Overview Of The CompTIA Security+ Exam
The CompTIA Security+ is a globally recognized, vendor agnostic certification that demonstrates to current or prospective employers that you have a strong baseline knowledge of IT Security concepts. The certification comes from the same group that brings you the A+ and Network+ certs. If you’re studying for these as well, checkout our handy A+ Study Guide and Network+ Study Guide reviews. The Security+ certification exam will verify 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.
We’ll cover the Security+ exam (SY0-601) in detail, and give you our picks for the best CompTIA Security+ study guides, review guides, and practice tests to ensure your test prep success! The details are below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:
Security+ Exam Details
The ComptTIA Security+ Exam (SY0-601) shows you’ve demonstrated the baseline set of skills needed to thrive in an IT Security career.
The exam is currently priced at $349, and is recommended for people with 2 years of IT experience with a security focus.
The CompTIA Security+ covers the monitoring and securing of hybrid environments, including cloud, mobile, and IoT. It will show you can operate with an awareness of applicable laws and policies, including principles of governance, risk, and compliance. Finally, you’ll need to identify, analyze, and respond to security events and incidents.
The exam is 90 minutes in length, and includes 90 multiple choice (single and multiple response), and performance-based questions.
The CompTIA is administered by Pearson VUE, and your results will be calculated on completion of each exam automatically. It’s scored on a scale of 100-900, and a passing score is 750.
Best CompTIA Security+ Study Guides
The Official CompTIA Security+ Study Guide
Pros: Official CompTIA publication, with complete and comprehensive review of all exam topics.
Cons: No practice tests.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5
The Official CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide is our overall top pick for people studying for the Security+ Exam. As the name suggests, this is the official guide from the certification org, which means the material is the most reflective of what they expect you to know in order to pass the exams. All topics, including organizational security, cryptography, access controls and more!
The full list of features include:
- A complete look at all topics covered in the CompTIA Security+ Exam.
- Representative review questions so you know what to expect on test day.
- A strong, logical layout of material that’s easy to digest.
With incredibly strong content, this book is an easy recommendation for Security+ test prep. Our one negative on this book is that it doesn’t have any full length practice tests. We recommend grabbing this for the majority of your study, and supplementing with one of the cheaper options below for drilling and final review before the exam. If this is your first time taking the exam (as opposed to a recertification), we strongly advise picking up this book. It’s great as a stand-alone resource, or to compliment other materials. Either way, we’re sure you’ll love the results.
CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead
Pros: Fantastic online resources, including practice tests and electronic flashcards.
Cons: Organization isn't as strong as it could be.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead is our runner up pick, and one that we think pairs incredibly well with our first choice (fortunately this is much cheaper than the official test guide). The book itself is a comprehensive overview of critical test topics, but we recommend it most highly for the practice questions and related material that acts as a great supplement to our top pick above.
The full list of features include:
- Over 300 realistic practice test questions with in-depth explanations will help you test your comprehension and readiness for the exam.
- Includes a 75 question pre-test, a 75 question post-test, and practice test questions at the end of every chapter.
- Access to free online resources including labs and additional practice test questions.
While it didn’t take the top spot, you’d still do well to consider this guide. It’s likely enough for those looking to recertify, and a good compliment to the offical study guide that we mentioned as our top pick for first time test takers. It’s more abbreviated format makes it a perfect way to cram before your test!
CompTIA Security+ Certification Guide
Pros: A great condensed overview that's great for last minute prep.
Cons: Book organization isn't as great as it could be.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
This book is designed for anyone who is seeking to pass the CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 exam. It is a stepping stone for anyone who wants to become a security professional or move into cyber security. This certification guide assumes no prior knowledge of the product, and while it didn’t take our top 2 spots, it’s still an excellent choice.
- Learn cryptography and various cryptography algorithms for real-world implementations
- Discover security policies, plans, and procedures to protect your security infrastructure
- Written by Ian Neil, one of the world’s top CompTIA Security+ (SY0-501) trainer
As a sole resource, this might not be enough to pass the exam if you aren’t already a seasoned Securitying professional. If you are, or this is supplementing some of the more in-depth guides, then this is a good choice.
CompTIA Security+ All-in-One Exam Guide
Pros: Another abbreviated review for both exams that still manages to touch all topics.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as the more expensive study systems above.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
The CompTIA Security+ All-in-One Exam Guide rounds out our list. It’s an extremely effective complete self-study system, that doesn’t rate as high as it could only because it’s more geared to folks with some existing background knowledge that’s above what some of the other options on this list require.
- Provides 100% coverage of every objective on exam SY0-601
- Online content includes performance-based question simulations and 200 multiple-choice practice questions
- Written by a team of experienced IT security educators
As with the book above, we don’t recommend this as your only guide unless it’s a recertification or you’re already a pro. If that is the case, however, this is a super effective option since it does a really good job of briefly touching on all of the major topics covered in the exam.
If you’re an aspiring Security Professional, or an established one who’s just looking to spruce up the resume for prospective employers, the Security+ is a tremendous asset. The knowledge it contains will demonstrate to the world that you have what it takes to be an effective member of an IT Security group.
Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.
We’ve rounded up the top Security+ study guides and presented them above.
Our top pick for most people is the The Official CompTIA Security+ Certification Study Guide. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, produced by CompTIA, and is the single best resource available.
For those shorter on time, or just needing a quick review, the All-in-One Exam Guide is a safe bet for touching on all the most critical aspects.
Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success. We’ve listed some of the best books available. Good luck, and study hard!