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CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide Kindle Edition
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A little bit about my background, so as to help base your judgment on where I started and what it took for me to pass this test...I graduated with a bachelors in management information systems in 2012. In my studies, I only took one basic networking class and one network security class (neither of which I did well in, but I passed them both). Since, I have worked as an IT systems analyst, not a networking position by any means, but I have been exposed to normal IT security awareness (i.e. password rules, disaster recover plans, clean desk policies, etc.). The CompTIA recommends 2+ years of networking experience and having the Network+ certification before attempting the Security+ certification. I did not have either of those. Just this book and a determination to learn the material as best as I can a short amount of time.
What worked for me:
I started with the pre-assessment to judge my knowledge level. Then just read a chapter a day, taking notes on all the "Remember this" bubbles and answering the chapter practice questions at the end of each chapter. This book is great with the practice questions in that the answer sections didn't just provide the right multiple choice answer. They provided explanations as to why the answers were correct, and more importantly, why the wrong answers were wrong. When I finished the last chapter I jumped right into the post test. Pre-assessment: 64/100; Post-assessment: 83/100. A decent improvement, and I knew which were my trouble chapters. Went back and reread them. Read my notes. Retook all the tests and chapter quizzes and felt ready for the test.
I'll admit, that test is not a joke, and the questions were not easy. I came out of the test thinking I failed. But that's the crazy thing about those types of tests. You never know how you did until you actually get the results. Needing a 750 to pass, I got an 833.
So you might need a little more than I did. You might need a little less. But if you're needing to pass the Security+ certification, this book is a great place to start.
Prep: Read each chapter word for word before lunch, took chapter test after lunch. Read a chapter a day. Took practice exam in the back of book. Put book down for a week. Reread the chapter summary, then took chapter tests. Took 5 iterations of practice tests from main competitor's practice book (McGraw Hill cd-rom tests). Reread chapter summaries day of exam. Took test and passed.
Knowing just definitions of all the material covered is not going to be enough. It is best to prep for scenario based questions on the material. The practice questions I feel are more definition based, where the exam was tougher. The only memorization you should focus on is port numbers, everything else you should have a good concept and fully understand. Practice tests gave me 90 questions and 90 minutes. Only would take like 30/40 minutes. The exam i used 80 minutes to get through the questions, with 10 minutes to spare to review questions i flagged.
Final thought: Personally I feel luck was on my side passing this exam with only a few months in the field. I understand why they recommend a Networking cert and about a year's experience.