Exam preparation for any assessment is crucial, but if you prepare well, you will reap the rewards of success. But, depending on your learning style, the most effective method of exam preparation for you may not be exactly the same as that for someone else. In light of this, this preparatory guide will offer different types of resources to cater to the varying needs of each learner type. It is to your benefit to utilize these resources accordingly, as the normal exam fee for a Security+ certification is $370 for each attempt, meaning that preparation failure has a literal cost. Consider the motto moving ahead to be ‘Prepare to Succeed’.

Exam Format

Before you can hope to prepare for any exam, you need to first know what the exam format will be. The CompTIA Security+ 601 exam outline is as follows:

CompTIA Security+ 601 Exam (Code SYO-601)
Exam Description The CompTIA Security+ certification exam will verify that the successful candidate has the knowledge and skills required to assess the security posture of an enterprise environment and recommend and implement appropriate security solutions; monitor and secure hybrid environments, including cloud, mobile, and IoT; operate an awareness of applicable laws and policies, including the principle of governance, risk, and compliance; and identify, analyze, and respond to security events and incidents.
Questions A maximum of 90 questions in 90 minutes
Type of Questions Multiple Choice and Performance-Based Questions
Passing Score 750 out of a maximum of 900 points (83.33%)
Recommended Experience CompTIA Network+ and 2 years of experience in IT Administration with a security focus
Cost of Exam $370 USD or an academic voucher $240 USD

Exam Domains (Objectives)

The CompTIA Security+ 601 exam is broken down into five exam domains, shown below:

Examination Percentage
1.0 Attacks, Threats, and Vulnerabilities 24%
2.0 Architecture and Design 21%
3.0 Implementation 25%
4.0 Operations and Incident Response 16%
5.0 Governance, Risk, and Compliance 14%

Detailed Exam Objectives

You can register with CompTIA and download the exam objectives using the following link: Exam Objectives

Exam Preparation

Although this all might seem daunting, especially if you do not yet have a lot of experience in IT or cybersecurity, the Ian Neil Certification Guide for Security+ 601 has been written in a user-friendly format, is concise and to-the-point, and prepares you well for the exam. Ian Neil (author of the book) is one of the world’s best CompTIA Security+ 601 trainers. He has developed this website to provide students with a free resource to support their exam preparation. Ian regularly teaches students including youth workers, logistic personnel, and IT Security Administrators, and is familiar with common learning obstacles and areas which require additional support. His book is a certification guide that uses the same jargon that you will face in your exam. The aim of the book is two-fold: to increase your cybersecurity knowledge, and to help you gain certification. Ian Neil’s Security+ 601 Certification guide compliments the free resources on this website.

Structured Path of Study

In order to have a structured path of study, you must first choose a good study guide and have an idea on how quickly you want to achieve certification. A period of at least 8-10 weeks is recommended, though this time may be shortened if you are a seasoned IT Professional. You need to take the following into consideration:

  • Security+ 601 Certification Guide. You need to decide on which study guide to purchase. Some people choose more than one resource; however, it will take much longer to read all the material if you go that route. The Ian Neil Certification guide is highly recommended, it compliments this website, and it has a track record of helping people with little or no IT experience to become CompTIA Security+ 601 certified. It has been written in a simple, concise format with no fluff and is therefore more efficient than other study guides. It has been reasonably priced to make it affordable and can be found online via the following link: Ian Neil Study Guide
  • Study Timetable. It is vital that you look at your certification guide and decide how much time you can afford to study each day or week. You cannot take the exam by just reading a study guide once. You may have to read it multiple times to ensure that you understand the concepts. For this reason, you will want to create a timetable that you can follow. You must commit to following this timetable. You should allow at least 7 days for practice exams.
  • Reading. When you are reading study material, you should read for a maximum of 45 minutes before taking a 10-minute break, as most adults have a 45-minute concentration span. It can be helpful to read the study materials more than once, making short notes or drawing diagrams as you go through it. If you find that you’re having some difficulty with a topic, search online for video tutorials.
  • Step-by-Step Knowledge Confirmation. Each chapter in the Ian Neil Certification guide ends with a list of open-ended review questions to confirm you have understood the chapter you have just read, in contrast to the multiple-choice style chapter assessments you will find in most other guides. The problem with the multiple-choice format for review is that it does not push you hard enough, as even wrong answer choices may provide a hint rather than relying on your own understanding. For this reason, multiple choice questions should be reserved for the practice exams, which, of course, mirror the certification exam. You need to carry out step-by-step confirmation for all resources that you use to prepare.
  • End of Chapter Questions. If there are questions you cannot answer, then make a note of the topic and go back into the chapter to re-read the information that you need to recap. Open-ended questions are more difficult than multiple choice and give you a better idea of where you are.
  • Flashcards. Flashcards are a popular method that make facts easy to retain. Under the Flashcards tab on this website, you can find flashcards sets A to E for knowledge confirmation, as well as a ports quiz. These are very user-friendly, and you can flip the same flashcard multiple times. These are also free, in contrast to other sites which may ask you to purchase them.
  • Acronyms. The CompTIA Security+ 601 exam is like alphabet soup filled with Acronyms. To help you memorize these, there is a tab on the website that breaks them down into A-E, D-I, K-N, O-P and Q-S. The flashcards provided on this website will be particularly useful for these. When you run across acronyms you do not recognize or cannot remember, jot them down so that you can build a list for further practice. Running through these flashcards multiple times will help secure them in your memory.
  • Practical Exercises. This website has some practical exercises under the ‘Labs’ tab. All you need is a Windows 10 desktop with no specialized setup. This will help you gain some hands-on experience.
  • Videos. A good form of learning is by watching videos. They do not tend to be as detailed as a book but are a good form of learning. There are links to a few recommended videos on this website, or you can just search YouTube for specific topics. Professor Messer website is also a good study resource, the URL for which can be found below under ‘recommended resources’.

Exam Preparation

The format of the exam is performance-based and multiple-choice questions, and it is vital that you practice these before taking the exam:

  • Performance Based Questions (PBQs). Performance-based questions tend to be drop down menus or drag-and-drop style, where you must choose the correct answer from a selection of options and use your mouse cursor to move your answer selection to the correct place on-screen. Because they are more interactive and visual than standard multiple-choice questions, PBQs are often more contextual and require problem-solving and reasoning skills, rather than just knowledge recall. As such, they can be more challenging and require lots of practice. The CompTIA website has further information on PBQs, which can be found via the following link: Performance-Based Questions Overview. The exam normally starts with performance-based questions, and you will receive between two and six of these. There are some performance-based questions under the PBQs tab on this website.
  • Multiple Choice Questions. MCQs will typically provide four answer choices, but they have been known to have up to six. Some have single answers, others have two answers, and even, on a rare occasion, three. The Ian Neil Certification Guide is a good source for multiple choice questions, as it has two 50 multiple-choice question mock exams wherein concepts are identified for each question as well as explanations of why the other answers are wrong. There are also mock exams on this website for your practice. When taking any practice test, remember that it is better to understand the concept that is being measured than to simply memorize the answers – the exact practice questions will not be on the certification exam, but the concepts that they test will be. That said, the multiple-choice questions in the Ian Neil Certification Guide and this website will help prepare you for the exam, both conceptually and in format. You will not find the actual exam questions on the website as it is illegal to reproduce them.
  • Tackling Exam Questions. When you are tackling your multiple-choice questions, remember the following bullet points:
    Testing – follow these guidelines

    • Read the questions carefully.
    • Rule out the wrong answers.
    • Narrow down to a 50-50 choice, then re-read the finer details to make it 60-40.
    • Pick the BEST or MOST LIKELY options if there is more than one correct answer.
    • Select the answer for the question being asked.

    Testing – Do not do any of the following

    • Overthink
    • Scan or rush
    • Second- or double-guess
    • Change your answers
    • Re-read the entire exam

Ian Neil and Packt hope that you find the Certification Guide and this website helpful in your quest to become certified. We wish you the very best of luck.

Recommended Resources

The following resources will prove invaluable to you in your exam preparation. All except the Ian Neil Security+ Certification Guide are free of charge.