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Computer Technician Course Outline




Course Description


Gaining A+ Certification ensures employers and computer owners that a PC Repair Technician has the necessary skills to get the job done.
This course is designed to prepare students to build, upgrade, troubleshoot and repair personal computer (PC) systems.


Exam Format

This test consists of Multiple Choice, Hot Area, Drag and Drop, Build list and reorder, and Build a Tree questions. The test can be adaptive, and simulation questions might be asked. There are no Case study type questions.





Explain cooling methods and devices.


Objective includes:

Heat sinks, CPU and case fans, Liquid cooling systems, Thermal compound.



Install and configure printers.


Objective includes:

 Differentiate between printer types (Laser, Inkjet, Thermal, Impact), Local vs. network printers, Printer drivers (compatibility), Consumables.



Categorize storage devices and backup media.


Objective includes:

FDD, HDD - Solid state vs. magnetic, Optical drives - CD / DVD / RW / Blu-Ray, Removable storage - Tape drive, Solid state (e.g. thumb drive, flash, SD cards, USB), External CD-RW and hard drive, Hot swappable devices and non-hot swappable devices.



Explain motherboard components, types and features.


Objective includes:

Form Factor - ATX / BTX, micro ATX, NLX. I/O interfaces - Sound, Video, USB 1.1 and 2.0, Serial, IEEE 1394 / Firewire, Parallel, NIC, Modem, PS/2. Memory slots - RIMM, DIMM, SODIMM, SIMM. Processor sockets, Bus architecture, Bus slots - PCI, AGP, PCIe, AMR, CNR, PCMCIA. PATA - IDE, EIDE. SATA, eSATA, Contrast RAID (levels 0, 1, 5), Chipsets, ?BIOS / CMOS / Firmware - POST, CMOS battery. Riser card / daughterboard.



Classify power supplies types and characteristics.


Objective includes:

AC adapter, ATX proprietary, Voltage, wattage and capacity, Voltage selector switch, Pins (20, 24).d May include but is not limited to: forwarding, root hints, configure zone delegation, round robin, disable recursion, debug logging, server scavenging





Explain the purpose and characteristics of CPUs and their features.


Objective Includes:

 Identify CPU types - AMD, Intel. Hyper threading, Multi core, Dual core, Triple core, Quad core, Onchip cache - L1, L2. Speed (real vs. actual), 32bit vs. 64 bit.



Compare and contrast memory types, characteristics and their purpose.


Objectve includes:

Types (DRAM, SRAM, SDRAM, DDR / DDR2 / DDR3, RAMBUS), Parity vs. Non-parity, ECC vs. non-ECC, Single sided vs. double sided, Single channel vs. dual channel, Speed (PC100, PC133, PC2700, PC3200, DDR3-1600, DDR2-667).



Distinguish between the different display devices and their characteristics.


Objective includes:

Projectors, CRT and LCD, LCD technologies (Resolution (e.g. XGA, SXGA+, UXGA, WUXGA), Contrast ratio, Native resolution), Connector types (VGA, HDMi, S-Video, Component / RGB, DVI pin compatibility), Settings (Refresh rate, Resolution, Multi-monitor, Degauss) May include but is not limited to: configure replication scope (forestDNSzone, domainDNSzone), incremental zone transfers, DNS Notify, secure zone transfers, configure name servers, application directory partitions



Install and configure peripherals and input devices.


Objective includes:

Mouse, Keyboard, Bar code reader, Multimedia (e.g. web and digital cameras, MIDI, microphones), Biometric devices, Touch screen, KVM switch.



Summarize the function and types of adapter cards.

Objective includes: Video (PCI, PCIe, AGP), Multimedia ( Sound card, TV tuner cards, Capture cards), I/O (SCSI, Serial, USB, Parallel), Communications (NIC, Modem).


Install, configure and optimize laptop components and features.


Objective includes:

Expansion devices (PCMCIA cards, PCI Express cards, Docking station), Communication connections (Bluetooth, Infrared, Cellular WAN, Ethernet, Modem), Power and electrical input devices (Auto-switching, Fixed input power supplies, Batteries), Input devices (Stylus / digitizer, Function keys, Point devices (e.g. touch pad, point stick / track point))


Troubleshooting, Repair & Maintenance


Given a scenario, explain the troubleshooting theory.


Objective includes:

Identify the problem (Question the user and identify user changes to computer and perform backups before making changes),Establish a theory of probable cause (question the obvious), Test the theory to determine cause (Once theory is confirmed determine next steps to resolve problem, If theory is not confirmed re-establish new theory or escalate), Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution, Verify full system functionality and if applicable implement preventative measures, Document findings, actions and outcomes.


Given a scenario, explain and interpret common hardware and operating system symptoms and their causes.


Objective includes:

OS related symptoms (Bluescreen, System lock-up, Input/output device, Application install, Start or load,


Windows specific printing problems (Print spool stalled, Incorrect / incompatible driver)), Hardware related symptoms (Excessive heat, Noise, Odors, Status light indicators, Alerts, Visible damage (e.g. cable, plastic)), Use documentation and resources (User / installation manuals, Internet / web based, Training materials).


Given a scenario, determine the troubleshooting methods and tools for printers.


Objective includes:

 Manage print jobs, Print spooler, Printer properties and settings, Print a test page.



Given a scenario, explain and interpret common laptop issues and determine the appropriate basic troubleshooting method.


Objective includes:


Issues (Power conditions, Video, Keyboard, Pointer, Stylus, Wireless card issues), Methods (Verify power (e.g. LEDs, swap AC adapter), Remove unneeded peripherals, Plug in external monitor, Toggle Fn keys or hardware switches, Check LCD cutoff switch, Verify backlight functionality and pixilation, Check switch for built-in WIFI antennas or external antennas).






Given a scenario, integrate common preventative maintenance techniques.


Objective includes:

Physical inspection, Updates (Driver, Firmware, OS, Security), Scheduling preventative maintenance (Defrag, Scandisk, Check disk, Startup programs, Use of appropriate repair tools and cleaning materials, Compressed air, Lint free cloth, Computer vacuum and compressors), Power devices (Appropriate source such as power strip, surge protector or UPS), Ensuring proper environment, Backup procedures.


Operating System and Software


Compare and contrast the different Windows Operating Systems and their features.


Objective includes:

Windows 2000, Windows XP 32bit vs. 64bit, Windows Vista 32 bit vs. 64bit ((Side bar, Aero, UAC, minimum system requirements, system limits), Windows 2000 and newer (upgrade paths and requirements), Terminology (32bit vs. 64bit - x86 vs. x64)), Application compatibility, installed program locations (32bit vs. 64bit), Windows compatibility mode, User interface, start bar layout.


Given a scenario, demonstrate proper use of user interfaces.


Objective includes:

Windows Explorer, My Computer, Control Panel, Command prompt utilities (telnet, ping, ipconfig), Run line utilities (msconfig, msinfo32, Dxdiag, Cmd, REGEDIT), My Network Places, Task bar / systray, Administrative tools (Performance monitor, Event Viewer, Services, Computer Management), MMC, Task Manager, Start Menu.


Explain the process and steps to install and configure the Windows OS.


Objective includes:

File systems (FAT32 vs. NTFS), Directory structures (Create folders, Navigate directory structures), Files (Creation, Extensions, Attributes, Permissions), Verification of hardware compatibility and minimum requirements, ?Installation methods (Boot media such as CD, floppy or USB, Network installation, Install from image, Recover CD, Factory recovery partition), Operating system installation options (File system type, Network configuration, Repair install), Disk preparation order (Format drive, Partition, Start installation), Device Manager (Verify, Install and update devices drivers, Driver signing),?User data migration - User State Migration Tool (USMT), Virtual memory, Configure power management, (Suspend, Wake on LAN, Sleep timers, Hibernate, Standby), Demonstrate safe removal of peripherals.


Explain the basics of boot sequences, methods and startup utilities.


Objective includes:

Disk boot order / device priority (Types of boot devices (disk, network, USB, other)), Boot options (Safe mode, Boot to restore point, Recovery options (Automated System Recovery (ASR), Emergency Repair Disk (ERD), Recovery console)).




Summarize the basics of networking fundamentals, including technologies, devices and Protocols.


Objective includes:

Basics of configuring IP addressing and TCP/IP properties (DHCP, DNS), Bandwidth and latency, Status indicators, Protocols (TCP/IP, NETBIOS), Full-duplex, half-duplex, Basics of workgroups and domains, Common ports (HTTP, FTP, POP, SMTP, TELNET, HTTPS), LAN / WAN, Hub, switch and router, Identify Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Basics class identification.


Categorize network cables and connectors and their implementations.


Objective includes:

Cables (Plenum / PVC, UTP (e.g. CAT3, CAT5 / 5e, CAT6), STP, Fiber, Coaxial cable), Connectors (RJ45, RJ11)


Compare and contrast the different network types.

Objective includes:

Broadband (DSL, Cable, Satellite, Fiber), Dial-up, Wireless (All 802.11 types, WEP, WPA, SSID, MAC filtering, DHCP settings),?Bluetooth, Cellular.




Explain the basic principles of security concepts and technologies.


Objective includes:

Encryption technologies, Data wiping / hard drive destruction / hard drive recycling, Software firewall (Port security, Exceptions), Authentication technologies (User name, Password, Biometrics, Smart cards), Basics of data sensitivity and data security (Compliance, Classifications, Social engineering)


Summarize the following security features.


Objectives include:

Wireless encryption (WEPx, and WPAx, Client configuration (SSID)), Malicious software protection (Viruses, Trojans, Worms, Spam, Spyware, Adware, Grayware), BIOS Security (Drive lock, Passwords, Intrusion detection, TPM), Password management / password complexity, Locking workstation (Hardware, Operating system), Biometrics (Fingerprint scanner).



Operational Procedure


Outline the purpose of appropriate safety and environmental procedures and given a scenario apply them.


Objective includes:

ESD, EMI (Network interference, Magnets), RFI (Cordless phone interference, Microwaves), Electrical safety (CRT, Power supply, Inverter, Laser printers, Matching power requirements of equipment with power distribution and UPSs), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), Cable management (Avoiding trip hazards), Physical safety (Heavy devices, Hot components), Environmental - consider proper disposal procedures.


Given a scenario, demonstrate the appropriate use of communication skills and professionalism in the workplace.


Objective includes:

Use proper language - avoid jargon, acronyms, slang, Maintain a positive attitude, Listen and do not interrupt a customer, Be culturally sensitive, Be on time (If late contact the customer), Avoid distractions (Personal calls, Talking to co-workers while interacting with customers, Personal interruptions), Dealing with a difficult customer or situation (Avoid arguing with customers and/or being defensive, Do not minimize customers' problems, Avoid being judgmental, Clarify customer statements (Ask open-ended questions to narrow the scope of the problem, Restate the issue or question to verify understanding)), Set and meet expectations / timeline and communicate status with the customer (Offer different repair / replacement options if applicable, Provide proper documentation on the services provided, Follow up with customer / user at a later date to verify satisfaction), Deal appropriately with customers confidential materials (Located on computer, desktop, printer, etc).