Having provisionally passed my exam I wanted to contribute back what I had learned. I've read this subreddit and found that perspective from other test takers invaluable (thanks ya'll!). For reference I have been a part of the IT service vertical for roughly 15 years, most recently a systems engineer, and found the CISSP an opportunity to segway into a security-oriented approach in the second phase of my career. I have a MS in IT that focused on IT-management from 10 years ago but haven't really had a position to utilize it the way I intended. Personally, I respond well to training and testing environments because while on the job training provides the best learning experiences, focused academic learning enables me to expand my thought process. I took a leave of absence on my current position to support my family and family-run businesses but find myself unable to stop learning about the profession. It hits all my sweet spots of investigation and learning. I love all of it.
For preparation I started in mid-August and passed pretty much after three months of learning and practicing. I've estimated the number of hours spent reading and practicing exam questions to be 300 hours. Do not estimate the amount of time required for this test. My practice material included the:
- PluralSight CISSP video series (free, provided by company)
- Udemy/Thor Video series $60
- Shon AIO book $33
- 11th Hour CISSP book $22
- Shon Exam Prep Book $17
- CISSP Official Exam Prep Book $25
- Boson ExSim software after its recommendation on this sub. $84. I believe the Boson series to be the best preparation for the format of the exam (passed between 78-86% in a full test simulation). Others were helpful, yes, but learning the format of the exam is crucial to passing.
- Wiley Efficient Learning online questions provided by the Official exam prep book.
I estimated that I took 3200+ questions and that was a reasonable amount for my situation. Some recommended more, but for my background it wasn't necessary. Your results may vary. Writing all my notes in OneNote was such a blessing compared to other note formats. It helped me map the content I needed to focus on best rather than pen and paper. The BIGGEST preparation I had was from family and a supportive wife that gave me the confidence needed when I was feeling low. Don't underestimate your social supports, especially in this stupid time of a year.
I have a consistent issue with anxiety on days that include, tests, interviews, and presentations to clients. The method I’ve found best to combat them is set the mood beforehand. I made a test day playlist to listen to on my drive in. (Synthwave and outrun is still my jam). I said a few prayers, and my wife wrote me a support note which picked my mood right up.
I did not practice with a mask on, but in retrospect I should’ve done so. Foggy glasses are the worst. I took a mandatory break at 70 questions and that gave me enough breathing time to refocus and hit the next question. Took the exam with and provisionally passed with 100 questions in roughly 90 minutes. I did not know if I was going to pass until I saw the letter, but knew I did the best I could. Celebrated by eating a Shake Shack burger and a root beer float because yes, it feels good to pass.
Collected learning from myself and others (sorry I don’t know all the sources)
- Stay Positive, You Got This!
- Slow down, breath, read all the question and answers
- Answer what the question is asking, not what your mind may imply
- Fix/Remediate the given problem as far upstream in as proactive a way as possible
- You will hit a wall at some point during the test. Work one question at a time.
From: Persistent Warning
this post is long, sorry for that. Background:
I have bachelor’s in electrical engineering communication branch graduated in 2004, I started working in IT and networking since 2007 until now. I have CCNA R&S certificate and CCNP R&S knowledge but I didn’t take the exam. Objective:
Absorbing the concepts to pass the test from the first time to advance my carrier. Strategy:
Consistency and persistency are keys for success.
Better understanding through diversity of resources and layers.
Continuous revision to keep concepts in mind.
Practice questions to adjust judgement and assess understanding of concepts. (did around 6500+ questions) CISSP Journey:
I started studying CISSP in 1/11/2019 as follow:
1- I started with Kelly Handerhan
course from Cybrary when it was free with (ISC)2 CISSP Official Study Guide Eighth Edition (the main source for my study, finished it cover to cover) I watch the domain first then I read it from the OSG and made summary for each chapter for later revisions (was around 15-20 pages). If something I couldn’t grasp, I look for it over youtube and AIO book to augment my understanding after that I solve the questions for that domain on the official practice test second edition, I was scoring around 87 almost in all the domains from the first time. After that I try to solve the questions for the domain from AIO 8th Edition where I was scoring 50-60% because some technical details were not covered in the OSG then I study those details that I was missing. Beginning from Domain 3 I started to revise, after each domain I finish I revise a domain from the beginning to keep the concepts fresh in my mind. I kept going this way until I finished all the domains in May and solved 1 practice question, I think I scored 77% . At that time I joined Discord server and discussions exposed to me the weak points.
2- I joined linkedin I used the free month to watch Mike Chapple
course I made notes from his course was helpful they added me a great value for better understanding and that was reflected on my scores doing practice questions.
3- I bought Boson
practice exam it was invaluable for understanding and exposing the weak points. I scored in July 75,77,75,82 and left the last exam few days before the test. Don’t be fooled by the scores in domain 2&6 I remember exam E I did it for the first time in simulation mode 3 days before setting for the test (I stopped doing questions after that) I scored 86 but below 70% in those domains as there were 3Qs D2 (2 correct) and 6Qs D6 (4 correct), so don’t panic.
4- Subscribed to SNT
for 3 moths to gain more understanding for the covered topics. Luke Ahmed
videos are great I remember I mastered Clark Wilson model after watching Luke’s video also Kerberos, Embedded systems and many more. SNT questions are challenging so I liked them I did all the questions I was scoring mostly 72% with few below from (30- 60). Also Luke always there whenever I ask him a question he replies and help.
5- Adam Gordon
free discord sessions and discussions were great (when Adam say know this you must know it or you will regret) also his QoD on linkedin was useful. His golden advice “answer the questions asked not the question you think is asked” is invaluable it saved me. I subscribed to Itprotv to watch his accelerated course and solve Kaplan questions (866) I scored around 85 overall they are good questions with detailed explanation as Boson.
6- Subscribed to oreilly free 10 days to watch Thor Pederson
course he made it to the point also there is practice questions from Pearson I did all of them (1200) scored around 78.
7- I was following the effective CISSP group in facebook QOD then bought Wentz Wu
Kindle books the Effective CISSP Risk Management & Practice in October, less than one month from test, I read the first two chapters and did some questions but I think it was too late to introduce new source at that time I wish I had earlier cause the book is great.
8- AIO 142 questions I did them for the first time 10 days before the exam as simulation wearing the mask with time, I finished them in 3hours and 5 minutes with score 73% I missed almost all the framework questions (TOGAF, ZACHMAN, COSO, …).
9- 3 days before the exam I watched Destination Certification Rob Witcher
mind maps. Invaluable to the point as refresher. Also had his memory card app it is great as his mind maps i highly recommend to anyone.
10- As general rule when I was doing practice test, I review the right and wrong questions why the correct answer is correct and why the wrong answer is wrong. Also revising the material from the start to the end was a must not to lose sight of any information. Exam Experience:
I was trying to set for the exam since July but no slot was available, I booked in 22/8 but due to covid rescheduled to 23/9 then 22/10 and at last 18/11. I did around 6500 practice questions to make things easier in the exam and to be honest I was frustrated from others who said no practice engine is close to the test but after setting for the exam yes, no practice engine is ever close to the test this is the truth
I am not native English speaker (but I am good in English) and that point was concerning me a lot (one of the reasons I did 6500 questions to be exposed to different lingo of questions) because of others feedback but from what I saw if you can read the book you don’t need to worry. The exam lingo is the same as the book.
Cybersecurity meg also gave precious advices one of them was savior “ don’t try to understand the CAT answer the question in front of you don’t try to figure out what is behind” this one is a must if you want to succeed
, “listening to music and watching motivation video before the exam” was very helpful and reduced my anxiety.
I only had 5 hours sleep I couldn’t sleep more. I toke 1 hour walk while listening to the music then washed and had my usual breakfast and coffee after that I dressed and went to the testing center registered my self put my belonging in the locker toke the board and marker and sat on my station the NDA showed up I agreed and clicked start. My mind set was I did all what I can, I left nothing to be done so one last 150 Qs and that’s it. While answering the questions I started to realize that I am failing massively some questions toke me 3 minutes some 30 seconds I finished the first 50 questions in 1 hour. I went easy on my self for the next 50 questions less stressed had nothing to lose and I can’t tell if I was doing good or bad, I was just answering. I lost sight on number of questions at 97 then answered 2 or 3 questions I can’t remember and in a sudden the exam stopped and asked me your exam is finished, want to end the exam? I had to say yes and left the station so depressed and sad. Went to the registration desk to receive my report and see which domains below professional level, the proctor printed my report and I thought she was giving me 2 papers where I became 100% sure I failed but they weren’t 2 papers it was the report and an envelop for the report and in a sudden I read congratulations !!! and my photo on the report. I was speechless literally I was like what!!!!! Are you sure? Is there any mistake here ? with tears in my eyes and still speechless collected my staff and went to my car can’t believe it but it was the truth, I worked hard and made huge effort and I was rewarded. Important Note: Trust yourself and your preparation don’t hesitate don’t change answer, answer as you were usually answering in your practice. Afterhours:
This journey has changed me exposed to me the unknown side of me I was never ever a study fan but I liked and enjoyed every moment studying CISSP. I was wondering about this community I never ever saw one like this people are willing to help and support I can’t believe what Adam is doing he made full CISSP sessions twice for discord members for free, he participates in our discussions in discord answering our questions advising us, also Thor Pederson, Rob Witcher, Wentz Wu, Luke Ahmed, Darkhelmet, Lostincode, Cybersecurity meg and all discord members you guys are inspiring without you It was impossible to achieve what I achieved I can’t thank you all enough and I will do my best to be a useful member like you all.
Wish you all best of luck and Please contact me if you have any question, you can find me on discord (https://discord.gg/vHgBDsXS