What’s new on the CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 certification exams

The CompTIA 220-901 and 220-902 A+ exam objectives have been released, and the new exams include both expected changes and a few surprises. Here’s the summary:

  • If you’ve studied for the 220-801 and 220-802 version of the A+ exam, then this exam should look very familiar. Roughly 75% of the exam objectives are identical to the previous version.
  • Some of the older technologies have thankfully been replaced, and some new topics have been added. Say goodbye to Rambus, CRTs, and Windows XP, and say hello to Windows 8, Mac OS, Linux, and Windows Phone.
  • The overall structure of the exams have been revised to make each exam more self-contained. Unlike the 220-802 exam that expected you to know the troubleshooting processes for every topic across both exams, the 220-901 and the 220-902 now have their own individual troubleshooting domains. You can now focus your study efforts on passing a single exam before clearing the slate and starting on the next exam. This will be a big change to every student’s study plans.

Here’s a domain-by-domain summary of the changes in the 220-901 and the 220-902 exams:

CompTIA A+ 220-901 Exam Objectives

220-901 Domain 1.0 – Hardware – 34% of the exam

  • The “PC Hardware” domain is now simply called “Hardware” in keeping with the certification’s new focus on all desktop devices. This is a common theme in the exam objectives, especially in the 220-902 exam objectives.
  • This domain is almost identical to the 220-801 exam objectives, except for minor technology updates. For example, UEFI has been added and AGP has been removed.
  • One significant change is the inclusion of printers into Domain 1.0. In the 220-801 exam objectives, printers was in their own domain. Don’t be fooled; there are actually more printer objectives in the 220-901 exam with the inclusion of virtual printers to the traditional laser, inkjet, thermal, and impact.

220-901 Domain 2.0 – Networking – 21% of the exam

  • The focus of networking on the exam has changed a bit to emphasize networking from the perspective of the client computer. The exam objectives associated with TCP/IP still include topics such as IPv4 vs. IPv6 and the use of subnet masks, but the exam objectives associated with IP classes has been completely removed. The focus is now clearly on networking the computer instead of administering the network. You’ll have plenty of time for classes and subnetting when you take your Network+ exam.
  • Some less-popular technologies like Wi-MAX have been removed and newer technologies like 802.11ac have been added.
  • The broad concept of network “topologies” such as mesh, ring, and bus, have been removed. Again, networking from the computing device perspective is emphasized.

220-901 Domain 3.0 – Mobile Devices – 17% of the exam

  • This was formerly the “Laptops” domain, but it now includes laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. The “Mobile Devices” section from the 220-802 exam has effectively been moved into this 220-901 domain.
  • The technology refresh is also part of this domain, with examples that include the removal of PCMCIA and the addition of USB adapters.

220-901 Domain 4.0 – Hardware and Network Troubleshooting – 28% of the exam

  • This is where you’ll find the largest functional change to both the 220-901 and the 220-902 CompTIA A+ certification exams. This exam-specific troubleshooting domain effectively removes the large overlap from the 220-801 and 220-802 exam objectives. This modification will be a big help to those who want to focus on a single exam before moving to the next.
  • The 220-801 exam did not include any command line commands in the exam objectives. With the addition of troubleshooting into the 220-901 exam, there are both hardware troubleshooting and networking commands to learn.

CompTIA A+ 220-902 Exam Objectives

220-902 Domain 1.0 – Windows Operating Systems – 29% of the exam

  • The operating system section is functionally identical to the 220-802 exam objectives, except Windows XP is removed and Windows 8/8.1 is added.
  • Windows-based network and OS command line tools are now part of the domain.

220-902 Domain 2.0 – Other Operating Systems and Technologies – 12% of the exam

  • If you’ve always been concerned with CompTIA’s focus on the Windows operating system, then you’ll be happy with this new domain. Perhaps the most significant change to either of the 900 series exams is this addition of Mac OS and Linux fundamentals. Although domain 1.0 includes the system requirements and installation of Windows, this domain instead focuses on the usability of Mac OS and Linux from a user’s perspective.
  • Mobile device usability is also included in this new domain, and Windows Phone has been added to the iOS and Android requirements.
  • There’s a significant list of about 20 Linux commands in this domain. This sub-domain section is a pretty big addition to the exam objectives that will take quite a bit of additional study.
  • The client-side virtualization concepts from the 220-802 exam objectives have been brought over, and basic cloud computing concepts have been added.
  • There’s a larger emphasis on mobile device configuration in the 220-902 exam objectives, especially with email and synchronization.

220-902 Domain 3.0 – Security – 22% of the exam

  • Security has received a much-needed update that include the addition of specific operating system security settings and features.
  • The 220-902 update now includes a detailed section on securing mobile devices

220-902 Domain 4.0 – Software Troubleshooting – 24% of the exam

  • With the addition of new operating systems to the exam objectives, you’ll now need to troubleshoot across Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. You’ll now need to know what to do when NTLDR or GRUB goes missing.
  • There’s now a larger emphasis on mobile device troubleshooting, including overheating, frozen systems, and connectivity troubleshooting.

220-902 Domain 5.0 – Operational Procedures – 13% of the exam

  • This domain was formerly part of the 220-801 exam, and is has now been moved into the 220-902. This was already a well structured domain, and you’ll find the 220-902 version to be virtually identical to the 220-801 exam objectives.

These exam objectives can be downloaded from this link on the CompTIA web site:

The CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exams will be released on December 15, 2015, and the 800 series exams will be retired on June 30, 2016. Given the additional content you’ll need to know for the 900 series exams, it might be more efficient to get your A+ certification using the 800 series objectives. Passing the 800 series or the 900 series exams will result in exactly the same A+ certification.

There are plenty of new technologies to discover on the 220-901 and 220-902 CompTIA A+ exams. As always, I’ll have comprehensive video courses that cover every objective from the 220-901 and 220-902 exams!