How To Beat The OSCP Exam

Assuming you put the time into learning the course material and pwn a ton of lab machines, you should be good to go technically. However, if you haven’t booked the OSCP PWK course yet, consider this blog post to help you get there before starting the course/labs.

Most people don’t fail for technical ability reasons. They fail because they don’t take breaks and maintain clear mental objectivity.

What Is The Secret To Passing?

The key to beating the OSCP exam is to force yourself to take breaks… where you walk away from the computer, leave the room, and do anything else for 5-15 minutes.

Force yourself to take a 5-10 minute AFK break every hour. It won’t be easy because you think you’re on a roll but do it anyway. I found the roll I was on was the wrong path before, multiple times.

Loss of objectivity is what kills people.

It is easy to learn the technical information and get used to it by pwning machines in the labs and CTF websites. That will absolutely help you pass; you need it. You won’t be ready for the stress and length of the exam, and you can get in a bad headspace really quickly. You may not realize it until, upon reflection, post-exam failure.

Take breaks and take a walk, make food, talk to a friend, do a chore, or literally anything else but focus on the exam.

And then come back to it. Your brain will lie to you. TAKE BREAKS!

You will probably ignore this advice as I did. But here it is for you. I wish you good luck! Reach out if you want help reviewing what went wrong on your exam, perhaps an external point of view would be helpful for you.

My Experience

I used a Pomodoro timer called Be Focused Pro on macOS to remind me to take breaks. I recommend getting a Pomodoro timer. It helped me a lot, and it may be the same for you.

I failed the exam twice (45 points each time) before getting it… really internalizing and doing what other passers have said. I didn’t have a technical ability problem (ultimately), but a mental objectivity problem from not truly taking breaks. Once I did that, I got all the points in 12 hours, took a nap, and woke up to finish my report before exam time expired.