The A+ exam series has moved onto exams 220-901 & 220-902, replacing 220-801 & 220-802 which were retired in June. Network+ has also progressed to the N10-006 exam, which replaced the N10-005 exam in February 2015. CompTIA has recently started to offer “bridge” exams, much like Microsoft has famously provided when they have decided to update their certification offerings. However, the availability of the CompTIA exams is quite limited, for now you must be provided a Private Access Code (PAC) from CompTIA via email, so make sure correspondence with the group is enabled in your profile! The other availability factor, although is a very minor one, is that the bridge exams are not available for those who have obtained their A+ and/or Network+ with the current exams.
These bridge exams are the RCO-903 and the RCO-N06, for A+ and Network+ respectively. The A+ exam is 50 questions and the Network+ is 45, both indicate that they feature the typical CompTIA multiple choice questions. The cost of the RCO-N06 is $100 USD versus $175 for the RCO-903, my assumption is that the higher price of A+ exam reflects the fact that it allows you to recertify a typically two-exam cert with only one test. Passing the exam will also waive any Continuing Education fees that would be required if you are actively participating in the CE program.
I have not completed either of these exams as it is my intent, and my recommendation, to always recertify at the highest level of the linked CompTIA linked exam hierarchy (found in this FAQ) as you can. As an example, I have obtained my CASP certification, so when the time comes, my plan is to renew that, taking care of all of the “lower” exams. However, everyone learns at a different pace, has different certification goals, and different resources such as time and funding available to them so having more certification renewal options is always good thing. In this regard, CompTIA has strong offerings, as the CE program has been around for years now as an alternative to booking an exam to recertify.
The exams must, of course, be completed before your current certifications expire, otherwise you will essentially be started from scratch in your CompTIA certification chain. Employ whatever method works for you when it comes to keeping track of your cert expiration dates, be it calendar reminders in your calendar app, sticky notes on your monitor, etc.!
I’m curious as to what kind of market there will ultimately be for these renewal certifications. As of now, there is no study material specifically for the bridge exams, but the exams are based around the objectives of the current entry exams in the certification, with adjusted weights for the various competency categories. So any available study guides for the current series will work, but you may be able to save time by focusing less on areas that have seen little change from the last versions of the exam objectives or are areas that you are currently very strong in.