My Experience with the Security+ Exam

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I took the Security+ exam (SYO-401 version) last week. While I’ve held the certification since 2005, I wanted to see how it looked and compare this to what readers have shared with me.  

As background, I hear from people almost every day telling me that they passed the exam using  the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide and/or online study packages. They often mention things like how many performance-based questions they saw or if they had any port questions.

I’m not going to violate the NDA, but there are many things I can share.

 

Number of Questions

First, I had 6 performance-based questions. Many people that I’ve heard from recently had only two. I followed the advice I’ve given to others and skipped the performance-based questions.

Next, I went through 66 multiple-choice questions. This took me about 40 minutes, which averages out to about 36 seconds per question. Admittedly, this is probably less time than most people will spend on each question.  However, I found most of the questions straight-forward and I’m very familiar with the content.

In contrast, I spent about 30 minutes on the performance-based questions. That’s an average of about 5 minutes per question. Some of these were straight-forward, while others were quite vague making it difficult to figure out what the test writer was asking.

Content

Some test-takers told me they didn’t receive any port questions. I had two. Both were covered in the book, and listed in Table 3.1: “Some commonly used well-known ports.”

Some questions were simple, but thin. For example, I had a couple of one-sentence questions about which key to use with digital signatures or encryption. These didn’t have any scenario and didn’t add any extra words to confuse the topic. They simply asked which key to use to meet a specific need.

Some questions were outrageously fuzzy.  I had difficulty figuring out what they were even asking. Gratefully, these typically had answer choices that were completely unrelated to the topic of the question.

For comparison, imagine this question.

Q. What is the color of the sky at sunset in northern Alaska while the northern lights are active?

A. Electronic

B. Magnetic

C. Gravitational

D. Orange

Admittedly, if this question had four color choices, it might be difficult to answer. However, if you know that electronic, magnetic, and gravitational are not colors, the question becomes trivial.

This is one of the reasons I stress to test takers the importance of knowing why the correct answers are correct and why the incorrect answers are incorrect. This gives them the best chance of accurately interpreting the questions on the live exam and answering them correctly. Eliminate the incorrect answers and you’ll find the correct answer.

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

– Arthur Conan Doyle

Some questions had two obviously incorrect choices that were easy to throw out. The remaining two answers required me to reread the question to understand what the test writer was really asking. Picking the correct answer in these questions required a solid understanding of the topic.

CompTIA Security+ Study Guide

The 501 Version of the Study Guide

The CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide is an update to the top-selling SY0-201, SY0-301, and SY0-401 study guides, which have helped thousands of readers pass the exam the first time they took it.  It includes the same elements readers raved about in the previous three versions.

Each of the eleven chapters presents topics in an easy to understand manner and includes real-world examples of security principles in action.

You’ll understand the important and relevant security topics for the Security+ exam, without being overloaded with unnecessary details. Additionally, each chapter includes a comprehensive review section to help you focus on what’s important.



Over 300 realistic practice test questions with in-depth explanations will help you test your comprehension and readiness for the exam. The book includes:

  • A 75 question pre-test
  • A 75 question post-test
  • Practice test questions at the end of every chapter.

Each practice test question includes a detailed explanation to help you understand the content and the reasoning behind the question. You’ll be ready to take and pass the exam the first time you take it.

If you plan to pursue any of the advanced security certifications, this guide will also help you lay a solid foundation of security knowledge. Learn this material, and you’ll be a step ahead for other exams. This SY0-501 study guide is for any IT or security professional interested in advancing in their field, and a must-read for anyone striving to master the basics of IT security.

Kindle edition also available.

Multiple-Choice Questions

I had a few questions with multiple answers. These were always clear how many answers were required in the question with a statement such as Select Two or Select Three.

In contrast, some people have reported that questions they saw required multiple answers, but the question didn’t say so. I’m not sure if this was a mistake in a beta question, or something new CompTIA is trying out. At any rate, you can tell if the question needs one or more answers by looking at how the answers are formatted.

A single-answer question has the answers formatted with radio buttons.

A multiple-answer question has the answers formatted with check boxes.

Ungraded Questions

 

CompTIA typically includes ungraded questions in the exam. These are often added to validate the question and commonly called beta questions. However, you are told which questions are ungraded.

I noticed several questions that were obviously beta questions. I could tell because the content was directly from the newer SY0-501 objectives and not included in the SY0-401 objectives.

As an example, Airgap is listed twice in the 501 objectives (once as air gap and once as airgap), but it isn’t listed in the 401 objectives. If I had any questions on airgaps, I’d say that they are beta questions for the 501 version.

Full Security+ Course

SY0-501 Full Security+ Course

Helping you Pass the First Time

Online access includes all of the content from the

CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide

  • Introduction
  • About the exam (including information on the number of questions, test duration, passing score, types of questions and more. Also includes a listing of the exam objectives)
  • 75 question pre-assessment exam
  • Mastering Security Basics (full content from Chapter 1 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Identity and Access Management (full content from Chapter 2 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Exploring Network Technologies and Tools (full content from Chapter 3 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Securing Your Network (full content from Chapter 4 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Securing Hosts and Data (full content from Chapter 5 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Comparing Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Common Attacks (full content from Chapter 6 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Protecting Against Advanced Attacks (full content from Chapter 7 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Using Risk Management Tools (full content from Chapter 8 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Implementing Controls to Protect Assets (full content from Chapter 9 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Understanding Cryptography and PKI (full content from Chapter 10 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • Implementing Policies to Mitigate Risks (full content from Chapter 11 of the study guide including the exam topic review and 15 practice test questions)
  • 75 question post-assessment exam
  • Glossary

Get the SY0-501 Full Security+ Course Here


Test your readiness with these quality materials

Random 75-question tests

Random practice tests from the all of the practice test questions in the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. All questions include explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct, and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

3 sets Performance-based Questions

Three new sets of performance-based questions with a total of 30 questions. These new questions use a new testing engine that includes realistic drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in the blank questions.

Flashcard Set

  • 494 Online Security+ Glossary Flashcards
  • 222 Online Security+ Acronyms Flashcards
  • 223 Online Security+ Remember This Slide from the popular CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide

Audio - SY0-501 Security+ Remember This Audio Files

Learn by Listening. Over one hour and 20 minutes of audio (MP3 downloads.)

Audio - SY0-501 Security+ Question and Answer Audio Files

Learn by Listening. Over two hours hour and 53 minutes of audio (MP3 downloads.)

Bonus #1

Audio from the end of chapter reviews from each of the chapters in the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. Over one hour and 40 minutes of additional audio.

Bonus #2

Access to all of the online content that is available for free to anyone that purchases the CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. This includes labs, extra practice test questions, and supplementary materials

Bonus #3 

Access the study materials for a total of 60 days because sometimes life happens.

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Performance-Based Questions

Most of the performance-based questions were relatively straight-forward and simple to answer. However, at least a couple of them were quite deep. Additionally, it was difficult to determine exactly what the question wanted. These will likely be challenging for people that don’t meet the networking prerequisites.

Gratefully, the content to answer the performance-based questions that I saw is included in the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide, online study packages, and labs. In other words, if you understand the content, you can answer these questions.

Security+ Practice Test Questions

SY0-501 Practice Test Questions 

Over 300 realistic Security+ practice test questions

All questions include explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct,

and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

Pass the Security+ Exam

the First Time You Take It

Multiple quiz formats to let you use these questions based on the way you learn.
  • Learn mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Learn mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. Use this if you want to make sure that you see all of the questions. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • 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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 SY0-501 Practice Test Questions


INCLUDES QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU PREPARE

FOR THE NEW PERFORMANCE BASED QUESTIONS 

Bonus - Performance Based Questions

Three sets of performance-based questions including over 30 questions. These questions show you what you can expect in the live exam. They include drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in the blank questions. See a demo here.

Bonus - Extra Practice Test Questions

New multiple-choice questions in the extra test bank. Questions are added occasionally. You can see what has been added recently here.

Get the full bank of Security+ (SYO-501) Practice Test Questions Here

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Click here if you're looking for SY0-501 Full Study Package

Security+ Exam Summary

In summary, I had 6 performance-based questions (that I skipped at first) and 66 multiple-choice questions. Many questions were straight-forward and easy to answer because I knew the content. Other questions were unclear, but again because I understood the content, I easily eliminated obviously incorrect answers to get to the correct answer. My exam included what I believe were obviously ungraded questions (but I answered them anyway). Most of the performance-based questions were clear, but a couple of them were very deep and unclear. And yes, I passed.

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