CEH Exam Overview: What to Expect


For most of us, “hacking” is a word that conjures up images of frustration and even fear. Hackers have become much bolder, threatening companies of all sizes, and even entire government agencies. Their attacks have become much more sophisticated and harder to detect, let alone defeat.

To defeat a hacker, one must be able to think like a hacker, which is part of the purpose of the certified ethical hacking (CEH) credential. According to the EC-Council, the group behind the CEH credential, “A certified ethical hacker is a skilled professional who understands and knows how to look for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems and uses the same knowledge and tools as a malicious hacker, but in a lawful and legitimate manner to assess the security posture of a target system(s). The CEH credential certifies individuals in the specific network security discipline of ethical hacking from a vendor-neutral perspective.”

While this is a must-have certification for penetration testers, the benefits extend far beyond pen-testing into everyday network and application security.

What Is the Goal of the CEH Exam?

According to the EC-Council, there are three primary driving purposes behind the CEH credential.

However, CEH certification is a good idea for more than just those who want to build a career as an ethical hacker. It is an invaluable credential for security officers and information security specialists who need to understand the methods and tactics employed by those attempting to attack systems/networks. It can also be an ideal additional credential for:

  • Site administrators
  • Auditors
  • Security-related management
  • Security-related contractors

What Is the CEH Exam Schedule, Duration & Format?

The CEH exam (312-50) consists of 125 multiple-choice questions and has a four-hour time limit. You need to score at least a 70% on the exam or get at least 88 of the questions right to pass. The test can be taken through the ECC test center, the ProctorU Testing Center or the VUE testing center.

The material on the exam tests students on their knowledge of 19 domains, which are:

  • Ethical hacking basics
  • Footprinting and reconnaissance
  • Network scanning
  • Enumeration
  • System hacking
  • Trojans and backdoors
  • Viruses and worms
  • Sniffers
  • Social engineering attacks
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Session hijacking
  • Server hacking
  • Web application hacking
  • Hacking wireless networks
  • Evading IDSs, firewalls and honeypots
  • Buffer overflow
  • Cryptography
  • Penetration testing

The full blueprint can be downloaded here as a PDF.

As mentioned, the exam primarily consists of multiple-choice questions. We’ve provided a few examples of potential questions you might face on the exam. However, note these questions do not come from the exam.

  1. During which phase of a pen test is scanning performed?
    1. Attack
    2. Pre-attack
    3. Reconnaissance
    4. Post-attack
  2. During an ACK scan, what might an open port return?
    1. Nothing
    2. RST
    3. FIN
    4. SYN/ACK
  3. Assume that your target is protected by a firewall. You create SYN packets with hping2 and send them to the target with port numbers from 1 to 1024. What are you doing?
    1. XMAS scan
    2. Firewalking
    3. Passive footprinting
    4. Firewalling
  4. What’s the preferred method for communication between various systems on a botnet?
    1. TFTP
    2. Email
    3. ICMP
    4. IRC
  5. What is the actual name of an “evil twin” attack?
    1. Session hijacking
    2. ARP poisoning
    3. MAC spoofing
    4. Rogue access point

What’s Required to Take the Exam?

As with many other professional certifications, earning your CEH certification requires you meet a few requirements. According to the EC-Council, you must have, and be able to prove that you have, at least two years of experience in the information security industry.

You will need to apply with the EC-Council to take the exam and provide the name of at least one verifier on the application. There are three potential options, including a boss, supervisor and department lead. You can include all three if you so wish, but at least one is required.

Once your application has been approved, you’ll be provided with information about scheduling the exam itself. Note that applying requires you to pay an application fee of $100. If you are not approved, this fee will not be refunded.

Scheduling & Taking the Exam

Once you’ve been approved by the EC-Council, you will receive information about where and when to take the exam. You will also be given a voucher. Note that this voucher is only good for three months from the date of issuance. If you do not schedule and take your exam during that period, you will need to re-apply and pay another $100 application fee.

You can schedule and take the CEH exam in two ways. First, you can take it through the ECC exam center, which also hosts all EC-Council exams. This option allows you to take most exams through a proctored format (via ProctorU) in person at a physical ECC testing center.

You can also take the CEH exam through Pearson VUE. Note that no proctored exams are available through Pearson VUE: Your only option is in-person testing at an actual testing center. Scheduling can be done up to six weeks in advance, or on the day you apply/schedule, depending on the current class size. All exams, whether proctored or taken in person, are delivered over the computer.

It’s also important to make sure you have your eligibility number. This is provided to you after passing your initial application and you cannot take the CEH exam at either the ECC exam center or at a Pearson VUE facility without it.

What Are the Identification Requirements for Testing?

You will be required to present valid identification whether you choose to test through an ECC test center/proctored exam or through Pearson VUE. In all cases, you are required to provide two forms of valid identification. These include:

  • Valid state-issued driver’s license
  • Valid state-issued ID card
  • Valid military ID
  • Valid passport
  • Valid green card or resident card

Note that if your ID has expired, it is not considered valid. You may also be required to submit a digital photograph and an electronic signature if you choose to take a proctored exam, rather than an in-person exam.

The Arrival Process

The arrival and check-in process is similar for both the Pearson VUE and ECC exam center, although there may be slight differences. Both require that you sign in and provide proof of your identity on arrival. You should also arrive a few minutes early. Once in the testing area, you are prohibited from having any electronic recording or digital access device. This includes smartphones, as well as calculators. You are not allowed to have any form of luggage/baggage in the testing area – this includes purses and briefcases.

What Are the Policies for Rescheduling, Late Arrivals & Cancellation?

If you need to reschedule your test, you will need to contact the EC-Council to have your voucher extended. If you do not extend your voucher, it will expire and you will have to purchase it again. If you need to cancel your test outright, contact the EC-Council to determine if the test can be rescheduled. If it cannot be rescheduled at your convenience, you will forfeit your purchase amount. If you are more than five minutes late for the exam, you will be considered a no-show/cancelation and your payment will be forfeit.

Scheduling Your Test: When?

The process you follow for scheduling your CEH exam will depend on whether you choose to take it at a Pearson VUE testing center or at the ECC exam center. In both cases, you will need to contact the relevant authority to request scheduling information. You can do that here for the ECC center, and here for Pearson VUE.

What to Do If You Fail

The CEH exam is pretty exhaustive, and there is a chance that you may not pass it. However, there’s good news. The EC-Council does not require any sort of cooling off period before you can retake the exam again. However, you will need to purchase the voucher again – failure on the exam causes forfeiture of your initial payment.

If you fail the test a second time, not only will you need to purchase the voucher again, but you will also need to wait 14 days before you can retake the test. A third failure will require that you purchase the voucher again, and that you wait another 14 days before taking the test once more. The same thing applies to your fourth and fifth attempts. If you need more than five attempts to pass the exam, you must wait a full year before the next attempt.

The Cost of Taking the CEH Exam

The cost of taking the CEH exam depends on where you’re located on the planet, and how you decide to approach it. If you choose to forgo the EC-Council’s training program, you’ll pay the $100 non-refundable application fee and $950 for the voucher. If you choose to go through the organization’s “official training” program, you’ll still need to pay the $100 application fee, but the voucher will only cost $850. Note that international applicants will be charged $885.

What Does It Take to Pass the CEH Exam?

Passing the CEH exam requires that you score at least 70% on the exam. This equates to getting 88 of the 125 questions correct. You have a total of four hours in which to finish the test. However, because the test is made up solely of multiple-choice questions, with no drag-and-drop questions or simulations, this should be more than ample time for most students.


For more information on how you can get started earning your CEH, fill out the form below to speak with one of our student coordinators about InfoSec Institute’s self-paced, mentored online and instructor-led training options. Our instructors are well-recognized experts in the industry and our program boasts a 93%+ pass rate, one of the highest in the industry!











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Anastasis Vasileiadis

PC Technical || Penetration Tester || Ethical Hacker || Cyber Security Expert || Cyber Security Analyst || Information Security Researcher || Malware analyst || Malware Investigator || Reverse Engineering

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