5 Success Tips for Security+

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When you’re ready to take the Security+ exam, you can use these 5 success tips for Security+ on exam day to help you pass it the first time.

Note: These strategies assume you’re prepared. If you’re looking for a book that thousands of people have used to help them pass the first time, check out CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide.

As an overview, here are the 5 success tips for Security+ you can use on exam day.

  1. Arrive early
  2. Skip questions that don’t make sense
  3. Pay attention to words like BEST, MOST, and LEAST
  4. Read the full question
  5. Use these Multiple-Choice Tips

TestingImage

Arrive Early

Plan to arrive at the test center early. This helps reduce your stress level, especially if something goes wrong on your way there. If you hit some traffic or something else slows you down, you won’t be stressing about arriving late.

Test centers reserve seats based on the time allotted for the test, but many people don’t take the full time. If you’re arrive early, you’ll probably be able to take it early if you like.

In other words, if you arrive early, you can use the time any way you want. You can review your notes one more time, you can do some simple breathing exercises to calm yourself, pump out a dozen push-ups, or anything else that helps you start the test with a positive attitude that “I’m ready!”

Skip Questions That Don’t Make Sense

If a question doesn’t make sense to you, mark it and skip it. If it isn’t clear, it’s entirely possible that the question is a poorly worded beta question that doesn’t even count.

You can come back to it when you finish the rest of the questions. Additionally, you might find that the answer to the question comes to you as you’re answering another question.

Skipping questions that don’t make sense is especially true for the performance-based questions, which you’ll probably see first. They take much longer than typical multiple-choice questions.

If the answer is clear to you, then by all means, take the time to answer it, but if the question isn’t clear, mark it and skip it. You can come back to it later. However, if you spend 45 minutes on a performance-based question, you might run out of time before you finish the multiple-choice questions.

Mini-FAQ

Question: Am I penalized for marking a question?

Answer: No.

Question: Am I penalized for skipping a question?

Answer: No.

Performance-based questions have occasionally caused problems for the test systems. A common problem is that instead of displaying the question, the screen is mostly blank. If this happens, you can often just use the reset button for the question. This allows you to move past the problem and continue with the test. However, resetting the question erases any answer you’ve entered.

It’s common for people to be nervous when thinking about these performance-based test questions. However, the majority of people who take the test say that these questions really aren’t that difficult. As long as you understand the concepts from the exam objectives, you won’t have any problem. I do recommend you check out the posts on performance-based questions that I’ve posted here.

Pay attention to words like BEST, MOST, and LEAST

You may see questions that use phrases such as “BEST choice,” “BEST description,” or “MOST secure.” In these examples, don’t be surprised if you see two answers that could answer the question. However, only one is the best choice.

For example, which one of the following numbers is between 1 and 10 and is the HIGHEST: 2, 8, 14, 23.

Clearly, 2 and 8 are between 1 and 10, but 14 and 23 are not. However, only 8 is both between 1 and 10 and the highest.

Here is a more realistic, security-related question that shows this concept:

Q: You need to send several large files containing proprietary data to a business partner. Which of the following is the BEST choice for this task?

A. FTP

B. SNMP

C. SFTP

D. SSH

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a good choice to send large files, so you might be tempted to pick it.

However, the question also says that the files include proprietary data, indicating they should be protected with encryption. Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is the best choice because it can send large files in an encrypted format.

When you see key words like BEST or MOST, be careful not to jump on the first answer. There may be a more correct answer.

Read the Question

Some of my military instructors referred to this as RTFQ – Read the Full Question (or something like that anyway.)

It’s worth stressing the importance of reading the entire question. Often, questions will have a phrase that changes the tone of the question and changes the answer. Here’s an example:

Q. Bart wants to send a secure email to Lisa so he decides to encrypt it. Bart wants to ensure that Lisa can verify that he sent it. Which of the following does Lisa need to meet this requirement?

A. Bart’s public key

B. Bart’s private key

C. Lisa’s public key

D. Lisa’s private key

The question starts by mentioning that Bart is encrypting an email. It’s easy to assume that the question is asking about which key Lisa needs to use to decrypt it. However, that’s not what it is asking.

Instead, the question is asking which key Lisa needs to use to verify that Bart sent it. This is indirectly asking about a digital signature. A digital signature provides verification to Lisa that Bart sent it.

With this in mind, the question is asking what key Lisa needs to verify the digital signature.

The correct answer is A.

Lisa would decrypt the digital signature with Bart’s public key and verify the public key is valid by querying a Certificate Authority (CA). The digital signature provides verification that Bart sent the message, non-repudiation, and integrity for the message.

Bart encrypts the digital signature with his private key. It can only be decrypted with Bart’s public key, so Lisa needs to use Bart’s public key to verify the digital signature.

If the question was asking which key Lisa needs to use to decrypt the email, the correct answer would be D, Lisa’s private key. Bart would encrypt the email with Lisa’s public key and Lisa would decrypt the email with Lisa’s private key.

You might be tempted to look for key words. However, based on how the question is worded, the key words might mislead you.

Use these Multiple-Choice Tips

The majority of the questions are multiple-choice. You can use these tips to help when answering multiple-choice questions.

  • Think of the correct answer before looking at the answers
  • Eliminate incorrect answers (you can often eliminate two incorrect answers right away)
  • Look for clues in the answers (similar answers with a subtle difference indicate one of them is correct)
  • Be aware of negatives (such as NOT) that change the question
  • Be aware of double negatives (such as not uncommon), which change the meaning to positive (not uncommon = common)
  • Don’t change your answers (unless you’re absolutely sure that the first answer you picked was incorrect)

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  • Test mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
  • Test mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
  • Test mode - 75 random questions. View 75 random questions from the full test bank similar to how the Security+ exam has a potential maximum of 75 multiple choice questions. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.

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