CompTIA Security+ Guide/Overview


I took the CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 certification exam in 2018 and scored (822/900). I want to share my study methodology and provide a study timeline. Security+ is an amazing certification to get for those that want to break into the cybersecurity industry.

If you’re interested in taking the exam, you can view the exam objectives here:


GCGA SYO-501 Security + By Darril Gibson:

CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide

Professor Messer’s Security+ Youtube Videos:
(Videos – Free | PDF Notes – $20)

Professor Messer Security+ Playlist

Pocket Prep Security Plus ($10):

Apple App Store: Pocket Prep Security Plus

MeasureUp Practice Exam ($119 – Not Required):

MeasureUp Security+ Practice Exams

GCGA SYO-501 Security + By Darril Gibson

  • This book was the core of my preparation for the certification, try to thoroughly understand the content of the book, and make sure to use active reading techniques.
  • As I read the book, I highlighted the book, and I also reread the “remember this” section until I fully understood it.
  • For the practice questions at the end of each chapter, figure out why each multiple-choice is either right or wrong.
  • After finishing the book, spend some time on extracting all of the “Remember This” and “End of Chapter Summary” onto a word document. 
  • If you have access to the Kindle/PDF version of the book, use the search function to review any topics quickly.
  • I skipped the pre-assessment questions and saved it as a practice exam.

Professor Messer SY0-501+ Videos

  • Professor Messer’s videos were a great supplement resource to the content that was already taught in the GCGA book. It allows you to learn the same topics from a different perspective.
  • I watched the videos on 1.5x speed and took around seven days to finish all of the videos in the playlist.
  • Professor Messer also has all of the lecture slide material available for $20. Read these notes at least twice.

Pocket Prep Security Plus

  • The pocket prep security plus app provides practice exam questions for IOS devices.
  • The questions were different from the ones on the actual exam but still provided knowledge reinforcement.

Additional Resources

Review all of the following Quizlet Flashcards (Use the learn feature)

  • FlashCards for each GCGA Chapter
  • Quizlet for Acronyms
  • Quizlet for Glossary

Additional Recommendations

  • Create flashcards on Index cards for hard to remember concepts:
    • RADIUS, DIAMETER, TACACS, TACACS+ (Encrypts Process)
    • Kerberos (Ticket), Lanman, NTLM, NTLMv2
    • PAP (Cleartext) CHAP MS-CHAP
    • EAP, PEAP, EAP-TLS (Most Secure) (Certs)
    • IPsec (AH, ESP, Tunnel Mode, Transport Mode)
    • Symmetric & Asymmetric Encryption, Block Cipher Mode, Hashing
    • Raid Types, Access Control: MAC, DAC, RBAC, RBAC, GBAC, ABAC, NAC
    • All command line in GCGA book and the main function

  • Convert multi-step processes into acronyms
    • Life Cycle: RADCTO (Requirement, Analysis, Design, Code, Test, Op)
    • Incident Response: PICERL (Prevention, Incident, Contain, Etc)
    • Order of Volatility: CRTHLA (Cache, Ram, Temp, HDD, Log, Archival)
    • Digital Signature, Encryption Key Process (Sender Private, Recipient Public, and Etc)

Study Timeline

Total Study Time: ~ 2 months

  • GCGA Book and creating notes (45 Days – 1 to 2 hours a day)
  • Pocket Prep App (Started around 30 Days in)
  • Professor Messer Videos (7 Days – 3 hours a day)
  • Reviewing Quizlet and Notes (7 Days – 8 hours a day)
  • Practice Exams (1-2 Day Before Exam)
    • GCGA End of chapter quiz re-take (80-90%)
    • GCGA Pre-Assessment Exam(89%)
    • GCGA Post-Assessment Exam (88%)
    • MeasureUp (Average 60%-70%)
      • Comes with PBQ questions and a testing environment, but quite expensive

Exam Strategy

  • Before the start of the exam, brain dump knowledge onto the paper/dry erase paper that is provided by the testing site.
  • During the exam, I skipped the four performance-based questions (PBQ) and left them until the end.
  • Throughout the exam, I flagged all the questions that I was unsure about or stuck on. (Around ~15 Questions)
  • Constantly pace yourself to complete questions, if you get stuck for more than 30 seconds to a minute, flag the question and move on.

Other posts that you might be interested in:


  • If you have a good understanding of the questions in the book, you should be fine. The measure up exam felt harder than the actual exam.

  • Thank you for your sharing your study guide. This has been very helpful. Do recommend purchasing the MeasureUp Practice Exam?

  • All of this information has helped me structure my study approach and make me feel more confident in what I was doing. Thank you so much for taking the time and document everything to share!

    • I did not have the network+ when I passed the exam. However, you should understand basic networking concepts like IP addresses, Subnets, and Ports.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Jay Chen 2022