A+ Certification For Dummies


Complete with a CD-ROM loaded with test-like exam questions written just for this book, A+ Certification For Dummies brings you everything you need to pass both the core hardware exam and the DOS/Windows exam - and make every second count.
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Complete with a CD-ROM loaded with test-like exam questions written just for this book, A+ Certification For Dummies brings you everything you need to pass both the core hardware exam and the DOS/Windows exam - and make every second count.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The new “A+ 2003 Upgrade Core Hardware” and “A+ 2003 Upgrade OS Technologies” exams have arrived -- and you have some more studying to do.

Roughly 25 percent of the content has changed. The latest versions of Windows -- including both Windows XP and Me -- are now covered in detail. There’s new technology all over the place -- new I/O, new forms of PC memory, new peripherals, new wireless stuff, you name it.

Meanwhile, there’s been a quieter, maybe more important change: one that has little to do with the content. The job market has gotten tougher. Once, A+ certification was a luxury. Now, it’s a baseline necessity.

Now, let’s say you’re a reasonably experienced tech. Let’s imagine, further, that you hate studying for exams. You know most of this stuff. You know where to find stuff out when you need to. You just don’t like the whole test experience. But it’s time to hold your nose and get your credential. If only someone could make prepping less painful.

That’s where A+ for Dummies, Third Edition comes in.

Ron Gilster is great at extracting the boredom from certification exam review. He’s not only written For Dummies® books for A+, but also for CCNA, Network+, Server+, even Microsoft’s MCSA certification. He also knows the material backward and forward -- having spent 30 years upgrading, repairing, and programming computers, earning multiple CompTIA certs along the way.

Gilster’s formula makes a lot of sense. Quick, bite-size discussions (so you can review even if you only have a few minutes to spare.) Ten-question self-assessments at the beginning of every chapter (so you know where to spend your time). Hands-on labs that step you through many of the more challenging procedures you need to understand (for example, flashing a PC’s BIOS -- carefully).

And all that’s backed by twice as many exam questions as in the previous edition -- all provided on CD-ROM and delivered through the customizable Dummies Test Engine.

Gilster presents straight-to-the-point coverage of every exam objective, on both the hardware and OS exams. He starts with the “theoretical” stuff many techs never bothered to learn: the fundamentals, jargon, and properties of electronics and electricity inside the PC, and the ins-and-outs of binary and hex numbering. (Notwithstanding plug-and-play, you never know when you’ll have to mess with IRQs and memory addresses).

Then, it’s on to each hardware component covered on the A+ exam. Inside the box, you’ll find updated chapters on motherboards, BIOSes, buses, microprocessors, memory, storage, and power. Outside the box, you’ll find revamped coverage of the latest I/O ports and devices, printers, and notebooks.

What was formerly a single chapter on networking has been expanded to an entire section in this edition. You’ll find everything from LAN installation and configuration to management and troubleshooting -- as well as a full chapter on delivering Internet services. And, of course, there’s thorough Windows coverage: a chapter on the fundamentals of Windows, then drill-downs on Win95, 98, Me, 2000 Pro, and XP Pro.

Inexpensive, friendly, and mercifully concise, A+ for Dummies, Third Edition is a great way to go from experienced tech to certified tech. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764504792
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/21/1999
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 7.39 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Gilster (A+ Certified Service Technician, MBA, and AAGG) has been operating, programming, and repairing computers for more than 30 years. Ron has extensive experience training, teaching, and consulting in computer-related areas, including work on mainframes, minicomputers, and virtually every type of personal computer and operating system that exists. In addition to a wide range of positions that have included Customer Service Manager, Data Processing Manager, Management Information Systems Director, and Vice President of Operations in major corporations, Ron was a management consultant with an international auditing firm and operated his own computer systems consulting firm. He has also authored several books on computer and information literacy, and Visual Basic applications programming. Ron is presently semi-retired as an instructor at Walla Walla Community College, in Walla Walla, Washington, where he oversees and teaches the A+ certification, MOUS (Microsoft Office User Specialist), and CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate) programs in the Computer Technology division.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 19: Interfacing With The Customer

Exam Objectives
  • Using effective customer service behaviors
  • Using good practices for eliciting problem symptoms from customers
The A+ Core exam is somewhat contradictory in the area of customer satisfaction. On one hand, about 10 percent of the test covers it, but your score on that section isn't included in the pass/fail analysis of the exam. I guess this contradiction is CompTIAs way of saying that customer service is a very important area of the test, but because every company may have its own way of doing things, they don't want to penalize anyone who may be confused by what's right and what the company policy may be.

On the A+ test, you can expect to find a few questions that deal with how you should react in a certain situation. If interacting with customers is an area you haven't had much training in a common problem in technical fields then read this chapter carefully. You don't find any pictures, graphs, or illustrations, just some information on how to interact with customers in a service call situation.

If you've been in the computer repair field for any length of time, you know what people I mean customers can be like. It's a very rare day when a customer calls you up out of the blue just to tell you what a fine job you did on his machine. However, you can count on hearing daily from somebody who's quite upset because her computer isn't doing whatever she thinks it should be doing and by golly, it worked yesterday!

Good and better ways exist to deal with customers. I emphasize the word customers because they are very likely the reason you have a job, or a business, or any interest in this test.

Understanding The Importance Of Customer Service

CompTIA members include a number of large companies that do business directly with the public. The funny thing about the public is that if you don't treat them right, they'll find somebody who does. (Unless you're an electric, gas, or telephone utility; then they're stuck with you.) Nobody likes to be mistreated, ignored, irritated, insulted, ripped off, scolded, stood up, or made to feel inferior, and they like it even less when they become your customer.

As a customer, a person has power the power not to do business with you. If enough people don't do business with you, you don't have any business to do. So as business people, the CompTIA members decided to create some suggested standards of PC service technician behavior when in contact with customers. Of course, you and I don't have a problem in this area, but for all the other PC technical professionals, this standard is an excellent idea. In fact, it's not a bad idea for all occupations.

In this chapter, I focus on the part of the A+ exam that measures how well you can identify excellent customer service behaviors and effective ways for eliciting problem information from a customer. In addition, I cover some personal things you can do to instill confidence in your abilities as a PC service technical professional in your customer.

How much you study for this part of the test is really up to you. Exactly six questions deal with this area on the A+ Core exam. These 6 questions are part of the 69 real questions you are asked, but they do not figure into your pass/failure score. They are scored separately for the record. Some employers, present or future, may ask to see your A+ test results, in which case, they will see how well you did in the customer service and support domain.

Keeping Current

Keep your technical skills and knowledge as current as possible by any means available to you. Keeping current is not an easy task, considering the present rate at which technology continues to emerge. A+ certification, and other third-party and industry certifications, such as MCSE, MCP, CCNA, Networking+, and others, is certainly one way to improve your knowledge as well as your marketability. Trade journals, magazines, and surfing the Net can provide you with the latest and greatest trends in technology. Specialized training and certification from hardware manufacturers and software publishers can help you move into new technical areas. Even an occasional class at the local community college can help you explore new areas and refresh old ones.

I don't mean that you should try to know everything; you already know that you can't. However, being current helps you be prepared for new situations or customer questions about new technologies. Saying, "I don't know, but I'll get back to you with an answer" is still perfectly all right. By keeping yourself abreast of current events that impact the computer and its use, you make yourself more likely to know where to look for the answer.

For the A+ Core exam, the primary points in providing good customer service are those skills that provide empathy and support for the customer. Review listening and feedback skills in the next few sections and skim through good telephone (see "Providing help over the telephone") and onsite practices (see "Going On-Site") in this chapter.


For far too many people, communicating means talking. What they don't realize is that communication is actually a two-way process. You can talk all you want, but unless someone listens to what you say, no communication takes place. Communication is a continuous feedback loop: I talk to you and you listen; then you respond to me and I listen; I respond to you while you listen, and so on. This process constitutes a conversation. In order for it to work, though, you and I must be equal participants in the dialogue. That doesn't mean that you and I have to speak the same amount of time. It only means that I respect you as an equal with important things to contribute to the communication, and vice versa.

Listening To Be A Better Communicator

Listening is the hard part of communication, which is why it's the most important part. From listening comes understanding. You can't understand what you haven't heard.

One of the most common failures of PC repair technicians (and many other service-related workers) is that they don't listen. I don't mean to say that they don't hear; they hear what the customer says just fine. It's just that they either think they know what the customer is going to say, or they hear with their eyes, by jumping to conclusions about what they see.

When you treat customers with respect and truly listen with interest to what they have to say, two things happen:

  • You find out what needs to be fixed or looked at.
  • The customer will feel comfortable working with you again in the future.
The former is for the present and the latter for the future, but both are good for business.

Ways exist to get the information you need from the customer. Earlier in this chapter, I describe communications as a continuous feedback loop. This loop is what you need to create to get the information you need. How? Let the customer tell you what is wrong while you listen. You may need to guide the conversation and keep it on track, which you can do with effective feedback. Effective feedback is your part of the conversation. Take a look at the following conversation snippet,.

The customer says, "This is the most frustrating problem I have ever had."

You say, I can understand how you might feel that way. When did it first happen..."

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Bk. 1 A+ Hardware Technology Exam 7
Pt. I Laying Down Some Fundamentals 9
Ch. 1 The 2003 A+ Certification Exams 11
Ch. 2 Basic Electronics and Number Systems 15
Pt. II Inside the Box 31
Ch. 3 The Motherboard 33
Ch. 4 BIOS 55
Ch. 5 Bus Structures 81
Ch. 6 Microprocessors 107
Ch. 7 Memory Systems 123
Ch. 8 Storing Data 141
Ch. 9 Powering and Cooling the PC 171
Pt. III Outside the Box 195
Ch. 10 Input/Output Ports 197
Ch. 11 Input Devices 215
Ch. 12 Output Devices 231
Ch. 13 Printers 257
Ch. 14 Portable Systems 281
Pt. IV Remembering Why It's Called Hardware 299
Ch. 15 Taking a PC Apart (and Putting It Back Together Again) 301
Ch. 16 Keeping the PC Running 325
Ch. 17 Troubleshooting PC Problems 345
Ch. 18 The Hardware Side of Networking 371
Bk. II Operating System Technologies Exam 395
Pt. I Operating Systems 397
Ch. 1 Windows OS Basics 399
Ch. 2 Windows 95, 98, and Me 419
Ch. 3 Windows 2000 Professional 453
Ch. 4 Windows XP Professional 479
Pt. II Connecting to a Network 499
Ch. 5 Making the Network Connection 501
Ch. 6 Working with the Network 527
Ch. 7 Sharing the Internet 549
Ch. 8 Troubleshooting System Problems 563
App. A: About the CD 579
App. B Hardware Technology Exam Objectives 585
App. C Operating System Exam Objectives 589
Index 593
End-User License Agreement 619
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2002

    Ok I guess

    I found that while this book covers most everything, it still does not cover some things, even basic things. The prep tests have questions to which the author does not include answers to within the book. Overall its a good book, but I would not rely upon it as my only book for certification. It doesn't even have adaptive exams on the cd.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2002

    Good Book, Questionable CD Tests

    The book provides excellent information on the various sections of the A+ test. However, the CD tests have some issues. Some questions have incorrect answers and the illustrations for the questions do not appear at times. My take, the book is good. The CD need some fine tuning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2002

    Good Book, Questionable Tests

    The information in the book is helpful. However, many of the questions on the CD have incorrect answers or unviewable images needed to answer the questions. My take is to study the book and the chapter evals. Avoid the CD tests. Book 4 stars, CD NO stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2002

    Good book to prepare for exam

    This is a good book unless you are the type who struggles just getting the keyboard and mouse plugged into the correct ports. The world does not need anymore paper or wanta-be certified tech. If you are serious about learning this book is great!. Richard from Atlanta MCP Win2k Pro & Server, A+, Network+, I-Net+, CIW Associate, IBM, Dell, HP, Compaq APS Certified

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2002

    Everything you need to pass the tests.

    The book and the CD-ROM give you all the info you need to pass both exams. Read the book, answer the Prep Tests at the end of each Chapter, go over the Practice Tests on the CD-ROM until you've memorized all the questions; and you will pass both exams. The book is stronger as a Core Hardware reference, and weaker as an Operating System Technologies reference, but it will suffice if all you want to do is pass the tests. I scored a 786 on the Core, and a 665 on the OS Tecnologies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2001

    A good book and all I used to pass the A + exams

    This is a very good book that will provide the information needed to pass the A + exams. The study questions are a good source of information and the practice tests are just as good. Also, the quick learn game is fun to play and answer practice questions. I highly recommend this book to any aspiring A + technicians out there. One word of caution, it does help to have a computer that you can work on to understand the concepts and topics covered.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2001

    Not for the novice.....

    This book is helpful if you have experience. It will give you a feel for the exam, and show you what areas need to be studied. It's worthless to the novice. Nothing is covered in any detail, and it has many typos. Having said that, it did help me. It was especially helpful to have another CD filled with practice questions. If you don't have some decent PC experience, this book won't help.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2000

    I PASSED!!!

    This is a very good book for people who have a difficult time reading technical manuals. I read about a chapter a day and read the practice tests as many times as I could. I passed with an average score.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2000

    Good Synopsis

    I had a student of mine bring me this book to review and I was pleasantly surprised. I wouldn't recommend this as a sole textbook, but it did seem to make a good review guide for pre-test cramming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2000

    Only for beginners information- not for adaptive test

    If you want the basics and are starting out, this book is a great outline. If you plan to take the adaptive test, you may fall short. I changed to an ExamPrep and scored in the 620-630 range for both tests. Staying with this book and I may not have passed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2000

    Good tips and easy to read

    Ron's book is a decent attempt at covering the awesomely complex curriculum of A+. Imagine trying to teach ten years of computer knowledge in a single book! Well, it can't be done, but this dummy book is a good resource. There were a couple of mistakes (PCMCIA is defined wrong on the yellow cram cheatsheet and on another page as well as final test question in the back). He also tells the reader that 15 feet is the maximum length for a parallel cable (three times...twice as instant answers) and then in the end of book test he tells the reader that 10 feet should be used on the test. *;-) There were some areas of the test that looked like they had been revised and then other sections contradicted the information by having old information. His knowledge of viruses is simplistic and outdated in some cases (for example none of the world's virus experts suggest using FDISK /MBR anymore because of the dangers it can cause to data files in a number of scenarios). Still, I would have to say the book is a good buy (and even better at the $10 I paid for it at Sam's). It probably gained me 10 points on my tests. I could have passed without studying anything, but the test was indeed quite difficult in my opinion for average technicians. My score was 90 DOS/Windows and 82 Core, but I blew through the 4 hours of adaptive tests (actually 6 tests as they gave me the regular two tests and then two beta adaptive tests for each section) and finished in slightly under one hour. As mentioned there is a shortage of DOS/Windows material in the book and the multimeter section needs beefing up. All the best, Russell Smith

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2000

    Perfect for a Beginner

    If you are a beginner than this is the book you are looking for..You will pass the exam with 100% gurantee with plain ENGLISH. This is worth the money..Good Luck

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2000


    GREAT BOOK. 90% Core, 87% DOS/WIN. Overall a very good book. Very easy to read and understand. DOS/WIN portion does need more info, but suggested websites make up for that. Core component is very thorough. Not enough info on multimeter usage. 'Instant Answer' portions were almost identical to exam questions. Can't say enough good things.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2000

    Prepared in No Time

    This book gets right to the point. With all of the pertenant information presented in the most simplistic tone, anyone should be able to become A+ certified the first time. The additional websites had demo tests that more that adequately prepared me for what was expected on the test. There will be some revisions necessary to prepare one for the forthcoming adaptive test format, but this should be no big hurdle. I'll go back to the 'for dummies' series for all of my certification training.

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