Good question! In order to give you a good answer, let us first look at this question from a different point of view – the point of view from an IT-Tech.
For those who wish to venture in to the IT field, the CompTIA A+ exams can be a very big first step for many! In the United States, these exams are a requirement for new techs at many companies. Here in Austria it is not required, but can help you out tremendously if IT is your career of choice. I was not a newbie at computers, but still wished to learn more about them before starting a business in computer repair. And so I took my exams in the last two weeks of June 2016. Just recently, the 800 series exams have been replaced by the 900 series exams. What is the difference between the 800 series and the 900 series? In a nutshell, the 900 series now also covers Windows 8 and Linux. I am not a huge fan of Windows 8 (or 10) and didn’t wish to learn about how crappy it is, so I rushed to take the 800 exams before they expired
I bought four books total, but I didn’t read all them though. I will tell you a little bit more about the authors and what I thought of their approach, including if it really helped or not. The first book I read (three times) was the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam Guide (8th Edition) by Mike Myers. Mike Myers is a great guy. I bet he is a really nice person in real life and has great stories to tell. He likes to talk a lot. And he likes to go in depth… way in depth. Perhaps too in-depth for the exams. From a learning experience, I found the book interesting, even though all his rambling and deep discussion was useless when it came to trying to pass the exams. The second book that I read and was quite satisfied with actually was the CompTIA A+ Certification for Dummies (3rd Edition) by Glen E. Clarke and Ed Tetz. The authors take a beginners approach and tell you the information without all the jumbo nonsense. I was a little skeptical on a “Dummies” book because I thought it would dumb everything down and waste my time, but all-in-all both authors explain the topics in a comfortable amount of detail. The third book gave me some problems. Titled CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide (2nd Edition) by Quentin Doctor, Emmett Dulaney, and Toby Skandler. I tried really hard to read this book, and I couldn’t. I think I reached about a quarter ways through before moving on to the final book. From the beginning the authors would use acronyms without first defining them. Again, I’m not a newbie but then again I can’t name every acronym in this type of field right off the top of my head. So, I felt like I was researching a lot when reading this book. I mostly felt lost and found myself re-reading many paragraphs. The final book I used, and the most useful, was Exam Cram, the 6th Edition, by David L. Prowse. This guy made wonders when he wrote this book. He defines all terminology, leaves out all the useless knowledge, and makes you feel like he is on the same level with you while reading. Everything I needed to know for the exam and the practice was in this book. And the best part is that he is readily available for questions if you need help! I ended up emailing him about the steps of the printing process because it is explained differently in many books, and the next morning I woke up with a reply. His book was very knowledgeable.
It sounds crazy, but these are just the books that I used in order to prepare for the exam. As for online tools, I watched all of Professor Messer’s free 800 series videos. He explains every objective in much needed detail. The upside to videos is that of course you get to see everything you are learning, which helps a lot. He also had offered some notes for a small price that helped me repeating the most important things I needed to know. If you do think that this is all, you are wrong. I took notes when reading the study books. I recorded myself while reading the notes and would listen to those records while I slept. I repeated all the chapters until I completely understood the content before I moved on to the next. I purchased a hands-on simulator through Pearson IT and did a lot of practice tests. The more the better! I compared today’s technology as well as my own system to what I was reading. As I built my computer myself, I already know what is inside, but in order to follow the book, I tinkered around with it while reading. Studying took a lot of time away from my significant other. Even though my wife helped me tremendously with the studying!
I know that you can pass the exams with less stress. There are books that are well-aimed to prepare you for passing the exam. But what really makes a good IT tech? Certainly not just a certification.
I have always liked computers and the unlimited possibilities they offer and I have always tried to understand how computers and other electrical devises work. I like making things work. Not too long ago, my mother-in-law brought me an iPad Mini with a broken screen. Not once have I repaired an iPad Mini and honestly, I was a little bit scared to break it as it was the iPad of her boss. An overcautious IT tech would refuse touching this device as he would be too afraid to break something. It took me a while to figure out how to replace the screen, but I eventually figured it out. I try to learn as much as possible about all kinds of technology. I enjoy reading about computers and broadening my know-how about today’s technology. If I see a certain problem for the first time, I might be cautious, but I am not too scared to act. I research and stay patient.
It takes more than crazy technical jargon or a wall of certifications to make you seem like you know what you are doing. I could have started an IT business without a certification, but I like learning about computers. The CompTIA A+ Certification is a great foundation that I can build on with continuous learning.
In my personal opinion, a good IT tech is someone who is knowledgeable in the field, has a lot of passion and curiosity, as well as someone who likes to see things work.