CompTIA A+

CompTIA A+ domain 8: Software troubleshooting — What you need to know for the exam

June 21, 2022 by Howard Poston

The CompTIA A+ certification is an entry-level credential for IT professionals. It is the second exam on CompTIA’s Core certification path; the IT Fundamentals certification is the first. After demonstrating the skills evaluated by the A+ exam, you can go further to the Network+ and Security+ credentials within the Core path.

The objective of the CompTIA+ certification is to prepare aspiring IT professionals for their roles. A large portion of such a role involves managing trouble tickets raised by an organization’s employees, so skills in software troubleshooting are essential for success. This domain of the A+ exam covers troubleshooting at various levels within the endpoint, including common Windows OS issues, PC security problems, and common functionality and security issues in mobile devices.

Software troubleshooting

The CompTIA A+ certification is unusual in that it is broken up into two exams. To earn an A+ certification, a candidate must pass both the Core 1 and Core 2 examinations.

The CompTIA A+ Core 1 exam tests the following domains:

1. Mobile Devices

2. Networking

3. Hardware

4. Virtualization and Cloud Computing

5. Hardware and Network Troubleshooting

Software Troubleshooting is a concept on the CompTIA A+ Core 2 exam, which includes these domains:

6. Operating Systems

7. Security

8. Software Troubleshooting

9. Operational Procedures

Software troubleshooting is one of the two smallest domains on the A+ Core 2 exam. Like operational procedures, it accounts for 22% of a student’s score on the exam. However, this does not mean that it is not an important part of the exam and an IT professional’s future career. Understanding how to troubleshoot problems is essential to the success of an IT professional, and there is a significant overlap between skills and knowledge needed for this domain and domains 6 and 7.

What’s new in CompTIA A+ domain 8?

With the switch from the 200-1002 to the 220-1102 version of the CompTIA A+ Core 2 exam, software troubleshooting was slightly deemphasized. The previous version of the exam accounted for 26% of the exam questions, making it the second largest domain behind operating systems. The decrease to 22% of the questions places it behind security and on equal footing with the operational procedures domain.

However, this change to the number of questions is the only substantial change to this domain. The five subdomains within the software troubleshooting category are nearly identical, with only slight changes in wording when compared to the previous version. In addition, some changes were made to the symptoms listed and recommendations for remediation within these subdomains.

Software troubleshooting exam outline

The software troubleshooting domain is by far the smallest in the Core 2 exam, including only five subdomains. The complete Core 2 Exam Outline  includes details on the software troubleshooting domain. 

These five subdomains are designed to address some common problems that an IT technician may encounter on various operating systems. Some of the key concepts covered by these subdomains include:

3.1. Given a scenario, troubleshoot common Windows OS problems. This subdomain focuses on the Windows operating system and some common symptoms of an issue (such as boot problems or sluggish performance) and how to resolve them (system reboot, reimaging, etc.).

3.2. Given a scenario, troubleshoot common personal computer (PC) security issues. This subdomain is broader than the previous one, discussing problems that could occur on any computer, with a special section focused on browser-related issues.

3.3. Given a scenario, use best practice procedures for malware removal. This subdomain outlines a seven-step process for investigating and remediating a malware infection on a system with a focus on the Windows OS.

3.4. Given a scenario, troubleshoot common mobile OS and application issues. This subdomain focuses on troubleshooting for mobile devices, including some of the common symptoms of OS and application problems.

3.5. Given a scenario, troubleshoot common mobile OS and application security issues. Like the previous subdomain, this one discusses mobile devices but focuses on security concerns rather than issues with performance or functionality.

Preparing for CompTIA A+ Domain 8

The CompTIA A+ exam is an entry-level certification for the IT field that should prepare you for dealing with an IT technician’s day-to-day responsibilities. Since a crucial component of this role is evaluating and responding to trouble tickets raised by users, understanding how to troubleshoot various problems on the systems under their care is a vital skill for an aspiring IT professional.

To prepare for the CompTIA A+ Core 2 exam, you should clearly understand the various issues tested on the exam and best practices for diagnosing and remediating each of them. For more information about the exam in general and what to study when preparing for it, check out Infosec’s CompTIA A+ certification hub.

Sources

Posted: June 21, 2022
Author
Howard Poston
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Howard Poston is a cybersecurity researcher with a background in blockchain, cryptography and malware analysis. He has a master's degree in Cyber Operations from the Air Force Institute of Technology and two years of experience in cybersecurity research and development at Sandia National Labs. He currently works as a freelance consultant providing training and content creation for cyber and blockchain security.

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