How I Passed the CompTIA Security+ Exam

I passed the SY0-501 exam on my first attempt. I was most excited about taking this exam because I thoroughly enjoyed the subject matter that was covered in this test.

The practical security concepts covered in CompTIA Security+ are useful to understand whether you work for a small business, a large corporation, or any government agency.

Suggestions

CompTIA suggests, according to their website, that candidates should have the CompTIA Security+ certification and 2 years of practical IT experience with a security focus prior to taking the exam.

Background

At the time of taking the Security+, I had over 4 years experience in web development and some basic knowledge of high-level programming languages. I have worked with switches, routers, servers, and cabling on a few SOHO networks, but this experience was minimal.

In regard to Security aspects of IT and Networking, I was already familiar with securing Windows workstations and servers. I also already had a strong understanding of Malware, all its forms, and various attacks and threats since working with Kali Linux and learning ethical penetration testing.

What to Expect on the Security+ Exam

I can’t say what is on the exam, but I can recommend reading the CompTIA course objectives. I used these course objectives to guide my studying and it helped me properly prepare for the exam.

I would also take note of the section breakdown at the beginning of the course objectives. Some sections are weighted more than others, so take that into account when studying. Make sure you are most familiar with the heaviest weighted sections since they will represent a larger portion of questions on the exam.

Resources I Used for Security+

Below I will list the resources I used in order of most to least valuable.

If you read my other post about How I Passed the A+ Exam, this list is basically reversed. What I found most useful for the A+ was the least useful for the Security+ and vice versa.

  1. Professor Messer’s Security+ Course Notes ($20)
  2. Professor Messer’s Security+ Free Training Videos
  3. ExamCompass.com free CompTIA Security+ practice tests
Professor Messer’s Course Notes

I read through Professor Messer’s course notes for the Security+ around 3 times throughout my studying. I even glanced through certain sections one final time before I left to the testing centre. This was my most used resource and easily the smartest $20 investment I made in my training.

Professor Messer’s YouTube Videos

The great thing about Professor Messer’s videos is that they are all free on YouTube. He organizes the topics according to the CompTIA Security+ objectives. His videos are succinct providing the perfect amount of detail you need to know for the tests.

His videos pair well with the course notes. The notes give usually a brief overview of the important parts of concepts. So if you want to learn a bit more, watch his videos for more in-depth information.

ExamCompass Practice Tests

For the A+ I spent at least 50 hours total on the ExamCompass.com practice tests. However, for Security+ I only went through all 24 tests a single time. The reason I did it only once is that there was a lot of subject matter overlap between A+ and Network+. I was confident in most of the testing material after the first round of practicing so I merely wrote down the topics which I struggled with and did my own research to learn them.

Final Thoughts

I finally finished the journey of earning the CompTIA Core Certifications (ITF+, A+, Network+, Security+).

It took me a total of 6 weeks to earn the CompTIA Core Certifications from the date I passed the 220-901 (first part of A+) until the date I passed the SY0-501 (Security+).

I dedicated almost all my time outside of work to studying for these tests. Some of the concepts were tedious, but most of the material was engaging and useful to know.

Now that this part of the journey is complete, I will pursue more certifications in the future. I would like to earn the CompTIA Cyber Security Certifications (CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+) at some point when I have more experience in a professional setting.