This article is about the easiest CompTIA exams for IT and cybersecurity. You can also check out our article on whether CompTIA certifications are worth it here.
A former student of mine recently asked me which of the CompTIA certifications are the easiest to pass. He was interested in taking several of the CompTIA certifications, but wanted to do them in order from easiest to hardest. After considering his question, I ranked the top five easiest CompTIA certifications in order, which I explain in this article.
So, what are the easiest CompTIA certification exams? The easiest exams offered by CompTIA are the Network+, Server+, A+, Security+, and CySA+. Most test takers will find these exams to be the easiest if taken in this order.
Let’s dive into these exams and talk about the five easiest CompTIA exams ranked in order.
The CompTIA Network+ tops our list of easiest exams offered by CompTIA, because it requires a manageable amount of content knowledge which can be easily reinforced by hands-on practice. I consider the Network+ actually easier than the suggested prerequisite A+, because the A+ is overwhelming with facts that have to be memorized, such as connector types and so on.
This is not to say that the Network+ is easy – every IT or cybersecurity exam poses a challenge of some level, even to experienced professionals. But the Network+ is a manageable exam that can be earned without a lot of hands-on experience, and contains content that isn’t too hard to absorb. This is why the Network+ is my recommended first certification for most aspiring IT and cybersecurity professionals.
Challenges of the Network+
Some people have found the Network+ to be challenging, and those that have not passed it, but have passed other exams, seem to fall into the category of finding the Network+ content to be dry, and therefore more difficult to focus on studying.
If you’re preparing for the Network+, be sure to cover the material thoroughly and work through labs as well. Understanding the critical concepts of the exam, such as the OSI model and subnetting is important as well.
- May feel unnecessary for those pursuing a cybersecurity career.
The second easiest exam offered by CompTIA (in my opinion) is the Server+. The Server+ hasn’t gained the popularity of many of the other exams offered by CompTIA, but its relative ease to pass makes it an attractive certification to pursue for those looking to put more letters after their name.
The Server+ feels like a mashup of the A+ and Network+ with a few server concepts built in, and packaged in an easier exam format than either of those two exams. This means that test takers who have passed either the A+ or the Network+, or have passed both, should be able to make quick work of the Server+ exam with adequate preparation.
Challenges of the Server+
The biggest issue facing those preparing for the Server+ is the limited amount of study content available for the exam. When people ask me which study books I recommend for this exam, I answer “all of them” because there are so few anyway, and you should read more than one.
- A minimal amount of study material available on the market.
- Fewer other test takers to share experiences with.
The CompTIA A+ ranks third on my list of easiest CompTIA exams because it is really an entry-level exam, but the dry nature of the content and the massive amount of memorization required to bring it to a level higher than the Network+ that most people take after it. Plus the fact that the A+ requires two exams worth of content means that it is a time-consuming certification to prepare for.
Since test takers are allowed to skip past the A+, and can jump to the Network+ or Security+ effectively, those that are planning on a cybersecurity career should consider doing just that. By skipping the A+ and pursuing the Network+ first, test takers get an easier certification with more value that takes less time to earn.
Challenges of the A+
- Two exams
- Dry material
- Lots of required memorization
The CompTIA Security+ ranks fourth on my list of easiest CompTIA exams, because it is still considered an entry-level exam, but is often considered the gateway certification for entry-level cybersecurity, so more is at stake.
The Security+ is interesting because it really is a conceptual exam that doesn’t require much in the way of hands-on experience, but does assume you have a pretty strong background in networking knowledge. Because of this, someone who has passed the easier Network+ and has adequately studied could pass the Security+ without much more hands-on experience or practice.
Challenges of the Security+
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the Security+ is that the exam assumes you already know your networking. Perhaps not to the level of a true network administrator, but certainly the exam is going to pose questions in a way that makes the assumption that your networking chops are solid, so that the focus can be on the security of those networking concepts.
Because of this, it is often recommended that aspiring professionals, even those pursuing cybersecurity, pursue the Network+ first in order the get the networking concepts under control, and have the opportunity to warm up with an easier exam before tackling the Security+.
The fifth easiest (and at this point, not so easy) exam offered by CompTIA on our list is the CySA+. I list this exam here instead of the PenTest+ because I consider this exam to be Security+ level 2. This means that the CySA+ is certainly harder and a longer exam, but it builds on the more basic Security+ more than the PenTest+ does.
Additionally, the PenTest+ really requires actual practice with pen testing tools, which is experience that most beginners just do not have. The CySA+ requires experience too, but that experience doesn’t appear to be as intense or demanding as what you’d need for the PenTest+.
Challenges of the CySA+
The CySA+ is probably the first exam on our list here that really commands some level of experience. So much so that I think most people would struggle with this exam without logging some practice hours in a lab environment or actual work environment.
If you’re interested in the CySA+, be sure to make sure you’ve allowed the Security+ content to settle in and you’ve spent some time with security tools, such as vulnerability scanning software. Exams at the intermediate level, such as the CySA+ and PenTest+, are really going to test you on how you would handle real scenarios, which requires that critical amount of experience and practice.