The field of cybersecurity is growing, and it is no wonder. Global Knowledge’s 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report confirms the value of security experts, with those functioning in the Cybersecurity/IT Security field in the U.S. reporting an average annual wage of $153,655. Here’s an exclusive Security+ certification profile.
One of the premier IT security certifications for those entering the field is CompTIA Security+. It is globally recognized and validates that an individual has the necessary fundamental skills to perform core security functions. Moreover, Security+ is vendor-neutral and can be used as a launching point into further and higher certifications, empowering individuals to pursue an advanced career in cybersecurity.
Security+ teaches theoretical concepts, and readies IT professionals to prepare for and respond to actual incidents. In order to ensure its validity, Security+ was developed by CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association) with the assistance of organizations that deal with real-world security issues on a daily basis. General Dynamics, Netflix, Target, and even Johns Hopkins University and the Center for Information Warfare Training all participated in its development.
Because Security+ is a DoD Approved 8570 Baseline Certification and meets DoD 8140/8570 training requirements, it’s also beneficial if you work for or plan to work for a contractor or entity of the U.S. Department of Defense – including military and defense agencies – that provides cybersecurity functional services for DoD information.
If you are ready to pursue this certification, Global Knowledge is here to help. Earning a Security+ certification is not easy, but with proper preparation, focused training, and practice, you will achieve it and deliver rewarding results in your job and career. Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for and pass the Security+ exam.
Tip #1: Know What Information is Covered in the Security+ Exam
The first thing you will want to do is know what to expect to see on the Security+ exam. In addition to confirming that this is the right exam for you, becoming familiar with the topics covered will help you to understand what you know well, what areas need refreshing, and where you need the most help. You can download the full list of objectives from CompTIA here.
Each area of the exam is defined as a “domain.” Here is a list of the domains included in the Security+ exam, as well as the percentage of each domain that makes up the test:
|1.0 Attacks, Threats and Vulnerabilities||24%|
|2.0 Architecture and Design||21%|
|4.0 Operations and Incident Response||16%|
|5.0 Governance, Risk and Compliance||14%|
Tip #2: Determine your strengths & weaknesses with practice tests
Once you’ve started preparing, it’s helpful to take a practice test. Going through a series of questions that mimic questions found on the Security+ exam will provide you with information about the exam and feedback your own readiness. A review of your score, both overall and within each domain, will let you see what areas you know and what areas could use more review.
There is another benefit to taking a practice test. Security+ is not earned through just theoretical and factual knowledge. In addition to multiple-choice questions, the exam includes performance-based questions (PBQs), which test a candidate’s ability to address security issues in a simulated environment. These questions confirm your proficiency in applying the knowledge that you have learned.
Taking a practice test will also allow you to feel more comfortable with exam. Understanding what to expect will increase your familiarity with the format and give you confidence.
Pro tip: Even when taking practice exams, treat them like the real one. Get a good night’s sleep, eat well and take it at the same time you’ll take the official exam. Develop an exam routine. Nothing new on exam day!
Tip #3: Fill Your knowledge gaps
Once you have identified the areas where you need additional review, develop a plan to acquire that knowledge. One of the best ways to do this is with through a formal training course.
When choosing a Security+ course make sure it’s through a CompTIA authorized training provider.
- You’re working with a training company that’s been vetted and continually audited by CompTIA.
- You’re learning from an expert instructor with experience in the field. They’re a great resource to leverage to understand the exam’s multiple-choice questions and for the more challenging performance-based questions.
- You’re receiving the latest information, exam objectives, best practices, and approved courseware and labs.
Global Knowledge is an award-winning CompTIA Platinum Partner and our Security+ prep course is available in virtual live-streaming and on-demand delivery formats. It’s also included in our GK Polaris Discovery unlimited training subscription.
Tip #4: Prepare for the exam
Once you have completed the course, take time to review the materials. Pay particular attention to those areas that were less familiar to you. You cannot bring any reference materials with you into the exam, so you should study until you are confident that you know the material.
Practice the concepts that you have learned until you feel comfortable. Review the key terms and go through all of the labs included with the course you completed. This will help you to be as prepared as possible for both the multiple-choice and the performance-based questions.
Once you feel ready, it is time to schedule the exam. The CompTIA Security+ exam is administered by Pearson VUE and can be taken either in-person or online.
You can register for the exam, as well as reschedule it should you have a conflict, on the Pearson VUE website.
On the night before the exam, get plenty of rest. You will want to be alert in order to do your best.
Want more exam tips?
Tip #5: Take the Exam
As you begin the exam, take a breath and remind yourself to read each question carefully. You do not want to answer a question incorrectly due to a reading error.
The Security+ exam is timed. You will be allotted 90 minutes to complete it, but you can skip and return to any questions you choose. Some test takers like to go through the questions in order, while others prefer to start with selected questions and go back to the rest. You can begin with the questions you find easiest and then tackle the more difficult ones, start with the hardest ones and get them out of the way. Or go through the questions in order. The choice is yours.
You can also change your responses, so if you have time left at the end, you should review your answers to make sure that they are correct. Once your time is up or you are confident that you are done, it is time to submit your responses and receive your results.
Your responses will be tabulated immediately. A score of 750 or higher (on a scale of 100-900) is needed to pass. After your exam is scored and you have passed, you will receive a confirmation of your accomplishment, have the option of receiving a physical copy of your certification, and be entitled to showcase your certification on LinkedIn and in your list of certifications earned.
Certification Prep Guide
Preparing to take the Security+ SY0-601 exam?
Download our study guide to get all the tips and tricks on the upcoming exam.
Bonus Tip: Once you pass
Take a big sigh of relief, jump and up down and reflect on your hard work paying off. You should be proud. You’ve reached your goal of achieving the Security+ certification!
- Thank those who supported you in your preparation.
- Decide if you will add the certification in your email signature.
- Add the certification to your resume.
- Put into practice what you’ve learned (if you haven’t already).
As a Security+ certified professional, you’ve signaled to your team and employer that you validated your understanding of IT security. You have the hands-on practical skills to prepare, protect, and defend your systems and have a strong baseline certification on which other certifications can be stacked. A recommend certification to pursue next is the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst+ (CySA+). With security an ever-growing concern for virtually every organization, you are well-positioned to advance as a cybersecurity expert.
- 10 Certification Exam Tips and Tricks from the Experts
- Security+ Certification Profile
- CompTIA Security+ Prep Course
- GK Polaris Discovery (unlimited cybersecurity training and includes the Security+ Prep course)