how much of the A+ exam is useless memorization?

alreadyinusealreadyinuse Member Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi,

I want to ask this general question to people who have already taken the exam, because I have not yet taken it...

How much of the A+ exam questions involve memorization of useless facts? What percentage of the questions involve memorizing esoteric facts?

For example, the fact that pin 13 in a 15 pin "D" VGA connector is the Horizontal sync signal.... is a useless fact for the purpose of a general certification exam such as this one. I am assuming that the questions on the test don't get quite as esoteric and irrelevant as this, but I've seen some that are close...

For example, knowing if an EPP setting on your parallel port is faster or slower than ECP... I really can't see how such a fact would ever ever be applicable in the real world for an entry-level tech. Yet I have seen this question listed in a "practice exam" I found. You could work with troubleshooting all manner of systems and driver installations in all sorts of OSes for years and never have to know which is faster - ECP or EPP - and memorizing this random fact doesn't show that you have *any* competence in dealing with anything related to parallel ports, just that you have a good memory.

Or knowing how many pins a socket-7 has... who cares!

It might be useful, however, to know that an IDE cable has 40 pins (not 80 as the official CompTIA/Thompson Course Technology 2003 objectives paper-weight err I mean Student Manual, repeatedly says) and to know that the cable can have 40 or 80 *conductors*... but anyway... *rolls eyes*

To give another example of some random factoid that might not be so irrelevant, take for example the question - which IRQ and memory range is typically associated with COM1? The fact that someone remembers such a fact might actually demonstrate that they've worked with these settings enough to have actually memorized them.

So I mean, I've got 10+ years experience working with a lot of different hardware and OS stuff, sometimes on a very low level. So I have a lot of esoteric and useless information memorized already. I also have a lot of useful information memorized... So as I'm studying this stuff and I come across subject matter that I haven't worked with before and am not familiar with, based on my prior experience with other subject matter, I can recognize which details in this new subject will be totally irrelevant, and which might actually be interesting and useful to know...

So that's my question... how much irrelevant material should I memorize for this test... If I just skip over a lot of this more esoteric material, am I screwing myself over for the test? How much of the test is gonna be "stupid?" questions? icon_smile.gif In your opinion, what percentage of the test is stupid irrelevant questions?

And one other question - I'm assuming that the test randomly chooses from many possible questions - so could a person just get unlucky and get nothing but 80 questions in a row that are asking things like "how many pins does a socket 360 have? what core voltage does the AMD such 'n such chip use? What is the compression ratio of IDRC?

Thanks for any insight y'all can provide!

Comments

  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    You do not have to take this exam ;)
    Plantwiz
    _____
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • mddillon04mddillon04 Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    The first thing you need to do is RELAX!! Take a pill man!

    The A+ exam asks some detailed questions and some questions that are so common sense you might think it is a trick question.

    I used the All-In-One Exam Guide by Mike Meyers along with his practice exams that came with the vouchers I bought from his site. www.totalsem.com

    These two items were all I needed to very successfully pass both A+ exams.

    Get Mike's 1100 question test CDs and master them and you will be sure to pass the A+ exams.
    So many certifications, so little time...
  • sartsart Member Posts: 44 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Let me just say that this exam is so easy, and has such a low passing score, that if you can't just walk in and take it without studying you probably don't belong in the IT industry.

    Expect to pass it in less than 10 minutes excluding load time if you know what you're talking about.
    -network analyst
  • mddillon04mddillon04 Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Spoken like a true know-it-all techie, SART!! icon_wink.gif
    So many certifications, so little time...
  • keatronkeatron Security Tinkerer Member Posts: 1,213 ■■■■■■□□□□
    sart wrote:
    Let me just say that this exam is so easy, and has such a low passing score, that if you can't just walk in and take it without studying you probably don't belong in the IT industry.

    Expect to pass it in less than 10 minutes excluding load time if you know what you're talking about.

    You couldn't be more wrong. While there might be SOME seasoned techies who MIGHT be able to do this, I would bet that most can't. Be very careful when making lose and un-proven statements like "if you can't just walk in and take it without studying you probably don't belong in the IT industry"
  • alreadyinusealreadyinuse Member Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the tips mddillon04. I am sure that you are correct in saying that there are some questions that are easy or 'common sense' and some that are more detailed. keatron seems to be saying that the entire test is easy / common sense. But can anyone give some examples or list some types of material that would justify these statements?

    I hate memorizing stuff for no reason other than to memorize it. I remember stuff better when it is useful for me in some way (other than just to pass a test icon_wink.gif )

    So what I'm wondering about specifically is if I can skip memorizing all this stuff like the speed of a serial/parallel/USB1/USB2/SCSI/Firewire connection?

    I'm sorry, maybe my examples are not very good. Those of you who have taken the test maybe can give better examples of categories or types of subject matter that I can expect on the test... like.. what levels of detail can I expect?

    Another way to phrase my question... if this was a chemistry test... An entry-level chemistry test might expect you to have memorized the composition of certain important elements... But hopefully it is not going to expect you to have the entire periodic chart memorized.

    Thanks!
  • mddillon04mddillon04 Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Keatron is correct. Even professionals who have been in the industry for years may have trouble with this exam.

    It may seen trivial, but alot of those things will be on the exams. Such as USB standards/speeds, SATA speed, COM port resources(IRQs, I/O addresses), common IRQ assignments for other devices.
    You should know and understand the laser printing process well, remember CCWDTF. Basic networking is also on the exam.
    Know common sockets/slots for CPUs, firewire speeds...
    These are just a few of the items I would focus on, and that is just the hardware test.

    There is alot of info to know for the exams, but nobody should memorize everything and anything.
    I highly suggest getting Mike Meyers book and CD I previously mentioned. He explains what you need to know for both exams and what information is "beyond A+". Take several of his practice tests a few days before the exam and if you are scoring 80% or better on them consistantly you will easily pass the A+ exams.

    The passing score for the A+ exam may not be very high, but knowing alot of this information will still be very useful at work, and you never know which questions you will be asked. Take it one test at a time.

    Keep your eye on the prize and don't let people like sart throw you off your game. Even a "perfect IT genius icon_wink.gif " like him had his day when he did'nt know this stuff.

    -Hope this helps ya out
    So many certifications, so little time...
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod

    I hate memorizing stuff for no reason other than to memorize it. I remember stuff better when it is useful for me in some way (other than just to pass a test icon_wink.gif )

    Well, if you want to work in IT and anything with hardware, it won't be useless. There is a lot of old technology still floating around and the more you understand the better you are to fix, troubleshoot, or recommened the appropriate upgrade.

    Another way to phrase my question... if this was a chemistry test... An entry-level chemistry test might expect you to have memorized the composition of certain important elements... But hopefully it is not going to expect you to have the entire periodic chart memorized.
    We had to know the periodic table for High School Chemistry! Thought that was pretty standard across the country for public high schools?


    **********

    Regardless,
    the more you work with the hardware and the OSs the more it will make sense and it won't seem like such a chore to 'memorize'.

    Regarding Sart's comment:
    It is entirely possible for a technician to not work with a particular technology for a time and forget what they once had known. Someone who continue to read on their respective industry (IT, Medical, Floral, etc..) has a better chance at knowing or retaining things they once learned, but over time, if it isn't used, it gets archived.

    ******

    Review the CompTIA objectives. Meyers book as suggested is very handy. The TechNotes here are very helpful to people. Sybex also puts out a good book.

    It will just take a little mor time if you are not or have not worked with some of the components for the information to stay with you, but it will come in handy at some point....anyone still using BNC ends? :)
    Plantwiz
    _____
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • int80hint80h Member Posts: 84 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thats the reason A+ isn't very well respected in the industry; it doesn't require an understanding of computers to pass, just memorize some tech specs.
  • PlantwizPlantwiz Alligator wrestler Mod Posts: 5,057 Mod
    int80h wrote:
    Thats the reason A+ isn't very well respected in the industry; it doesn't require an understanding of computers to pass, just memorize some tech specs.


    From my experience there are a number of people who hold an A+ certificate (who I have worked with) and when they are in the field make too many poor choices, don't understand the technology, and are not familiar with proper procedures for handling material.

    Hold an A+ is ver similar to being a Black Belt in a Martial Art. It is a beginning, and does not make one a master student. Just as there are McDojo BlackBelt students in the world, there are paper certified people....just don't have the experience to back up what they know. Don't have the discipline to say when they don't know.

    One does not need to be a Master Technician to hold an A+, but holding an A+ doesn't mean a person 'knows' what they are doing either.

    When I work with someone and they cannot get their drives to work, they call me up to tell me they must be defective because they cannot have more than 1 device per IDE channel.....this person is holding a paper cert!! (real example).

    Or when a person cannot understand why the Mobo continues to short out..."it's only touching the chassis" (meaning the solder points on the back of the board are resting on the chassis when they applied power).....this person should not be holding an A+. However, this too is a true example and even though the person past the exam, didn't make him competent.

    When I interview candidate, I want to see that they know what they are doing, not just talk about it. Talk is cheap. Mistakes in the field are costly!
    Plantwiz
    _____
    "Grammar and spelling aren't everything, but this is a forum, not a chat room. You have plenty of time to spell out the word "you", and look just a little bit smarter." by Phaideaux

    ***I'll add you can Capitalize the word 'I' to show a little respect for yourself too.

    'i' before 'e' except after 'c'.... weird?
  • alreadyinusealreadyinuse Member Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks I think I have a better feel for the test now. I might check out that Mike Meyers book/cd if it isn't too expensive.

    We did have to know the periodic chart for HS chemistry? Oh well, maybe we did. I don't remember anymore. I dropped out of HS anyway. I got my GED cert... Man, talk about your worthless certs... I could have passed that one in junior high. icon_smile.gif

    10-base-T BNC ends? You betcha Plantwiz, there are still POS systems out there running on that crap, even on proprietary versions where there aren't T connectors, but instead connectors that are spliced into the one physically continuous cable with crimping or soldering (I'm not sure which,) then shink wrapped. See it saves money... *sarcasm*.

    As for the question of if A+ is or isn't, should or shouldn't be respected by the IT industry (whatever that is exactly,) we can take that to another topic if you want... I leave it to someone else to start that thread with some reasoned arguments.

    Thanks again for the feedback!
  • jiggy79jiggy79 Member Posts: 7 ■□□□□□□□□□
    mddillon04,

    I see that you recommend the All-in-One A+ by Mike Meyers the 5th edition. Its copyrighted in 2003, since we are in year 2006. Do you think it has enough info to pass the A+ Core/OS exam.
  • sharptechsharptech Member Posts: 492
    Jiggy-

    It is a GREAT book-so please do pick it up. I just took my Core today and passed.

    I used that book and did A TON of practice exams. On the practice exams you should hit 90%+ and then you will do great.

    Mike Meyers also has a cd w/ practice questions- not that expensive either.
  • mddillon04mddillon04 Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    The current A+ exams are based on 2003 technology
    So many certifications, so little time...
  • hipsterdufushipsterdufus Member Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Hi, I'm new to this site (been working on and building computers for about last 8 years). I'm looking to pass this test; I've been scoring in the upper 80% marks for awhile on the practice tests included with the Mike Myers book. Do you guys think I'd be ready to take the regular test or should I keep studying? I really don't want to flunk the first time...
  • JuddJudd Member Posts: 132
    10-base-T BNC ends?
    Don't you mean 10Base2 w/BNC connectors?

    I don't believe you can wire ethernet catagory cable into a coax connector.
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