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A+ Core

A+ Core Hardware

The latest version of CompTIA A+ is CompTIA A+ 2009 Edition. Two exams are necessary to be certified: CompTIA A+ Essentials, exam code 220-701; and CompTIA A+ Practical Application, exam code 220-702.

 

CompTIA A+ Essentials measures the necessary competencies of an entry-level IT professional with a recommended 500 hours of hands-on experience in the lab or field. It tests for technical understanding of computer technology, networking and security, as well as the communication skills and professionalism now required of all entry-level IT professionals.

CompTIA A+ Practical Application is an extension of the knowledge and skills identified in CompTIA A+ Essentials, with more of a "hands-on" orientation focused on scenarios in which troubleshooting and tools must be applied to resolve problems.

CompTIA will not require recertification for any current holders of CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ certification. You are not required to retest to maintain your valid CompTIA certification. Regardless of when you became certified in CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+, you are certified for life.

For candidates currently preparing to sit for a CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ exam, if you pass an exam and become certified by December 31, 2010, you too will have a lifetime certification with no requirements for recertification or retesting.

Effective January 1, 2011, all new CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ certifications will be valid for three years from the date the candidate is certified. After three years, the certification must be renewed. This can be done by passing the most current exam for a respective certification or by participating in CompTIA’s upcoming new continuing education program, which will allow individuals to keep their skills current and their certification up to date without retesting.

Old Exam

(2003) Examination Objectives

Effective November 26, 2003

Introduction

For A+ Certification, the examinee must pass both this examination and the A+ Operating System Technologies examination. The Core Hardware examination measures essential competencies for an entry-level IT professional or PC service technician with the equivalent knowledge of at least 500 hours of hands-on experience in the lab or field.

CompTIA recently convened a core of A+ subject matter experts representing a diverse group of IT professionals, which resulted in the revised CompTIA A+ Core Hardware (2003) examination Objectives. The A+ Core Hardware exam will continues to validate that the successful candidate has the important knowledge and skills necessary to competently install, build, configure, upgrade, troubleshoot and repair personal computer compatible hardware including troubleshooting basic network and internet connectivity, dial-up, DSL, and cable. Additionally, the A+ Core Hardware exam will cover the latest memory, bus, peripherals, and wireless technologies.

The skills and knowledge measured by this examination are derived from an industry-level and worldwide critical incident analysis, which was validated through a survey of almost 2,000 A+ certified professionals. The results of the survey are used in weighting the domains and ensuring that the weighting is representative of the relative importance of that content to the job requirements of an entry-level IT professional or PC service technician with the equivalent knowledge of at least 500 hours of hands-on experience in the lab or field. The intent is to certify individuals in a body of knowledge that is identified and accepted as the baseline or foundation of an entry-level IT professional or PC technician. It is not intended to measure ‘cutting edge’ technologies.

NOTE:

  1. • September 12th, 2003 CompTIA A+ exams in English will continue to test against the 2001 objectives in a conventional (linear, non-adaptive) format and will incorporate items against the 2003 objectives that do not count against the final score.
  2. November 26, 2003 A+ exams in English test against the 2003 objectives and the 2001 objectives are retired.
  3. • This examination blueprint for the A+ Core Hardware examination includes the weighting, test objectives, and example content. Example topics and concepts are included to clarify the test objectives and should not be construed as a comprehensive listing of all the content of this examination.

The table below lists the domains measured by this examination and the extent to which they are represented.

Domain

% Of Examination

1.0 Installation, Configuration and Upgrading

35%

2.0 Diagnosing and Troubleshooting

21%

3.0 Preventive Maintenance

5%

4.0 Motherboard/Processors/Memory

11%

5.0 Printers

9%

6.0 Basic Networking

19%

Total

100.00%

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 1 of 13 CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 2 of 13

  1. Domain 1 Installation, Configuration, and Upgrading
    1. 1.1 Identify the names, purpose, and characteristics, of system modules. Recognize these modules by sight or definition.

Examples of concepts and modules are:

  1. o Motherboard
  2. o Firmware
  3. o Power supply
  4. o Processor /CPU
  5. o Memory
  6. o Storage devices
  7. o Display devices
  8. o Adapter cards
  9. o Ports
  10. o Cases
  11. o Riser cards
    1. 1.2 Identify basic procedures for adding and removing field-replaceable modules for desktop systems. Given a replacement scenario, choose the appropriate sequences.

Desktop components:

  1. o Motherboard
  2. o Storage device
    1. o FDD
    2. o HDD
    3. o CD/CDRW
    4. o DVD/DVDRW
    5. o Tape drive
    6. o Removable storage
  3. o Power supply
    1. o AC adapter
    2. o AT/ATX
  4. o Cooling systems
    1. o Fans
    2. o Heat sinks
    3. o Liquid cooling
  5. o Processor /CPU
  6. o Memory
  7. o Display device
  8. o Input devices
    1. o Keyboard
    2. o Mouse/pointer devices
    3. o Touch screen
  9. o Adapters
    1. o Network Interface Card (NIC)
    2. o Sound card
    3. o Video card
    4. o Modem
    5. o SCSI
    6. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    7. o USB

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 3 of 13

    1. o Wireless
  1. 1.3 Identify basic procedures for adding and removing field- replaceable modules for portable systems. Given a replacement scenario, choose the appropriate sequences.

Portable components:

  1. o Storage devices
    1. o FDD
    2. o HDD
    3. o CD/CDRW
    4. o DVD/DVDRW
    5. o Removable storage
  2. o Power sources
    1. o AC adapter
    2. o DC adapter
    3. o Battery
  3. o Memory
  4. o Input devices
    1. o Keyboard
    2. o Mouse/pointer devices
    3. o Touch screen
  5. o PCMCIA/Mini PCI Adapters
    1. o Network Interface Card (NIC)
    2. o Modem
    3. o SCSI
    4. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    5. o USB
    6. o Storage (memory and hard drive)
  6. o Docking station/port replicators
  7. o LCD panel
  8. o Wireless
    1. o Adapter/controller
    2. o Antennae
  1. 1.4 Identify typical IRQs, DMAs, and I/O addresses, and procedures for altering these settings when installing and configuring devices. Choose the appropriate installation or configuration steps in a given scenario.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Legacy devices (e.g., ISA sound card)
  2. o Specialized devices (e.g., CAD/CAM)
  3. o Internal modems
  4. o Floppy drive controllers
  5. o Hard drive controllers
  6. o Multimedia devices
  7. o NICs
  8. o I/O ports
    1. o Serial
    2. o Parallel
    3. o USB ports
    4. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    5. o Infrared

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 4 of 13

  1. 1.5 Identify the names, purposes, and performance characteristics, of standardized/common peripheral ports, associated cabling, and their connectors. Recognize ports, cabling, and connectors, by sight.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Port types
    1. o Serial
    2. o Parallel
    3. o USB ports
    4. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    5. o Infrared
  2. o Cable types
    1. o Serial (Straight through vs. null modem)
    2. o Parallel
    3. o USB
  3. o Connector types
    1. o Serial
    2. ? DB-9
    3. ? DB-25
    4. ? RJ-11
    5. ? RJ-45
    6. o Parallel
    7. ? DB-25
    8. ? Centronics (mini, 36)
    9. o PS2/MINI-DIN
    10. o USB
    11. o IEEE 1394
  1. 1.6 Identify proper procedures for installing and configuring common IDE devices. Choose the appropriate installation or configuration sequences in given scenarios. Recognize the associated cables.

Content may include the following:

  1. o IDE Interface Types
    1. o EIDE
    2. o ATA/ATAPI
    3. o Serial ATA
    4. o PIO
  2. o RAID (0, 1 and 5)
  3. o Master/Slave/cable select
  4. o Devices per channel
  5. o Primary/Secondary
  6. o Cable orientation/requirements
  1. 1.7 Identify proper procedures for installing and configuring common SCSI devices. Choose the appropriate installation or configuration sequences in given scenarios. Recognize the associated cables.

Content may include the following:

  1. o SCSI Interface Types
    1. o Narrow
    2. o Fast

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 5 of 13

    1. o Wide
    2. o Ultra-wide
    3. o LVD
    4. o HVD
  1. o Internal versus external
  2. o SCSI IDs
    1. o Jumper block/DIP switch settings (binary equivalents)
    2. o Resolving ID conflicts
  3. o RAID (0, 1 and 5)
  4. o Cabling
    1. o Length
    2. o Type
    3. o Termination requirements (active, passive, auto)
  1. 1.8 Identify proper procedures for installing and configuring common peripheral devices. Choose the appropriate installation or configuration sequences in given scenarios.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Modems and transceivers (dial-up, cable, DSL, ISDN)
  2. o External storage
  3. o Digital cameras
  4. o PDAs
  5. o Wireless access points
  6. o Infrared devices
  7. o Printers
  8. o UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and suppressors
  9. o Monitors
    1. 1.9 Identify procedures to optimize PC operations in specific situations. Predict the effects of specific procedures under given scenarios.

Topics may include:

  1. o Cooling systems
    1. o Liquid
    2. o Air
    3. o Heat sink
    4. o Thermal compound
  2. o Disk subsystem enhancements
    1. o Hard drives
    2. o Controller cards (e.g., RAID, ATA-100, etc.)
    3. o Cables
  3. o NICs
  4. o Specialized video cards
  5. o Memory
  6. o Additional processors
  1. 1.10 Determine the issues that must be considered when upgrading a PC. In a given scenario, determine when and how to upgrade system components.

Issues may include:

  1. o Drivers for legacy devices

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 6 of 13

  1. Domain 2 Diagnosing and Troubleshooting
    1. 2.1 Recognize common problems associated with each module and their symptoms, and identify steps to isolate and troubleshoot the problems. Given a problem situation, interpret the symptoms and infer the most likely cause.

Content may include the following:

  1. o I/O ports and cables
    1. o Serial
    2. o Parallel
    3. o USB ports
    4. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    5. o Infrared
    6. o SCSI
  2. o Motherboards
    1. o CMOS/ BIOS settings
    2. o POST audible/visual error codes
  3. o Peripherals
  4. o Computer case
    1. o Power supply
    2. o Slot covers
    3. o Front cover alignment
  5. o Storage devices and cables
    1. o FDD
    2. o HDD
    3. o CD/CDRW
    4. o DVD/DVDRW
    5. o Tape drive
    6. o Removable storage
  6. o Cooling systems
    1. o Fans
    2. o Heat sinks
    3. o Liquid cooling
    4. o Temperature sensors
  7. o Processor /CPU
  8. o Memory
  9. o Display device
  10. o Input devices
    1. o Keyboard
    2. o Mouse/pointer devices
    3. o Touch screen
  11. o Adapters
    1. o Network Interface Card (NIC)
    2. o Sound card
    3. o Video card
    4. o Modem
    5. o SCSI
    6. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    7. o USB
  12. o Portable Systems
    1. o PCMCIA
    2. o Batteries

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 8 of 13

    1. o Docking Stations/Port Replicators
    2. o Portable unique storage
  1. 2.2 Identify basic troubleshooting procedures and tools, and how to elicit problem symptoms from customers. Justify asking particular questions in a given scenario.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Troubleshooting/isolation/problem determination procedures
  2. o Determining whether a hardware or software problem
  3. o Gathering information from user
    1. o Customer Environment
    2. o Symptoms/Error Codes
    3. o Situation when the problem occurred

 

  1. Domain 3 PC Preventive Maintenance, Safety, and Environmental Issues
    1. 3.1 Identify the various types of preventive maintenance measures, products and procedures and when and how to use them.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Liquid cleaning compounds
  2. o Types of materials to clean contacts and connections
  3. o Non-static vacuums (chassis, power supplies, fans)
  4. o Cleaning monitors
  5. o Cleaning removable media devices
  6. o Ventilation, dust and moisture control on the PC hardware interior.
  7. o Hard disk maintenance (defragging, scan disk, CHKDSK)
  8. o Verifying UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and suppressors
    1. 3.2 Identify various safety measures and procedures, and when/how to use them. Content may include the following:
    2. 3.3 Identify environmental protection measures and procedures, and when/how to use them.
  9. o ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) precautions and procedures
  10. o What ESD can do, how it may be apparent, or hidden
  11. o Common ESD protection devices
  12. o Situations that could present a danger or hazard
  13. o Potential hazards and proper safety procedures relating to
  14. o High-voltage equipment
  15. o Power supply
  16. o CRTs

Content may include the following:

  1. o Special disposal procedures that comply with environmental guidelines.

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 9 of 13

    1. o Batteries
    2. o CRTs
    3. o Chemical solvents and cans
    4. o MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)

 

  1. Domain 4 Motherboard/Processors/Memory
    1. 4.1 Distinguish between the popular CPU chips in terms of their basic characteristics.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Popular CPU chips (Pentium class compatible)
  2. o Voltage
  3. o Speeds (actual vs. advertised)
  4. o Cache level I, II, III
  5. o Sockets/slots
  6. o VRM(s)
  1. 4.2 Identify the types of RAM (Random Access Memory), form factors, and operational characteristics. Determine banking and speed requirements under given scenarios.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Types
  2. o EDO RAM (Extended Data Output RAM)
  3. o DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)
  4. o SRAM (Static RAM)
  5. o VRAM (Video RAM)
  6. o SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM)
  7. o DDR (Double Data Rate)
  8. o RAMBUS
  9. o Form factors (including pin count)
  10. o SIMM (Single In-line Memory Module)
  11. o DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module)
  12. o SoDIMM (Small outline DIMM)
  13. o MicroDIMM
  14. o RIMM
  15. o Operational characteristics
  16. o Memory chips (8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit)
  17. o Parity chips versus non-parity chips
  18. o ECC vs. non-ECC
  19. o Single-sided vs. double sided
    1. 4.3 Identify the most popular types of motherboards, their components, and their architecture (bus structures).

Content may include the following:

  1. o Types of motherboards:
  2. o AT
  3. o ATX
  4. o Components:
  5. o Communication ports

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 10 of 13

      1. o Serial
      2. o USB
      3. o Parallel
      4. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
      5. o Infrared
    1. o Memory
      1. o SIMM
      2. o DIMM
      3. o RIMM
      4. o SoDIMM
      5. o MicroDIMM
    2. o Processor sockets
      1. o Slot 1
      2. o Slot 2
      3. o Slot A
      4. o Socket A
      5. o Socket 7
      6. o Socket 8
      7. o Socket 423
      8. o Socket 478
      9. o Socket 370
    3. o External cache memory (Level 2)
    4. o Bus Architecture
    5. o ISA
    6. o PCI
      1. o PCI 32-bit
      2. o PCI 64-bit
    7. o AGP
      1. o 2X
      2. o 4X
      3. o 8X (Pro)
    8. o USB (Universal Serial Bus)
    9. o AMR (audio modem riser) slots
    10. o CNR (communication network riser) slots
    11. o Basic compatibility guidelines
    12. o IDE (ATA, ATAPI, ULTRA-DMA, EIDE)
    13. o SCSI (Narrow, Wide, Fast, Ultra, HVD, LVD(Low Voltage Differential))
    14. o Chipsets
  1. 4.4 Identify the purpose of CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) memory, what it contains, and how and when to change its parameters. Given a scenario involving CMOS, choose the appropriate course of action.

CMOS Settings:

  1. o Default settings
  2. o CPU settings
  3. o Printer parallel port—Uni., bi-directional, disable/enable, ECP, EPP
  4. o COM/serial port—memory address, interrupt request, disable
  5. o Floppy drive—enable/disable drive or boot, speed, density
  6. o Hard drive—size and drive type
  7. o Memory—speed, parity, non-parity
  8. o Boot sequence
  9. o Date/Time
  10. o Passwords

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 11 of 13

  1. o Plug & Play BIOS
  2. o Disabling on-board devices
  3. o Disabling virus protection
  4. o Power management
  5. o Infrared

 

  1. Domain 5 Printers
    1. 5.1 Identify printer technologies, interfaces, and options/upgrades.

Technologies include:

    1. o Laser
    2. o Ink Dispersion
    3. o Dot Matrix
    4. o Solid ink
    5. o Thermal
    6. o Dye sublimation

Interfaces include:

    1. o Parallel
    2. o Network
    3. o SCSI
    4. o USB
    5. o Infrared
    6. o Serial
    7. o IEEE 1394/Firewire
    8. o Wireless

Options/Upgrades include:

    1. o Memory
    2. o Hard drives
    3. o NICs
    4. o Trays and feeders
    5. o Finishers (e.g., stapling, etc.)
    6. o Scanners/fax/copier
      1. 5.2 Recognize common printer problems and techniques used to resolve them.

Content may include the following:

  1. o Printer drivers
  2. o Firmware updates
  3. o Paper feed and output
  4. o Calibrations
  5. o Printing test pages
  6. o Errors (printed or displayed)
  7. o Memory
  8. o Configuration
  9. o Network connections
  10. o Connections
  11. o Paper jam
  12. o Print quality

CompTIA A+ Core Hardware Objectives 8/1/03 Page 12 of 13

  1. o Safety precautions
  2. o Preventive maintenance
  3. o Consumables
  4. o Environment

 

  1. Domain 6 Basic Networking
    1. 6.1 Identify the common types of network cables, their characteristics and connectors.

Cable types include:

  1. o Coaxial
  2. o RG6
  3. o RG8
  4. o RG58
  5. o RG59
  6. o Plenum/PVC
  7. o UTP
  8. o CAT3
  9. o CAT5/e
  10. o CAT6
  11. o STP
  12. o Fiber
  13. o Single-mode
  14. o Multi-mode

Connector types include:

  1. o BNC
  2. o RJ-45
  3. o AUI
  4. o ST/SC
  5. o IDC/UDC
    1. 6.2 Identify basic networking concepts including how a network works.

Concepts include:

  1. o Installing and configuring network cards
  2. o Addressing
  3. o Bandwidth
  4. o Status indicators
  5. o Protocols
  6. o TCP/IP
  7. o IPX/SPX (NWLINK)
  8. o AppleTalk
  9. o NETBEUI/NETBIOS
  10. o Full-duplex, half-duplex
  11. o Cabling—Twisted Pair, Coaxial, Fiber Optic, RS-232
  12. o Networking models
  13. o Peer-to-peer
  14. o Client/server
  15. o Infrared

A Plus Guide

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Last modified: July 07, 2011