What Is The Difference Between CompTIA A+ Core 1 and Core 2?

CompTIA A+ is one of the best ways to start your IT career. So, what's the difference between the CompTIA A+ Core 1 and Core 2 exams? We’ll answer it for you.

Updated at April 17, 2024

The CompTIA A+ test is included in CompTIA’s Core Certifications. This certification is essential for individuals who are new to the IT profession as it demonstrates a strong commitment to the field and provides a solid foundational knowledge of computer systems. The CompTIA A+ consists of two exams: Core 1 (220-1101) and Core 2 (220-1102). So, what exactly sets the CompTIA A+ Core 1 and Core 2 exams apart? Let’s delve into the answer in this article!

CompTIA A+ Certification

difference between comptia a+ core 1 and core 2

First, let’s provide an overview of the CompTIA A+ certification before delving into its two main components.

The CompTIA A+ is a vendor-neutral IT certification offered by CompTIA. It assesses applicants’ knowledge of fundamental technologies, including security, networking, virtualization, and more. Being vendor-neutral means that the certification covers a broad range of topics applicable to various vendors or platforms.

This certification is highly regarded as one of the best options for beginners in the IT field. It is recommended for individuals with at least 12 months of hands-on experience working as a help desk support technician, desktop support technician, or field service technician.

CompTIA A+ Core 1 Exam

Exam Content and Format

The CompTIA A+ Core 1 exam is a 90-minute examination consisting of 90 questions, which include multiple-choice and performance-based formats. This exam is the first of two required exams, which will assess the candidate’s mastery of hardware and software technologies, as well as their ability to diagnose and resolve technical issues. The exam is computer-based and can be taken at authorized testing centers worldwide.

Key Topics Covered

The CompTIA A+ Core 1 exam is designed to cover a wide range of hardware and software topics, including:

  • Mobile Devices: The installation, configuration, and support of laptops, as well as other mobile devices and applications, to ensure seamless connectivity for end users.
  • Networking: The explanation of network types and connections, such as TCP/IP, WIFI, and SOHO.
  • Hardware: The identification, utilization, and connection of hardware components and devices, with a particular focus on the diverse knowledge required to effectively support the remote workforce.
  • Virtualization and Cloud Computing: The identification, utilization, and connection of hardware components and devices, with a particular focus on the diverse knowledge required to effectively support the remote workforce.
  • Hardware and Network Troubleshooting: The efficient and rapid troubleshooting of real-world problems related to devices and networks.

Job Roles and Responsibilities for A+ Core 1 Certified Professionals

The CompTIA A+ Core 1 certification is aimed at IT professionals who are responsible for installing, configuring, and maintaining hardware and software technologies. Some of the key job roles and responsibilities of A+ Core 1 certified professionals include:

  • IT Support Specialist: Providing technical support to end-users and resolving hardware and software issues.
  • Field Service Technician: Installing and repairing hardware components, such as motherboards, CPUs, and memory modules.
  • Network Administrator: Configuring and maintaining network systems to ensure their smooth operation.
  • Mobile Device Technician: Repairing and maintaining mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

CompTIA A+ Core 2 Exam

Exam Content and Format

The CompTIA A+ Core 2 Exam represents the culminating step in the journey to attain A+ certification. A performance-based evaluation, it demands a high degree of proficiency from candidates, as they navigate the complexities of hardware and software technologies through multiple-choice questions and performance scenarios. Conducted entirely online, the exam format is designed to assess a candidate’s mastery of the subject matter.

Key Topics Covered

The CompTIA A+ Core 2 Exam addresses a range of key topics that are of the utmost importance for IT professionals working in the field. These topics include:

  • Operating Systems: The installation and support of Windows OS, including command line and client support, system configuration imaging, as well as troubleshooting for Mac OS, Chrome OS, Android, and Linux OS.
  • Security: The identification and protection against security vulnerabilities for devices and their network connections.
  • Software Troubleshooting: The resolution of PC and mobile device issues, including common OS problems, malware, and security issues.
  • Operational Procedures: The adherence to best practices concerning safety, environmental impact, communication, and professionalism.

Job Roles and Responsibilities for A+ Core 2 Certified Professionals

The A+ Core 2 certification attests to the skills and knowledge of IT professionals in various roles and responsibilities, including:

  • IT Support Specialist: Providing technical support for hardware and software issues, troubleshooting problems, and assisting users with technology-related needs.
  • Technical Support Engineer: Troubleshooting hardware and software problems, installing and configuring hardware and software.
  • Field Service Technician: Installing, maintaining, and repairing hardware and software systems, performing routine maintenance and upgrades.
  • Network Support Specialist: Ensuring the reliability and performance of computer networks through maintenance and troubleshooting.

What Is the Difference Between CompTIA A+ Core 1 and Core 2?

The CompTIA A+ certification program requires the completion of two exams: Core 1 and Core 2. Although seemingly disparate, these two exams share a common foundation for eligibility, format, and certain similarities in their content. However, the Core 1 and Core 2 exams are not without their differences, which are significant in both their focus areas and corresponding job roles.

Eligibility Requirements and Exam Format

To be eligible for the CompTIA A+ certification, candidates must take and pass both the Core 1 and Core 2 exams. The eligibility requirements are straightforward, as candidates need to be at least 18 years of age and possess a foundational understanding of computer hardware and software technologies. The exams themselves are computer-based and consist of multiple-choice questions, with a time limit of 90 minutes for each exam. The questions are designed to evaluate a candidate’s technical knowledge and practical application, covering topics such as hardware and software technologies, security, cloud computing, and operational procedures.

Focus Areas and Job Roles

The Core 1 exam delves into hardware and software technologies, testing the candidate’s ability to install, configure, and maintain computer systems. It also assesses their knowledge of software and security concepts. This exam is suitable for IT professionals interested in technical support or help desk roles.

On the other hand, the Core 2 exam focuses on advanced topics such as network security, data protection, cloud computing, and mobile device management. It is ideal for IT professionals interested in security, network administration, or mobile device support roles.

In conclusion, the CompTIA A+ certification program requires the completion of both the Core 1 and Core 2 exams, each with its unique focus areas and corresponding job roles. Understanding the similarities and differences between the two exams is crucial for making an informed decision and charting a successful study strategy, whether you are a beginner or an experienced IT professional. The A+ certification provides the necessary knowledge and skills required to succeed in the IT industry.

Preparing for CompTIA A+ Certification

Aspiring IT professionals, are you looking to validate your technical abilities and gain recognition in the industry? Look no further than the CompTIA A+ certification program. Achieving this certification requires passing both the Core 1 and Core 2 exams, but the benefits are well worth the effort.

difference between comptia a+ core 1 and core 2

Benefits of Obtaining A+ Certification

  • Industry Credibility: The CompTIA A+ certification is widely acknowledged as a hallmark of competency in the IT field. This credential showcases your knowledge and skill set, making you a standout candidate among job applicants.
  • Career Progression: The A+ certification provides an avenue for career advancement and enables you to explore new job opportunities. It also helps you stay current with emerging technologies and industry trends, keeping your skills sharp.
  • Increased Earning Power: Certified A+ professionals are in high demand and often command higher salaries than their non-certified peers. This certification gives you leverage in salary negotiations and provides access to better benefits packages when seeking new employment.

Study and Preparation Strategies

  • Exam Format Familiarity: Familiarizing yourself with the exam format is key to success. Make sure to review the certification objectives and the types of questions included in the CompTIA A+ exams.
  • Study Material: A plethora of study materials is available for the A+ certification, including books, online courses, practice exams, and lab simulations. Choose the resources that suit you best and maintain a regular study schedule.
  • Hands-on Experience: Participating in hands-on labs provides practical experience and reinforces your understanding of the material. It also prepares you for the lab-based questions on the exams.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Regularly taking practice exams helps you gauge your knowledge, identify areas for improvement, build confidence, and become familiar with the exam format.

Tips for Achieving Success in CompTIA A+ Exams

  • Schedule Study Time: It is advisable to allocate dedicated study time and stick to a consistent schedule to avoid last-minute cramming and stay focused.
  • Stay Ahead of Technology: Keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies and industry trends not only helps you pass the exams but also enhances your value as an IT professional.
  • Focus on the Task at Hand: During the exam, stay alert and avoid distractions. Read each question carefully and take your time to think through the answer before responding.
  • Manage Time: The CompTIA A+ exams are timed, so efficient time management is crucial. Prioritize the questions and tackle the areas where you excel first, then focus on areas where improvement is needed.

Read more >> CompTIA A+ Passing Score & The Best Study Tips


Is A+ Core 1 or Core 2 easier?

I’ll just say this: studying for Core 1 is simpler because its questions are straightforward. On the other hand, Core 2 questions are trickier as they present problems that can be resolved in various ways.

Can you take CompTIA A+ Core 2 before Core 1?

In order to earn the CompTIA A+ certification, you must pass both tests in the same series.

Do you take Core 1 and Core 2 at the same time?

Candidates have the option to enroll in both Core 1 and Core 2 exams simultaneously. If they pass both exams, they can then proceed to enroll in two electives concurrently.

What is the hardest part of the A+ exam?

Among the various topics covered in the A+ certification exam, fundamental networking and tasks such as installing, configuring, and upgrading are often considered the most challenging. Many candidates find these areas to be particularly difficult compared to others.


Your previous experience and knowledge of a desktop computer’s workings, PC hardware, computer networks, security, various mobile devices, and related topics will determine the level of difficulty you may encounter while taking the CompTIA A+ exam. While work experience in the IT industry is not required, it can be beneficial as it provides a better understanding of the technology.

To earn this certification, you must pass two tests: Core 1 and Core 2. These tests cover diverse topics, with Core 1 focusing on hardware and Core 2 emphasizing software.

In the process of preparing for the exam, you will learn about different operating systems, troubleshooting techniques, and how to assemble and disassemble a PC configuration. Having experience with cloud computing and data transfer from offline locations to the cloud can also be helpful.

The A+ certification requires you to be familiar with a wide range of technical terminology and acronyms to ensure you don’t confuse them on exam day.

That’s all about the difference between CompTIA A+ core 1 and core 2. If you would like to learn more about the CompTIA A+ or if you need assistance in preparing for the certification exam, please visit our website. We are excited to guide you through the certification process!