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 No longer do you need to worry about memorizing a type of RAM or CPU that is way out-of-date with current market trends.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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