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Differences Between the CompTIA A+ 800 and 900 Series Exams

Note: We offer 25 free questions for the 220-901 and 220-902 exams. You can also buy the 800+ questions for the Comptia 901/902 exams at our partner site Dynamic Path.

CompTIA recently released the exam objectives for the new A+ 900 series exams: 220-901 and 220-902. 

Unlike the changes from series 700 to series 800, the 900 series covers most of the same content as it predecessor. There have been a few structural changes in addition to some new and different performance-based questions (called PBQs). The Operational Procedures section has moved to the 220-902 exam, and the Troubleshooting section has been split into Hardware and Network Troubleshooting on the 220-901 exam and Software Troubleshooting on the 220-902 exam.

The two exams are now more distinct and include less overlap. The 220-901 exam now focuses more on hardware and networking issues for both PCs and mobile devices, including troubleshooting. The 220-902 exam now focuses on software, covering security and troubleshooting across multiple types of operating systems. It also covers operational procedures and other professional aspects of IT practice.

In general, the 220-901 exam is about 90% similar to the old 220-801 exam, while the 220-902 exam has been updated much more thoroughly. Both exams together contain about 25% new content.

Let’s take a look at a domain-by-domain breakdown for both exams:  

CompTIA A+ 220-901

220-901 Hardware combines the old PC Hardware and Printers sections and covers 34% of the exam. There are few changes to the knowledge in this section, but some additions include the different characteristics of wireless connections, different types of LCD displays, different aspect ratios of displays, specific configuration settings of drivers, public and shared devices, and virtual printing.

220-901 Networking has been updated for various new technologies, focusing on the increased importance of WiFi, and comprises 21% of the exam. New topics include new types of connectors, TCP and UDP ports and protocols, SOHO routers, network architecture devices, and networking tools.

220-901 Mobile Devices has replaced the old Laptops section to encompass both laptops and other mobile devices and covers 17% of the exam. Like the old Networking section, this section includes new topics focused on the different types of ports and adapters, different types of hard drives, specific components of laptop displays, and many new laptop features. There are also two new subsections specifically for other types of mobile devices, covering smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices as well as their accessories and ports.

220-901 Hardware and Network Troubleshooting covers all the hardware and network troubleshooting topics from the old Troubleshooting section and comprises 28% of the 220-901 exam. There are a few new items for each subtopic, but the biggest change is the addition of troubleshooting for mobile devices. This subsection covers both common symptoms – everything from no display to a swollen battery – and also the disassembly process for proper reassembly. 

CompTIA A+ 220-902

220-902 Windows Operating Systems has replaced Operating Systems to focus solely on the most recent Windows OS. Windows XP is off the list, and you no longer have to focus between on differences between Windows Vista and Windows 7. Windows 8 and 8.1 have been added to the list, but not Windows 10.

220-902 Other Operating Systems and Technologies includes all the non-Windows content from Operating Systems and encompasses 12% of the exam. More than half of this category covers new material, most of it for MacOS and Linux systems. This includes best practices, tools, and features for both operating systems as well as basic Linux commands. Other new topics include the basic workings of the cloud and networked hosts, as well as new features of email integration and mobile device synchronization.

220-902 Security has expanded its topics for almost every existing section from the 220-802 exam. It covers many more types of threats and vulnerabilities, including ransomware, spoofing, and zero day attacks. Digital security prevention methods have also been vastly expanded, and the along with best practices for recycling and repurposing devices instead of destroying them. Finally, the mobile device topics have been compiled into their own section and also expanded, featuring new topics like biometric authentication, full-device encryption, and firewalls.

220-902 Software Troubleshooting covers all the software troubleshooting topics previously included in the old Troubleshooting section. It makes up 24% of the exam. The biggest change to this section is the increased emphasis on mobile devices, with a new section on general mobile OS and application issues, and another specifically for security issues on the same types of devices. Other new topics include missing GRUB/LILO and boot configuration data, system recovery, uninstall/reinstall and repair tools, invalid certificates, restore functions, and safe boot.

220-902 Operational Procedures was added from the old 220-801 exam and is virtually unchanged. There are a few new topics, including toxic waste handling, personal safety, licensing issues, and end-user policies and best practices for security issues.

To summarize, the CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exams:

  • No longer cover Windows XP and de-emphasize Windows 7 and Vista
  • Now cover Windows 8 and 8.1 (but not Windows 10)
  • Emphasize cross-platform competency with MacOS and Linux, including command lines
  • Focus even more on mobile devices, now including Windows Phone
  • Now include processes for synchronization, virtualization, and the cloud

Ready to start preparing for the 901/902 exams? Buy the 800+ questions for the Comptia 220-901 and 220-902 A+ exams at our partner site Dynamic Path.

If you’re studying to take the 801/802 exams, don’t worry – you can still take the 800 series exams though the end of June 2016. If you do, consider using the CompTIA A+ 800 study apps developed by our friends at Dynamic Path.

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