Passing CompTIA A+ 220-902 with A+ Practice Test – Part 1/3
By: Robert J. Miller, A+, Network+, Server+, MCP.
At the test do not underestimate the value of getting there relaxed. This is actually worth mentioning! It will help if you actively and consciously work at calming yourself down because short of that the test center anxiety may get the best of you. Aside from that make sure to use every last resource available to you and to use them wisely! I used the CertBlaster A+ practice test software and the Internet. Now some people will ask, how good can a cert be if you can pass just using a practice test software and the internet? The answer is very good ones provided you have all the prerequisites which I do (see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page).
Be smart about how you use practice tests
It is important to understand that in self-testing in general, and self-test software in particular, the objective is NOT to memorize your self-tests! That is a dangerous practice, brain dumps encourage that all the time, and the reason it fails is that any minor twist on an exam question will hopelessly throw you off. What you see on a quality practice test are questions that help you understand and answer issues addressed in the CompTIA Exam Objectives. This will help you prepare to answer questions that are at the same knowledge level as the ones you’ll encounter on exam day. When you get a question on an A+ practice test, read the question carefully paying great attention to detail then study the responses available carefully. Where applicable study carefully the explanations for the responses in the practice test software. Study that explanation thoroughly to the point where you can make sure you understand it fully and all its implications. If you feel shaky on any part of that explanation then do what I do: Google the main terms and get more perspective on the issues. Be cautious though, if you go to the internet make sure the sites are reputable. Remember: The great thing about the internet is that you can find everything and anything on it – The bad thing about the internet is that you can find everything and anything on it…
How I used the CertBlaster A+ Practice Test
If you use the CertBlaster A+ Practice Test suite as I did, then I recommend that the first thing you do is to take Exam 1 in Assessment mode. Why assessment mode? Because it won’t show me the answers while I take the test but it will, in the end, give me a lot of feedback like grades (overall and per objective), a list of questions I answered incorrectly (with the right answers), and a “Personal Testing Plan” that lists the A+ sub-objectives I needed to focus the most on. Doing this gave me two benefits: 1) I know where I stand and have pointers as to where to go from here, and 2) it gave me an “entry point benchmark” i.e. an independent assessment of where my starting point was. I would go back to it later and it would help me measure progress and that helped to keep me motivated. Using that Personal Testing Plan I got I then went into the Drills (there is one per CompTIA A+ Main Domain). I also used these Learning Resources pages that have some additional resources, some of which came in handy.
A+ Exam taking strategies
After reading the question carefully and paying a lot of attention to all possible answers, when you have what you think is the correct response, ask yourself: What makes it the best response? The answer to that of course depends on the question asked but also it depends on what the other answer alternatives lack that the correct response demands. For instance, is it a performance, encryption program, firewall, or malware problem? Each requires different and unique methodical troubleshooting.
Let’s assume you have a question where the correct response isn’t popping out at you. The first thing I do is to “take out the trash”. Re-read the question and discard those points that have nothing to do with the requirement or result. Eliminate the least probable response(s). If you have a multiple-choice question with four possible responses, each one you rule out is worth 25%. If you can say that 2 of the 4 responses are definitely incorrect. You are now faced with a 50/50 chance and therefore double the probability of success. Interestingly, in that process, you have demonstrated knowledge by being able to eliminate choices that others (less informed) may consider correct.
An example of a possible A+ 220-902 Question
A customer reports that their LCD laptop display had been becoming gradually dimmer over the past two weeks. They have increased the display brightness to compensate and finally switched to an external monitor which works perfectly. Which of the choices is the MOST likely cause of the problem?
Failed display ribbon cable
The correct answer is: Failed backlight
The reasoning behind the answer: Your position is that the backlight is the most likely cause. What makes it correct? To determine this we have to consider all the information available to us, this includes the properties of each choice. As we stated earlier the more incorrect responses we can dispose of the higher our chance of success. Let’s look at the choices. First is a failed ribbon cable. The ribbon cables in laptops are designed to tolerate thousands of open/close cycles and are routed carefully to avoid interference inside the case.
A failure to the ribbon cable will, in most cases, result in color shifting, image corruption, or no image at all dependent on screen motion. One typical symptom is that it will display the failure while the lid is in motion and then the user will raise or lower the screen until the display stabilizes. That’s not our problem.
The inverter takes a low voltage DC current and converts it to a high AC voltage for the backlight. An inverter will fail completely not gradually. In some cases, it will work for a short period then fail when it reaches a certain condition, like temperature. This is also not our problem.
The backlight is the prime candidate here as it can fail gradually demonstrating a dimming or flickering condition that increases over time. The backlight IS the MOST likely cause. The last response is a Driver update.
An incorrect driver will cause any number of problems, but they will be immediate and uniform, meaning the external monitor would display the same symptoms as the LCD. The driver will, more often than not, address the Video adapter. So there you have it the process of elimination in action. When you see something like this in live testing and you can answer it quickly, do it. If not mark it for later and come back. Don’t waste time.
The CompTIA A+ Exam Objective addressed by the above question is: A+ Exam 220-902 Main Domain 4.0 Software Troubleshooting– 4.3 “Given a scenario, troubleshoot common mobile OS and application issues with appropriate tools.”
Stay tuned: I will post the next installment next week. Below are a couple of screenshots taken from CertBlaster:
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.