How to Pass CompTIA Network+ on Your First Try (2024)

How to Pass CompTIA Network+

So, you’re eyeing the CompTIA Network+ certification and want to learn how to pass it on your first go.

This exam can be challenging, but don’t worry; we are here to help you cut through the noise and set you up for success. We will show you how to pass CompTIA  Network+. 

We will provide you with a roadmap to prepare for this exam effectively. We will present you with an overview of the Network+ exam and its requirements. Then, we’ll discuss effective study strategies, the importance of testing yourself, and what to expect on exam day. 

With all these strategies, you will be well on your way to being well-prepared for Network+.

Understanding the CompTIA Network+ Exam

CompTIA Network+ is a 90-minute certification exam consisting of a maximum of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions.

The current exam is N10-008, launched on September 15, 2021. To pass the exam, you will need a score of 720 (on a scale of 100-900). As of this writing, the exam costs $358 USD.

Network+ is divided into five domains.

1. Networking Fundamentals 24%

2. Network Implementations 19%

3. Network Operations 16%

4. Network Security 19%

5. Network Troubleshooting 22%

Network+ Exam Domains

All the exam objectives are reasonably distributed, emphasizing Network Fundamentals and Troubleshooting.

Networking Fundamentals (24%) - Covers OSI model, network topologies, cable types, IP addressing, common ports and protocols, network services like DHCP and DNS, data center network architecture, and cloud concepts.

Network Implementations (19%) - Compares various network devices and their features, covers routing technologies and bandwidth management, configuring Ethernet switching features, and installing/configuring wireless standards.

Network Operations (16%) - Using network statistics and sensors to ensure availability, understanding organizational network policies and documents for change/incident response/disaster recovery, and high availability/disaster recovery concepts.

Network Security (19%) - Explains common security concepts like CIA triad, threats, vulnerabilities, defense in depth, etc. It also covers types of attacks, applying network hardening techniques, physical security, and remote access methods.

Network Troubleshooting (22%) - Covers the structured troubleshooting methodology, resolving common cable and connectivity issues, using network commands and software tools, and troubleshooting general networking and wireless issues.

To download exam objectives, visit the Network+ exam page on the CompTIA website.

You will likely see between three to five PBQS on the exam. These questions are performance-based and require some action, such as drag and drop or fill-in-the-blank in a simulated virtual environment. Examples include:

  • Planning and configuring a basic network simulation, like adding routers, switches, firewalls, VLANs, etc., to a network map to meet certain criteria.
  • Analyzing network logs and dashboard data to troubleshoot issues in a scenario.
  • Looking at command line output like routing tables, interface configurations, etc., and determining the cause of network problems.
  • Configuring security settings like ACLs, switch port security, and wireless encryption properly based on a scenario.

Requirements for CompTIA Network+ Exam

To write Network+, there are no rigid requirements needed, although CompTIA recommends having the A+ certification and at least nine to 12 months of practical experience in a network admin or support technician role before attempting the exam.

In our experience, solid preparation and study from quality sources can more than make up for a lack of hands-on experience.

You should begin preparing for Network+ if you understand and are comfortable with the material in the A+ (regardless of whether you actually hold that certification).

Effective Study Strategies: How to Pass CompTIA Network+

You now understand the requirements of the Network+ exam. Let’s now discuss some study strategies you can use to help you prepare for exam day.

Assess Your Knowledge

The first step in your study plan should be to assess what you already know. Download the domain objectives mentioned above, review each section, and highlight all areas where you understand the information well. 

Start by studying the information from the CompTIA exam objectives you are not yet competent in, and continuously refer back to the objectives throughout your preparation, highlighting additional areas you understand until all of them have been covered.

Make a schedule

Now that you know what to study, it's time to create a plan. You should create a realistic daily study plan that you can stick to by setting attainable goals and allowing enough time to cover all the content. 

It can take anywhere from 100 hours if you have some networking knowledge to around 280 hours if you have no knowledge or experience to prepare for Network+. 

Suppose it takes you 100 hours to prepare for the CompTIA Network+ exam. If you can commit to studying two hours daily, that would be 50 days of studying or about eight weeks.

Book the Exam

Once you’ve established a study plan, it’s time to book the exam. This gives you the motivation you need to stick to your study plan. Having a date set and in place keeps you accountable.

You can always reschedule the exam if you feel unprepared as the exam date approaches. CompTIA allows you to reschedule within 24 hours of your exam without a fee.

You can book your exam at home or a testing center. Here are some of the pros and cons of each to consider before booking the exam.

At-Home

Pros:

Convenient and flexible scheduling from anywhere.
Ability to test from a familiar/comfortable home environment.
There is no need to travel to the test center.
Can schedule tests outside regular business hours.

Cons:

Requires private space at home/office, which can be challenging.
Potential technology problems or internet connectivity issues.
Cannot easily take breaks or move around during the exam.
Increased potential for distractions at home. 

In-Person Testing 

Pros:

Structured, standardized environment.
Able to take supervised breaks during the exam (but the clock keeps ticking).
It may be a better option with language barriers or disabilities.

Cons:

Must travel to physical test center location.
Limited flexibility in scheduling test times.
No control over potential distractions from other test takers.

Use Multiple Study Resources

Using multiple resources when studying is an effective way of getting the information to stick. Every author explains ideas differently, and seeing concepts covered from multiple perspectives helps reinforce understanding. 

Some resources just "click" better.

Here are some of the resources you may want to take advantage of:

Books

Books provide the most in-depth foundational knowledge through detailed explanations that help reinforce key concepts and usually offer extensive examples. They are excellent for building a solid foundation of knowledge. 

One book we recommend is CompTIA Network+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide by Scott Jernigan and Mike Myers. 

Online Courses 

With their multimedia content, online courses cater to various learning styles, including visual and auditory learners, and can offer more interactive and engaging learning experiences. Courses also allow you to visually see important network concepts like the OSI model, diagrams, and packet flows, helping to enforce networking concepts.

We have provided courses you can enroll in at the end of this article.

Labs

Labs give you hands-on experience from the knowledge you've learned through books and courses. You can practice concepts such as configuring devices, using the command line, and properly identifying an on-path attack such as ARP poisoning

In our article The 10 Best Cyber Security Labs for You, we discuss a couple of Networking labs you can use. 

Study Groups 

Being part of a study group creates a sense of commitment, and group members can encourage each other to complete goals. Studying for an exam like Network+ can be stressful, and study groups can be a source of encouragement and support. 

Study Strategies

Now that you have the resources that will work best for you, it is time to look at some strategies that can help you retain and learn the information.

Take Effective Notes

An important part of studying for Network+ is taking notes. You should review the material and write notes when encountering anything you don’t fully understand. Reviewing the parts you flagged and reviewing your notes helps reinforce the concepts and clarify information. 

Focus on Must-Know Concepts

You should ensure you grasp important topics and concepts in Network+:

Ports

You must familiarize yourself with port numbers (e.g., HTTP: 80, HTTPS: 443, FTP: 21) and their associated services. Also, you should understand how ports are used in network communication and their significance in network security, such as the role of open and closed ports in vulnerability assessments.

Well-Known Ports

Protocols

You should have a strong grasp of core protocols like TCP, UDP, IP, and ICMP and how they interact in the network communication process. Understand protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and SMTP and their roles in network services. Learn about protocols like RIP, OSPF, BGP for routing, and STP for switching and their roles in network design and functionality. 

Security

You should understand protocols like SSL/TLS, SSH, and IPSec and how they secure data transmission. Familiarize yourself with firewalls, IDS/IPS, and VPN concentrators, and understand how they protect network integrity. Understand the principles of AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) and how RADIUS and TACACS+ are implemented in network security.

Cabling

You need to know the different types of cables (e.g., CAT5e, CAT6, fiber optic) and their use cases, speed limitations, and distance limitations. Be aware of cabling standards, how to terminate different cable types, and the importance of proper cabling in network performance and troubleshooting.

WiFi Standards and Technologies

You should understand the different WiFi standards (a/b/g/n/ac/ax), their speed limitations, frequencies, and range. Know about WiFi security protocols like WPA2 and WPA3, their effectiveness in securing wireless networks, configuring basic wireless network parameters, and troubleshooting common wireless connectivity issues.

OSI Model

You need to know each layer of the OSI model (Physical, Data Link, Network, Transport, Session, Presentation, Application), their functions, and how they interact. Understand which protocols operate at which layer of the OSI model and which hardware devices (e.g., routers, switches, hubs) operate at which layer.

The 7 Layer OSI Model

Master Acronyms

The current Network+ exam has over 80 acronyms to learn. You need to know what each means because CompTIA will throw them into the exam questions. Knowing them helps you answer correctly and fully understand what's being asked. A good way to get this down is to start with the acronyms you don't know.

Make flashcards for these. It makes studying simpler and lets you quiz yourself. Plus, try to get the hang of each acronym in the context of how it's used in networking. It's about more than memorizing; it's about really getting it.

Network+ (N10-008) Acronym List

Use Flashcards 

Create flashcards for any terms and concepts that are unclear to you. These will be handy references as you advance in your studies. Regularly use them to self-assess your understanding.

Platforms like Quizlet or Anki offer advanced features like spaced repetition algorithms and the ability to share and download decks from other users. They are particularly useful for learning on the go.

Mnemonics and Visualization

Using mnemonics and visualization is of great value when remembering terms or concepts in Network+. For instance, to remember the OSI model, you might use phrases like “Please Do Not Throw Sausage Pizza Away” (Physical, Data Link, Network, Transport, Session, Presentation, Application).

See The Best OSI Model Acronyms We’re Sure You Won’t Forget for other OSI examples.

Create diagrams to visualize how different concepts connect. This is especially useful for understanding network topologies.

Remember, the goal is not just to pass the exam but to understand the material, as this knowledge will be crucial in your career. Mixing and matching these strategies while reviewing and testing your understanding will offer great preparation for the Network+ exam.

Testing Yourself Before the Exam

So, you’ve studied hard and feel ready for the exam. But how sure are you about grasping the material? The best way to gauge this is by taking practice tests.

These tests aim to mimic the exam by providing the same type and number of questions.  Some even come with a timer to help you manage your time effectively. If yours doesn't, set your own timer. Take the test in a quiet environment with as few distractions as possible. 

Remember, the exam contains about 90 questions, and with a duration of 90 minutes, this works out to be about one minute per question.

After completing one of these practice exams, go through the results and make a note of the questions that were incorrect as well as the ones that you were unsure of and simply guessed.

You can write down the question and answer in your notes or simply make a note of the concept you were unfamiliar with. 

Now, you can go back through the material, focusing on the areas you need to work on. 

Keep doing this until you score about 85% on these tests, and try to use as many different types of tests as possible. This approach helps ensure you're not just memorizing answers but truly understanding the content.

Exam Day Advice

So your Network+ exam day is approaching, and you likely feel a mix of anxiety and excitement,  which is completely normal. 

Here is some advice to make exam day smooth and successful.

  • Get plenty of rest and fuel up with a hearty meal, as you’ll be at the computer for 90 minutes. 
  • Arrive early at the testing center to check in.
  • Make sure to read all the instructions carefully before starting the exam.
  • Skip PBQs until the end of the exam unless they seem easy to you.
  • Flag any multiple-choice questions you are unsure of and return to them at the end. Attempt to answer as many questions that seem straightforward or easy to you first.
  • Watch for questions seeking the "BEST" answer. All answers may be correct, but you need to know the best choice for the specific scenario.

If you decide to take your exam at home, you must be aware that the exam is still proctored, and you're monitored via webcam and microphone throughout the exam. There are strict rules against reading questions aloud and moving out of the camera's view.

Your testing area must be clean, quiet, and free from distractions. You'll have to ensure no pets, family members, or other disruptions during the exam.

For more information on taking the exam from home, see the OnVUE resource page.

What’s Next?

Ok, you’ve passed Network+; what’s next?

You could start looking for jobs listing Network+ as one of the requirements. Check out our article, CompTIA Network+ Certification Salary: What You’ll Make.

If you are considering moving into cyber security, gearing up for certification exams, especially Security+, is a smart move as this is the likely next step in your certification pathway. You can use the resources from our blog to help prepare you for the exam.

If you would rather continue the networking pathway, you will want to focus on other networking certifications such as CCNA or CCNP.

Conclusion

We’ve provided useful information and the tools needed to help you prepare for Network+. 

With the strategies we've presented in this guide on how to pass CompTIA Network+, such as taking good notes or using flashcards, along with emphasizing the importance of practice questions, you should feel equipped with actionable tips to structure your study plan.

Join our Accelerator program if you want to take your career to the next level with our many courses, labs, mentorship, roadmaps, and study groups. We’ll help you ace your Network+ exam and other IT or cyber security career milestones. 

Good luck with your exam!

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  • Richard Dezso

    Richard is a cyber security enthusiast, eJPT, and ICCA who loves discovering new topics and never stops learning. In his home lab, he's always working on sharpening his offensive cyber security skills. He shares helpful advice through easy-to-understand blog posts that offer practical support for everyone. Additionally, Richard is dedicated to raising awareness for mental health. You can find Richard on LinkedIn, or to see his other projects, visit his Linktree.

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