How to study for your Comptia Security+ Certification Exam

I have taken many certification exams in my day and have refined my study techniques. From the moment I decide to get a particular certification to the time I actually sit to take the exam is much shorter now than it was when I first started taking exams. I don’t claim that everyone learns or works the same, but I know that these tips can really help most people. I have been teaching people how to do this for many years, and now that I have started LearnSwell, I will share them with you.

Don’t read the whole book!

No matter what test you are studying for there is a book for it.  Don’t read the book!  At least not cover to cover.  There is almost always information in the book that you already know.  There is also information in the book that is not exam specific information.  So, if you read the book cover to cover, you are spending hours studying things you already know and things that are not going to help you answer questions.  If you are reading to improve your overall knowledge, go ahead and take the time to read it all.  If you just want to pass a test, just read the important stuff.

How do I know what parts to read?

If you knew what the questions were on the exam, you could just make sure you know that stuff and ignore the rest.  So there are a couple ways that you can get an idea of what that stuff is.

Get the Security+ exam objectives from Comptia

Comptia publishes them.  If you go to http://www.comptia.org/certifications/testprep/examobjectives.aspx and fill in a few blanks you can download the objectives for all of Comptia’s exams, including Security+.  The PDF lists exactly what topics you are expected to know and tells you what percentage of the exam is devoted to what areas.  The objectives can be found other places (including most study guides) but I would get it straight from the official source.  Use this as your checklist of things you know and things you need to study a little more (and things you need to study a lot more!)  As you go down the objectives list, put a check by the topics that you feel you could explain to someone else.  If you hit a topic that you don’t feel comfortable with, use the index or table of contents in your book and go read that part.  If you don’t have a book, use Google or Wikipedia to learn about the topic.  I have found Wikipedia to be especially helpful for Comptia exams.  Study the topic until you can check it off on your objectives list.

Use practice tests

Another method for finding the topics you need to work on more is to take some practice tests.  Don’t read pages and pages of material to discover what you know and don’t know.  You can spend an hour taking a practice exam and then only study the stuff you struggle with.  It’s a great way to weed out many hours of studying.  The question is…

Where do I get practice questions?

There are two major ways to get practice questions: Pay or Free.  Why would I pay if I could get it for free?  There are good reasons.  First of all, you might pay for practice questions for the same reason you paid for a book.  All of the core information in the book is available for free online.  The book is nice because the information is all there and organized for you, you don’t have to hunt things down.  You can also usually trust something you paid for more than something you found on some blog of unknown origin.  The same rules apply to practice questions.  The ones that come in a book or from a reputable company are usually going to be trustworthy.  If you find some for free on the internet somewhere, you will have to distrust it a little bit.  That just means you will have to study a little bit if you don’t agree with the answer.  I think that’s a good thing.   If you can prove that the person who posted the question online is wrong and you are right, it gives you a lot of confidence in putting one more check mark on your objectives list.

How do I get free Comptia Security+ questions?

Again, I will recommend Google.  Do a search for something like “free security plus practice exam”.  After that, mix it up and try using “test” or “questions” instead of “exam”.  Add “Comptia” to your search.  Try spelling out “plus” and using the plus symbol, or just leave it out all together.  You will usually be able to find something.  WAIT… before you do that I recommend ProProfs.com.  They have a quiz school where anyone can create a practice test.  You could go there and create a test on any topic you choose.  Many people have already created Security+ quizzes.  Just remember these people are not paid to make sure that the question is accurate so you can’t totally trust them.  That’s OK.  It just forces you to study a little more on some of the questions.  Here is what currently shows up in the quiz school when you do a search for security

One more tip on finding practice questions

When you find some practice questions you like, try copying and pasting part of the question into a google search.  This is a great way to find another source of questions with the same stuff.  This can also help you do some research on questions you disagree with.

Final note

These techniques have helped me pass many tests.  I hope you find them useful.  I will reveal some of the secrets that I use for actually taking the exam to those who register.  These secrets have helped me pass over 20 certification exams.  They are tried and true.  Just fill in your name and a valid e-mail address over there in the upper right area of LearnSwell.com and then check your e-mail.  Your odds of passing your exam will go way up!  I guess that would be the next step after studying right?  See you soon.

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