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Overview

Embarking on the journey to clear the PNPT (Professional Network Penetration Tester) exam can be a daunting yet fulfilling experience. In this post, we’ll explore strategies I’ve gathered from my own journey to help you study, prepare, and successfully clear the PNPT exam. If you have questions then swing by one of our live streams every Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Understanding the PNPT Exam

The PNPT exam tests your knowledge and skills in penetration testing. In turn, this requires an understanding of various aspects of Computing and Cybersecurity such as networking, scripting, Active Directory, and more. To Prepare for this exam, you’ll need to build a solid foundation in these areas, which is crucial for any aspiring penetration tester.

Key Courses and Foundations

To successfully clear the PNPT exam, you need to complete several courses, with the PEH (Practical Ethical Hacking) course being the cornerstone. This course lays the groundwork in networking and scripting, among others. Beyond the PEH, the journey includes courses in OSINT (Open Source Intelligence), Privilege Escalation, and the External Pentest Playbook. Together, these courses develop and expand your skills and methodology in penetration testing. 

While studying for the courses, I encourage you to take detailed notes, follow along with the videos, and complete all of the exercises and capstones. This will really help you understand the material and ensure that you can recall and use it later on. There are no tricks in the exam, everything you need is in the course material so prioritise understanding and learning over completion.

Effective Study Strategies

  • Establish a Routine: Set aside a specific time and place for studying. This consistency is vital for making your study sessions productive.
  • Prioritize Sleep: Your brain functions best when well-rested, so don’t compromise on sleep.
  • Engage in Hands-On Tasks: Practical exercises are crucial in this field. They help in applying theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios.
  • Maintain Detailed Notes: Good note-taking aids in revising and retaining information.

Exam Breakdown and Preparation

The PNPT exam spans five days for the practical section, followed by two days for report submission. It tests your skills in various domains, including OSINT, external, and internal pentesting. Having a clear strategy for each of these areas is essential. Personally, I kept a checklist which was my “game plan” for different stages of the exam. Enumerate thoroughly, plan your attacks, and be ready to adapt. 

My Exam Experience and Tips

My own experience with the exam was a blend of focused work and longer breaks. Over approximately 22 hours, spread over a few days, I tackled various challenges, but didn’t stress too much as I readily took breaks and came back with a fresh perspective. Here are some tips based on my experience:

  • Keep It Simple: Stick to basic principles and thorough enumeration.
  • Have a Game Plan: Go into the exam with a clear strategy for each section. This can be as simple as a checklist as you’ll need to adapt to the situation too!
  • Regular Breaks: Set timers to ensure you take breaks and avoid burnout. My timers were 55minutes, and after about 4hours I’d take a longer break. 
  • Be Curious: Look for non-technical avenues like saved credentials, documents in network shares, recycle bins and reused passwords.
  • Document as You Go: Take screenshots and notes for your report, this will save you a tonne of time later on.
  • Know When to Take a Break: If you’re repeating actions with no results, it’s time to step back and take a longer break.

Conclusion

Like any significant endeavour, clearing the PNPT exam requires a combination of solid preparation, effective study habits, and the right mindset. By sharing my insights and strategies, I hope to make your journey smoother. If you have questions or need more tips, feel free to join our live streams. Good luck, and I look forward to hearing about your success!

 

About TCM Security

TCM Security is a veteran-owned, cybersecurity services and education company founded in Charlotte, NC. Our services division has the mission of protecting people, sensitive data, and systems. With decades of combined experience, thousands of hours of practice, and core values from our time in service, we use our skill set to secure your environment. The TCM Security Academy is an educational platform dedicated to providing affordable, top-notch cybersecurity training to our individual students and corporate clients including both self-paced and instructor-led online courses as well as custom training solutions. We also provide several vendor-agnostic, practical hands-on certification exams to ensure proven job-ready skills to prospective employers.

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