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What are the best ways to prep for CompTIA exams?

I took the CompTIA Security+ online exam once and wasn't able to clear it. How can I prepare to pass the test next time?

It's common for IT pros to have trouble with certification exams, and there are a few strategies to help you prepare...

for the big test.

First, take a step back and examine your certification track. Security+ is an entry-level exam and certification. Success with Security+ depends on a solid knowledge of system and network principles. Start with other CompTIA exams, Network+ and even A+, to establish a strong foundation of underlying knowledge before moving to more abstract ideas in Security+. There are no formal prerequisites to take the test, unlike the prereqs for other certifications like Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Work on strategies for exam preparation. Start with CompTIA; familiarize yourself with the exam structure, take some sample practice questions and get connections to other training options for Security+. Check out books that cover Security+ topics and offer test questions -- these accurately simulate the adaptive environment encountered during the actual CompTIA test. You can buy books from CompTIA directly or at any major book seller.

CompTIA also offers an online learning program called CertMaster, with a Security+ adaptive learning module for test prep. You might also invest the time in classroom-based training for Security+.

Pace yourself, study carefully and know the material thoroughly before sitting for the exam. All of these training aids and options cost money and raise the total cost of your Security+ certification beyond the CompTIA test's price, but the additional effort can prove invaluable for an IT professional.

Security+ syllabus

CompTIA's Security+ exam gauges your knowledge of basic network and system security principles as well as risk management concepts.

It covers topics including identity management, cryptography, access control, attack concepts and risk mitigation principles.

The latest version of Security+ also touches on bring your own device and supervisory control and data acquisition security concerns.

CompTIA charges the full exam price each time a candidate attempts it. Pursuing a certification can become extremely costly if you don't lay solid foundations.

CompTIA certifications like Security+ must be renewed periodically. Security+ exams are valid for three years from the date of certification and must be maintained through continuing education, such as higher certifications.

About the author:
Stephen J. Bigelow is a senior technology editor at TechTarget, covering data center and virtualization technologies. He's acquired many CompTIA certifications in his more than two decades writing about the IT industry.

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This was last published in April 2015

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