I passed the A+ 220-901 exam using A+ practice test software and the internet Part 2 of 3

By: Robert J. Miller, A+, Network+, Server+, MCP.

Click here to read part 1/3 of this article series
Click here to read part 3/3 of this article series

So what are some MUST know?

The CompTIA exam objectives are available here. We recommend you download and/or print them. It’s a good first step in your preparation. These are invaluable because a question has to be in the objectives to be scored on the test, period. Now, when you see a term listed it is incumbent on you to find out the context it is used in, is it monitors or printers? Then you want to find out as much as you can about the focus of your investigation does it use drivers or protocols? If protocols, what ports are involved? You want to know what any given term does/represents, system resources it uses, interface types whatever the case. When you get a question in a self-test there will usually be an explanation along with the correct answer. Use that information, and if you feel you don’t fully get it, do a search on the term(s).

Now let’s get into some specifics. First and foremost don’t show up to the exam (you will waste your exam fee) unless you know, as in having memorized, your:

Encryption types

A fair amount of questions are based on you remembering port numbers, how to match them, and what specific protocols specifically do. Luckily by now, you should have the exam objectives (see above). For ports and protocols sub-objective 2.4 “Explain common TCP and UDP ports, protocols, and their purpose” gives you the complete list of ports and protocols that can be asked about at the exam. Here is the list of ports and their number:

21 – FTP
22 – SSH
25 – SMTP
53 – DNS
80 – HTTP
110 – POP3
143 – IMAP
443 – HTTPS
3389 – RDP
137-139, 445 – SMB
548 or 427 – AFP

…and here is the list of protocols that are fair game on the exam:


For the encryption types lookup exam sub-objective 2.5 “Compare and contrast various WiFi networking standards and encryption types”. The encryption types that you can be asked about are WEP, WPA, WPA2, TKIP, AES.

Memorization sheets

You want to try to remember network speeds distances and protocols. On a sheet of paper you can draw a segmented illustration of the different values like below (rough examples) do Ports, security WEP TKIP AES. Anything you’ll likely have trouble with from cable lengths to capacities. Pick your weak areas then create a short and easy to memorize list. Now as you sit for the test quickly commit this data to the worksheet provided.

Connector Cable type Speed Max segment Primary use
RJ-11 CAT-3 10Mbps 100m Telecomm
RG-58 10-BASE-T 10Mbps 185m Ethernet
RJ-45 CAT-5 10/100 Mbps 100m Ethernet
Disk Capacity MAX Write Speed Primary use Writable Rewritable
CD-R 700MB 52x Audio Y N
DVD-R 4.7 GB 24x A/V Y N
Blu-ray 25 GB 16x A/V Y N

Now customize all of this to you

Above is an example. That is what I needed to work extra at remembering. Ultimately you are the best judge of your own strength and weaknesses when it comes to formatting and populating this kind of study sheet. Using the Exam objectives that the CertBlaster Personal Testing Plan lists based on how you do on the practice test is a good place to start to look for what you need to spend extra time on. Also, don’t hesitate to print out the list of questions you answered wrong. You’ll find that in the next to last screen in the CertBlaster A+ practice test in either Assessment or Study Mode. This list will include the correct answers. If you do an exam in Assessment mode you are really testing yourself because you cannot see the answers or explanations. With this list, you can go back to the same exam, this time in Study Mode, and review the questions you got wrong and with the answers and explanations.


FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an employee of dti Publishing Corp. and so work on a variety of its educational products. So, although I believe my advice above is sound it may apply differently to you depending on your background and experiences.

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