometric devices, Motion sensor, Touch padsSmart card readers, and Digital cameras – added to the Input devices section
  • Smart TV and Set-Top Box – added to the Input & Output devices section

1.13 Install SOHO multifunction device / printers and configure appropriate settings. – From Objective 4, subobjective 2 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level for this objective changed because the “Given a scenario” phrase has been removed. In addition, multifunction devices have been added and configuration knowledge is required. The new topics include:

  • Configuration settings (DuplexCollateOrientation, and Quality) – added to the Use appropriate drivers for a given operating system section
  • Infrastructure vs. adhoc – added to the Wireless sub-section
  • Cloud printing/remote printing – added to the Device sharing section
  • TCP/Bonjour/AirPrint – added to the Sharing local/networked device via Operating System settings sub-section
  • Data privacy (User authentication on the device and Hard drive caching) – added to the Public/shared devices section

1.14 Compare and contrast differences between the various print technologies and the associated imaging process. – From Objective 4, subobjective 1 in 220-801. The wording changed to “Compare and contrast” from “Explain the differences between,” but in my opinion, this change did not affect the Bloom’s level. New topic is:

  • Virtual (Print to filePrint to PDFPrint to XPS, and Print to image) – added

1.15 Given a scenario, perform appropriate printer maintenance. – From Objective 4, subobjective 3 in 220-801.  New topics include:

  • Inkjet (Clean heads, replace cartridges, calibration, clear jams) – added
220-901 Objective 2: Networking

A+ 220-801 covered networking in its own domain and included network cables and connectors, TCP/IP, TCP and UDP ports and protocols, wireless networking standards and encryption, SOHO wireless/wired router installation and configuration, Internet connection types, network types, network devices, and networking tools. In A+ 220-901, minor wording changes occurred at the subobjective level. All changes are in RED ITALICS.

2.1 Identify the various types of network cables and connectors. – From Objective 2, subobjective 1 in 220-801. This subobjective had no changes.

2.2 Compare and contrast the characteristics of connectors and cabling. – From Objective 2, subobjective 2 in 220-801. Slight wording change at subobjective level, but no change in the Bloom’s level. New topics include:

  • CAT6e, CAT7 – added to Twisted pair section
  • Splitters and effects on signal quality – added to Twisted pair and Coaxial sections

2.3 Explain the properties and characteristics of TCP/IP. – From Objective 2, subobjective 3 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Public vs. private vs. APIPA/link local – added link local
  • Subnet mask vs. CIDR – added CIDR

2.4 Explain common TCP and UDP ports, protocols, and their purpose. – From Objective 2, subobjective 4 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • 22 – SSH; 137-139, 445 – SMB; and 548 or 427 – AFP – added to Ports section
  • CIFS and AFP – added to Protocols section

2.5 Compare and contrast various WiFi networking standards and encryption types. – From Objective 2, subobjective 5 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • 802.11ac – added to Standards section

2.6 Given a scenario, install and configure SOHO wireless/wired router and apply appropriate settings. – From Objective 2, subobjective 6 in 220-801. The Bloom’s level for this objective changed because the “Given a scenario” qualification is now part of this objective. New topics include:

  • NAT / DNAT – added DNAT
  • Firmware – added
  • UPnP – added

2.7 Compare and contrast Internet connection types, network types, and their features. – From Objective 2, subobjective 7 and 8 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Tethering – added in the Cellular subsection

2.8 Compare and contrast network architecture devices, their functions, and features. – From Objective 2, subobjective 9 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Patch panel– added
  • Repeaters/extenders – added
  • Ethernet over Power – added
  • Power over Ethernet injector – added

2.9 Given a scenario, use appropriate networking tools. – From Objective 2, subobjective 10 in 220-801. New topics include:

  • Cable stripper – added
  • Tone generator & probe – added generator
  • WiFi analyzer – added
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 http://bit.ly/1Sxj3h9.

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

To help you get through the holiday doldrums and start your 2016 study schedule off right, we just launched our 220-901 practice test! It includes performance-based questions and covers all the 220-901 topics.

cert-220-901

Thanks again for reading!

-Robin Abernathy

The New A+ 900 Series: What’s New (Part 1 of 5)

December 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, CompTIA | 2 Comments
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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+.

To help you get through the holiday doldrums and start your 2016 study schedule off right, we just launched our 220-901 practice test!

cert-220-901

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:

  • Hardware – 34%
  • Networking – 21%
  • Mobile Devices – 17%
  • 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:

  • Windows Operating System – 29%
  • Other Operating Systems & Technologies – 12%
  • Security – 22%
  • Software Troubleshooting – 24%
  • 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.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting four more parts to this series and discuss changes to each topic area in depth:

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!

-Robin

CompTIA Linux+, SUSE, and LPIC-1: Three certifications for the price of one – with a special deal on top!

December 18, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Posted in Vendor news, CompTIA, Certification Paths, LPI | Leave a comment
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When even Microsoft is getting into the Linux  game, you must know that Linux certification is one of those hot certs that all the cool admins and devs are getting. What you may not know is that a Linux certification is, hands down, the best value we know of in the certification sphere. Thanks to a partnership between three major certifying bodies – CompTIA, Linux Professional Institute (LPI), and SUSE – you can now pass one series of exams to earn three industry certifications from all three vendors at the same time.

3-in-1-certification-1024x269

CompTIA and LPI first partnered on the joint certification project in 2010, at which time passing the Linux+ exams from CompTIA also earned you LPIC-1 credentials. The 2015 revision loops SUSE into the game, so you now have the ability to earn THREE separate vendor certifications in one exam sitting. (In case you’re confused, SUSE and LPI previously shared a joint certification program, as did LPI and CompTIA – but not all three together.)

So what exactly do I get, and what’s the catch?

You’ll need to pass the two 2015 Linux+ exams offered by CompTIA, LX0-103 and LX0-104. (The 2010 versions were named LX0-101 and LX0-102.) When you do so,  you’ll be able to add these three certifications to your resume, LinkedIn account, and brag sheet:

There’s no catch, but you do have to arrange your ducks into a particular row, and you must take the CompTIA exams in particular – you cannot earn the LPIC-1 from LPI and then apply to retroactively earn the Linux+ certification. Here are the exact steps listed on CompTIA’s website as of this writing:

  1. Obtain an LPI ID.
  2. Once you have passed both Linux+ exams, log into your CompTIA certification account. Choose Demographics | Settings. On the Settings page check the box to have your information forwarded to LPI, then click Submit.
  3. Upon receipt of your LPIC-1 apply online for your SUSE CLA.

Being who we are, we tested these steps ourselves before blogging about it. Here’s the cheat sheet:

  1. Configure your CompTIA account settings so that they know to forward the results to LPI. It’s a dropdown box under the Settings tab of your CompTIA cert account.
  2. Wait a bit. (I got my email from LPI in about 48 hours.)
  3. Look through the email. You should get instructions and a link to verify your credentials with SUSE.
  4. Sit back and celebrate the holidays like a Linux pro!
Is there a difference in the cost?

If you went straight to each vendor and took their exams without the three-in-one deal, you’d pay $376 for EITHER the two-exam CompTIA series (LX0-103 and LX0-104) or the LPIC-1 series (Exam 1 and Exam 2). If you only wanted the SUSE certification, it’s a relative bargain to take their standard test ($125 in the US). Please note that these are US prices, and don’t include any special voucher deals, discounts, sales, or student bundles.

So if your budget extends to the two-exam series, then it makes no financial sense to leave the three-certification package on the table.

Okay, sold! Where do I start?

First, an unscheduled commercial break. (We have bills to pay around here.) If you’re in the market for training material, Transcender is offering a special discount on Linux practice tests, eLearning, and practice labs.

From now until December 31, 2015, you can pick your deal (or mix and match). We’re offering $25 off all practice tests (excluding 30-day and CD/voucher bundle), including LX0-103. And we’re offering a special 20% off discount on our newly released LX0-104/LPI 400-102 practice test (excluding 30-day and CD/voucher bundle). As of today that discount also extends to our eLearning and practice lab products for Linux.

To activate your discount, click through the shiny red button (or use promo code PRODUCT20). The deal expires at 10 PM CST.

Click here to activate your 20% discount

To add products to your page, choose either LPI or CompTIA / Linux+ from the main menu, then select the relevant product from the desired test.

Capture

We also offer eLearning packages for each exam, and a separate series of online practice labs that let you develop proficiency with hardware that you may not have available to practice with otherwise.

Whether or not you choose to take advantage of our study products, you should DEFINITELY take advantage of the three-in-one Linux certification partnership – a deal we’ve never seen replicated in the professional IT certification world.

We wish you best of luck with your Linux certifying!

linux_happy_holidays_1024x768_3_800x600

CompTIA to provide instructors with free security awareness webinar on October 29, 2015

October 22, 2015 at 9:58 am | Posted in CompTIA | Leave a comment
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Are you a CompTIA instructor? Are you aware of CompTIA’s ongoing webinar series that discusses current and changing IT trends? As Cyber Security Awareness month draws to a close, CompTIA will offer instructors a FREE interactive webinar highlighting security frameworks, with a panel of expert speakers available to answer questions.

As October Cyber Security Awareness month draws to a close join CompTIA’s James Stanger, Patrick Lane, and Stephen Schneiter as they take a look at current IT security trends and why it is important for IT professionals to understand and interpret information from data analytics. The session will define and discuss the growing importance of implementing security frameworks to protect information. Instructors will have the opportunity to ask questions to the panel about security trends and delivering this knowledge to students in our classrooms.

The webinar runs on October 29, 2015 at 1030am CT / 1130am ET / 330pm GMT. To register, click here: https://www.comptia.org/events/webinars/registration?eventid=ce102915

This webinar series is for instructors who teach CompTIA certification courses and are members of the CompTIA Instructor Network.

CompTIA Security+ SY0-301 edition expires in 15 days; CASP to be revised early in 2015

December 15, 2014 at 9:14 am | Posted in CompTIA | Leave a comment
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Winter holidays are crunch time for many folks. Certification test-takers are no exception, as vendors typically choose the end of the calendar year to retire exams. Those seeking to earn (or renew) their Security+ have until December 31, 2014 to take the older edition of the exam, SY0-301 / JK0-018.

When the newer edition of this exam, SY0-401, was released earlier this year, Robin Abernathy blogged extensively about the changes to the objectives, topic weighting, and method of item delivery, and how these changes would affect your plan of study. If you’re on the fence about whether to knock out the 301 or wait a little longer to sit the 401, her posts may give you the information you need to make that decision:

  • Part One: Depth of topic coverage and item types
  • Part Two: Changes to topics in domains 1, 2, and 3
  • Part Three: Changes to domains 4, 5, and 6, plus new acronyms

You can still purchase the Transcender practice exam for Cert-SY0-301.

On an additional note, CompTIA has announced they will release an updated CASP certification exam, CAS-002, launching on January 20, 2015. The new exam will repleace CAS-001, which will retire in May 2015.

Calling all IT educators: CompTIA Academy Educator’s Conference 2014

July 22, 2014 at 7:27 am | Posted in CompTIA, Conferences, Performance-Based Testing, Transcender news, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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It’s getting close to that time of year again, folks. The CompTIA Academy Educator Conference will be held on August 1-3 in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona. (Now, I’m just taking everyone else’s word on the beautiful part. This will be my first visit there! But the pictures I’ve seen are lovely.)

This three-day event is well worth your time if you are an educator at any level (high school, college, professional) and you instruct individuals who are seeking CompTIA certifications. As a peer-to-peer networking resource, it’s beyond compare. You also get to rub elbows with some great folks – ehem – ME! Also, you don’t have to be a CompTIA Academy educator to attend. However, the sessions are designed to benefit Academy Partners. If your organization is not an Academy Partner, visit this site to learn how (and why) to become one: http://partners.comptia.org/Academy-Partner.aspx.

With the recent release of a new Security+ exam and the new CASP and Network+ exams due to be released in the coming months, it’s a great idea to attend this conference just to stay on top of things. My presentation on Friday will cover the new Security+ exam, the CASP exam, some techniques for covering the new performance-based items in your classroom. I will also share some information about braindumps/piracy and why you should never use this type of content in your classroom. You can see the full schedule here: http://www2.comptia.org/events/events/academy-educator-conference/agenda.aspx

For all conference related information, including the agenda, registration information, exhibitor information, and hotel information, visit the CompTIA Academy Educator Conference page. If you register before July 31st, you pay $199 instead of $399 at the event. Believe me when I say that this will be the best $199 you will spend.

I would LOVE to see you there!

-Robin

We Knew It Was Coming: Security+ SY0-401 (Part 3 of 3)

May 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Posted in CompTIA, Performance-Based Testing, Study hints | 1 Comment
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In my first post, I covered the overall changes from SY0-301 to SY0-401. I described how the exam is moving from “tell” to “show and tell,” with more emphasis on applying your knowledge to scenarios than simply answering fact-based questions.

In my second post, I went into detailed changes in the first three domains. This post will wrap up the topic-level changes that will affect those who previously studied for the SY0-301, as well as those who are approaching the Security+ exam for the first time. I’ll also cover the alphabet soup of new acronyms added to the list of “terms you should be familiar with.” Hang on to your hats!

Domain 4: Application, Data and Host Security Changes

Domain 4.1 is “Explain the importance of application security controls and techniques.” There are two new topics for this domain: NoSQL databases vs. SQL databases, and Server-side vs. Client-side validation.

In SY0-301, mobile devices were covered as a subdomain of Domain 4.2, “Carry out appropriate procedures to establish host security.” The 2014 test makes mobile devices the sole topic of Domain 4.2, which is now called “Summarize mobile security concepts and technologies.” This domain covers these topics, all of which are new to the Security+ exam (with the exception of GPS):

  • Device security
    • Full device encryption
    • Remote wiping
    • Lockout
    • Screen-locks
    • GPS (included in 4.2 in SY0-301)
    • Application control
    • Storage segmentation
    • Asset tracking
    • Inventory control
    • Mobile device management
    • Device access control
    • Removable storage
    • Disabling unused features
  • Application security
    • Key management
    • Credential management
    • Authentication
    • Geo-tagging
    • Encryption
    • Application whitelisting
    • Transitive trust/authentication
  • BYOD concerns
    • Data ownership
    • Support ownership
    • Patch management
    • Antivirus management
    • Forensics
    • Privacy
    • On-boarding/off-boarding
    • Adherence to corporate policies
    • User acceptance
    • Architecture/infrastructure considerations
    • Legal concerns
    • Acceptable use policy
    • On-board camera/video

The non-mobile device topics from the old Domain 4.2 are now in the new Domain 4.3, which states “Given a scenario, select the appropriate solution to establish host security.” There are a few new topics in this domain: OS hardening, white listing vs. black listing applications, trusted OS, host-based intrusion detection, and virtualization subtopics (including snapshots, patch compatibility, host availability/elasticity, security control testing, and sandboxing).

Domain 4.4 now states “Implement the appropriate controls to ensure data security” where this SY0-301 domain (which was 4.3) merely asked you to explain concepts in data security importance. The new topics in this domain are cloud storage, SAN, Handling Big Data, data in-transit/data at-rest/data in-use, permissions/ACL, and data policies (including wiping, disposing, retention, and storage).

Domain 4.5 is another new domain, called “Compare and contrast alternative methods to mitigate security risks in static environments” (aka “Did someone hack your refrigerator?”). The topics are divided into Environments and Methods, with the following subtopics:

  • Environments
    • SCADA
    • Embedded (Printer, Smart TV, HVAC control)
    • Android and iOS
    • Mainframe
    • Game consoles
    • In-vehicle computing systems
  • Methods
    • Network segmentation
    • Security layers
    • Application firewalls
    • Manual updates
    • Firmware version control
    • Wrappers
    • Control redundancy and diversity
 Domain 5: Access Control and Identity Management Changes

Domain 5.1 now states “Compare and contrast the function and purpose of authentication services” where the SY0-301 domain was about explaining this information. There are only two new topics here: SAML and Secure LDAP.

Domain 5.2 now states “Given a scenario, select the appropriate authentication, authorization or access control,” where the SY0-301 domain asked you to simply explain these concepts. Many of the topics have changed their wording, but are essentially the same concept. The only new topics in this category are authentication (TOTP, HOTP, CHAP, PAP), federation, and transitive trust/authentication.

Domain 5.3 now states “Install and configure security controls when performing account management, based on best practices.” The new topics included in this domain are as follows:

  • Account policy enforcement (credential management; Group policy; password history, reuse, and length; and generic account prohibition)
  • User access reviews
  • Continuous monitoring
Domain 6: Cryptography Changes

Domain 6.1 now states “Given a scenario, utilize general cryptography concepts” where the SY0-301 domain asked you to summarize these concepts, so this is another domain that will now involved scenario-based questions. This domain has four new topics: session keys, in-band vs. out-of-band key exchange, ephemeral key, and perfect forward secrecy.

Domain 6.2 now states “Given a scenario, use appropriate cryptographic methods,” where this SY0-301 domain did NOT mention scenarios. The new topics for this domain are Diffie-Hellman, DHE, ECDHE, cipher suites (specifically strong vs. weak ciphers), and key stretching (PBKDF2, Bcrypt).

Domain 6.3 now states “Given a scenario, use appropriate PKI, certificate management and associated components” and is the result of combining Domains 6.3 and 6.4 from SY0-301 and adding the scenario stipulation. This domain has added topic coverage for certificate authorities and digital certificates, including OCSP and CSR.

Alphabet Soup: Acronyms to Know and Love

The Security+ exam objectives also include a list of acronyms. While I don’t advocate trying to memorize the entire list, it’s good to skim it and read up on terms you’re not familiar with. You may know that concept in practice, but not by the specific name it’s called on the Security+ exam. Or it may be a concept so familiar that it never occurred to you to make an acronym of it (such as TOTP – Top of the Page ).

There are seventy new acronyms on the list (and only one removed – they no longer ask you to remember BOTS as Network Robots). I repeat, don’t panic: many of the new additions to the acronym list were already included as subtopics or topics on SY0-301. Also, the majority of these terms are familiar to anyone who does any kind of work in computers.

The completely new concepts are:

API – Application Programming Interface
ASP – Application Service Provider
BAC – Business Availability Center
BIA- Business Impact Analysis
BPA – Business Partners Agreement
BYOD – Bring Your Own Device
CAPTCHA- Completely Automated Public Turning Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart
CIO– Chief Information Officer
COOP – Continuity of Operation Planning
CP – Contingency Planning (included as “IT contingency planning” in Domain 2.5 in SY0-301)
CSR – Control Status Register
CSU – Channel Service Unit
CTO- Chief Technology Officer
DHE – Data-Handling Electronics
DNAT – Destination Network Address Transaction
DSL – Digital Subscriber line
DSU – Data Service Unit
ECDHE – Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange
ESN- Electronic Serial Number
GPO – Group Policy Object
HOTP – HMAC based One Time Password
HTML – HyperText Markup Language
IRP – Incident Response Procedure
ISA – Interconnection Security Agreement
ISSO- Information Systems Security Officer
ITCP – IT Contingency Plan (included as “IT contingency planning” in Domain 2.5 in SY0-301)
LAN – Local Area Network (was LANMAN, Local Area Network Manager, in SY0-301)
MaaS- Monitoring as a Service
MOU – Memorandum of Understanding
MPLS – Multi-Protocol Layer Switch
MTBF – Mean Time Between Failures (a topic in 2.7 in SY0-301)
MTTR – Mean Time to Recover (a topic in 2.7 in SY0-301)
MTTF – Mean Time to Failure (a topic in 2.7 in SY0-301)
NDA – Non-Disclosure Agreement
OCSP – Online Certificate Status Protocol
OLA – Open License Agreement
P2P – Peer to Peer
PAM – Pluggable Authentication Modules
PBKDF2 – Password Based Key Derivation Function 2
PCAP – Packet Capture
PIV – Personal Identity Verification
ROI – Return of Investment
RPO – Recovery Point Objective
SAML – Security Assertions Markup Language
SAN – Storage Area Network
SCADA – System Control and Data Acquisition
SCEP- Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol
SEH – Structured Exception Handler
SIEM – Security Information and Event Management
SOAP – Simple Object Access Point
SQL – Structured Query Language
SSD – Solid State Drive
TOTP – Top of the Page
TSIG – Transaction Signature
UEFI – Unified Extensible Firmware Interface
UDP- User Datagram Protocol
URI- Uniform Resource Identifier
UTM- Unified Threat Management
VDI – Virtualization Desktop Infrastructure
WPS – WiFi Protected Setup
WTLS – Wireless TLS
XML – Extensible Markup Language

That’s all, folks!

We have released our SY0-401 practice test, a feat we are especially proud of because we are the first product to market. Please visit the product page for more information!

Well, that’s all I have to say for now. I am sure that you will be hearing from me soon! -Robin

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