[Posted 24 December 2013 by Kathy Yale]
The A+ Certification Exam has become the standard for those who want to show their computer skills to potential employers. The CompTIA A+ Test consists of several sections, including PC Hardware, Networking, Laptops, Printers, Operational Procedures, Operating Systems, Security, Mobile Devices and Troubleshooting. It is designed to provide a comprehensive view of a candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience so that employers can hire those who are proficient in the computer field.
While it is important to understand how software causes a computer to operate, it is also important to know exactly how the hardware supports the operation of the computer. Without functioning hardware components, no programs will work. Therefore, the CompTIA A+ Certification test focuses a portion of its questions on PC hardware.
On the first part of the test, 38 percent of the questions focus on hardware objectives. Test takers are asked questions relating to installation, maintenance and repair of storage devices. Test takers must understand HDD, including SATA, PATA and Solid State storage; FDD; optical drives, including CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and RW; removable storage and external storage.
Regarding motherboards, questions may be included about jumper settings; CMOS batteries; advanced BIOS settings; bus speeds; chipsets; firmware updates; socket types; expansion slots; memory slots; front panel connectors; and I/O ports, including sound, video, USB, parallel, modem and PS/2. Successful testers must also understand wattage and capacity; connector types; and output voltage of power supplies.
In addition, questions include the areas of socket types; speed; number of cores; power consumption; cache; front side bus; and 32 bit v. 64 bit processors. Test takers must be conversant with the basic hardware associated with computer memory. Graphics cards, sound cards, storage controllers, I/O cards, wired and wireless network cards, capture cards and media readers are also all covered on the test along with cooling system components including heat sinks, thermal compound, CPU fans and case fans.
Not only should test takers be familiar with how to analyze, repair and maintain all of these components; they should also be ready to select and use the following tools properly:
• Power supply tester
• Specialty hardware and tools
• Cable testers
• Loop back plugs
• Anti-static pad and wrist strap
• Extension magnet
Test takers will also be asked questions about printers, including how to analyze and repair paper jams, junk printing, out of memory errors, lines and smearing, blank paper and ghosted images.
How Can I Prepare for the Hardware Section of the A+ Certification Exam?
One of the most common suggestions made to those who are preparing for the A+ Certification Exam’s hardware section is to take apart and put back together a computer, printer and other devices covered on the test. This is one of the easiest ways to familiarize yourself with the parts of the machine and to see how they work together.
While this is invaluable practice for some people, others also prefer to review schematic diagrams or read preparatory materials. There are many books and other items that are devoted to the topic of hardware that can be found at Total Seminars. It may be especially helpful to read preparatory materials while working on a hands-on repair job on a computer or printer.