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CompTIA A+ Certification Overview

Exam Versions

CompTIA A+ 220-1101 (Core 1) & 220-1102 (Core 2). Current, active version of the A+ exam (launched in April 2022). This exam is scheduled to retire approximately three years from its release date.

The A+ Certification Test

The actual A+ certification exam consists of two separate tests. There is only one A+ certification document and it can only be obtained by passing both tests (each test requires a separate fee). There is no formal requirement when it comes to the order in which the two A+ certification tests should be taken, but both tests must be passed before the entire exam retirement date and must come from the same set of objectives. CompTIA A+ certification document remains valid for three years from the date when the exam was passed.

Both, 220-1101 and 220-1102 exams are computer-based tests consisting of 90 questions each. Each test has a time limit of 90 minutes. Exam results are available upon completion of the test and after filling in a short, mandatory survey.

Before the actual test candidates are asked to read and accept CompTIA's exam policies. There is a limited amount of time to complete this part, but this time does not count into the exam time - the actual exam starts with the first test question. Exam policies do not allow mobile phones and any other means or devices that would allow for cheating on the exam, and they must be left somewhere at the office before sitting for the exam.

During the test, answers can be changed by going back to any given question; exam questions can also be marked as unanswered for a later review. The list of all questions is also available at the end of the exam before submitting completed test, so it is possible to get back to any of them at that point as well (unanswered questions are marked red). Test results are displayed after submitting answers and going through a short, mandatory survey.

From July 9, 2012, CompTIA exams are available only through Pearson VUE testing centers. Exams can be booked online through the Pearson VUE website, by phone, or directly at the testing center. Examination options include an in-person exam at one of the testing centers, or online testing.

Performance-Based Questions (PBQs)

In addition to single/multiple-choice questions and drag and drop questions, current versions of A+ certification exams include the Performance-Based Questions (PBQs). For each performance-based question, the exam prompts the candidate to perform a specific task or solve a specific problem. A simulated environment is then launched, in which the candidate completes the required steps. Each question is designed around real-world computer scenarios that will test candidate's skills and knowledge. The simulated environments may include different aspects of IT infrastructure, such as command prompts, Windows OS, or networking environments.

Bridge Exams, Continuing Education (CE) Program, and Lifetime Certifications

Bridge exams for all CompTIA certification programs retired December 31, 2010 and are no longer available.

CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Linux+, CompTIA Cloud+, CompTIA PenTest+, CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), and CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) certifications are labeled with the +CE (Continuing Education) suffix. To remain valid, these certifications must be renewed within three years from the date the candidate is certified. Certification renewal requires either retaking the newer release of the exam, renewing a higher-level CompTIA exam (if a candidate already has a higher-level CompTIA certification), or fulfilling some of the requirements from the Continuing Education (CE) program.

Candidates certified on or before December 31st, 2010 are still considered certified for life, but further lifetime certifications are no longer available.

Exam Retake Policies

CompTIA does not offer any free re-tests or discounts on any exam retakes, and candidates must pay the exam price each time they attempt the exam. There is no waiting period between the first and second attempt to pass the exam, only before the third or any subsequent attempt there is a mandatory waiting period of at least 14 calendar days from the date of the last attempt.

CompTIA A+ 220-1101 exam objectives
CompTIA A+ 220-1102 exam objectives
Free online CompTIA A+ practice exams from ExamCompass