Understanding SCSI by becoming a CompTIA A+ certified professional

Certification: CompTIA CompTIA A+ - CompTIA A+

SCSI, or Small Computer Interface, is a standard defining commands, protocols, electrical and optical interfaces for peripheral devices to connect to a PC. Those devices are anything that is not a computer than can be connected to one. From input devices like a mouse or a keyboard to printers, CD-ROMS, external hard disks, tablets and smartphones, everything that is important about them is set in the intelligent peripheral interface.

The CompTIA A+ certification is one of the Entry-level certifications that CompTIA offers.  It is made up of two separate tests, one that covers PC operation, installation of an operating system and its related software and hardware, and some basic smartphone features,  and another about basic computer technology and configuration.

SCSI types

As of 1995, there are 3 types of SCSI while the first type, the one that appeared in the early 80s became obsolete, the other 2, of 1994 and 1995, are still used with their different specifications. Since then, different combination of both SCSI-2 and SCSI-3 with SPI and SPI -2/3/4 have provided the market with a  variety of SCSI interfaces, ranging from 10 MB/s to the new 320 MB/sec ones, with the bus speed between 10 MHz and 80MHz. The Ultra 320 SCSI, which has the highest stats among the SCSIs, also uses packeted data transfer for increased efficiency.  Also, all SCSIs after Ultra 2 have had a 16 bit bus width.

All types of SCSI are parallel, allowing bits of data to move simultaneously, rather than one-by-one thorough the bus.

The CompTIA A+ certification

The exam itself is made up of two tests, the CompTIA A+ 220-801 and 220-802. Certifications issued from 2011 onward are valid for three years only, but can be kept current through continued training (Continuing Education Program). The exam has a total of 90 questions, both multiple-choice and performance based. Performance-based questions are simulated problems that require the candidate to follow some steps to solve.  There is a time-limit of 90 minutes to take the exam, so each question would have a time limit of one minute, but usually the multiple-choice ones take much less time to solve than the performance-based ones. Usually the performance based questions are at the start of the exam, allowing candidates more time to finish them. The questions can also be marked for review and retaken latter on if the candidate does not feel confident he can finish it in favorable time. The questions range in difficulty from overly simple to complex, with some answers obviously wrong, sometimes even borderline retarded. (I mean come on, who would pick blood sample as a laptop biometric authentication method?!)

There are currently over 900,000 professionals holding a CompTIA A+ certificate that hold positions in, or related to technical support specialists, field service technicians, IT technicians, administrators, specialists. Big companies such as Intel, Lenovo, and Dell require their employee candidates to have at least a ComTIA A+ certification; otherwise they do not even offer them an interview.

A technician with a CompTIA A+ certification will be able to successfully assemble a full PC based on the costumer’s preferences and needs, will be able to install and configure it, and, should the need arise, troubleshoot, diagnose and fix common hardware or software problems with the PC. They also prove capable customer support specialists.

Exam Objectives

As said before, the exam objectives encompass both hardware and software functionality, both with the PC itself and its peripheral devices, including smartphones, tablets, touchscreens, printers, keyboards, etc…  Basically the CompTIA A+ certification certifies SCSI understanding and PC operating and assembly.  Question topics for the exam are spread out as follows: Operating Systems at 33%; Security at 22%; Mobile Devices at just 9%; and the rest Troubleshooting for 36% for one test; and PC Hardware 40%; Networking 27%; Laptops at 11%; Printers 11% and Operational Procedures 11% for the other. The multiple choice questions are generally technical problems, ascertaining technical knowledge over both hardware components and abbreviations, and also hardware specs, but there may be customer support scenarios as well, showing a customer with a request and then multiple choices on how to react at or resolve their requests. These requests/problems may contain hardware malfunction, specific PC hardware needs, and may involve all aspects of computers including networking, operating systems, antiviruses, image/sound modifying workstations and video games.

Ties of the A+ with SCSI

Getting an A+ CompTIA certificate means you know quite a lot about IT hardware. During the test you will get to show of your vast knowledge about which type of cable made of which type of material goes in which type of hole of which type of hardware for which type of job and so on and so forth.  Because of the knowledge needed to take the exam you will, willing or not, become somewhat of an expert in what SCSI means. No one will know what type of cable people are inserting into their pc to connect a smartphone or a mp3/mp4 player better than you. And of course, you will know how everything connects into the SCSI to be able to connect to a computer and be recognized. You will learn everything about the SCSI, including its top speed of up to 320 MB/sec , why is it better than the SASI, and its limited BIOS support along with its other limitations.


As such the CompTIA A+ certification does not open your way into the IT hardware industry as a technician, by accrediting software configuration and installation abilities, but also an extensive knowledge in hardware, including SCSI.  Also, CompTIA is an ANSI accredited certifier, recognized in the U.S. and abroad as one of the most proficient IT certifiers in the business. Even if you have already proven yourself an SCSI-related specialist, the certification will provide a certain salary raise.


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