Security+ Beta Questions are Not Graded
If you take the Security+ exam, you may come across some Security+ beta questions that seem like they’re completely out of the blue. This is because CompTIA sometimes adds in beta questions for the next version of the exam. For example, even though you’re taking the SYO-301 exam, they may throw in some questions from the SYO-401 exam objectives.
As an example, when the SY0-301 was being developed, several students came back from taking the exam asking questions like “what is software as a service (SaaS)?” This is one of the catch phrases of cloud computing and refers to software delivered over the Internet. In other words, instead of having software installed on your computer, you can run software that hosted on the Internet.
Even though I’m aware of what SaaS is, I wasn’t teaching it in SYO-201 Security+ classes unless student questions bring up the topic. Why not? The reason is that cloud computing and SaaS were not covered in the objectives.
However, if you look in the objectives for the SYO-301 exam, you’ll find “Cloud Computing”, “Platform as a Service”, “Software as a Service”, and “Infrastructure as a Service” under objective 1.3. You can certainly expect cloud computing topics to come up in the SY0-301 exam, but when they appeared in the previous exam, they were in there as beta questions and they weren’t graded.
CompTIA uses Security+ beta questions for testing. If everyone gets the question correct, the question is too easy. If everyone gets the question incorrect, the question is too difficult. They determine a question is valid using some predetermined metric between these two extremes. The good news is that beta questions aren’t graded. The bad news is that you do not know what questions are beta questions so you have to answer each question as if it’s a valid question.
With all this in mind, if you come across a question on the exam that isn’t familiar at all to you, don’t panic. It may indeed be a beta question. And of course, the good news is that beta questions aren’t graded. Then again, if the first 50 questions don’t look familiar, feel free to start panicking. It could be that you weren’t studying the right material and you’ll have another opportunity to take the exam in the future. If you’d like me to recommend a good Security+ book feel free to ask:)
Here are some links to more resources to help you pass the Security+ exam the first time you take it.