The information security market is very volatile. As such, compared to other occupations, a career in information security is predictable to grow exponentially. And one way to certify yourself in the field of cybersecurity is by taking the OSCP exam. Widely known for its rigorous and hands-on approach, the OSCP exam questions require you to demonstrate your skills in real-work scenarios.
As an aspiring cybersecurity professional, passing the OSCP exam is an achievable dream, provided you have the right OSCP study guide. This article will explore proven tips to help you pass the OSCP exam. We will explore strategies you can apply to help you prepare effectively for the exam so that nothing comes at you as a shock.
What is the OSCP Exam?
First and foremost, before we dive deeper into the guide, a firm understanding of the OSCP exam will help immensely. The OSCP exam, or Offensive Security Certified Professional exam, is a hacking certification program for IT professionals. It is an exam that tests a student’s information security skills. This certification exam is a creation from Offensive Security, a top cyber security training and certification source.
The OSCP certification is an excellent addition to your resume, given its high standard and widespread recognition. Any student who can pass the OSCP exam question and earn the OSCP certification can install, configure, and troubleshoot a wide range of security systems and identify and respond to security-related problems.
How to Prepare for the OSCP Exam?
The OSCP exam is one of the field’s most thorough and in-demand security credentials. Having an OSCP study guide is vital to passing it in one sitting. If you need to learn how to study for the exam, this section will help you. We’ve compiled a list of the essential information you should know when preparing for the OSCP exam.
Understand OSCP Exam Format and Topics Covered
The OSCP exam details are divided into two parts: a 24-hour lab evaluation and a documentation report due 24 hours later. A private VPN simulating a live network will be provided during the test. The network will come with a few vulnerabilities you need to resolve. You have 23 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam. If the exam begins at 08:00 GMT, it will end at 07:45 GMT the next day.
You have three independent targets worth 60 points of the 100 total points. These targets are two steps: low and high privilege. You may or may not get a buffer overflow included as a low-privilege attack vector. Per machine, you can earn a total of 20 points. And for the remaining 40 points of the 100 total points, you have two clients and one domain controller. You have another 24 hours to upload your documentation when you finish the exam.
Choosing the Right OSCP Study Materials
To get started on how to study for the OSCP exam, one of the first materials to read for the OSCP exam is the PWK Labs Learning Path. Read through this material for Alpha and Beta lab machines. Also, check out hints for nine additional lab machines. The PWK course will only teach you some things, so you need to broaden your study materials to expand your knowledge of ethical hacking.
There are several OSCP study materials free to download on the internet. Finding these OSCP preparation books will help you stand out when you eventually take the exam.
What Should You Focus On?
When it comes to ethical hacking, what you need to learn is quite broad. To pass the OSCP exam questions with ease, you need to focus your study on certain key areas. For example, being conversant with Linux and Windows environments and codes is essential that will help you spot cues for privilege escalation.
Also, having basic programming skills is vital, especially in web application attacks like SQLi, XSS, Command Execution, Remote File Inclusion, and so on. In the OSCP exam, you will be expected to debug and rewrite exploits in the exam. Focusing on Metasploit Framework, Nmap, Netcat, and Ncat is also essential. If you can go the extra mile to learn Wireshark and tcpdump, escaping restricted and spawning shells will help you stand out.
How Many Hours Should You Study for OSCP?
The duration you need to study for the OSCP exam varies depending on the individual. Different people have different levels of comprehension. Some people comprehend faster than others. But on average, you will likely need to speed about 250 to 30 hours preparing for the exam.
The OSCP exam questions are in-depth, so leaving nothing to chance is the best approach to take when studying for it. If you set aside 15 hours per week to study for the exam, which is an average of 2 hours daily, it will take you about five months to complete studying. Completing your study earlier will be best as it gives you time to review and go over the course over and over again to help you get more conversant with it.
How to Pass the OSCP Exam: 7 Tips
When preparing for the OSCP exam, it helps to know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone is different; as such, studying the best way you comprehend is vital. Below are seven OSCP preparation tips proven to be effective in helping individuals pass the OSCP exam.
Familiarize yourself with the format and requirements of the exam.
Before preparing for the exam, you must have a good understanding of what the OSCP exam entails. When you are familiar with the format and requirements of the OSCP exam, you can better gear your study routine. In other words, you study to answer the expected number of questions within the duration of the exam and the type of task to complete. Also, being aware of the policies and procedures of the exam, such as the nondisclosure agreement, will help you better tackle the exam.
Choose a suitable study material.
Another thing that will help you ACE the OSCP exam questions is studying with suitable materials. There are many resources online where you can find OSCP preparation books, but not all of them are equal. And considering the PWK course will only teach you some things, it’s essential to explore what other courses offer. Keep an eye out for books related to penetration testing, web application hacking, RTFM, etc.
Ensure you understand the concepts.
One of the common things many students need to correct when preparing for the OSCP exam is that they focus their studies on questions rather than concepts. As such, they tend to focus more on cramming the answers to questions. This might work in some exams, but not with the OSCP exam, as it is a concept-based question. Understanding the methodology behind penetration testing and the tools and commands to use is vital to passing the exam.
Create a study plan
Given the sheer size of things you need to know to pass the OSCP exam, it’s easy to get overwhelmed as a beginner. But creating a study plan makes it achievable and more manageable. In your study plan, list everything you need to study and how much time you can spend studying each day and week. Then based on the complexity of the topic, assign how much time you need to spend studying each topic.
Practicing is a huge part of preparing for the OSCP exam. Remember, the OSCP exam is a hands-on exam that requires you to demonstrate your skills in real-world scenarios. As such, you must practice a lot. Practice in your lab environment and online challenges. Note that the more you practice, the more confident you become in tackling challenges you can expect to complete in the exam. And as you practice, ensure you consider time management.
Join an online community.
Being a part of an online community is essential in helping you broaden your understanding of concepts. There are many online communities, chat rooms, and forums where prospects like you ask questions and get support regarding the OSCP exam. You can learn a lot from the experiences and challenges other individuals like you are facing in such communities. And based on their experiences, you can learn how they overcame it, saving you a lot of time you would have spent trying to figure it out.
Take practice exam
Finally, when you feel confident with your skill, take a practice exam. These practice OSCP exam questions test your understanding of the concept by giving you a series of challenges similar to what you will get in the real OSCP exam. You can assess how prepared you are for the exam based on your performance in this practice exam. If you didn’t perform well in the practice exam, it’s an indication you need to put more effort into your study.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for the OSCP?
If you are considering taking the OSCP exam, studying for it can be quite tasking. The OSCP exam is more than an ordinary test that requires only a good knowledge of theory. Instead, to pass the exam, you must have the skills and fundamental knowledge.
So, as you study, understanding the concepts and methodology of resolving specific tech problems is vital to passing the exam. Overall, the OSCP exam details are not over complicated as they may seem at first glance. Once you wrap your head around the test format and prepare using the suitable material, you will be astonished at how easy everything may seem.