Security+ certification

The Security+ certification is highly regarded and a popular choice for those looking to enjoy a career in cybersecurity. How difficult you find the Security+ certification largely depends on your knowledge and experience. If you already have a background in IT, Security+ is a chance to validate your skills and fill in any gaps in your cybersecurity knowledge. However, if you’re new to the field, some of the concepts covered might appear daunting at first glance.

In order to provide some clarity regarding the difficulty of the Security+ certification, this guide aims to provide you with a clear picture of what lies ahead. We’ll dive into the specifics of the Security+ certification process, including the topics you’ll encounter, the most effective study resources at your disposal, and tips on how to tackle the exam successfully. Whatever your experience level, this should hopefully make the process that much easier.

How difficult is the Security+ certification?

How difficult you find the Security+ certification really depends on your background. Specifically, whether you have experience in IT and cybersecurity, as well as how familiar you are with the exam content. Security+ is an entry to intermediate-level certification. However, it covers a broad range of topics that require a solid understanding of cybersecurity principles and practices.

It should be noted that CompTIA recommends two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus or in a security or systems administrator role. It also recommends you first take the CompTIA Network+ certification.

Security+ exam content and topics

The Security+ certification covers a broad range of knowledge areas. Certain topics such as cryptography and securing network architecture may prove more difficult due to their complex concepts and the requirement to apply the knowledge in practical scenarios. Here we provide an overview of each domain covered in the exam:

Threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities

Technologies and tools

  • Familiarity with security technologies and tools to secure networks and manage vulnerabilities
  • Hands-on skills in configuring and deploying network components and security software

Architecture and design

  • Knowledge of secure network architecture concepts and design principles
  • Understanding of critical security controls and frameworks

Identity and access management

  • Managing identity and access services, including authentication methods and access control models
  • Awareness of the importance of policies and best practices in managing identities

Risk management

  • Understanding risk management processes and strategies
  • Identifying and analyzing risk, and implementing appropriate mitigation techniques

Cryptography and PKI

  • Basic knowledge of cryptography principles
  • Familiarity with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and cryptographic protocols

Key factors influencing Security+ exam difficulty

Below is a breakdown of the factors that influence the difficulty of the Security+ certification:

Background in IT and cybersecurity

If you’re new to IT or cybersecurity, Security+ may pose a challenge. It requires learning many different concepts from security fundamentals to more technical aspects like encryption and network security. However, if you have experience in IT or cybersecurity, you may find Security+ easier due to already being familiar with many of the concepts covered.

Wide range of topics

The Security+ exam covers a variety of topics including threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities, technologies and tools, architecture and design, and identity and access management. The fact that the scope is so broad can make it difficult to master all of the necessary material.

Study materials and preparation

The availability of high-quality study materials and resources can impact the difficulty of the exam. With the right materials and a solid study plan, you can better prepare for the Security+ certification exam. Of course, a lack of preparation or inadequate study materials can increase the exam’s difficulty.

Exam format and questions

You’ll find both multiple-choice and performance-based questions in the Security+ exam. This not only tests your knowledge, but your ability to apply it in practical scenarios. The performance-based questions can be particularly challenging if you’re not used to hands-on cybersecurity tasks.

Personal commitment

The amount of time and effort you’re willing (and able) to invest in preparation will affect how difficult you ultimately find the Security+ exam. Having a regular study routine, plenty of hands-on practice, and taking practice exams can all help significantly.

Preparing for the exam: Study resources

Passing the Security+ exam requires thorough preparation as well as the right study materials. Below, we outline various resources that you can use to ensure you’re well prepared come exam day:

Our top recommendation: StationX


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StationX offers a comprehensive suite of courses and resources specifically designed for cybersecurity certifications, including the CompTIA Security+. Known for its in-depth coverage of cybersecurity principles and practices, StationX is a valuable resource for preparing for the Security+ exam. With courses designed by industry experts, you can expect to gain a thorough understanding of the exam content along with practical insights into the cybersecurity field.

One of the standout features of StationX is its focus on real-world applications of cybersecurity knowledge. This prepares you not only for the Security+ exam, but equips you with the skills applicable to cybersecurity roles. You’ll find video lectures, hands-on labs, quizzes, and practice exams, ensuring there’s more than enough variety to suit all learning styles. StationX constantly updates its courses to ensure they reflect the latest exam objectives and cybersecurity trends.

Unlike many other paid study resources for Security+, StationX gives you the chance to test it for yourself risk-free. If at all unsatisfied, you can take advantage of its generous 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Official CompTIA study resources

  • CompTIA Security+ Study GuideThe official guide covers all exam objectives and is an essential resource for understanding the material.
  • CompTIA CertMaster Learn: An interactive e-learning platform with lessons, videos, and practice questions tailored to the Security+ exam.
  • CompTIA CertMaster PracticeThis is an online test preparation tool that familiarizes you with the exam format and helps identify knowledge gaps.

Third Party Study Materials

  • Books: Titles such as CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead by Darril Gibson are highly recommended for their in-depth coverage and practical examples.
  • Online courses: Platforms like UdemyLinkedIn LearningCoursera, and Cybrary offer comprehensive Security+ courses that cater to different learning styles.
  • Practice exams: Various publishers and online platforms provide practice exams. Two free examples include CrucicalExams and ExamCompass.

Study tips and strategies

Combining the right study resources with a strategic approach to learning and exam preparation can make all the difference when it comes to passing the Security+ exam. Here are a few tips and strategies to optimize your studies and improve your chances of passing the exam:

Develop a study plan

In developing a study plan, you’ll want to determine how much time you can dedicate to studying each day or week, and plan accordingly. Breaking down exam content into manageable sections and setting specific goals for completing each one can also be beneficial.

Understand the exam objectives

Review the Security+ exam objectives, which outline the topics you’ll be tested on. By identifying areas where you feel less confident, you can dedicate more study time to these topics.

Use a variety of study materials

Diversifying your study materials helps reinforce learning and ensures your study sessions don’t become too repetitive. Just some of the options available to you include books, online courses, and video tutorials.

Engage in active learning

Hands-on practice with practical exercises and labs allows you to apply theoretical knowledge. If you get a chance to explain concepts to others, this can reinforce knowledge as well as reveal any gaps in your knowledge.

Take regular practice exams

You can take practice exams in order to establish what you already know and what you particularly need to focus on with further study. As you approach the exam date, you can take practice tests under exam conditions to fully prepare yourself for the real thing.

Security+ certification FAQs

How long should I prepare for the Security+ exam?

The preparation and study time for the Security+ exam can vary significantly based on your knowledge and experience levels, as well as the amount of time you can dedicate to studying. If you’re completely new to IT and cybersecurity, you may need anywhere between 3–6 months of study time. However, if you already have experience in IT or cybersecurity, you may only need 1–3 months to prepare.

Can I pass the Security+ exam without experience in cybersecurity?

Yes, it’s possible to pass the Security+ exam without prior experience in cybersecurity or IT, but it’s likely to require more comprehensive preparation. The Security+ certification is designed to certify that you have a foundational level of knowledge and skills, although CompTIA still recommends that you first take its Network+ certification. Still, this is only a recommendation and not a requirement.

How much does the Security+ exam cost?

The CompTIA exam costs $404 (USD). Prices can vary according to exchange rates and local taxes so it’s important to check the official CompTIA website for the current pricing in your region. CompTIA also offers bundles that include the exam voucher along with study materials and a retake option. This might prove cost-effective if you’re looking for additional resources to prepare for the exam.

Can I retake the exam if I don’t pass the first time?

Yes, you can retake the CompTIA Security+ exam if you don’t pass on your first attempt. There’s no waiting period to do so for the first retake, but there is a 14-day waiting period for each subsequent retake. Each attempt at the exam requires a new exam voucher at the full price, although you can save on this if you purchase one of CompTIA’s bundles that include an exam retake.