A+ Series Comparison: 800 vs. 900

by Jason - Feb 24, 2016


Hello again, your senior humble instructor, I mean, your humble senior instructor here. With a new A+ series out (and our courses rolling out on this series as I write this), I’ve fielded several questions on the topic of “what is different in the 800 vs. 900 series?” Well, I’m here to help shed some light on that and some other related questions I have been getting lately from students. So, without further ado…

Question #1: What are the major differences between the 800 and 900 series objectives?

Answer: There are three major differences. They are:

  1. Hardware has been de-emphasized. It used to cover 40% of the first exam in the series and now it covers 34% of the first exam. That may not seem like much, but the real de-emphasis comes from CompTIA doing a very good job streamlining hardware topics. No longer do you need to worry about memorizing a type of RAM or CPU that is way out-of-date with current market trends. The same goes for cables, especially when it comes to peripherals.
  2. Mobile devices have far more coverage on both exams than before. In fact, the percentage of questions has doubled on the first exam, from 9% to 18%. In addition, you will want to make sure to practice with mobile devices containing the iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems, paying particular attention to things business people do on these devices, such as configure email and install and uninstall apps.
  3. This is the BIG change: Troubleshooting questions are on BOTH exams now. For years, the majority (if not all of) the troubleshooting questions appeared on the second exam. Now, you can expect about 25-30% of the questions on each exam to cover troubleshooting situations. The 901 exam has hardware and network troubleshooting while the 902 exam has software troubleshooting. And both exams will have questions on troubleshooting mobile devices.

Question #2: Are there simulation questions on the test?

Answer: Indeed there are. The good news is our courses, workbooks, and post-assessment tests will help you get ready to take on those simulation questions. As I always say, practice makes perfect. The more you practice concepts such as determining what computer one needs given a set of requirements, setting up small networks (wired and wireless), working with command prompt commands, and performing Windows installations and repairs, the better-equipped you will be for these exams.

Question #3: If I passed the 801 test, can I take the 902 test and have my A+ certification?

Answer: NO! The 800 series and 900 series are different. To be A+ certified, you either need to pass both the 801 and 802 exams or pass the 901 and 902 exams. Of course, I would recommend the 900 series as the objectives are a far better fit for today’s A+ technician compared to, say, four years ago.

By the way, the 800 series will be retired in June. So if you are halfway there, you have (as of this writing) about four months to finish the 800 series certification. If you have not started, I would go with the 900 series.

Here is my final observation: From having passed both tests recently, I can tell you that troubleshooting as a whole is far more emphasized than in previous series. When you get a troubleshooting question, be the person in the question trying to solve the problem. And then think “what would I do here?” This will make answering those questions more natural than just trying to guess an answer.


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CompTIA 900 Series: At the Doorstep

by Jason - Feb 11, 2016


Hello, everyone! I come to you today with some exciting news. Over the next month, we are going to start rolling out the A+ 900 series of courses (220-901 and 220-902 to be exact). To cover the two exams, we have split the overall course into two series of courses, one for each exam.

My co-worker and Mr. Multitasker himself, Brad Washburn, interviewed me while we were filming this course a while back. Back then, I knew the answers to most, but not all of the course questions. For instance, I was asked how long this series is: Well, I have some numbers for you: The 220-901 course will cover the four domains on the 220-901 exam:

  • Hardware
  • Networking
  • Mobile Devices
  • Troubleshooting Hardware and Networking

This course will include roughly eight hours of instruction, several hundred pre-assessment and post-assessment practice test questions, and a workbook consisting of over 150 pages of practice exercises, all geared toward not only sharpening the job skills typical for an A+ technician, but, more importantly, getting you ready to pass the 220-901 exam.

Soon after we release the 220-901 course, we will start rolling out the 220-902 course. The 220-902 course covers these five domains:

  • Windows Operating Systems
  • Other Operating Systems
  • Security
  • Software Troubleshooting
  • Operational Procedures

This course has much more in the way of hands-on software installation and configuration, so the course contains about 15 hours of video instruction. The course will also contain several hundred pre-assessment and post-assessment practice test questions, and a workbook containing over 200 pages of practice exercises, again with the intent of sharpening your job skills and getting you ready to pass the 220-902 exam.

Speaking of exams, the 900 series of exams was recently released. So, as part of our ensuring that we are covering the material in a manner to best prepare you to become A+ certified, I went and took both exams (it was my second go-around with A+, having obtained my first A+ certification several years ago). The test questions mapped very well to the test objectives, as is the norm with CompTIA exams. There were both multiple choice and simulation questions on the exam. By simulation questions I specifically mean that you are presented with something that needs configuring. Many of our post-assessment practice questions are labs which simulate possible test scenarios.

So with that, I have five big exam tips for you:

  • Go through the objectives for each exam thoroughly. Every exercise in our project workbooks clearly map to one or more test objectives. Know these objectives well.
  • For anything software-related, such as installing operating systems, repairing operating systems, configuring a wireless router through a web interface, or working with the command prompt, get some practice. Having hands-on practice is key to your success on the exam.
  • On the test itself, take the time to thoroughly read the question before choosing an answer. One or two words in a question can totally affect the correct answer for the question. You have slightly over one minute per question. Believe me when I say that is plenty of time per question. So, take your time.
  • Again, on the test itself, when you read a question, put yourself in the situation as if you were the technician trying to solve whatever problem the question is asking. This is especially true for troubleshooting questions, which make up about 30% of each exam.
  • Finally, we present this material in the way in which CompTIA says things should be done. Know those methods for the test. Though we do have a lot of detail in the video portions of the course, take the time to go through the project workbooks as they will have even more details regarding what CompTIA holds as standards and methods for an A+ technician.

With that, I’m going to get back to helping put the finishing touches on these courses. In the meantime watch this space for further updates. Have a nice day!


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LearnKey’s Introduction to Programming Concepts: Computer Programming for Beginners

by Jason - Feb 05, 2016


Hello everyone! Do you believe it’s February already? That just means spring is close and I’m closer to dusting off my golf clubs. But, that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to tell you a little anecdote: A little over 15 years ago, I wanted to learn programming. So, what did I do? I bought several Introduction to Programming books (yes, real books where you turn pages) and got going on it.

Unfortunately, that plan did not work too well. Many of these books just jumped right into a programming language and code with no introduction to programming concepts. I felt like someone was showing me all of the nuts and bolts for car engine parts without explaining the parts themselves. So, it was quite a struggle.

Eventually, I got the hang of things but then, when presented with the idea of teaching some of these courses, I knew I would need to take a different approach to teaching this world of programming than the approach I took to learn programming.

Which brings me to a course we at LearnKey are excited to present later this spring: an Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming course! Most of our courses are geared toward a specific concept and a specific certification. This course will not be one of them. This course is going to be a short but informative introduction to what you need to know about basic programming concepts before you try to tackle a programming language and all of the code that comes with it. This course will not focus on any language in particular. Rather, we will focus on basic programming concepts, such as objects, classes, and an introduction to code syntax. In other words, we are going to explain the engine and its parts before showing all of the nuts and bolts.

This course will be the first in a new programming series we are debuting this summer. The details of this program for programming (pun intended) will be coming in the next several weeks. But for anyone who wants to learn programming, this will serve as an excellent starting point. And, for those of you looking for a programming-related career, there are always plenty of job postings for people who can program.

So stay tuned, because soon enough spring will be here and soon after that, so will this Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming course!


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LearnKey Announces First Key Contributor Award

by Jeff - Feb 04, 2016


At LearnKey, the 2016 year is starting off great as we get to recognize one of our people who lives and breathes our core values of Ease, Value and Trust. It gives me great pleasure to announce that Jason Manibog is the first recipient of LearnKey’s Key Contributor award!

Jason Quarterly Key Contributor Award

Jason joined LearnKey last June as our Senior IT Instructor and has not only improved the quality of our courses but won over all of our production team members with his “can do” attitude, willingness to help anyone out, and, most of all, working endlessly to improve the learning experience for our students and teachers. At LearnKey, we have been fortunate to keep our core employees; therefore, when someone comes on board they are always welcomed with open arms and set up for success. Jason was so impressed by that he went the extra mile to “seek first to understand, before trying to be understood.” This was most impressive when he traveled to meet each team and member (i.e. in Sales, QC, Writing, and the Design teams) in St. George and Cedar City, UT, to make sure he learned existing processes and then presented ways to improve them that reduced a lot of re-work and down time. Marian Eckley, our Video Production Manager, had this to say about Jason: “a tireless worker, he always gives 110%. The guy is a work horse and will never say no to anyone when they ask for help. Jason always outputs more work than asked for.”

Once again let me congratulate Jason on being our first recipient of this award. We promise to keep him really busy as we have a full plate of courses to be released this year that started with MTA Mobility and Device Fundamentals in January. Now we are focused on A+ 220-901 and 902 exam courses, with Adobe CC soon to follow.

Here’s to a great start for 2016!

Sincerely,

Jeff Coruccini


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MTA Cloud Fundamentals: Coming This Spring

by Jason - Feb 01, 2016


Hello everyone! Here at LearnKey we are making our final push for the A+ 2015 (the 900 series with exams 220-901 and 220-902, for those of you who live and breathe exam numbers) but, hey, everyone needs a break! I’m taking some time to tell you about a course you will see from us this spring: Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Cloud Fundamentals.

Earlier this month, I mentioned a triple dose of MTA courses we are presenting in 2016: MTA Mobility and Device Fundamentals, which we have released; MTA HTML5 Fundamentals; and this MTA Cloud Fundamentals course.

So what is meant by Cloud Fundamentals? To get a better understanding of this, let’s go back in time, circa the early 2000s, with a network administrator at a business with, let’s just say 100 employees or so. Here is what a typical workload looked like:

  • Install Microsoft Office, using the Office CD, whenever someone needed it (or share the installation somewhere and hoped the semi-slow network behaved during an install).
  • Manage the on-premises Windows servers, Exchange servers for email, and any applications servers, like SQL servers.
  • If someone wanted a new applications server, the administrator may have been able to virtualize it, but often a new server meant an expensive new physical server and the installation and configuration processes (usually late at night) to get the server up and running.
  • Network administrators did not have these things we call mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, to manage.

Fast forward the time machine back to today and let’s look at the same-sized business. With cloud computing, how are those administrative tasks done? Let’s take a look:

  • Office needs to be installed? No problem. A user can log into Office 365 and download and install the latest version of Office.
  • Servers? Maybe there are one or two physical ones on-premises, but, Windows servers can be hosted online, in the cloud. Exchange? Set that up as a cloud service and administer it that way.
  • Does someone need a new applications server? No problem. A network administrator can log into Microsoft Azure, provision a new applications server, and have it running in less than an hour.

Oh, and those mobile devices? Well, surely a network administrator wouldn’t just let any device on the network. So a network administrator can use Microsoft Intune, a cloud-based service, to set up policies to manage how mobile devices will connect to and interact with the business network.

So, we can say that on a very high level, cloud fundamentals involves learning how to manage a network that is mostly subscription-based for services rather than having everything on the company premises. With that, there are five main topics on the 98-369 exam:

  • Understanding the cloud
  • Enabling Microsoft cloud services
  • Administering Office 365 and Microsoft Intune
  • Using and configuring Microsoft cloud services
  • Supporting cloud users

In this upcoming Cloud Fundamentals course, we will thoroughly cover all five topics as they relate to the 98-369 exam. We will do this through video-based instruction, pre-assessment and post-assessment tests to sharpen your test-taking skills, and a project workbook which will further enhance your Cloud Fundamentals skill set.

We look forward to bringing you yet another course in the MTA series. Best of luck to all of you in this or whatever certifications and career paths you pursue.


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