About The A+ Test
I won't waste a whole chapter telling you how to study - you know best how to do
that, and the book is big enough anyway (did you know it has to be a certain size just to get on
the shelves?). It's just like any other multi-choice test, except that sometimes all the potential
answers are wrong! One, of course, will be less wrong than the others, so maybe that's what they're
after. I haven't found out whether it's the people who set the test, or the fault of many of the
other books around, but, as an example, the bit of memory between 640K and 1 Mb is constantly
referred to as High Memory, when it's been Upper Memory for years, and well before the A+ exam was
even thought of, and the bit up to 640K has always been known as Base Memory (just look at all
those old motherboard manuals) - for some reason, Base Memory is now what remains after DOS, etc
has been loaded. As a result, you have to learn things just to pass the exam, rather than because
it's correct, but there you are.
Other examples come from Networks +, where they say a Local
Area Network (LAN) is confined to a limited area, and a Wide Area Network (WAN) isn't. Actually, a
university with several locations spread across the country with its own cabling is still a Local
Area Network - a WAN uses a third party, such as the telephone company, to get its work done. Also,
the term Client/Server used to relate to database operations, where calculations were done in the
server rather than trailing all the way to the workstation and back - now it seems to relate to
high-end network operating systems that use a dedicated server to run them, which should be defined
as server-based, although, to be fair, this is a term used by Microsoft.
potential confusion in mind, when I have picked up differences, I have included them in the text.
Luckily, if you get an answer wrong, there's no harm done, provided you get the minimum score
(currently 65% for A+, 82% for N+) - in UK aviation exams, you lose a half-point every time!
despite the above comments, the exam is welcome, as there has long been the need for some sort of
The test is not entirely theoretical, and you need some hands-on experience with
DOS and Windows. Areas to concentrate particularly on include ESD and static, how to ground
yourself (make sure the ground is to the building), the sequence of loading of both DOS and
Windows, and the sequences of mouse clicks to get things done in the latter, such as checking for
disk free space in 95, and adding hardware. A knowledge of what readings to expect when checking
fuses with multi-meters is handy as well.
It's also a good idea to go through the tutorial
before you do the exam proper, just to get the idea of how it works. It only takes about 15 minutes
and is not counted in the final results. You will also find a couple of questions relating to
customer service, which are also not counted, but you have to go through them to get to the end. A
good tactic is to go through the test once, answering only those questions you absolutely
positively know the answer to, and marking the others for later review, because it's entirely
possible to get the answer to one question as part of the text of another (I actually got two
identical ones within the space of 5). There's plenty of time, certainly enough to read each
question twice or even three times, which sometimes you have to do because the way they are put is
so bad, especially Microsoft ones.
So, read the questions carefully! Some of them include a
little doublethink, such as giving you a situation, then requiring you to choose the exception that
doesn't solve the problem.
This test is a lot stiffer, and the pass mark is now 82%, possibly to bring it in
line with Novell, as they now accept it as part of their requirements for CNE. Areas to concentrate
on here include IP addressing (how do you tell a Class A from a Class C address, for example) , The
OSI model and what the layers do, and what equipment and protocols operate where on it. IEEE
numbers are useful, as are which protocols are routeable or not. There is some emphasis on
environmental stuff, and the effects of bad cabling, or what happens if you have to many devices on
a ring main to which is attached your network - in other words, "unexpected or atypical
conditions that could either cause problems for the network or signify that a problem condition
already exists, including room conditions, the placement of building contents, personal effects,
computer equipment and error messages." So there.
Don't forget to brush up on what
TCP/IP utilities give you what information, and what the screen displays look like, so you will
need to get a little hands on experience. They also like you to know about standard password and
backup procedures and the need for application patches (and where to get them) and the use of