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CompTIA A+: Should you take the Core 1 or the Core 2 first?

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2024

CompTIA A+: Should you take the Core 1 or the Core 2 first?

When it comes to CompTIA's A+ certification, the usual route is to take the 220-1101 (Core 1) exam first, followed by the 220-1102 (Core 2). However, some candidates choose to tackle these exams in the reverse order. Let's delve into the advantages and disadvantages of taking the Core 2 exam before Core 1.

Pros of Taking Core 2 First:

  1. Focus on Advanced Topics: Core 2 delves deeper into areas such as security, software troubleshooting, and operational procedures. If you have a strong grasp or interest in these topics, starting with Core 2 can play to your strengths.
  2. Building Confidence: For some, the content in Core 2 might be more familiar or easier to understand. Successfully passing this exam first can boost your confidence when you face Core 1.
  3. Variety in Study: Switching the order can offer a fresh perspective on how the two exams' content interrelates, possibly enhancing your overall understanding of the A+ material.

Cons of Taking Core 2 First:

  1. Missing the Basics: Core 1 covers foundational IT knowledge, including hardware, networking, and basic IT literacy. Jumping straight into Core 2 could be challenging without this foundational knowledge.
  2. Potential Overlap Challenges: There's a degree of content overlap between the two exams. Tackling Core 2 first might mean preparing for these overlapping areas without the foundational context provided by Core 1.
  3. Unconventional Study Resources: Most study materials and courses are structured with the assumption that candidates will take Core 1 first. This means you might have to adapt or seek out additional resources tailored to an inverted study approach.

Do some people take the Core 2 first?

Definitely! Here is a Reddit post discussing the topic and several users report they did it this way. At the end of the day, CompTIA requires you pass both exams and that is it. There is no requirement on the order or even a time requirement between them (you can't mix and max exam versions though, so don't wait too long!).

Impact on Your Certification Journey:

Choosing to take Core 2 before Core 1 doesn't necessarily put you at a disadvantage. It depends greatly on your prior knowledge, experience, and comfort with the topics each exam covers. If you're more experienced in areas like security and software troubleshooting, starting with Core 2 might make sense. Conversely, if you're newer to IT or less confident in these areas, the traditional Core 1-first path might be more beneficial.

Ultimately, the decision hinges on your personal strengths, weaknesses, and learning style. Whichever path you choose, ensure that you're thoroughly prepared for the unique content each exam presents. Remember, the goal is not just to pass the exams, but to solidify your understanding of fundamental and advanced IT concepts crucial for your career in information technology.