We Polled PenTest+ Takers to Find Out How Long You Should Study Before Test Day

by Ross Heintzkill | Published on August 31, 2023

CompTIA has been a world leader in IT certifications for a long time. Their PenTest+ certification covers the skills and knowledge that advanced cybersecurity professionals need to land a job in the vulnerability management field. But people earn certifications at different times in their career, and if you're considering the PenTest+, you should take into account how long it'll take to prepare for the certifying exam before you commit the time and money to preparing for it.

To find out how long it takes to study for the PenTest+ certifying exam, CBT Nuggets surveyed over 130 cybersecurity professionals. We asked IT professionals who had earned the PenTest+ via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram how long it took them to prepare for the PenTest+ exam. We list those findings below and in addition to those data, we have insights into how you can make yourself one of the people who prepares for the PenTest+ in just a few weeks and passes the exam on your first try.

How long did most people need to study for the CompTIA PenTest+ exam?

According to our survey of 134 IT professionals, the vast majority of people (85%) needed less than 5 months to prepare for the PenTest+. But exactly how long it took them is more complicated. The largest number of people (31%) needed somewhere between 6 weeks and 3 months to prepare for the PenTest+ exam, while 28% managed to finish their preparations in under 6 weeks. 27% of cybersecurity professionals needed somewhere between 3 and 5 months.

Such a broad distribution suggests that prior experience with cybersecurity principles is one of the biggest contributors to how quickly people prepare for the PenTest+ exam. When a quarter of all people need somewhere between 3 and 5 months but another quarter need less than 6 weeks, it's clear that choices about learning materials and study habits are also a major contributor to how long it takes to study for the PenTest certifying exam.

How should you prepare ahead of taking PenTest+?

The PenTest+ is a technical certification that deals with advanced skills in penetration testing and familiarity with current trends in cybersecurity. Passing the CompTIA certification exam for the PenTest requires a blend of advanced knowledge about cybersecurity as well as practical ability analyzing security configurations, exploiting vulnerabilities and diving deep into a network's defenses.

All of which means that you should prepare for the PenTest+ by finding a high-quality online PenTest+ course that prepares you for what you'll find on the exam while also helping you actively practice the real-world skills related to penetration testing. It's not enough to know a lot about cybersecurity and computer networking in the abstract. But you also won't pass based on years of practical experience alone.

Your study habits will be key. The PenTest+ isn't just awarded to someone who's pretty good at penetration testing – you need to pass the test as it's written, which means knowing penetration as well as knowing what CompTIA puts on the exam. Once you have a good online course, the best way to shorten the time it takes to prepare for the PenTest+ is to form excellent habits around study. Figure out how much time you can give to studying every day, and never fail to do so.

Tips to make sure you’re test-ready before CompTIA PenTest+ exam day:

Passing any CompTIA exam is about blending practical, real-world skills with up-to-date knowledge. Find tools and resources online that will help you actually perform penetration testing as well as understand different implementations and network configurations.

Use virtual labs

Virtual labs are invaluable resources as you prepare for penetration testing. With a virtual lab, you can set up a network however you want and practice breaking into it, exploring its vulnerabilities and configuring its security settings – all without risking a real-world network. The time it takes to study for the PenTest+ is drastically reduced when you can actually get your hands dirty whenever doing simulated penetration tests.

Test yourself using practice exams

Studying for certifying exams becomes a lot more efficient when you understand not just what's on the exams, but how you'll be asked to prove your knowledge. A course with practice exams makes it possible to gain insight into the exam, and then hurry through your preparation. You can skip over the sections you know you'll test well on and instead focus on the things you're not as sure about.

Learn from the experts

Last, don't trust just anyone – learning from experts in the field is the best way to study for the PenTest+. You need someone who's a cybersecurity expert, but also familiar with CompTIA exams and the evolution of the PenTest+ certifying exam. Click here to watch the first video in the CBT Nuggets course on PenTest+ for free, you'll see right away that Shawn Powers isn't just an expert in IT or cybersecurity, he's also able to frame what you're learning in the context of the CompTIA exam so you know you're ready to pass.

You can be one of the people who prepares for the CompTIA PenTest+ exam in less than 6 weeks. Usually it's people with tons of experience in cybersecurity and penetration testing who only need 6 weeks to pass the PenTest+. But thanks to virtual labs, practice exams and the help of experts, the CBT Nuggets course on PenTest+ really is one of the best tools available. 

CBT Nuggets memberships also come with accountability coaches who help keep you on track, access to a private Discord channel where you can get advice and insight from peers and friends and more. Try a free week of CBT Nuggets membership and see for yourself how fast you could study for the PenTest+.

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