Exam Profile: (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
The SSCP exam is an entry-level security exam sponsored by International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., or (ISC)2. It is considered by many to be a stepping stone on the path to earning the (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Practitioner (CISSP). (ISC)2 describes the person with the SSCP certification as the person doing the hands-on work, or the enforcer that everyone is going to for answers. However, don’t think that this means that you’ll be asked a lot of questions of how to use specific tools. The exam is still focused on understanding key security concepts.
To achieve the SSCP certification, you have to complete several steps:
- Have one year of relevant security experience (in one or more of the seven domains)
- Subscribe to the (ISC)2 code of ethics
- Pass the exam with a score of at least 700
- Be endorsed by an (ISC)2 certified member in good standing
- Exam Type: Proctored
- Number of questions: 125
- Type of Questions: Multiple choice
- Passing score: 700/1000
- Time limit: 3 hours
- How to register: (ISC)2 Website
- Exam price: $300.
- Time to get results: About 4 to 6 weeks
This is a paper-based exam administered by proctors. You’ll be filling in little circles with an old-fashioned #2 pencil. It is often administered in a hotel conference room. If you take a review seminar, it is usually administered in the same place as the seminar. There will be several proctors walking around the room while you are taking the test.
Only 100 questions are graded. The other 25 questions are for research purposes, but they are mixed into the entire 125 questions so you won’t know which questions are graded. You’ll need to answer every question as if it’s graded.
The questions are basic multiple choice questions. You may have some scenario-based items where you’ll read a scenario and then answer two or more questions related to the scenario. You aren’t penalized for wrong answers, so make sure you answer each question.
The questions are weighted, so a score of 700 doesn’t indicate that you need to get exactly 70 questions correct.
You’re expected to arrive at 8 AM, instructions begin at 8:30, and the exam starts at 9. If you’re late, you probably won’t be allowed in. You’ll have until 12:00 to take the exam while other people will likely be taking the CISSP exam which lasts until 3:00 PM.
Registering for this exam is different than many other vendor exams such as CompTIA, Cisco, and Microsoft exams. You start the process at this page.
After clicking on the link to register, you’ll be able to search for when the exam is administered in your area. There are a limited number of seats at each exam and they often sell out before the test day, so if one is in your area, sign up early. You’ll be prompted to agree to the code of ethics during the process and after registering, you’ll be emailed admission documents. You’ll need these documents on the day of the exam, along with a government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport.
If you register at least 16 days early, you can get a $50 discount. In other words, you can take the exam for $250 instead of $300. However, if you have to reschedule, there’s a hefty rescheduling fee of $100.
Unlike many exams where you know right away whether you pass or not, you’ll need to wait for the SSCP results. (ISC)2 says you’ll get the results in your email about 4 to 6 weeks after taking the exam, but they often come a little earlier.