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Exam Guide

OSCP Exam Guide: Everything You Need to Know

4 Mins read

The Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP) certification is highly regarded in the cybersecurity industry. It demonstrates the skills and knowledge required to be an effective penetration tester. In this comprehensive OSCP exam guide, we will cover all the essential information you need to know to prepare for and pass the exam.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Exam Structure
  3. Exam Requirements
  4. Exam Information
  5. Submission Instructions
  6. Bonus Points
  7. Additional Required Information
  8. Results
  9. Preparation
  10. Lab Experience
  11. Tips for the Exam
  12. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The OSCP certification is not just a credential; it is a transformative journey that tests your practical skills in cybersecurity. Passing the OSCP exam requires determination, perseverance, and hands-on experience. It is designed to evaluate your ability to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in a live network environment.

2. OSCP Exam Structure

The OSCP exam consists of multiple targets that you must compromise to earn points. The exam structure may vary, but typically includes an Active Directory (AD) set with a domain controller and two clients, as well as three standalone machines. Each machine has specific objectives that must be met to earn points. The AD set is worth 40 points, while each standalone machine is worth 20 points (10 points for low privilege and 10 points for root/system privilege).

To pass the OSCP exam, you need a minimum of 70 points. Bonus points can be earned by completing 80% of each module in the course material and submitting 30 proof.txt files obtained by solving challenge labs. These bonus points can be crucial in achieving a passing score if you struggle with the AD set.

3. OSCP Exam Requirements

Before taking the OSCP exam, there are certain requirements you should meet. While there are no strict prerequisites, it is recommended to have a solid understanding of TCP/IP networking, Linux and Windows administration, and basic scripting (Bash or Python). Familiarity with tools such as Nmap, Nikto, and Burp Free is also beneficial. OffSec provides a Penetration Testing with Kali Linux (PWK) course package that includes one or more exam attempts.

4. OSCP Exam Information

The OSCP exam is proctored and conducted via a virtual private network (VPN). You will have 23 hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam. Once the exam is finished, you will have an additional 24 hours to upload your documentation. The documentation requirements are stringent, and failure to provide sufficient documentation may result in reduced or zero points.

The exam machines are designed to simulate a real-world network environment, and you must exploit vulnerabilities to gain access. The machines may have different levels of difficulty, and it is important to remain calm and focused throughout the exam.

5. Submission Instructions for OSCP

After completing the exam, you are required to submit a professional report describing your exploitation process for each target. This report should include all steps, commands issued, and console output. Screenshots are also essential to support your findings. The report should be thorough enough that a technically competent reader can replicate the attacks step-by-step.

The exam control panel provides a section to submit the proof files obtained from each machine. It is crucial to include the contents of the proof files in a screenshot that also shows the IP address of the target machine. Failure to provide the appropriate proof files in a screenshot may result in zero points for the target.

6. Bonus Points

Bonus points can be earned by completing 80% of each module in the course material and submitting 30 proof.txt files obtained from challenge labs. These bonus points can contribute significantly to your overall score and increase your chances of passing the exam. It is recommended to prioritize the completion of challenge labs during your preparation to maximize your bonus points.

7. Additional Required Information for OSCP

In addition to the documentation and proof files, there may be additional required information for the exam. This could include modified exploit code, URLs to original exploit code, explanations of changes made to the code, and the command used to generate shellcode. It is important to provide all the necessary information to ensure that your submission is complete.

8. Results

The results of the OSCP exam are typically released within 10 business days. Once you receive your results, you will know whether you have passed or failed. Passing the exam is a significant achievement and validates your practical skills in penetration testing. If you do not pass, you have the option to retake the exam at a later date.

9. Preparation for OSCP

Preparation is key to success in the OSCP exam. It is recommended to start by familiarizing yourself with the basics of penetration testing and ethical hacking. There are several resources available, including blogs, online platforms like TryHackMe, and the OSCP course material itself. Taking notes during your preparation is essential for retaining information and creating a comprehensive reference for the exam.

10. OSCP Lab Experience

The OSCP lab environment provides an opportunity to practice your skills in a controlled setting. It is recommended to spend a significant amount of time in the lab, solving machines and honing your techniques. The lab experience will help you gain confidence and prepare you for the challenges you will face in the exam.

11. Tips for the OSCP Exam

To perform well in the OSCP exam, it is important to keep a few tips in mind:

  • Keep it simple and focus on the basics.
  • Remember that the machines are designed to be hacked, so there is always a way in.
  • Take breaks to clear your mind and prevent burnout.
  • Document your progress and findings thoroughly.
  • Stay calm and composed, even when faced with challenges.
  • Use your notes and resources effectively.
  • Take rest before the exam and prepare yourself mentally and physically.

12. Conclusion

The OSCP certification is a valuable credential that demonstrates your practical skills in penetration testing. By following this OSCP exam guide and putting in the necessary effort and dedication, you can increase your chances of passing the exam. Remember to stay focused, practice regularly, and utilize the available resources to enhance your knowledge and skills. Good luck on your OSCP journey!

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Troubleshooter @Google Ops | YouTuber (60k subs) | Creator of this website (i.e. The Techrix) Passionate about InfoSec & CTFs | Exploring tech's frontiers with curiosity and creativity."
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