At over 1200 pages, the All-In-One CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Guide, 6th Ed by Mike Meyers, is quite the tome. I read it cover to cover in preparation for the A+ exam and just completed it.
For a little information on the CompTIA A+ certificate, it is a standard achievement proving basic competency with computer hardware and software. This should probably be the first certification you target in IT as other tests, like Network+ and Security+, build from it. The A+ certification involves two separate tests. The first test is the Essentials test, which everybody takes. The second test allows for more specification. There are IT Technician, IT Help Desk, and IT Depot Technician exams. Which one you choose depends on your career path and uses for the certification. I went with the IT Technician exam as it’s a good balance between the other two.
The Guide covers all the topics of the A+ Exam and separates the chapters by component.
- The Path of the PC Tech
- The Visible PC
- BIOS and CMOS
- Expansion Bus
- Power Supplies
- Hard Drive Technologies
- Implementing Hard Drives
- Removable Media
- Installing and Upgrading Windows
- Understanding Windows
- Working with the Command-Line Interface
- Maintaining and Troubleshooting Windows
- Portable Computing
- Local Area Networking
- The Internet
- Computer Security
- The Complete PC Tech
The included CD-ROM was a little dated and the practice exams on it would not work. It got hung up saying it needed Windows Media Player 9 or later, but I have WMP 11 and it wouldn’t allow me to run it. At the end of each chapter, there are 10 multiple-choice questions for chapter review and exam practice.
Overall, the content of the book is rich and interesting. There are different utilities covered throughout the book to show how to find information or use different resources. With a number of walk-throughs and in-depth explanations, the Guide, like the A+ Exam, is very practical.
While much of the information is unchanging and consistent over time, some of it is obsolete. The book was published at the end of 2006 and some of the information seems silly to be covering, like Windows 98 topics. The hardware parts of the book contained plenty of historical information and allowed me to learn more about those components that had already been phased out by time I entered the field. While the 2007 version of the exam is the one currently being administered, you may want to add a more recent book to your reading list to help prepare for some of the new technologies that are not covered in as much depth. All in all though, the All-in-One CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Guide (a steal at ~$40) partnered with practical experience in the field should be enough to prepare you for whatever the exam throws your way.
(I reviewed the 6th edition, but here is a link to the updated 7th edition available through Amazon.)
By the way, I passed and am now an A+ certified IT Technician.