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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
More than two years passed before the A+ exam was revised in 2003, but it seemed longer than that, because so much new technology came down the pike during that time -- and as the job market gets tougher, expectations for technicians’ knowledge also rise.
In the “A+ 2003 Upgrade Core Hardware” and “A+ 2003 Upgrade OS Technologies” exams, roughly 25 percent of the content is new. (And some of the Neanderthal stuff that’s way past its due date is finally gone. Hallelujah: No more DOS questions!)
You can’t skate by with an old A+ study guide. (Even if the new content were in there, you’d still be wasting precious time on the obsolete stuff.) If you’re looking for a new one, check out David Groth’s A+ Complete Study Guide, Third Edition. Groth has been writing about CompTIA’s A+ (and other) exams virtually since their inception: He knows what it takes to pass.
You’ll start by thoroughly reviewing PC architecture: cases and form factors, power supplies, motherboards, expansion slots, memory, CPUs, connectors and interfaces, BIOS, CMOS batteries, jumpers, firmware, processors, storage, network cards, video, and so forth.
Next, Groth drills down into virtually all of these areas. Don’t remember the difference between Northbridge and Southbridge? You will. Starting to come across Direct Rambus RIMMs and Double Data Rate (DDR) memories in the shop? Groth helps you understand them. Ditto for AMR and CNR slots: more stuff that’s covered on the A+ exam for the first time.
There’s thorough coverage of every form of storage covered on the A+ exam: removable media; CD-ROM drives; tape backup; disk controllers, and more. In particular, Groth covers the arcane hard drive details you’ll be tested on -- from ATA/ATAPI-7 and SCSI through (for the first time) RAID, disk system fault tolerance, mirroring, duplexing, and striping.
While the A+ exam is fairly light on networking, you still need to know the fundamentals. Groth walks through them: the differences between LANs and WANs; the role of servers, network operating systems, and common network hardware; peer-to-peer networking; Ethernet, TCP/IP, network cabling, and of course, wireless networks and high-speed Internet connections.
You’ll find chapters on building your own PC, repairing notebooks, and connecting peripherals (from digital cameras to PDAs). There’s also new coverage of optimizing PC performance -- both on the hardware and software sides.
Which brings us to the second exam. Windows XP and Me have been added, and the Windows 2000 coverage has been broadened. Groth walks you through everything CompTIA wants you to know: navigating the user interface; configuration; file management; the Registry; system files; bootup; startup options; emergency repair disks; system recovery; and more. From OS upgrades and dual-boot scenarios to hardware support and troubleshooting, it’s in here -- along with new coverage of diagnostic utilities.
Solid and complete, A+ Complete Study Guide, Third Edition will help you pass your A+ exams the first time out. 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.