If you're looking for a job as a computer technician (or even administrator), you might be surprised how often A+ certification is listed amongst the job requirements nowadays. And when it isn't listed, you're often expected to achieve your certification within 90 days of being hired.
You can probably rely on your existing experience to get you part of the way towards passing your A+ exams. But what about the rest? For that, we highly recommend A+ Exam Cram2 (Exams 220-221 and 220-222) by James G. Jones and Craig Landes. This is a superb resource if:
- You're just starting out on A+ certification, and you want to get your preparation on the fast track
- You've been studying awhile and want to make absolutely certain you're ready
- You want to deepen your understanding of key A+ concepts by understanding their context
He and longtime IT educator Craig Landes combine clarity, insight, and friendliness. They're fun to read, without ever trivializing their subject. They're especially good at showing how disparate, superficially unrelated "facts" fit together -- which is, of course, a crucial skill for PC troubleshooters.
They're about as concise as you can be while still covering every objective in both A+ exams (Core Hardware and Operating Systems Technologies). For an ExamCram book, this one's fat. But if you can swing it, we'd encourage you to read it from cover to cover. You'll learn plenty you didn't know: information that'll benefit you both on exam day and for a long time afterward.
You'll start on the hardware side, with motherboards: how they've evolved, and which form factors, slots, sockets, and chipsets you're likely to encounter. Want to know the difference between the North bridge and South bridge? They'll tell you. And who else will warn you about the A+ exam graphics (it can be tricky to differentiate power supply and keyboard connectors).
There are full chapters on memory and processors (what's the difference between Socket A and Slot A); on I/O and storage devices (can you name the four types of DVDs now on the market); on video and printers; and on basic networking.
Then, it's on to the Windows-centered operating systems exam. You'll find intelligent coverage of every version of Windows from 3.11 through XP: file systems, the registry, device drivers, the boot process, error messages, Safe Mode, you name it.
You still have to know a little DOS, too. The authors do a masterful job showing how DOS has gradually been submerged in Windows, where DOS remnants can still be found, and when you still might find yourself using the DOS command line (ATTRIB can still be very handy).
There are loads of study goodies here. Some 100 end-of-chapter questions plus a complete A+ exam at the end of the book, all with answers, carefully explained. Still more Interactive PrepLogic exam questions on CD-ROM. A 16-page glossary. (Quick? What's VFAT? What's a UART?) A complete "study anywhere" e-copy of the book.
We especially like the cardboard tear-away "Cram Sheet" collecting the hard-to-remember facts and numbers you absolutely need to memorize. (Which IRQ is which? What's the difference between a bridge and a router? What was the name of that SYS file which needs to load for Win95 to run?) Give this sheet one extra long look before you leave for the exam: it's almost guaranteed to help you with at least a few questions -- and that might be the difference between passing and failing. 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.