The New A+ 900 Series: What’s New (Part 4 of 5)

March 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Posted in CompTIA | 1 Comment
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Welcome back to my series of posts on the new A+ exam. The old 220-801 and 220-802 exams are still available, but they will retire on June 30, 2016 in the United States. CompTIA has released a new version of the A+ certification by rolling out the 220-901 and 220-902 exams on December 15, 2015.

  • In my first post, I went over the timeline and what to expect from the exam changes as a whole.
  • In my second post, I went into detail regarding the first two objectives for 220-901, Hardware and Networking.
  • In my third post, I went into detail regarding the last two objectives for 220-901, Mobile Devices and Hardware & Network Troubleshooting.

In this post, I will cover the first two objectives for 220-902, Windows Operating Systems and Other Operating Systems & Technologies. I’ll give you the entire overview of each objective, list each subobjective, tell you where each topic fell in the old A+ 800-series (if applicable), and put all changes or additions in RED ITALICS.

I will not call out any deleted topics, although CompTIA has removed some topics. This is because I am not really sure if those topics were actually removed from the exam, or if they are just so insignificant that they aren’t called out in the objective listing, but are still floating around in some test questions. Remember that CompTIA’s objective listing contains a disclaimer that says,

“The lists of examples provided in bulleted format below each objective are not exhaustive lists. Other examples of technologies, processes or tasks pertaining to each objective may also be included on the exam although not listed or covered in this objectives document.”

For this reason, I didn’t want to focus on what was removed. My exam experience has shown that the bullet lists are not exhaustive. Spending time focusing on what was removed may give you a false sense of security by making you think you don’t need to study those topics. So I am just ignoring any topic removals.

First, a note about “Bloom’s Levels”

You’ll see me refer to topics changing their Bloom’s level. In the instructional design world, Bloom’s taxonomy is used to describe the depth or complexity of a learning outcome, just as the OSI model describes the level at which a network component operates. Level 1 is basic memorization (what is a router?), where level 6 is complete mastery of a concept (designing a network from scratch).

If I mention here that a Bloom’s level has changed, it generally means that CompTIA is asking for something more complex than memorization. While these changes shouldn’t scare you, there is a bit more “rubber meeting the road” to the higher Bloom’s levels. For example, instead of recognizing various LCD technologies from a list, you may be asked to evaluate which LCD is the best choice for a given scenario. Instead of answering a question about how CIDR notation behaves in the abstract, you may be asked to configure a subnet mask.

220-902 Objective 1: Windows Operating Systems

A+ 220-802 covered Windows operating systems in its own domain. It included Windows operating system (OS) features and requirements, installation, command-line tools, tools and features, Control Panel utilities, networking, and maintenance. The biggest change in this objective is the OSs versions that are included.

What’s changed? In A+ 220-902, Windows operating systems now include Windows 8 and 8.1. No big surprise: Windows XP was removed. But contrary to popular belief, Windows 10 is NOT included. Often I hear complaints that the A+ certification doesn’t include the latest Windows version (because this happens in almost every iteration of A+.) But keep in mind that the objectives for this exam were ironed out last year while Windows 10 was still in its infancy.

1.1 Compare and contrast various features and requirements of Microsoft Operating Systems (Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1). – From Objective 1, subobjective 1 in the old 220-802. New topics were added:

  • Features 
    • Side by side apps – added to the Features section
    • Metro UI – added to the Features section
    • Pinning – added to the Features section
    • One Drive – added to the Features section
    • Windows Store – added to the Features section
    • Multimonitor task bars – added to the Features section
    • Charms – added to the Features section
    • Start Screen – added to the Features section
    • Power Shell – added to the Features section
    • Live sign in – added to the Features section
    • Action Center – added to the Features section

1.2 Given a scenario, install Windows PC operating systems using appropriate methods. – From Objective 1, subobjective 2 in 220-902. These new topics were added:

  • Boot methods 
    • Solid state/flash drives – added to the Boot methods section
    • Netboot – added to the Boot methods section
    • External/hot swappable drive – added to the Boot methods section
    • Internal hard drive (partition) – added to the Boot methods section
  • Type of installations
    • Recovery partition – added to the Type of installations section
    • Refresh/restore – added to the Type of installations section
  • Partitioning
    • GPT – added to the Partitioning section
  • File system types/formatting
    • ExFAT – added to the File system types/formatting section
    • NFS – added to the File system types/formatting section
    • ext3, ext4 – added to the File system types/formatting section
  • Properly formatted boot drive with the correct partitions/format– added

1.3 Given a scenario, apply appropriate Microsoft command line tools. – From Objective 1, subobjective 3 in 220-802. The Networking command-line tools that were included in this objective in 220-802 have been moved to the Networking objective in 220-901. These new topics were added:

  • GPUPDATE – added
  • GPRESULT – added
  • DIR – added
  • EXIT – added
  • HELP – added
  • EXTRACT – added
  • Commands available with standard privileges vs. administrative privileges. – added

1.4 Given a scenario, use appropriate Microsoft operating system features and tools. – From Objective 1, subobjective 4 in 220-902. These new topics were added:

  • Disk Management
    • Initializing – added to the Disk Management section
    • Shrink partitions – added to the Disk Management section
    • Assigning/changing drive letters – revised to include changing
    • Storage spaces – added to the Disk Management section
  • Other
    • Windows Upgrade Advisor – added to the Other section
  • System Utilities
    • DEFRAG – added to the System Utilities section
    • System restore –  added to the System Utilities section
    • Windows Update –  added to the System Utilities section

1.5 Given a scenario, use Windows Control Panel utilities. – From Objective 1, subobjective 5 in 220-802. These new topics were added:

  • Display/Display Settings – revised to include Display Settings
    • Color depth – added to the Display/Display Settings section
    • Refresh rate – added to the Display/Display Settings section
  • Folder Options
    • General options – added to the Folder Options section
    • View options – added to the Folder Options section
  • System
    • Hardware profiles – added to the System section
  • Programs and features – added
  • Devices and Printers – added
  • Sound – added
  • Network and Sharing Center – added
  • Device Manager – added

1.6 Given a scenario, install and configure Windows networking on a client/desktop. – From objective 1, subobjective 6 in 220-802. The Bloom’s level has increased. “Given a scenario” requires applying your knowledge, rather than the old wording of “Setup and configure” (demonstrating knowledge without application). These new topics were added:

  • Network shares/administrative shares/mapping drives – changed to include administrative shares
  • Printer sharing vs. network printer mapping – added
  • Remote Desktop Connection – changed to proper name of tool
  • Remote Assistance – added
  • Network card properties
    • BIOS (on-board NIC) – added to Network card properties section

1.7 Perform common preventive maintenance procedures using the appropriate Windows OS tools. – From objective 1, subobject 7 in 220-802.

  • Best practices
    • Scheduled disk maintenance – changed to disk maintenance instead of separate check disks and defragmentation
    • Antivirus/ Antimalware updates – changed to include antimalware
  • Tools
    • Disk maintenance utilities – changed to disk maintenance utilities instead of check disk and defrag
220-902 Objective 2: Other Operating Systems & Technologies

This is a mostly new objective for the A+ certification. For those of you that go way back (and I am talking way, way back here), you’ll remember that the A+ certification used to cover the Apple and Linux operating systems, cloud technologies, and network hosts. With this latest version, you will see a return of those operating systems in this objective, as well as covering the mobile device operating systems, virtualization, mobile device connectivity and email, and mobile devices synchronization, which were all covered in 220-802.

All changes are in RED ITALICS.

2.1 Identify common features and functionality of the Mac OS and Linux operating systems. – This is a completely new objective. The following topics are covered in this subobjective:

  • Best practices
    • Scheduled backups
    • Scheduled disk maintenance
    • System updates/App store
    • Patch management
    • Driver/firmware updates
    • Antivirus/ Antimalware updates
  • Tools
    • Backup/Time Machine
    • Restore/snapshot
    • Image recovery
    • Disk maintenance utilities
    • Shell/Terminal
    • Screen sharing
    • Force Quit
  • Features
    • Multiple desktops/Mission Controls
    • Key Chain
    • Spot Light
    • iCloud
    • Gestures
    • Finder
    • Remote Disk
    • Dock
    • Boot Camp
  • Basic Linux commands
    • ls
    • grep
    • cd
    • shutdown
    • pwd vs. passwd
    • mv
    • cp
    • rm
    • chmod
    • cd
    • chown
    • iwconfig/ifconfig
    • ps
    • q
    • su/sudo
    • apt-get
    • vi
    • dd

2.2 Given a scenario, setup and use client-side virtualization. – From Objective 1, subobjective 9 in 220-802. The Bloom’s level has increased. “Given a scenario, setup and use” requires applying your knowledge, rather than the old wording of “Explain the basics of” (demonstrating knowledge without application). This subobjective had no other changes.

2.3 Identify basic cloud concepts. – This is a completely new objective. The following topics are covered in this subobjective:

  • SaaS
  • IaaS
  • Paas
  • Public vs. Private vs. Hybrid vs. Community
  • Rapid Elasticity
  • On-demand
  • Resource pooling
  • Measured service

2.4 Summarize the properties and purpose of services provided by networked hosts. – This is a completely new objective. The following topics are covered in this subobjective:

  • Server roles
    • Web server
    • File server
    • Print server
    • DHCP server
    • DNS server
    • Proxy server
    • Mail server
    • Authentication server
  • Internet appliance
    • UTM
    • IDS
    • IPS
  • Legacy / embedded systems

2.5 Identify basic features of mobile operating systems. – From Objective 3, subobjective 2 in 220-802. The old version of this objective used “Explain” instead of “Identify”, but this is no change in the Bloom’s level for this topic. These new topics were added:

  • Android vs. iOS vs. Windows – changed to include Windows mobile operating system. This change means that all the topics in this subobjective must also address this mobile operating system.
    • App source (play store, app store and store) – added play store to this topic
    • WiFi calling – added
    • Launcher/GUI – added
    • Virtual assistant – added
    • SDK/APK – added
    • Emergency notification – added
    • Mobile payment service – added

2.6 Install and configure basic mobile device network connectivity and email. – From Objective 3, subobjective 2 in 220-802. These new topics were added:

  • Wireless / cellular data network (enable/disable)
    • Hotspot – added to Wireless / cellular data network section
    • Tethering – added to Wireless / cellular data network section
    • Airplane mode – added to Wireless / cellular data network section
  • Corporate and ISP email configuration – revised to include Corporate and ISP
    • Exchange, S/MIME – revised to include S/MIME
  • Integrated commercial provider email configuration
    • Google/Inbox
    • Yahoo
    • iCloud
  • PRI updates/PRL updates/Baseband updates
  • Radio firmware
  • IMEI vs. IMSI
  • VPN

2.7 Summarize methods and data related to mobile device synchronization – From Objective 3, subobjective 5 in 220-802. The Bloom’s level (and therefore the difficulty) for this objective changed, because the “Summarize methods and data related to” (demonstrating knowledge without application) phrase replaced “Execute and configure” (demonstrating application) in the old version. These new topics were added:

  • Types of data to synchronize
    • Calendar – added to Type of data to synchronize section
    • Bookmarks – added to Type of data to synchronize section
    • Documents – added to Type of data to synchronize section
    • Location data – added to Type of data to synchronize section
    • Social media data – added to Type of data to synchronize section
    • eBooks – added to Type of data to synchronize section
  • Synchronization methods – added
    • Synchronize to the Cloud – added
    • Synchronize to the Desktop – added
  • Mutual authentication for multiple services – added
Closing Thoughts

As you can see, I am just covering the high points and not delving too deeply into these topics. My point here is to help those who already know the A+ understand exactly what new topics they need to study. CompTIA has started a series of Webinars called Deep Dive: A Look Inside the A+ 900 Series Objectives that cover these topics much more deeply than I do. You can access these Webinars  by joining the CompTIA Instructor Network at

Remember, this post is part of a series of posts I will be completing. Here are the details for those posts:

To help you start your A+ 900-series study schedule off right, we have launched our 220-901 practice test and 220-902 practice test! They include performance-based questions and cover all the 220-901 and 220-902 topics.

cert-220-901  220-902

Finally, we have an all-in-one multipak that includes both exams, with a total of 666 practice exam questions and 1073 Transcender Flashcards.

Thanks again for reading!

-Robin Abernathy

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  1. […] with 801/802 and suggests that test-takers adopt a different study approach. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and (forthcoming) Part 5 drill down into the nitty-gritty differences between the two knowledge […]

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