StrategyThis is the third and final article in our comprehensive blog series on how to improve your CompTIA Security+ exam score. In our previous blog, we discussed how the Security+ exam is graded and scored. Now we move into the final stages of this series, where we will dive deep into strategies for improving your overall score.

Achieving a high score on the CompTIA Security+ exam requires more than just understanding the material. It involves strategic preparation, effective study techniques, and smart test-taking strategies. This final article in our series will delve into practical strategies and study tips to help you maximize your performance on the Security+ exam. From developing a targeted study plan to mastering time management techniques, you’ll find the tools you need to enhance your exam score and achieve certification success.

We will explore various approaches to optimize your study efforts and boost your confidence on exam day. By understanding the grading process, focusing on high-weight domains, and adopting effective preparation pathways, you can significantly improve your chances of passing the Security+ exam. Let’s dive into the strategies that will set you on the path to success.

My Learning PlanCrafting a Targeted Security+ Study Plan

Test-taking is, and always will be, based on having a strong strategy prior to test day. Whether you’re preparing for the SAT, getting ready for finals week in college, or looking to obtain a cybersecurity certification, obtaining a high score requires a plan. That plan begins months before test day and requires some thought, dedication, and follow-through. We need to take some time to think through a study and preparation plan that can effectively prepare us for the Security+ exam.

A successful study plan has two essential parts – a schedule and proper study materials. This plan doesn’t need to be extremely thorough, but does need to have both of these components in order to properly prepare for exams as difficult as the Security+. Cybersecurity certification exams, as a whole, focus highly on your ability to learn and retain fundamental concepts and principles. This is why your approach to preparation is so essential. So let’s take some time to dive into both of these areas.
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Developing a Customized Study Schedule

Creating a personalized study schedule is essential for effective preparation. Although you will want to review all of the study materials, it’s smart to start by assessing your current knowledge and identifying areas that need the most improvement. Understanding your current knowledge strengths and weaknesses will help with prioritization. What exactly are we prioritizing? The different domains within the exam.

There are five different IT/cybersecurity domains covered in the Security+ exam:

  • General Security Concepts (12% of the examination)
  • Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations (22% of the examination)
  • Security Architecture (18% of the examination)
  • Security Operations (28% of the examination)
  • Security Program Management and Oversight (20% of the examination)

Through self-awareness of knowing your weakness areas, and understanding which domains will have a higher question distribution, you can create a plan that effectively allocates study time. Then, you can set specific goals for each study session and track your progress to stay on course. A well-structured study plan keeps you organized and focused, ensuring that you cover all the necessary material before exam day.

One last thought, an easy approach to creating your study schedule is to break down your study sessions into manageable chunks. For example, you could dedicate one week to each domain, with an additional week for challenging domains and practice exams. By doing this, you can ensure comprehensive coverage of the exam content while allowing time for a deeper understanding of challenging topics. It’s important to remember that consistency is key, so stick to your schedule and make adjustments as needed to accommodate your progress.
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Utilizing Security+ Study Materials Effectively

Leverage a variety of study materials to ensure comprehensive coverage of exam topics. Between study guides, online courses, hands-on labs, videos, practice exams, and flashcards, there is a plethora of options available to you. Diversifying your study resources helps reinforce your understanding and retention of key concepts. Additionally, using multiple sources can provide different perspectives and explanations, making complex topics easier to grasp.

When selecting study materials, prioritize those that are up-to-date and aligned with the latest exam objectives. Official CompTIA resources are highly recommended, as they are specifically designed to cover the exam content. This is the most important thing to keep in mind, as these materials will provide the best guidance towards what you will see on the exam. Other than that, find as many tools as possible to help you prepare. Regardless of the materials you decide to use for your preparation plan, we highly recommend making practice exams a major component. Practice exams are particularly valuable, as they simulate the actual exam environment and help you gauge your readiness.
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Should I Use Self-Paced Programs or Bootcamps When Preparing for Security+?

Although there are numerous training options available when preparing for the CompTIA Security+ exam, almost all of them will fall into one of two categories – self-paced and bootcamp style. A self-paced program is essentially what it sounds like, a program based around your own schedule that allows you the ability to cover the different domains at your own pace. This study approach tends to be optimal for those requiring a flexible schedule and prefer to take their time on each domain. This approach also allows for the ability to add in hands-on labs and short quizzes as you work through each domain.

On the other hand, bootcamps tend to be more like a crash course on the content. These are usually one to two weeks long, where you will spend 4 to 8 hours each day diving into the pivotal details of every domain. Bootcamps tend to favor those who want to prepare for the exam quickly and prefer the presence of a live instructor guiding through the course content. They also usually focus less on hands-on labs and spend more time on covering the essential areas of each domain that will be on the exam.
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Overview of Self-Paced Programs

Self-paced study allows you to learn at your own pace, on your own schedule. This flexibility is ideal for individuals with busy lifestyles or varying levels of prior knowledge. One of the big benefits of self-paced over bootcamps is that you can tailor your study plan to focus on areas where you need the most improvement. So if there are specific domains that you know you’re less knowledgeable on, you can provide more time and focus on those. They also do allow much more time for you to work in hands-on labs and additional knowledge checks to ensure you are retaining the information. However, self-paced study requires a high level of self-discipline and motivation to stay on track.

  • Biggest Benefit: Flexibility and Customization. Self-paced programs offer unparalleled flexibility, allowing you to study whenever and wherever it suits you. This customization enables you to spend more time on difficult topics and move quickly through areas you’re comfortable with. Self-paced study often includes a variety of resources, such as video lectures, reading materials, and quizzes, allowing you to choose the formats that work best for you.
  • Pros and Cons. The main advantage of self-paced study is its flexibility. You can study at your own pace and adjust your schedule as needed. However, this approach requires strong self-motivation and time management skills. Without the structure of a classroom, it can be easy to procrastinate or lose focus. Additionally, self-paced learners may miss out on the interactive and collaborative benefits of a classroom environment.

Self-Paced Training

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Overview of CompTIA Security+ Bootcamps

Bootcamps provide a structured, intensive learning environment led by experienced instructors. The instructors typically know the exam inside and out and usually help guide the training focus on areas that you will largely see on the exam. These programs are designed to cover all exam objectives within a short timeframe, typically ranging from a few days to two weeks. Bootcamps offer a comprehensive and immersive learning experience, ideal for individuals who prefer a guided approach and need to prepare quickly.

  • Biggest Benefit: Structured Learning Environment. Bootcamps offer a highly structured environment, with set schedules and deadlines. This structure helps ensure that you cover all necessary material in a timely manner, providing an increase probability of taking and passing your exam quickly. Instructors provide expert guidance, answering questions and clarifying difficult concepts. Additionally, bootcamps can include hands-on labs and interactive exercises, which enhance understanding and retention.
  • Pros and Cons. The main advantage of bootcamps is their intensive, focused approach. They provide a clear timeline and expert instruction, which can be beneficial for those who need structure and accountability. However, bootcamps can be expensive and require a significant time commitment. They may also be too fast-paced for some learners, who might struggle to absorb the material in a short period.

Security+ Bootcamp Training

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Improvement ahead

  • Best Study Techniques for Improving Security+ Exam Score

    So far we have covered a variety of options/approaches to preparing for the CompTIA Security+ certification exam. Although all have their merits, there are two different techniques of preparing for this exam that I want to spend some extra time highlighting. Those techniques are engaging in active learning, things like hands-on labs and knowledge checks, and then taking practice exams prior to taking the real thing. Both of these tools have unique aspects that can truly increase your chances of obtaining a passing score.
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    Active Learning Strategies for Security+ Exam

    Engage in active learning techniques to enhance retention and understanding. Some active learning techniques include summarizing key concepts in your own words, teaching the material to someone else (could be as easy as explaining it to your spouse or a friend), or engaging in hands-on labs. The goal of active learning is to involve more than just reading or watching videos. It requires you to interact with the material in meaningful ways.

    One big example, is after studying a topic, test yourself with practice questions to assess your understanding. A fun way to engage your mind with practice questions is through generative AI tools like Chat GPT. Explain to the AI tool the domain you are working on, and some of the key concepts you are trying to remember, and then ask it to create 5-10 study questions for you. The more you engage with the material, the better prepared you will be for the exam.
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    Leveraging Security+ Practice Exams for Better Performance

    Practice exams are invaluable tools for exam preparation. Although we covered knowledge checks and quizzes in the previous section, we need to highlight practice exams in more detail because they go beyond just remembering information. These tools also help you become familiar with the exam format, question types, and time constraints. Taking practice exams under timed conditions simulates the actual exam environment and helps build your test-taking stamina. These time constraints also help you learn how to approach the different types of questions to optimize your time.

    When using Security+ practice exams, it can often be beneficial to take one at the beginning of your journey and again prior to taking the real exam. By starting with a diagnostic test, you can assess your initial knowledge and identify areas for improvement. This will help you in building your study schedule to ensure you focus time on areas of need. As you progress in your studies, you can also take additional practice exams to track your progress and build confidence. But it is imperative that you take one prior to exam day, ensuring you are as prepared as you can be.

    Additionally, when taking the practice exams, take time to thoroughly understand and absorb the content. Review the explanations for each question, especially those you got wrong, to understand your mistakes and learn from them. Consistent practice with exam-like questions will enhance your readiness and boost your performance on the actual exam.
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    Mastering Time Management for Cybersecurity Certifications

    One of the most difficult aspects of any cybersecurity certification exam is completing it within the time constraints. For so many exams, the amount of time you have per question is just long enough to read the question and possible answers. You have to be able to read, process, and answer as if your response to the question is muscle memory. This is probably by design, if you are going into a field like cybersecurity, you will need to have this information engrained in your memory. So, the recall should be quick if you want to show that you have mastered specific domains.

    Although the reasoning is sound, it still creates a difficult test day, especially for those who read and process information a little slower. With the Security+ exam specifically, your exam can have up to 90 questions and the time limit is 90 minutes. Usually having 3 performance-based questions that can easily take 5 minutes each, you are often left with roughly 45 to 50 seconds per multiple-choice question. To help you prepare for this scenario, let’s discuss a couple of time management techniques.
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    Creating a Study Timeline for the Security+ Exam

    To begin with, it all comes back to properly preparing for the knowledge within the domains covered on the exam. This may be somewhat repetitive and isn’t specifically a ‘time management’ tool, but it is vital in being able to manage your time constraints. Through proper study habits, you will become more competent and confident with the information you are being tested on. By growing your competence and confidence, you will be in a better position to process the information quickly and effectively.

    A well-planned study timeline is crucial for effective preparation. Start by setting a target exam date and work backward to allocate study time for each domain. You want to allocate enough time to become competent in each domain. Ensure that your timeline includes time for review and practice exams. The practice exams are one of the highly important aspects of your plan. Breaking down your study plan into manageable chunks helps you stay organized and focused, reducing the risk of last-minute cramming.

    If your preparation approach includes an immersive bootcamp, then you can still utilize some of these same tools and techniques. Start by asking your instructor if they can provide access to a practice exam. By taking the exam prior to the bootcamp, you will have an increased awareness of what you need to learn before stepping foot in the classroom. Then at the end of the bootcamp, take the practice exam again to gauge how much you have learned and highlight any areas you may not be ready for. If needed, read additional materials and utilize hands-on labs to learn those areas prior to taking your exam.
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    Hand holding a clockTechniques to Manage Time During the Security+ Exam

    Managing your time during the exam is critical for success. Start by briefly reviewing the performance-based questions to gauge their difficulty. If you have high confidence in any of those questions, tackle them first to get them out of the way quickly. For performance-based questions you feel less confident in, answer to the best of your ability as fast as you can, and then flag it to review with any time left at the end of the exam. The goal with these questions is to avoid taking TOO much time. You can easily lose track of time when trying to work through them, so move quickly.

    After those are done and you begin the multiple-choice questions, you will want to take a time check and figure out how much time per question you have left. Allocate time based on the number of questions and don’t spend too much time on any one question! This can be hard and requires discipline. Just like with performance-based questions, if you don’t know the answer quickly, make your best guess and flag it for review at the end.
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    Don’t Lose Track of Time

    Although you will be tempted to spend more time on the hard questions, remember the goal is to pass the exam, not get all of the questions correct. If you don’t know the answer right away, you can easily lose track of time trying to figure it out, which could in-turn result in some questions not getting answered if you run out of time. The most successful approach is to answer questions as quickly as possible, ensuring you get all questions answered. The ones you are unsure about getting flagged for review, and with the leftover time from moving quickly, you can go back and think through them more thoroughly. This strategy ensures that you have enough time to answer all questions and reduces the risk of leaving any unanswered.

    During the exam, keep an eye on the clock and pace yourself. Aim to complete the easier questions quickly, leaving more time for the difficult ones. Use the process of elimination to narrow down answer choices, and make educated guesses quickly. Stay calm and focused, with effective time management you can significantly improve your performance and reduce exam-related stress.
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    Enhancing Understanding of Security+ Exam Objectives

    Understanding the Security+ exam objectives is crucial for targeted preparation. Review the detailed breakdown of objectives provided by CompTIA, and prioritize your study efforts based on the weight of each domain. Familiarizing yourself with the exam objectives helps you focus on the most important topics and ensures comprehensive coverage of the exam content.

    To deepen your understanding of the exam objectives, create a study guide that outlines each domain and its key concepts. Use this guide as a reference throughout your study sessions to ensure you cover all necessary material. Additionally, take advantage of online resources, such as official CompTIA forums and study groups, to gain insights and clarification on challenging topics. A thorough understanding of the exam objectives will enhance your confidence and readiness for the exam.

    Additionally, some domains carry more weight in the exam than others. This is something to be cognizant of. Prioritizing high-weight domains ensures that you focus on the topics that contribute the most to your overall score. Allocate more study time to these domains, and use practice questions to test your understanding and retention. Focusing on high-weight domains helps maximize your study efforts and improves your chances of achieving a high score.

    Click here for a complete breakdown of the CompTIA Security+ Exam Objectives.

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    Practical Exam Day Strategies

    Reducing exam-day anxiety is essential for optimal performance. Start by ensuring that you are well-prepared and confident in your knowledge. Get a good night’s sleep before the exam, and eat a healthy breakfast to fuel your brain. Arrive at the testing center early to avoid any last-minute stress and allow time to settle in.

    In the final hours before the exam, review your study notes and key concepts one last time. Avoid cramming new information, as this can increase anxiety and reduce retention. Instead, focus on reinforcing what you already know and building confidence in your abilities. Proper preparation and a calm mindset will help you approach the exam with confidence and increase your chances of success.

    Before the exam, take care of all personal needs such as using the bathroom, making phone calls, and eating. Once the exam begins, you must stay in your seat and remain quiet until it is completed. Bring all necessary materials, such as identification and exam confirmation, and ensure that you are familiar with the testing center’s rules and procedures. Many of the tests are completed virtually, so be sure to adhere to their rules as well. A virtual proctor will terminate your exam if they feel there is excessive talking/noise, if you leave the frame of the camera, if anyone else is seen/heard, looking at your phone, and for a variety of other reasons. So be sure to follow the rules.
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    Retake Strategies for Security+ Exam

    If you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, don’t be discouraged. Whether you purchased your exam voucher directly from CompTIA, or through an approved training provider, there is most likely a retake policy that includes a retake voucher. So don’t stress, just prepare to take it again. Use the feedback provided by CompTIA to identify areas where you need improvement. Learning from your mistakes and adjusting your study plan can significantly improve your chances of passing on your next attempt.

    After analyzing your exam feedback, adjust your study plan to address your weaknesses. Allocate more time to challenging domains and use different study resources to gain a better understanding of difficult concepts. Incorporate more practice exams and quizzes to test your knowledge and track your progress in those specific areas.

    In addition to adjusting your study plan, consider changing your study methods or resources. If self-paced study didn’t work well for you, try a structured bootcamp or seek help from a tutor. Experiment with different active learning techniques to find what works best for you. By being flexible and open to new approaches, you can enhance your preparation and increase your chances of success on your next attempt.
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    Are you ready?

  • Are You Ready to Get Security+ Certified?

    Successfully passing the CompTIA Security+ exam requires a combination of effective study strategies, time management techniques, and practical exam day tips. By crafting a targeted study plan, exploring different preparation pathways, and mastering key concepts, you can significantly improve your performance and achieve your desired score. Remember that preparation is a journey, and with the right strategies, you can navigate this path with confidence. If you are ready to get started, you can check out our upcoming training schedule or contact our experts with any questions/concerns.

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