CompTIA Security+: Where can I take my Security+ exam?
The CompTIA Security+ exam can be taken either online or in-person, and candidates should understand the pros and cons of before committing.
Summary: Candidates can choose to take the CompTIA Security+ exam either online or in person. While online testing is typically more convenient, in-person testing in a distraction-free and official environment has benefits. This guide serves to help candidates determine which option is best for them.
The CompTIA Security+ certification is an entry-level cybersecurity accreditation that serves as a springboard for a lucrative career in one of the most in-demand fields of modern times. It demonstrates proven expertise in the sector and positions certificate holders as top candidates for cybersecurity positions that average annual salaries of $80,000 in the US.
Common job titles that require a CompTIA Security+ or equivalent certification are Systems Administrator, Security Administrator, and Security Consultant. CompTIA recommends that candidates have at least two years of experience working in network administration or security before committing themselves to take the exam.
Candidates should only register for the exam once they are reasonably confident that they will be ready to pass by a given time. However, it is possible to reschedule up to 24 hours ahead of the exam. Candidates may take the exam itself either in person or remotely with proctoring online. The choice largely depends on the candidate’s personal preferences and the availability of testing centers in their area.
CompTIA Security+ online testing
As with many other professional certifications, online testing is the most popular option. Online testing must take place in a quiet, enclosed, and private location without risk of distraction, such as a home or private office. A reliable internet connection is required, ideally with a backup option in an unexpected service outage. The connection should offer a minimum speed of 1 Mbps downstream and upstream.
Online testing also offers the flexibility to schedule the exam at any convenient time to the candidate, with slots available 24/7. Live technical support is available throughout the test, while online proctoring ensures that candidates adhere to exam rules and policies. Although they cannot offer guidance for the exam itself, support personnel will be available via instant message or audio to address any technical support-related questions.
Although online testing is convenient and accessible anywhere, it is not without its drawbacks. Rules tend to be stricter, especially since preparing the exam space is the responsibility of the candidate. For example, candidates must ensure no writing implements, books, whiteboards, or other writing within reach or view. Furthermore, some candidates have reported being informed about a breach of rules simply by reading out the questions aloud or looking away from the screen for an extended period.
As with in-person testing, leaving the desk during the exam is not permitted. The candidate must disconnect additional monitors and allow the proctor to remotely examine their workstation via video feed, which must remain on throughout the exam.
All online CompTIA exams are proctored through Pearson VUE, one of the leading providers of online proctoring solutions. Candidates should check-in for their exam half an hour ahead of their scheduled appointment time, after which they will be placed in a queue and connected to the next available proctor. Online exams are only available in English, as proctors can only communicate in that language.
Finally, candidates will be shown their exam score immediately upon completion, with a formal report being delivered within the following 24 hours.
CompTIA Security+ in-person testing
Those who prefer a more traditional testing environment should consider in-person testing, especially now that most testing centers are functioning again following the relaxation of the restrictions introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. As with the online exams, Pearson VUE organizes all in-person testing at its own venues or partner venues. These are available all over the world, including in some countries where online testing is unavailable.
Since the CompTIA Security+ accreditation is one of those formally approved by the DoD, any current employees in the defense sector should also be able to take the exam at on-base testing centers.
In-person testing largely follows the industry-standard format with much the same set of rules as one would expect in any other formal exam environment. Candidates should arrive at least 15 minutes before their scheduled exam time, along with two forms of identification. Personal items - including books, bags, notes, and electronic devices - are not permitted in the testing room. Candidates will be able to check in any such items in a safe area of the venue before heading into the exam room.
Which is the best option?
There is no best option, whether in-person or online testing. It is primarily a matter of practicality and personal preference. For example, candidates who have studied and prepared for their CompTIA Security+ certification exam online using self-paced testing will likely find the online testing environment more familiar. It is also by far the most widely accessible option, except for those taking the exam in a language other than English or those in areas where online proctoring is not readily unavailable.
That being said, there is an equally strong case for taking the exam in a local testing center if there is one accessible to the candidate. Some candidates have found that in-person testing is less stressful because they do not have to worry about ensuring that the testing environment meets all of the necessary rules and policies. Those with spotty internet connections should undoubtedly choose in-person testing. Anxious examinees may also find in-person testing preferable since there is minimal risk of making a mistake that would break the rules, such as snapping a photo of the final exam score.
Cybrary for Teams is an all-in-one workforce development platform that helps organizations develop stronger cybersecurity skills, prepare for new certifications, and track team progress!