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Steps I Took to Pass the CompTIA Security+ Exam

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By: sh0m3r

April 24, 2019


Hello friends. I wanted to share about my recent passing of the CompTIA Security+ certification exam and what I did in preparation.But before I do, I want to share some of my background to give you an idea of where I was coming from:I had approximately 2 years of IT work experience with about 1 year of that passively learning Cybersecurity through other learning platforms before starting the Cybrary SOC Analyst path in the fall of 2018. I only completed a few items in that path such as the Performing Incident Response in a Windows Environment Lab and the Cybrary Linux+ Practice Labs. Even still, that helped me learn the fundamentals of Linux and Terminal commands and some about Cybersecurity. I stopped Cybrary and focused on building a web hosting business for a while that gave me some more needed experience with web security. During my journey, I realized I wanted to focus on Cybersecurity and not so much marketing and sales, so I chose to return to Cybrary to resume my Security+ training.On about Sunday, April 7th, 2019, I made my next step in my Cybersecurity journey focusing on preparing to become a Penetration Tester. I resumed my Cybrary InsiderPro subscription and began down the Penetration Tester Path. It wasn't long before the CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 certification became my focus as it was the first certification on the path ahead.For about two weeks, I drank a lot of coffee and powered through Cybrary's preparation for the Security+ exam as I followed Cybrary's Penetration Testing Career Path.

Step 1:

I completed the initial 5 labs from the Cybrary Penetration Tester Path of Network Discovery, Preliminary Scanning, Parse Files Out of Network Traffic, Specialized Linux Port Scans, and Linux Users and Groups. Accomplishing this right out the gate helped give me the confidence that I needed to push through the next series of labs.

Step 2:

I met with some of my mentors on Cybrary in a Zoom group meeting which acted for me as my Mentor Session. (Thank you all! You were very helpful and insightful!) I really appreciated the meeting and they helped give me the confidence, determination, and knowledge I needed in planning to become a Penetration Tester.

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Step 3:

Bolstered by this confidence and determination and knowledge of the path ahead, I completed the Cybrary CompTIA Security+ (SY0-501) Video Course by Ron Woerner. This was very helpful in covering a lot of Security+ material in theory. Thanks Ron and team!

Step 4:

Next, I completed the Cybrary CompTIA Security+ Virtual Labs (Practice Labs) which gave me a lot of hands-on experience with security and servers. Overall, the labs were very helpful, and I highly recommend sticking through them and completing every single practice lab! They helped me build my skills, knowledge, and experience while driving me forward to the next objective.

Step 5:

I practiced every question on the Cybrary Kaplan CompTIA Security+ Practice Tests - the ones provided through Cybrary! These were VERY HELPFUL in analyzing gaps in my knowledge and helping me patch those "vulnerabilities" by researching them further on the internet. I completed every single question and retook the practice tests until I was very comfortable with most if not almost all of the material (probably 20+ practice test attempts). Custom tests were helpful to see where I needed to study the most.

Step 6:

I took the Security+ exam. I tried to stay calm and pray before and during the exam. It was TOUGH even after all the preparation. Many of the questions were simulation-based (e.g. where you choose appropriate security controls/recommendations) and problem-solving based (where you have to make recommendations or identify attacks based on code output). There were still problems where if you knew them, you could choose the correct answer and speed through them trying to save time for the harder questions. I thought a lot of the questions were harder than what I had prepared for as they seemed harder than the practice tests I took. Due to the simulations and problem-solving questions, I had to apply my knowledge to find the answer and not just choose the correct answer like many of the questions on the practice tests. Even still, I was bolstered by Cybrary and the practice tests I took to correctly choose the solution to enough problems! I finished the exam with about 2 minutes left after reviewing a few flagged questions. There were 82 questions on my exam. I passed with a score of 817/900 where 750 is passing.


Finally, I would like to say thank you to all of the active members of the Cybrary channels here on Slack! I can't recommend enough staying active in the community here as you prepare for the Security+ exam! Several of you gave me some great advice and encouragement for the exam! Simply put, the community support here is outstanding and it definitely helped me with confidence going into the exam. This test meant so very much to me. Hard work does pay off. Thanks to the Cybrary team, all my Cybrary mentors and everyone else that have helped me, provided feedback, or provided instruction!I want to encourage you that if you don't have a lot of IT experience or Cybersecurity experience that Cybrary can definitely help bootstrap you to obtaining your Security+ certification and getting started in Cybersecurity and IT. I do have some experience; however, only a limited amount of that experience helped me on the exam. The preparation I completed through Cybrary and ExamCompass and the studying that followed from my wrong answers - I would say helped me the most.I would say the test was harder than I expected, but the knowledge and skills I learned on Cybrary definitely helped me to analyze and solve many of the problems! Without Cybrary helping me learning concepts through the course, labs, and practice tests, I do not think I would have passed my Security+ exam in my first attempt! Thanks again everyone, and I look forward to the next step in the journey to becoming a Penetration Tester!

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