Which A+ Exam Should I Take First?

A student studying for an a+ exam

When considering the A+ certification, one question that often arises is which exam to take first. Aspiring IT professionals should understand the different exams and their content to make an informed decision on the best sequence. This article will explore the various aspects of the A+ certification and provide tips on picking the right exam.

What is the A+ Certification?

The A+ certification is a vendor-neutral, entry-level certification that validates IT professionals’ skills in hardware and software technologies. Managed by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the A+ certificate is an industry-wide credential that is recognized worldwide and highly valued by employers. To obtain the certification, candidates must pass two exams: Core 1 (220-1001) and Core 2 (220-1002), each covering a different domain of the IT field.

The A+ certification is not only beneficial for IT professionals seeking employment, but it also provides a foundation for further certifications and career advancement. The knowledge and skills gained through the A+ certification can be applied to various IT roles, such as technical support specialist, help desk technician, and field service technician. Additionally, the A+ certification is a requirement for many government and military IT positions.

Why is the A+ Certification important?

The A+ certification offers a strong foundation for a career in IT. Employers today prefer candidates who have an A+ certificate because it demonstrates that they possess a range of technical knowledge and essential skills necessary for the job. With an A+ certificate, one can expect to work in various IT support roles, such as a computer technician, help desk specialist, or IT support technician.

Moreover, the A+ certification is recognized globally, which means that it can open up job opportunities in different parts of the world. This certification is also vendor-neutral, which means that it covers a wide range of technologies and hardware, making it a valuable asset for any IT professional.

Additionally, obtaining an A+ certification can lead to higher salaries and better job security. According to CompTIA, individuals with an A+ certification earn an average salary of $61,000 per year, which is higher than the average salary for IT support roles. Furthermore, as technology continues to advance, the demand for IT professionals with A+ certification is expected to increase, providing job security for those who hold this certification.

Difference Between A+ Exam 220-1001 and 220-1002

The two exams that the A+ certification comprises of are Core 1 (Exam 220-1001) and Core 2 (Exam 220-1002). Core 1 covers hardware, mobile devices, networking technology, and troubleshooting, while Core 2 evaluates proficiency in operating systems, software troubleshooting, operational procedures, and security. Candidates should keep in mind that each exam has different objectives, and candidates must prepare for each exam differently. There is no particular order in which to take these exams.

It is important to note that the A+ certification is widely recognized in the IT industry and is often a requirement for entry-level IT positions. The certification validates the skills and knowledge of candidates in various areas of IT, including hardware, software, networking, and security. Additionally, the A+ certification is vendor-neutral, which means that it is not tied to any specific technology or product. This makes it a valuable certification for IT professionals who work with different types of technologies and systems.

Understanding the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Structure

The A+ certification’s exam structure consists of two exams: Core 1 and Core 2, each taking a considerable amount of time to complete. Both exams consist of multiple-choice questions, performance-based scenarios, and fill-in-the-blank questions. Core 1 has a duration of 90 minutes, while Core 2 is 100 minutes long. It is essential to note the passing score for both exams is 675 points out of 900. In other words, candidates must obtain at least 75% on each exam to pass.

It is worth noting that the CompTIA A+ certification is vendor-neutral, meaning that it covers a broad range of technologies and is not specific to any particular vendor. This certification is highly regarded in the IT industry and is recognized globally. It is an excellent starting point for individuals who are looking to pursue a career in IT support or technical support.

Furthermore, the A+ certification is valid for three years from the date of passing the exams. After three years, candidates must renew their certification by taking a renewal exam or earning continuing education units (CEUs). CEUs can be earned by attending training courses, conferences, or completing online courses. Renewing the certification ensures that candidates stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and industry standards.

Tips for Choosing Which A+ Exam to Take First

Two factors can influence an IT professional’s decision on which A+ exam to take first: their knowledge and preparation in that particular domain and their career goals. Core 1 focuses mainly on hardware, so if someone has in-depth knowledge of hardware components, they can choose this exam first and go on to Core 2. On the other hand, if someone is more comfortable around operating systems, Core 2 may be the ideal starting point.

It is also important to consider your career goals when deciding which A+ exam to take first. If you are looking to specialize in hardware repair and maintenance, starting with Core 1 may be the best option. However, if you are interested in network administration or cybersecurity, starting with Core 2 may be more beneficial as it covers topics such as virtualization, cloud computing, and security protocols.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Which A+ Exam to Take First

There are several factors candidates should consider when deciding which A+ exam to take first. For instance, if someone is targeting a specific job role, they may prioritize one domain over the other. Furthermore, time constraints, study resources, and their learning style can all play a role in which exam candidates tackle first. Ultimately, it’s essential to evaluate one’s strengths and tailor their preparation to the domain of their choosing to succeed.

Another factor to consider when deciding which A+ exam to take first is the level of difficulty. The Core 1 exam covers hardware and networking topics, while the Core 2 exam covers operating systems and security. Some candidates may find one domain more challenging than the other, and it may be beneficial to tackle the easier exam first to build confidence and momentum. However, it’s important to note that both exams are equally important and passing both is necessary to earn the A+ certification.

Job Prospects After Passing Each A+ Exam

After obtaining the A+ certification, candidates can expect different career paths and opportunities available to them. Professionals who obtain the A+ certificate can work in several IT support positions as help desk technicians, support specialists, and field service technicians. Furthermore, having the A+ certification can pave the way for higher-level certificates and credentials in the IT field.

Additionally, the A+ certification is recognized globally and is highly valued by employers in the IT industry. This means that A+ certified professionals have the opportunity to work in various industries and locations around the world. Moreover, the A+ certification is a great starting point for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, networking, or cloud computing. With the foundational knowledge gained from the A+ certification, professionals can build upon their skills and knowledge to specialize in these areas.

How to Prepare for Your Chosen A+ Exam

Preparing for the A+ certification exams requires commitment and dedication to the task at hand, and as such, adequate preparation is necessary for success. Most candidates tend to rely on study materials, such as CompTIA’s A+ certification guides, online courses, practice exams, and study groups to deepen their knowledge and refine their skills. Moreover, skills obtained through hands-on experience and IT education can prove useful in preparation for the exam.

One effective way to prepare for the A+ exam is to create a study schedule that allows you to cover all the exam objectives systematically. This approach helps you to stay organized and focused on your goals, and it also ensures that you have enough time to review all the topics covered in the exam. Additionally, taking breaks during your study sessions can help you to retain information better and avoid burnout.

Another useful tip for A+ exam preparation is to take advantage of online resources, such as forums and blogs, where you can interact with other candidates and industry experts. These platforms provide an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas, and learn from the experiences of others. Additionally, attending IT conferences and workshops can expose you to new technologies and trends in the industry, which can be helpful in preparing for the exam.

Resources Available for Studying for the A+ Exams

There are lots of resources available to aspirants who want to prepare for the A+ certification exam. These include- books, online courses, simulations, practice exams, and study groups. Candidates should consider studying from official CompTIA guides, which come with comprehensive exam objectives and practice questions that provide valuable insight into the exam’s structure and content. Furthermore, candidates can explore online forums and IT communities, where they can ask peers questions and learn from each other’s experiences.

Another useful resource for A+ exam preparation is video tutorials. Many online platforms offer video courses that cover all the exam objectives in detail. These courses are usually taught by experienced instructors who provide practical examples and demonstrations to help candidates understand complex concepts. Additionally, candidates can benefit from using flashcards and mnemonic devices to memorize key terms and concepts. These tools can be easily accessed online or created by candidates themselves.

How Long Does It Take to Study for Each A+ Exam?

The amount of time required to prepare for A+ certification exams can vary from one person to another depending on their existing knowledge, skills, and experience. However, the average candidate may take between three to six months to complete comprehensive study and review materials before taking the exams. The key to success is developing good study habits, allocating enough time, staying organized, and giving yourself enough time to prepare for each exam.

It is important to note that the length of time required to study for each A+ exam may also depend on the specific exam being taken. For example, the A+ Core 1 exam may require more time to study than the A+ Core 2 exam, as it covers a wider range of topics. Additionally, candidates who have prior experience or knowledge in certain areas may find that they need less time to prepare for those specific sections of the exam. Therefore, it is recommended that candidates assess their own strengths and weaknesses and adjust their study plan accordingly.

What to Expect on Test Day: Taking Your Chosen A+ Exam

On test day, arriving early, bringing proper identification, and being calm can help candidates perform optimally. The A+ certification exam is a computer-based test that features multiple-choice questions and performance-based scenarios. To succeed, candidates should read the exam questions carefully, manage their time efficiently, and resolve the easy questions before tackling the challenging ones. Additionally, candidates should note that the exam has a time limit, so it’s essential to manage their time wisely.

Importance of Continuing Education & Renewing Your CompTIA Certification

Continuing Education (CE) provides an opportunity for IT professionals to refine their skills, keep up with current technology trends, and maintain their certification. The CompTIA A+ certification is valid for three years. After three years, candidates must renew their certification by completing the CompTIA Continuing Education (CE) program. The CE program comprises a series of activities and assessments designed to evaluate the candidate’s skills and knowledge on the latest technologies and developments within the IT industry.

Success Stories: Real-Life Examples of Professionals Who Passed Their Chosen A+ Exams

Real-life stories can inspire and motivate IT professionals to pursue the A+ certification. Numerous success stories demonstrate how obtaining an A+ certification enables them to accelerate their careers, obtain better job opportunities, and earn higher salaries. These success stories are a testament that with hard work, dedication, and commitment to learning, anyone can succeed in obtaining an A+ certification.


In conclusion, the A+ certification offers a strong foundation for a career in IT, and both Core 1 and Core 2 exams are essential in validating IT knowledge and skills. There is no specific order in which to take the exams, so candidates may build their knowledge and experience in hardware or software before moving to the other domain. By leveraging study materials, time management skills, and commitment to learning, candidates can earn their A+ certification and look forward to a meaningful career in IT.

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