The Lowdown on the Security+ Exam
[edit section] Beyond the Basics
While the earlier overview of the Security+ Exam can provide you with the most basic facts regarding the exam, in this article we would give you some analysis and perspective of the exam.
The exam is entirely multiple-choice, which some also call “multiple guess.” The reason: the answer is actually given to you in the form of a choice! Multiple choice (guess) tests can be considerably easier for the test taker when appropriate test strategies are employed. In the Study Guide, we cover some of these strategies, but just for example: One of the most common techniques in test-taking, especially on CompTIA exams, is to learn word association. In any given question, one or two of the answer choices will be almost entirely unassociated with the question. By utilizing word association, you can ensure that your choice is at least associated with what may be the correct answer.
Even beyond the test format, however, there is much to know about the exam. One of the questions we get all the time is: “Should I guess?” Absolutely! The test does not penalize the test taker for guessing and so you should never, under any circumstances, leave a test answer blank. It is always statistically to your benefit to guess on a given question. Another common question is: “How hard is the exam?” Actually, the passing score for Security+ is relatively higher than that for the A+ or Network+ exams; this howeverdoesn’t imply that the Security+ exam is any harder. In fact, many students find the Security+ exam the least difficult of the CompTIA exams because it is straightforward and usually only covers material specifically noted in the syllabus.
[edit section] Why Become Security+ Certified?
There are several reasons to become Security+ certified, including:
- An array of exciting and rewarding careers in information security
- To supplement an existing career in networking or administration
- Expansion of your own personal knowledge and expertise
- The Department of Defense has issued instruction 8570.01-M that requires all systems administrators (Contractor, Federal Employee, or Uniformed Employee) to obtain the Security+ certification as part of the Information Assurance Technician (IAT) designation.
We’ll talk more about the career options available to the CompTIA Security+ certified professional in the next article on career paths.
[edit section] A quick note on vouchers
Vouchers can be used to reduce or eliminate the cost of the exam. You will almost always have to pay something for the exam fee, but vouchers can significantly reduce the fee.
Some tips on vouchers:
- Much like coupons, vouchers expire and cannot be extended beyond expiration date. Be sure to check the expiry date of the voucher before making a purchase. In general, the closer the expiry date on the voucher, the larger is the discount offered. These high discount vouchers are sometimes also described as "early expiry vouchers" or "short term vouchers". You MUST register for the exam before the expiry of the voucher to get the discount.
- Refund or exchange is typically not permitted, so be sure when you make the purchase.
- Typical saving through a voucher can be 10%-45% of the exam price.
[edit section] Do I really need to be A+ or Network+ certified as CompTIA suggests?
While it never hurts to have more certifications, the truth of the matter is that A+ and Network+ certification have little to do with Security+ and the test is not cumulative over material covered in the A+ or Network+ examinations.
That being said, there is much information that is covered on both the A+ and Network+ exams. For example, the Network+ exam does cover remote access protocols in great detail. However, the wealth of information that is covered on the Network+ exam is not particularly applicable to the Security+ exam. It is therefore probably not worth your time to review this information.
[edit section] Some Final Thoughts
The decision to pursue the Security+ certification is a major one that require an investment of some money and a lot of time. However, the return on that investment - certifcation, expertise, and insight - is invaluable. Therefore we would encourage anyone who believes that the Security+ certification may benefit them to go ahead and learn the information that is necessary to do well on the exam. While it won't be necessarily easy to pass the Security+ exam, the end result is quite rewarding.