Skillsoft Blog

Top 5 Tips for the New CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam

Experts say that by 2021 there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings. Are organizations preparing for this massive demand for skilled talent? Apparently not. Currently, some forecasts put the talent shortfall at 1.8 million. That’s a lot of open positions. While those in the industry cite multiple reasons for this, the most common complaint is the lack of qualified personnel. In North America, 68% of technology workers believe there are too few cybersecurity professionals in their department, and again these professionals believe this is primarily due to a lack of qualified personnel.

The CompTIA Security+ certificate

This information reveals that organizations and individuals interested in a career in security need to get certified. For most security professionals, holding a CompTIA Security+ certificate is the gateway to working in this sector of the technology industry.  In October 2017, CompTIA launched a new version, SYO-504. Due to all the recent changes, which include the introduction of scenario-based questions, I decided to take the exam – I passed. To prepare I used Percipio, Skillsoft’s award-winning intelligent learning experience platform, which offers a comprehensive package of content, including courses and books covering all the relevant subjects.

To pass the exam, candidates must possess knowledge and understanding of these six key domains:

  • Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities
  • Technologies and tools
  • Architecture and design
  • Identity and access management
  • Risk management
  • Cryptography and Public key infrastructure (PKI)

Here are my top tips for anyone taking this exam.

#1 Take a pre-assessment exam

Take the pre-assessment exam to gauge your current level of understanding before starting the course. This information helps not only to identify those areas you need to focus on it also saves time by skipping those topics you understand.

#2 Allocate sufficient revision time

Give yourself plenty of time to study. Most instructors recommend between one and three months depending on your professional experience. Spend as much time as you need until you are comfortable with the concepts covered in the certification exam.

#3 Watch. Read. Listen. Practice.

Percipio gave me options. I watched a ton of videos on topics from risks and vulnerabilities to data sanitization tools and remote wipe. The list was quite long, but since most of the videos were under five minutes, I watched them throughout the day, so it didn’t feel like I was “studying.” All the videos in Percipio offer integrated learning assessments allowing users to check on their learning as they work through the material. In addition to the videos, I could choose from a large selection of books and study guides with practice exams designed by industry experts and guidelines from the IT services vendors such as CompTIA, AWS, GCP, Azure, and Cisco to accredited institutions such as ISACA, PMI, and ISC2.  What was also really helpful is that I could download these books onto my smartphone/notebook and read them offline. The official CompTIA review guides and others such as the Mike Meyers’ CompTIA Security+ Certification Guide were tremendously helpful. Of course, I took some courses too. I particularly enjoyed Troubleshooting Common Security Issues and the Present Threat Landscape. I knew I could rely on the resources offered to help me pass because we know candidates who use Skillsoft’s recommended courses report an astonishing 91% first-time pass rate.

#4 Preparation is critical

The virtual practice lab environment is your best friend. Percipio provides a sandbox where you can implement key concepts without impacting live systems.  These practice labs are available on a PC or via an iPad which makes them a very convenient resource. It is also beneficial that at any given time you can reset, reboot and restart the lab’s lesson. This is crucial when it comes to CompTIA’s scenario-based questions that test your knowledge of implementing protocols such as public key infrastructure (PKI) and setting up a wireless access point in the most secured manner.

#5 Take a practice exam

Percipio offers a simulation of the exam allowing the user to take the test in either study or exam mode. It is important to note that the goal of the simulation is not to try to memorize the questions and answers but to reinforce your understanding of the concepts under examination. In Percipio the study mode is particularly beneficial since it explains any incorrect answers and gives the correct answer. When you do feel ready, you can proceed to exam mode. At the end of the exam, you get a score for each of the six topics. This number predicts the likelihood of actual certification based on your practice exam results.

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!

For more on the exam, please take a look at what one of our instructors has to say in Tips on How to Study and Prepare for the CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam.



Sam Doan is an IT Solution Principal at Skillsoft.

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