How to Pass CEH Exam on Your First Attempt in 2024

How to Pass CEH Exam on Your First Attempt

So, you want to know how to pass CEH exam on your first attempt? You’re in the right place!

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) exam is a milestone for individuals aspiring to establish themselves in the field of cyber security, and passing it validates your knowledge and skills in ethical hacking, opening doors to exciting career opportunities.

However, success on your first attempt requires thorough preparation and effective strategies. This guide will provide a roadmap to successfully navigate the CEH certification exam.

So, without further ado, let’s find out how to pass CEH on your first attempt.

Understanding the CEH Exam

Before diving into preparation strategies, it's essential to grasp the structure and content of the CEH exam.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is an ANSI-accredited entry-level or foundational-level security certification offered by EC-Council and is designed for professionals who aspire to become ethical hackers, penetration testers, and IT security professionals.

The CEH exam also earned College Credit Recommendations from the American Council on Education (ACE).

StationX Cyber Security Certification Roadmap

The exam consists of multiple-choice questions designed to evaluate your understanding of various domains related to ethical hacking.

The certification covers nine specific domain areas in cyber security, encompassing theoretical knowledge and practical skills, emphasizing real-world scenarios encountered by ethical hackers.

Here are the domain areas and the corresponding skills you can learn by pursuing the CEH certification.

CEH Exam Domains

CEH also validates your knowledge of a wide range of security tools and techniques that are typically used in ethical hacking and IT security.

It doesn’t have an open-book exam format, so it’s crucial to read each question carefully, apply critical thinking, and determine the answers based on the knowledge gained throughout the preparation process.

CEH (ANSI) Exam Details:

  • Exam Title: Certified Ethical Hacker (ANSI)
  • Exam Code: 312-50 (ECC EXAM), 312-50 (VUE)
  • Number of Questions: 125
  • Test Format: Multiple Choice
  • Duration: 4 Hours
  • Exam Availability: ECC Exam or Pearson VUE
  • Option 1: Local proctor for Private and in-person exam.
  • Option 2: Live remote proctor for online Exam
  • Passing Score: Ranges from 60% to 80%.
  • Open Book Format: No

Exams administered by the EC-Council are typically proctored via ProctorU. To learn more about the CEH exam, you can visit our recent blog, “How to Get Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) ANSI Certification.”

Setting Preparation Goals for the CEH Exam

Setting clear and achievable goals is essential to effectively prepare for the CEH certification exam. Establishing specific targets and timelines can help you stay focused and track your progress throughout your studies.

Deciding Hours per Week of Study

Begin by assessing your current schedule and determining the number of hours you can dedicate to studying each week. Consistency is key, so aim for a realistic but consistent study schedule that aligns with your other commitments.

Whether it's allocating a few hours every evening or dedicating blocks of time on weekends, prioritize regularity to maintain momentum and knowledge retention.

Key Milestones for Understanding Each Domain

The CEH exam covers various domains, each encompassing different concepts, tools, and techniques related to ethical hacking.

Break down the exam objectives into manageable milestones for each domain, ensuring thorough comprehension and mastery before moving on to the next.

Allocate sufficient time to delve into the intricacies of topics such as reconnaissance, enumeration, system hacking, and vulnerability analysis, among others. Setting milestones allows you to track your progress effectively and address any areas of weakness promptly.

Target Date for Taking the Exam

Establishing a target date for taking the CEH exam provides a sense of urgency and motivation to stay on track with your study plan.

When setting the exam date, consider factors such as your level of preparedness, the availability of exam slots, and personal or professional commitments.

Aim for a date that allows ample time for comprehensive preparation while ensuring that you maintain momentum and focus leading up to the exam. Avoid procrastination by committing to a specific deadline and hold yourself accountable to it.

The Importance of Consistently Scoring Well on Practice Tests

Practice tests serve as invaluable tools for assessing your knowledge, identifying areas of improvement, and familiarizing yourself with the exam format and question types.

Consistently scoring well on practice tests is crucial for several reasons:

  • Assessment of Readiness: Practice tests provide a gauge of your readiness for the actual exam, helping you determine if you're adequately prepared or if further study is required in specific areas.
  • Building Confidence: Achieving high scores on practice tests boosts your confidence and reduces test anxiety, instilling a sense of assurance in your abilities to tackle the exam successfully.
  • Identifying Weaknesses: Analyzing practice test results allows you to pinpoint areas of weakness or gaps in your understanding, enabling targeted study and the reinforcement of key concepts.
  • Refinement of Test-taking Strategies: Consistent practice with timed simulations enhances your test-taking strategies, such as time management, question prioritization, and the elimination of distractors, thereby optimizing your performance on the actual exam.

By incorporating these elements into your preparation goals, you can streamline your study efforts, stay motivated, and increase your likelihood of passing the CEH exam on your first attempt. Remember to adapt your goals and study plan as needed based on your progress and evolving insights gained through practice and review.

Prerequisites and Recommended Experience for the CEH Exam

Before attempting to pursue the CEH ANSI examination, it’s essential for you to meet the eligibility criteria set by the EC-Council. This will decide your certification path and associated costs.

CEH ANSI Exam Eligibility Criteria Include:

  • Having at least two years of professional experience in the information security domain and demonstrating a sound understanding of security-related topics, (or)
  • Undergoing CEH training offered by EC-Council or by its Authorized Training Centers (ATC).

Having a strong background in IT security or related fields can always be advantageous. Being familiar with networking concepts, operating systems, and cyber security fundamentals is recommended to ensure a solid foundation to learn ethical hacking techniques.

To know more about CEH requirements, you can visit our recent article “CEH Certification Requirements: Everything You Need to Know”.

Understanding Prerequisite Knowledge

  • Basic IT Knowledge: A fundamental understanding of information technology (IT) concepts, including computer networks, operating systems (Windows, Linux, etc.), and basic cyber security principles, is essential. Familiarity with networking protocols, TCP/IP stack, and network security fundamentals provides a solid foundation for studying ethical hacking techniques.
  • Security Fundamentals: Knowledge of cyber security fundamentals, such as common security threats, vulnerabilities, attack types, and the CIA triad, is advantageous. Understanding concepts like encryption, authentication, access control, and security best practices helps candidates grasp the broader context of ethical hacking within the realm of cyber security.
  • Experience with Tools and Technologies: Hands-on experience with various security tools, utilities, and technologies commonly used in cyber security and ethical hacking is valuable. Familiarity with tools such as Wireshark, Nmap, Metasploit, Burp Suite, and other penetration testing tools provides practical exposure to real-world scenarios encountered in the CEH exam.

Effective Study Strategies: How to Pass CEH Exam on Your First Attempt

Effective study strategies for the CEH certification exam involve a combination of general study techniques and tactics specific to the exam. Utilize resources such as the CEH Cheat Sheet, online forums, and insights from recent exam takers to enhance your understanding of key concepts.

Focus on mastering the tools, techniques, and methodologies commonly used by ethical hackers, as these form the core of the exam syllabus.

Some Key Study Strategies:

  • Structured study plan: Develop a comprehensive study plan that covers all exam domains while allocating sufficient time for each topic. Break down the material into manageable sections and establish clear objectives for each study session.
  • Active learning: Engage in active learning techniques such as hands-on labs, practice exercises, and interactive simulations to reinforce theoretical concepts. Apply learned principles in practical scenarios to enhance understanding and retention.
  • Regular review: Schedule regular review sessions to revisit previously covered material and reinforce learning. Spaced repetition techniques, flashcards, and summarization can aid in retaining information effectively over time.
  • Mock exams: Simulate exam conditions by taking practice tests and mock exams regularly. This helps familiarize yourself with the exam format, assess your readiness, and identify areas needing improvement.

Utilizing Resources

  • CEH Cheat Sheet: Utilize resources like the CEH Cheat Sheet to condense key information, formulas, and concepts into a concise reference tool. Reviewing the cheat sheet regularly can aid in memorization and quick recall of essential exam topics.
  • Online forums and communities: Participate in online forums and communities dedicated to ethical hacking and CEH exam preparation. Engage with peers, share insights, and seek advice from experienced professionals and recent exam takers to gain valuable perspectives and study tips.
  • Practice labs and virtual environments: Access practice labs and virtual environments to gain hands-on experience with CEH tools and techniques. Experimenting in a controlled environment allows for practical application of concepts and fosters a deeper understanding of cybe rsecurity principles.
  • Capture-the-Flag (CTF) Events: You can participate in the Capture-the-Flag (CTF) events to enhance your real-time ethical hacking skills, which in turn help you excell in your ethical hacking career.
  • Official study materials: Refer to official study guides, textbooks, and supplementary materials recommended by the EC-Council to ensure alignment with exam objectives and coverage of relevant topics.

Note-Taking and Learning Techniques for the CEH Exam

Incorporate various learning techniques such as flashcards, note revision, and mind mapping to reinforce complex concepts. Engage with the StationX community through mentorship, study groups, or content creation to gain valuable insights and support from peers and experts in the field.

Role of Note Taking

Taking notes actively engages your brain and reinforces learning by summarizing and synthesizing key information. During lectures, reading sessions, or online tutorials, jot down the main ideas, important facts, and explanations in your own words. This process aids comprehension and retention while providing a personalized reference for review.

Utilizing Flashcards

Flashcards are powerful tools for memorizing terminology, definitions, and key concepts. Create flashcards for vocabulary, acronyms, and technical terms encountered in the CEH exam syllabus. Review them regularly, testing yourself on both sides to reinforce recall. Utilize digital flashcard apps or traditional index cards for versatility and convenience.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual technique that organizes information hierarchically around a central topic. Start with the main concept in the center of the page and branch out to subtopics and related ideas. Use colors, symbols, and images to enhance clarity and retention. Mind maps provide a holistic overview of complex subjects and facilitate connections between concepts.

Engaging with the StationX Community

Joining the StationX community offers valuable opportunities for mentorship, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. Participate in study groups, forums, and discussions to exchange insights, ask questions, and support fellow learners. Teaching others or creating content about CEH topics reinforces understanding and solidifies learning.

Testing Your CEH Knowledge

A CEH practice exam can be an invaluable tool for assessing your readiness for the CEH exam. By replicating the exam environment, practice tests familiarize you with its format, timing, and difficulty level. They help identify weak areas, allowing focused review. Regular practice builds confidence, reduces test anxiety, and refines test-taking strategies.

Take advantage of practice exams to simulate exam conditions and evaluate your performance. Analyze your overall score against the passing threshold and review domain breakdowns to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.

Use question-level feedback to target areas needing improvement. Track progress over time and strive for consistent improvement. Low initial scores, for instance, are opportunities for growth through dedicated study and practice.

CEH Exam Day Strategies

On the day of the exam, ensure that you are well-prepared both mentally and logistically.

Note that the CEH ANSI certification exam is a rigorous test. CEH is not an open-book exam format, so it is crucial to read each question carefully, apply critical thinking, and determine the answers based on the knowledge gained throughout the preparation process.

During the exam, manage your time effectively and employ strategies such as skipping difficult questions and returning to them later. Stay calm, focused, and confident throughout the exam to maximize your chances of success.

After Passing the CEH Exam

Upon successfully passing the CEH exam, you'll find yourself equipped with a valuable certification that can open doors to numerous opportunities in the cyber security field. Here's what you can consider as your next steps to further advance your career:

Explore Advanced Certifications

Consider continuing your education by pursuing advanced certifications in cyber security. These certifications can deepen your expertise in specific areas and enhance your credibility as a cybersecurity professional. Some options to explore include:

Specialize in a Niche Area

Identify a niche area within cyber security that aligns with your interests and career goals. Whether it's incident response, digital forensics, or cloud security, specializing in a specific domain can differentiate you from other professionals and expand your opportunities for advancement.

Gain More Practical Experience

While certifications are important, practical experience is equally valuable in the cyber security field. Look for opportunities to apply your skills in real-world scenarios through internships, volunteer work, or freelance projects. Practical experience not only enhances your skill set but also demonstrates your capabilities to potential employers.

Network and Stay Informed

Networking is essential in the cyber security community. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and workshops to connect with professionals, learn about the latest trends and technologies, and expand your network. Engage with online forums, blogs, podcasts, and social media groups to stay informed about industry developments and exchange knowledge with peers.

Advance Your Career

Leverage your CEH certification to pursue career advancement opportunities within your organization or in the broader job market. Consider roles such as ethical hacker, penetration tester, security analyst, or cyber security consultant, depending on your interests and skills. Keep an eye out for job openings that align with your career aspirations, and continue to seek opportunities for growth and development.

Some of the job opportunities you can explore include:

  • Ethical Hacker
  • Penetration Tester
  • Incident Responder
  • Vulnerability Assessment Analyst
  • Security Analyst / Cyber Security Analyst / Information Security Analyst
  • SOC Analyst
  • Security Consultant / Cyber Security Consultant / Information Security Consultant
  • Network Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Auditor
  • Security Administrator

A penetration tester's global average base salary range is around $75,083. The median salaries offered for a penetration tester across different countries are mentioned below:

US$116,452 (USD)
UK£61,021 (GBR)
India₹18,19,269 (INR)
Europe€73,912 (EUR)
Sources: Salary Expert and ZipRecruiter

In addition, the average salary range offered for an individual in different roles in cyber security are mentioned below.

Cyber Security Analyst (SOC)$55,000 to $116,000
System Administrator$46,000 to $90,000
Information Technology Manager$56,000 to $134,000
Security Engineer$65,000 to $140,000
Security Architect$131,000+

See our recent article “How Much Do Ethical Hackers Make in 2024? (Detailed Look)” for more information.


Passing the CEH exam on your first attempt requires dedication, persistence, and strategic preparation.

By following the guidelines outlined in this guide and leveraging resources from StationX, you can confidently approach the exam and emerge victorious.

Our Accelerator and Fast-Track Program offers more than just courses and practice tests. Mentorship, mastermind groups, and an active community of students and professionals not only offer guidance and assistance but also keep you motivated and accountable to yourself and your goals.

Remember to stay focused, stay motivated, and never stop learning on your journey to becoming a certified ethical hacker. We know you can do it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Level Up in Cyber Security: Join Our Membership Today!

vip cta image
vip cta details
  • Sai

    Sai is a Security Researcher and cyber security expert. Passionate about sharing his knowledge, Sai channels his insights through his blogs, where he covers a wide range of topics within the realm of cyber security, including ethical hacking, incident response, cyber threat intelligence, and more. Sai seeks to empower readers with valuable information and guidance, helping them navigate the ever-evolving cyber security landscape.