Cert Week – Performance Based Questions for the A+ Certification Exam Part 1

By Bob Weiss

There are many performance based questions for the Core 1 and Core 2 A+ exams (220-1101 and 220-1102).   I have taken every A+ exam since the 220-801 and 220-802.  I passed the most recent A+ exams 220-1101 and 1102 in September 2022.  These are the PBQs that were part of my exams.

The PBQ questions show up first.  There are between 2 and 5 PBQs.  My advise is to read over the PBQs to become familiar with the content and the tasks, and then SKIP the questions, and complete the rest of the test.  Come back and take the PBQs at the end.  The purpose of reviewing the questions is to give your subconscious mind a chance to think about the questions and how you will answer them.  I have known people who let the PBQs freak them out, and took too long, and did not least enough time to finish the remaining questions.  You will do better with the PBQs if you save them for last.

Here are the PBQ questions that I had when I took the 220-1101 A+ Core 1 exam

A+ Core 1 Exam 220-1101

Question 1 – Wireless Router Configuration  The first PBQ is an exercise configuring a wireless access point to meet security requirements as described in the scenario.  There is a simulated router configuration interface with three sections or tabs.  Be sure to open all the available tabs.  There is something to do on each tabs

You are given the IP addresses and MAC addresses of the devices on the wireless network, and you are required to use MAC address filtering to permit only these devices to connect.  You also have to pick a channel that is not used by neighboring Wi-Fi networks to prevent bandwidth contention and interference.  You will have to configure the SSID (network name) and the network passphrase or pre-shared key.  You also have to change the router administrative password.

There is an excellent website at https://ui.linksys.com where you can practice router configurations like you will see in this question.  A good representative graphical user Interface or GUI is the E1500.

Here is a list of tasks you should be able to perform on any wireless router user interface:

Wireless Router Configuration

  • Basics
    • Secure the router or AP administration interface.
    • Change default administrative password and user names.
    • Disable remote administration.
    • Secure or disable the reset switch or function.
    • Change default SNMP parameters.
    • Upgrade firmware.
  • SSID
    • Change default SSID.
    • Verify no broadcasting to the network.
  • Passphrase or Pre-Shared Key
    • Know how to add or change a passphrase
  • MAC filtering
    • Apply address filtering.
    • Controls which wireless clients can access the network.
  • Channels
    • Change the default channel.
  • ISP Connection – DHCP or Static IP
    • Configure DHCP or disable it and enter a static IP address.
  • DHCP for the WLAN
    • Configure DHCP scope for Wi-Fi clients or disable
  • Updates from manufacture
    • For new features, fixing security issues, or patching other issues.
  • Updates from other sources
    • Change the functionality of the wireless router or device.
    • OpenWrt and DD-WRT.

And here are a couple of downloadable PDFs to help you create and practice for this PBQ

Configure Wireless Access Point Activity and Wireless Networking Scenarios

Question 2 – Printer Troubleshooting and Repair. The second question involves a scenario where a laser printer is malfunctioning.  The user says the finished pages smudge easily, and that print jobs run on legal size paper always jam before going through the printer.  You are shown a picture of a laser printer, with 4 places to drag and drop your solutions

Based on this scenario, you are given a list of five parts to use to solve these two problems.  You do not have to fill all four spaces, just as many as the parts you select.  you move the parts by drag and drop into the space where the problem is occurring.  The parts include replacing toner, replacing ink, pickup rollers, fuser assembly, and replacing paper in try with new paper.

Besides this question, I had a lot (5 or 6) of printer repair questions.  Know your printer types and parts that identify them.  The printer types are ink jet, laser, impact, thermal, and 3Dprinter  Ink only goes in an ink jet printer, toner into a laser printer.  3D printers use a filament.  Thermal printers use treated paper usually on rolls, or sometimes label stock.  Impact printers use an inked ribbon typically with pin-fed carbonless or carbon paper interleaved multi-part forms, using a dot matrix or daisy wheel print head.

Question 3 – Networking Cables and Connections  In this scenario you are a new technician in training for an ISP, and you are learning how to make network patch cables of various types, and how to use them to connect them into a working network for the customer.  There are two parts to this question.

Part One – You are shown three types of cables, 4-wire unshielded twisted pair Category 3 cable, coaxial cable, and 8 wire (four pair) UTP Category 5e cable.  You are shown 3 cable connectors, an RJ-11, RJ45, and F connector.  You are shown three tools, a UTP cable crimper, a coaxial cable crimper, and a punch-down tool.

To solve part one, you have to choose cable connections for each cable type and drag them into place, and you also need to choose the correct cable tools to attach the connector. The tools may be used more than once, which means all the tools may not be necessary.

Part Two –  In part two you will use the cables you made to connect the network together.  The devices on the network include a coaxial wall jack (the ISP demarc), a cable modem with a coaxial connector and an RJ45 Ethernet connector, A telephone with an RJ11 connection.  A customer switch that has an uplink Ethernet port, 4 LAN ports, and an RJ11 connection.  There is a computer with an RJ45 Ethernet connector on the network card.  You have to use the right cables.  Some cables get used more than once.  Work it out for yourself on paper, my NDA prevents me from giving you the solution.

It would be great if your can actually assemble your own network by purchasing all the components and tools, and doing this exercise for real.  Some of the labs you can purchase have pretty details simulations that will get you there.  But you can always draw it out on paper too. If you think you got it, and want to know how you did, send me an image attachment of your network map and I’ll send a response.

A+ Core 1 Exam 220-1102

Most of the question scenarios had a heavy emphasis of variations on the theme “You are a help desk technician” or “You are a computer incident responder.”  The point of view of most of the scenarios was  definitely focused on information technology support professionals.  There were almost zero hardware questions, or network questions.  There were a few security questions, including four or five questions about ransomware.   So learn everything you can about dealing with ransomware.  It was mostly support-type questions about what is the “NEXT step.”

Performance Based Questions

Evidently I was too specific with my PBQ examples as I received a DMCA takedown notice from my web host on behalf of CompTIA.  As a result I have deleted the offending content.

Next week I will share more examples of PBQs you may see in the A+ exams.  It has been my experience, that some of these questions may show up in OTHER CompTIA exams, such as the Network+ and Security+ as well.  You may want to save these articles for later.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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