Tips to Clear CEH Exam on First Attempt

The CEHv12 examination certifies a successful candidate in ethical hacking or penetration testing. It is one of the only international ethical hacking qualifications offered by the EC Council. It can kickstart your career in cybersecurity. The certification attests to your credibility in the industry as you have reached or surpassed specific baseline benchmarks/standards in systematic ethical hacking training and have exposure to 'realworld' situations.

Eligibility, Training, and the Examination Format

The CEH is a tough nut to crack. Before you begin preparations, understand what you are preparing for and whether you can give the test. The CEH examination is a 4−hour assessment with 125 MCQs, which is American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited. This is followed by a 6−hour practical exam that tests your skills in 20 scenarios.

Candidates must be familiar with IT, information security, and related areas. For this criterion to be met, candidates must either have at least two years of experience in the infosec domain or pass the EC Council official CEH training course. In both cases, an application fee of 100 USD has to be paid.

Training takes place over 40 hours, during which twenty modules are covered. Participants are taught methods of hacking various operating systems using more than 3500 hacking tools. Case studies at the end of each module add up to 220 opportunities for hands−on experience in the labs. You can opt for the iClass option with live classes and instructors who take you through course material via live presentations, valuable lab time, and discussions with fellow students. You may also take the iLearn option, which comprises pre−recorded classes and lab sessions that you can study at your own pace.

Pass percentages vary depending on the examination's difficulty level, from 60−80%. You can also take the exam if you have already acquired levels 1−7 CEH certifications from the EC Council.

Some businesses offer in−house training programs or solutions as part of corporate upskilling. Check if your company provides a chance to take the CEH. Similarly, you can prepare while still studying, too, since many universities offer courses like CIS 404 Hacker Techniques, Tools, and Incident Handling − the subject matter that correlates to the exam.

While the substance is the core, clarity on logistics makes the preparation more effective.

Tip 1: Plan a Structured Study Timetable

Once you've got the hang of what the exam is all about, you can start preparing. The first step is to create a study schedule that encompasses all the material you need to cover and gives you sufficient time to revise all relevant concepts. You need to balance work commitments if you are employed while preparing.

If you are attending live training, the classes and lab practice must go hand−in−hand with selfstudy. Estimate the time it could take to become conversant with logic, reasoning, and analysis and pace your studies accordingly.

For professionals or students well−versed in the field, the five days of online training may suffice. But 3−5 months of offline support and self−study with peers and tutors would be better for those starting from scratch.

Tip 2: Create a Checklist of Key Topics

The examination covers about 19 topics covering network security, cyber threats, policies, regulations, etc. Your strategy should undoubtedly begin with the ECC exam 'Blueprint,' which outlines the topics covered and the weightage allocated to each. It is a free resource, amongst others, available on the EC website.

Using this blueprint, you can create your checklist of topics ranked based on their relative priority. Some topics may require less revision, and others may be new, needing multiple study sessions.

Completing each topic in a structured manner, as per your needs, makes sure your preparation is less scattered and prevents last−minute panic over unfinished issues. A strategy is vital for general practice.

Tip 3: Gather and Organize Resources

If you are a working person, who is not taking ECC training, you can avail free resources from the site, such as the blueprint, ECC prep website, and practice exams. If you are taking either type of training, the ECC study material has about 3000−odd pages, plus a couple of hundred pages of fundamentals.

Take on only a few resources, as you may get confused. Stick to the ECC material and a few study guides, and revise the same. What is important is clarity, not quantity.

Tip 4: Practice Makes perfect!

Practice mock questions as much as you can. This not only makes you comfortable with the exam pattern, but you also become better at time management. Practice tests also improve mental acuity and highlight areas where you are weak and need to work on more. Remember to set aside an hour or two every day to practice the lab work as well, as merely reading will only help if you test your practical skills for yourself in as many situations as possible.

Tip 5: Join Study Groups

It's always beneficial taking a break from elf−study and join those studying alongside you or those who have attempted or passed the exam. Peer group discussions and problem−solving sessions can give you insights and fresh perspectives. You can share ideas, study methods, and techniques for approaching questions. Learning where other people went wrong can inform your approach.

There are many online and offline CEH study communities. But always be extra careful to avoid paying for unverified online CEH community sites.


Before the exam, there are some dos and don'ts.


  • Read demotivating blogs or experiences that will make you panic and second−guess yourself.

  • Attempt to study new concepts at the last minute as it could cause more confusion.


  • Get a good night's sleep

  • Keep everything you need ready, and be confident in your preparation.

During the exam, keep calm and stay focussed.

Updated on: 15-Dec-2022


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