Security+ Exam Information: Performance-Based Questions

IT security is vital to organizations as cloud computing, and mobile devices have revolutionized the way we do business. With the immense amounts of data transmitted and stored on networks all over the world, it is necessary to have effective security practices in place. That is where CompTIA Security+ comes in.

CompTIA Security+ certification is internationally trusted to certify foundational, vendor-neutral IT security knowledge and skills. As a benchmark for best practices in IT security, Security+ covers the fundamental principles of network security and risk management – making it a significant stepping stone to an IT security career.

As the world of information technology is evolving and bringing new challenges in information security, there is a critical need for basic certification in the field that ensures that the candidate is capable enough to:

  • Explain the security functions of common network devices and technologies
  • Explain the security functions of common network devices and technologies
  • Apply and implement secure network administration principles & procedures
  • Implement and configure a wireless network in a safe and secure manner
  • Identify security threats and perform risk mitigation activities
  • Understand applicable policies, laws, and regulations of IT security
  • Explain the impact and proper use of environmental controls
  • Understand data cryptography and can apply cryptographic tools
  • Explain the concepts of user authentication, authorization & access control
  • Exemplify the concepts of data Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability – a.k.a. the “CIA Triad.”
  • Identify and analyze common attacks, e.g., social engineering, malware, application & wireless attacks

Moreover, these are some most critical activities that a successful Security+ candidate performs and provide the organization with his expertise.

To ensure that the successful candidate possesses the complete knowledge and expertise to handle and manage security functions, the CompTIA have done some amendments to their Security+ certification. Which now also includes performance-based questions to assess the practical understanding of the candidate.

Performance-based questions are included along with Multiple-Choice Questions MCQs in the CompTIA Security+ exam. MCQs in CompTIA exams inquire an applicant to select one or more correct answers to a specific question. However, the performance-based question involves performing a task or solving a problem in simulated IT environments.

When were performance based questions added to the exam?

The Security+ performance based questions started to appear from the first quarter of 2013 in the Security+ exam. At that time the Security+ exam had only 100 multiple choice questions. After performance based questions were introduced, candidates typically have 70 to 90 multiple choice questions, and somewhere between two and ten performance based questions.

How much they worth?

Performance-based questions are valued more than a usual multiple choice question. While CompTIA does not make public the actual value of any single question, it is very expected that each question is worth a little more than 4 percent of the entirety.

If the original exam has 100 multiple choice questions and the new exam has 87 multiple choice questions with three performance-based questions, these three performance-based questions could be worth about 13 percent of the total. If you divide 13 percent by three, it is a little over 4.

Do they give partial credit?

The performance based question is testing your ability to complete a task and either you can, or you cannot. Some questions are asking you to match topics. If you match some of them correctly, it makes sense that you would get partial credit for what you matched correctly. However, it is not clear or stated by CompTIA that they give partial credit to such questions.

What Performance-Based Questions Should I Expect?

As CompTIA security+ exam updated timely, it is hard to expect the exact questions. However, here are some types of questions that are reportedly appeared in the exam:

  1. Matching: You might be asked to match topics with each other. For example, you might have a list of port numbers and a list of protocols and then be tasked with matching the ports to the protocols.
  2. Diagram: You might be asked to click on a diagram to select something. As a simple example, you might see a network diagram with multiple devices and be asked which device provides the best security during an attack.
  3. Correct Order: You might be asked to arrange topics into a specific order. For example, a forensic analyst is required to know the order of volatility for data and given a list to put it in the correct order.
    • Data in RAM, including cache, and recently used data and applications
    • Data in RAM, including system and network processes
    • Data stored on local disk drives
    • Logs stored on remote systems
    • Archive media
  4. ACL: You might be asked to give details for an access control list on a router or firewall. For example, if you required allowing a certain IP address through, you might add an exception in the ACL to allow traffic from or to this IP address.
  5. Configure a WAP: Networks commonly use wireless access points (WAPs) and configuring security with them is a significant skill to know. You should be able to configure basics such as:
    • Change the SSID
    • Enable/disable SSID broadcast
    • Enable MAC address filtering
    • Configure security such as WPA and WPA2
  6. Command Prompt: You might be asked to achieve a task from the command prompt. You will have access to a simulated command prompt and be required to perform a specific task.


Training material for the exam is updated in a timely fashion so that there is no ambiguity on the course material and the exam questions. No exam question would be surprising or something out of the training scope. To pass the exam successfully, purchasing the training material from authentic sources is recommended. No other academy can ensure the authenticity of the material and exam passing guarantee unless it is offered by Infosec Institute. Moreover, learning hard is the only key towards success; don’t study for the exam, but study to gain some skills.



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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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