You can expect to see as many as 10 performance based questions, when you take the Security+ exam. Instead of picking from a multiple-choice answer, you’re often required to perform a task. CompTIA’s goal is to provide more accurate testing to verify people have a full understanding of a topic.
These are different than traditional multiple choice questions, but you don’t need to worry too much about them. If you understand the content, they aren’t too difficult.
A question people often ask about these questions is if they get partial credit. People at CompTIA know, but I haven’t seen anywhere they’ve clarified this. It’s entirely possible that you get partial credit on some of these types of questions while others require you to answer them completely. It’s best to do the best you can with each question.
The following sections cover the different types of questions you can expect.
Matching – Performance Based Questions
In a matching performance-based question, you will see two lists and need to match them. As a simple example, one list might include several protocols and the other list might include several protocol numbers. You would need to match the correct protocol numbers with each protocol. If you know the protocols and ports listed in Table 3.1 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide, this becomes trivial. Then again, if you don’t know which ports go with which protocols, this can be quite difficult.
Drag and Drop – Performance Based Questions
In some questions, you might need to drag items from one location on the screen to another location to answer a question. You can think of these as multiple-choice questions with multiple answers that are correct. However, instead of selecting the check boxes to indicate a correct answer, you drag it to somewhere else on the screen.
Chapter 2 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide, has an example of a potential drag-and drop question in the practice test questions section. It provides a scenario with several locations and devices, and lists several security controls used to secure the locations. You’re asked to drag and drop the appropriate controls to the appropriate location or device.
Another example is in Chapter 11 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide. The question presents a scenario related to forensics, andthen asks you to arrange an out-of-order list of data based on volatility.
Data Entry – Performance Based Questions
Some performance-based questions might ask you to analyze a scenario and then enter appropriate data. For example, Chapter 4 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide discusses the configuration of wireless access points and wireless routers. A related question might ask you to configure an access point to work with WPA2 Enterprise mode. The Configuring a Wireless Router Lab mentioned in Chapter 4 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide and available online shows you the steps to do this. Similarly, I wrote a series of blog articles on creating rules for routers and firewalls. The second post showed an example of a performance-based question and the last post provided the solution.
You can read the posts here:
Performance-Based Questions Strategy
You’ll see the performance-based questions first and 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.
However, if the question isn’t clear, mark the question and skip it. You can come back to it later. It’s entirely possible that the question is a poorly worded beta question that doesn’t even count. If you spend 45 minutes on it, you might run out of time before you finish the multiple choice questions.
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. It’s worth your time to read comments from other readers too.