Since the 2009 introduction of the latest CompTIA A+ exam, there’s been a slow migration from the old exam to the new. If you’ve not been keeping track, you’ll be interested in knowing that you’ve only got about a month before the 220-60x exams disappear forever! If you’re in the United States and Canada, you have until February 28th to take the 220-601 and 220-602 exam. On March 1st, you’re only option will be to take the latest 220-70x exams. Other versions of the CompTIA A+ exam (i.e., educational, other languages) will still be available until August 31, 2010.
What are the differences?
If you put the exam requirements side-by-side, you’ll notice that there are remarkable similarities between the 220-60x series exams and the 220-70x series exams. In my completely unscientific analysis, I’d estimate that at least 75% to 80% of the content between the exams is exactly the same.
I’ve put both of the exam requirements documents side-by-side, and I’ve written down a high-level observation of how things have changed between the exams:
- Older hardware topics have been dropped. Goodbye, parallel port and serial port!
- Power requirements are emphasized a bit more
- Quad-core CPUs are mentioned
- Updated memory, with mentions of DDR3
Troubleshooting, repair, and maintenance
- More focus on the troubleshooting process
- New operating system symptoms, such as noises, odors, and visual damage
- The “Portable Device” category is gone, replaced with the new “Laptop” category
Operating Systems and Software
- Now includes Windows Vista
- Windows 2000 is still part of the requirements
- Dropped comparisons of Windows, Mac OS, and Linux
- More troubleshooting command line options
- Detailed differences between Windows versions, especially the Vista-specific differences
- More network fundamentals
- Detailed network configurations (i.e., SMTP, FTP, Proxies)
- Introduction of VoIP
- New Windows Vista security options
- Combines the previous “Safety and Environmental Issues” and “Communication and Professionalism” categories
I’m often asked which exam people should take, and I almost always recommend that you study for the latest edition. Employers always like to see the latest certifications, and since there are relatively fewer people certified in the latest exam, you’ll have an advantage over the technicians with the older certification. Every little bit counts, right?
Update: I’ve received a few emails about the BR0-003 bridge exam. Don’t be fooled by the name; the “bridge” exam is essentially the combination of the 220-701 and the 220-702 requirements combined together into a single exam. The bridge exam doesn’t just test you on the differences between the old and new exams; you’ll be expected to know as much as those who are taking the full exam. If you’re planning on taking the bridge exam, make sure that you download and read the exam requirements!