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on December 12, 2012
A couple of months ago, I decided to take the steps necessary to become A+ certified. Since I already had good hands on experience, I knew that I didn't want to pay an outrageous price for a class. So, I opted for home study based on the good reviews I'd read that were posted on earlier Mike Meyer's books. I bought his latest A+ exam guide to prepare for tests 220-801 and 220-802. Using this book, I was able to pass both tests, just barely.

Do I blame the book ? Nope. In fact the book is quite good. Yes, it's a back breaking 1400+ pages. But it does a very thorough job explaining the basics of what a PC Technician might encounter in their first 1-3 years on the job. Mike Meyer's wrote the book based on the current Comp TIA A+ exam objectives. So, don't be surprized if certain topics do seem to have better explanations in the previous edition. The new edition is all about presenting the current exam objectives which emphasize topics like portable computers, smart phones, networking and security.

The problem with working with computers is that the hardware and software are constantly changing. In order to keep up with the Joneses, a technician has to know a lot of small details. And that's what the Comp TIA A+ exams test you on i.e. your knowledge of those really small details. Mike Meyer's made sure that no detail was too small to be ignored from those objectives. Read and study the exam tips. They are great bullet points.

The book does cover all the objectives set out by Comp TIA. Here's the catch 22, because all the A+ prep books were written before the new tests even went live, there just are not enough "free" supplemental materials posted on the internet that a person can use to help them study. The exams are just too new. The included CD is somewhat helpful in that the test engine does mimic the exam structure exactly. However, as others have complained, 100 questions per exam aren't enough to prepare a person for the actual exam. It's a start, but you need more to pass. That's where Mike Meyer's loses a star rating. The CD will direct you to his website were you can PURCHASE extra practice questions. And the free online video tutorials, aren't free either. If you're looking for great free online videos to prepare for the A+, I highly recommend google searching for Professor Messer's website. He has excellent hardware tutorial videos posted on his website. He also has an assortment of free A+ questions you can use for practice. If you were do a search on 220-801/802, the only exam prep resources you'll find will cost you. If you can afford it, I highly recommend purchasing some of those practice question packages and there are different packages available. The more questions you can answer from the objectives, the better prepared you will be to pass the exams.

Mike Meyer's does not cover the performance questions in the book, but he does mention them on his website.
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on August 17, 2012
I may not represent the "typical" target for this book as I purchased it strictly to review CompTIA's Windows troubleshooting protocols; I'm sure my mindset of "let's nuke the entire site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" when a computer encounters any moderately complex problem is probably not the most conventional (at my job I've found it more practical to keep a backup image on the network). Despite that, I've ended up reading it (mostly) cover to cover; no small feat considering it clocks in at 1150+ pages, and I think I've walked away with more than I expected.

Mike Meyers takes a "let's start at the bottom" approach that I find ideal since I think it's easier to understand a complex subject when I get the building blocks first. I'd say the first quarter to third of the book is focused on the overview of the PC, its basic technology, and the evolution that brought us to the present day. Every chapter begins with a section titled "Historical/Conceptual" in which he will review the basic concepts of how the technology works, then become more concrete. For example, over the course of a few chapters the book covers the basis of computer language (the binary system) and how the processor physically communicates with the rest of the computer. He then applies this to describe the Intel 8088 processor, an old and very influential design, then explains how that design evolved over time to incorporate new innovations and discoveries to bring the reader to the present day's Intel Core series. The middle of the book moves into bringing the fundamentals together, and towards the end circles back to advanced/esoteric hardware implementation and networking.

Some of the material in these sections may seem to have little bearing on the A+ exam, but it's critical to really knowing the basics of computers and how they work; after all, you can't fix something you don't understand. Generally, beyond Historical/Conceptual comes "Practical Application" which will delve into implementing and troubleshooting. I found the tone throughout well balanced, with the right amount of technical detail mixed with analogies where necessary to promote understanding, and enough humor keep a reader awake. There are also a fair amount of Windows screencaps and diagrams when discussing muddy or dense subjects. Every chapter wraps up with a brief quiz to ensure you've picked up the essentials, and closes with a section titled "Beyond A+" to further expand on relevant topics or suggest continued reading or practice.

Later chapters move into what you would expect - Windows internals, hard-drives, LANs, networking, mostly with the same thoroughness as earlier chapters, though at times it does feel like the author is simply rattling off information from a list - I found the section on Windows Group Policies especially tedious, but that's Group Policies for you. Some of the analogies I thought might seem belaboured to a novice; the CPU as a man in a box flipping switches I thought was possibly confusing (like, so simple it's actually kind of obtuse) to someone who doesn't already know a bit about binary and electronics.

If you're considering purchasing this book as a beginner looking to pass the A+ exams, I wouldn't think twice. I think this alone would be enough to pass the exams, provided you spend the time needed to actually practice what you can. The specifics the book gets into about troubleshooting particular problems (and the decent index) would also make this an ok reference to have lying around a shop, though not my first choice.

I know when you're first starting out, it's hard to be patient, especially when you're making your way through a tome as hefty as this, but don't skim and don't think this book is "beneath you" (my mistake initially) and you'll have a good amount of knowledge under your belt by the time you hit the end. A+ is probably your first step, it's important that you get your first step right.

Beyond A+ comes the brunt of computing today - networking. This same author's "Network+" guide book, written with the same attention to detail, would seem to be a natural starting point but it might also be beneficial to go hands on first and try "Computer Networking: Internet Protocols in Action"; it comes with a CD containing packet traces you'll be following with an analyzing program called Wireshark. I'd also suggest a classic, "TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1" if you really want to get how networking works. You'd also do well to check out the catalog of No Starch Press, and bookmark them; you'll be coming back to their heavy stuff in a year or two.
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on April 22, 2013
First off I have never reviewed anything I have ever purchased. This will be the first time and I have made hundreds if not thousands of purchases online. So that has to count for something. If I am taking the time too.

This is the real deal here. The book was about $40 at the time I picked it up. My tip take the CD and install the practice trial test. Take the first one right off the bat and see what you score. Now the trial says you need an 85% to pass I had an 80%. The real test you need a 70%. I believe this extra 15% is to give you lean way for passing. This is a great technique to use for studying.

Second I read the book cover to cover. Taking the chapter review test without cheating. I answered them on paper and then went to answers. The answers provide a breakdown as to why the answers are right and not right. Which helps a lot. Again this will only be good if you are honest and don't cheat. This is a really easy book to read. Very well written and with humor involved. It's far from dry and I have read some bad ones. I read it cover to cover in a weekend. There are a lot of pictures which make the 400ish pgs go by super fast.

Lastly after all the chapters are read and tests done. Take the 2nd practice exam it has different questions and see how you score.I hit a 95% on that one. After the book. I also went to comptia.org and asked for some practice questions. I aced those and figured it was time for the real test. I just took it today and got a 97% It was pain free and easy to do. You could probably wing a 70% if you are familiar with IT World. However at roughly 100 bucks for the test would you rather spend $140 and pass or risk losing $100 instead if you fail.

Some believe this test to be completely pointless. I don't know about that I learned a few new details I didnt before and in my opinion it shows two things. First it helps break you into the testing environment with a lot lower stress. It's an easy test and I rather take my first test on an easy setting then having to do it on super hard right out of the gate. It allows you to discover how to buy a voucher, redeem it sch your test, find your testing center which my gps was off by 10 miles and I was almost late.
Secondly, It shows drive and initiative. It shows that you are willing to put in the extra time to study and take the time out of your life to achieve your goal you set no matter what that goal is.

Those are my thoughts feel feel to chime in with you.
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on July 8, 2013
The book itself is pretty good. Probably compatible to others on the market for reading and gaining information. It is a well structured book and easy to understand.

The take away is that there really isn't much after the reading material. It does come with about 220 questions (110 per exam sections). Not enough to help. The questions are way to easy. Of course the point in this is to get one to purchase more questions at a outrageous price. When looking for more question materials you are taken to a site where it costs $125 per exam section for more questions. This is no different with the supposed free videos. You have to pay get actually get what would benefit you.

I believe the book and content is rated too high for what you don't get. This is by no means a book that will get you to the promise land in my opinion. I believe those that rated this book and content high and stated this book is responsible for their passing is doing nothing but taking away from their own ability and knowledge they posed already. If I was a real novice, I would have not passed the exam just depending on this material.

What I end up doing. Like I said, the book itself is pretty informative. Realizing the accompanying material was very insufficient, I bout two question/answer study guilds. Those is conjunction with this book was all I needed to successfully pass the test. The two other books I purchased were the CompTIA A+ Certification Practice Exams, Second Edition (Exams 220-801 & 220-802) and CompTIA A+ 220-801 220-802 Q&A. Between the two books, I had an additional 2000 Q&As paying less than $25 for the two not the $250 this book requires.

Also beware that the new exam has simulations on it. This is new for the 801/802 exams. The 801 sims were pretty easy but the 802 requires some command prompt requirements if you get them. I don't think any of the 801/802 materials have sims as it's new.
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on March 13, 2015
I read this book cover to cover once. It took me three months. I read slowly but I also work heavy hours full time and I'm a mom so time is precious. I bought this book because it was rated no.1 best seller for A+ and I wanted to pass my exams.

While I don't begrudge the detail that this book goes into, this is not a book you should use soley to study with or you will fail. This is a great supplemental reference material and if you are looking for a straight to the point - this is what you need to take the exam - you are better off buying cram exam. I read both and the latter is better because of short quizes at the end broken down by specific exam type.

No one that I knew went to those exams and sat them both same day. So I feel like the material should have been organized in a better fashion than what it was.

Given that critism, the book does do extremely well on describing laser printing, how a CPU works, and security stuff.

With the help of professor messer, this book and cbtnuggets practice exams and exam cram, I passed both tests recently and did decently. I've been working in the IT field for a long time. Don't go in to the exam room thinking you will ace the test, even techs who have been working the field for years might fail without proper preparation.
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on December 19, 2014
First off, this book displays so much information that it is horrifying to the mind. I literally could not go at this book for more than 2 hours a day due to the irrelevant information and boring details that DO NOT matter for the CompTIA test. I read all the one and two star reviews out there after finishing the book to make sure this was all I needed to pass the 801/802 exams. I now understand what all the angry complaints were formed from.
I found a very helpful website called. www.crucialexams.com that I have used as an extra study guide. Get this, no where in Michael's book did he mention the OSI model going into the detail of the layers. I have used confrol +F to search the whole text for the model and important information relating to it. Only on the free crucialexams website did I encounter this term and had no idea what it was. The website also uses a method of flash note cards that are extremely helpful when studying.
I don't understand why the author didn't put all relevant information together like that lined up to use for memorization and studying purposes. I have also found extra information that is not in the book as well.
So here is the end result. The book has way too much information when we don't need to know how the in depth history filled with in depth information that isn't relevant to the test. This is about the test only! We need the names, definitions, and scenarios of these keywords. Did Mike provide that? Yes, he did with questions at the end of each chapter but again the extra info is sleepfest and wasted lots of my time. If I did it all over again I would have taken the chapter tests and then gone through the text to figure the keywords and right answers skipping all the other extra not needed info that fills the pages. I would have liked to see definitely much more exam style studying.
Here is the kicker. There is NOT hundreds of hours of testing in this book!!! Thats how it is advertised. You get the hard cover book and a cd that has the book in pdf. form. So you basically get for me anyway, a solid hour of testing if you group the ten questions at the end of each chapter going through them at a steady pace. Yeh, that is false advertising and that equals anger.
Buyer/ test taker beware - I think you are better going at spending more money on a site that will give you exams, give you flash cards for memorization, place relevant information together and not scattered, give you command line exercises, and most of all many many more test questions. Mike threw in comedy here and there but who cares? I need to past this test with lets get to it information not a novel. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone because it lacks specific exercises that need to be done manually not visually, lacks memorization set ups, lacks sufficient scenarios, lacks sufficient testing, and lacks the ability to keep your pulse beating when reading.
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on February 8, 2015
In order to review for the CompTIA A+ 220-810 and 220-802 certification tests I rented this book from Amazon and purchased the EXAM/CRAM 220-801 220-802. I found the information in Meyer's book to be helpful, laid out in a clear (but not concise) way, and, for 1,450 pages of text able to hold my attention.

Now, Meyer's book does not contain a plethora of exam prep questions. It contained links to Meyer's site when you could purchase additional prep materials, such as prep tests and prep questions.

Compared to Meyer's book, the EXAM/CRAM book had more "beneficial" review material, it laid all the information needed in a more concise way, contained plenty of prep/review questions and two complete prep tests, one for the 220-801 and one for the 220-802.

Based on both of these books, I favored the EXAM/CRAM book, hands-down. It had the same amount of required information (CompTIA test obkectives) without the extra 700 pages of text. It also had more preparatory questions that made me feel confident on test day.

If (and that's a big if) Meyer's included more prep questions and prep tests, his book would be a clear winner, but, for my studying style (questioning myself to death) his book failed and EXAM/CRAM's won.
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on July 8, 2014
Michael Meyers does a fantastic job. Easy to read and understand. It also comes with a CD that has the book in PDF form. That is nice because I put that on my tablet so I could study the book when it was not convenient to lug around the big book away from home. But when possible I prefer the book version. However there are things on the exam that require memorization, pure memorization. This book helps you understand the concepts, but Professor Meser sells sheets that have everything you need to memorize on one small PDF. (well one for the 801 and another for the 802) So buy this book and get Professor Messers cheat sheets too. I actually learned about this book first on Professor Messer's web site. But I see it isn't advertised there now, probably to much competition for Messer's books.
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on April 1, 2014
The book is excellent. It has everything you need to know for passing the exam. Its VERY long but well worth the time. I took both tests today and passed in one sitting. The two practice exams are helpful but you'll need more then those to help you prepare. In addition to this book watch ALL the professor messor youtube 801 and 802 exam videos and google some free online test exams. After you can pass the free exams with atleast 90% you should be set.
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on December 19, 2015
Read this for a review before taking the 220-801 and 220-802. I did very well on the exam. This book is great, I love that Mike Meyers always makes this entertaining. The first book that was used as text for a very basic computer course in college was very dry. This covered the same material and held my attention. Please note the 220-901 and 220-902 are out now, if you haven't started review for the pervious generation, I recommend studying for those. Mike Meyers is working to release the update, and recommend it already from my experience with this book and the Network+ book he also published.
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