Journey to CISSP

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Many who passed this exam share their experience and I would like to do the same, after all, sharing information helps the Cybersecurity world. Also, furthering the profession is one of the CISSP ethics canons.

Advance and protect the profession.

Part 1. Experience in the IT Industry

From working in the field of IT, I can say that this helped me in attaining the CISSP certification much easier as I got to see where the concepts and domains are applied as I studied. Also, I was able to put into practice learned concepts as I studied.

In addition to existing work experience, I have foundational certifications (CompTIA Security+ and CySA+) which helped ‘stack the deck’ in my favor.

Part 2. Preparing for the exam

Many who passed and failed (to later pass) this exam had different strategies of preparation. My only advice is: do what works for you.

What worked for me? Self study. And that’s what I did. I created a loose study regiment to be flexible but to have a structured approach to dedicating time for studying.

1% a day compounds to success

What material did I use? The Official (ISC)2 Study Guide. What better material is there than the material meant for the exam. I also used the Official (ISC)2 Practice Test to gauge my weak points. The official practice test really helped and I would recommend to anyone preparing to 100% use this – trust me. The Eleventh Hour CISSP: Study Guide, even though a bit dated, was also a great aid to help summaries the Official (ISC)2 Study Guide. Note, both of the study guides share a theme, they have Eric Conrad as an author. I also skimmed The Official (ISC)2 CBK Reference. Near the end of studying leading up to the exam, I watched, on Youtube, SANS CISSP Cram Session (speaker was Eric Conrad), CISSP Test-Taking Tactics: Successfully Navigating Adaptive Exams (speaker was Seth Misenar), and Why you will pass the CISSP by Kelly Handerhan. These videos helped tremendously in understanding how the exam works and how to think like a Security/Risk Manager when answering the exam questions.

Total preparation time: ~5 months.

Part 3. Sitting for the Exam

Sitting for this exam was actually not as scary or daunting as some people made it out to be. Why? Because I was prepared and I took the age old advice of ‘get a full nights rest’. Many say you do not know how you are doing as you progress through the exam. You may feel you’ve answered a question wrong or had a streak of bad answers or feel as though you are failing. I felt the same and focused on just answering the questions.

The exam lets you hide the amount of questions you’ve answered. I hid it and only checked the number to gauge my time per question ratio. At question 120 I knew an automatic decision was about to be made. Either the exam quits at question 125 and I pass or fail, or the exam continues past 125. I actually do not know if it passed 125 or stopped at 125 but a few minutes after me checking at question 120, the exam finished. I must admit, my heart dropped at that time. It was judgement moment. I sat there for ~2-3 minutes staring at the screen that did not tell me my results, only that the exam has ended. Did I pass or fail?

Total sit time: ~2.5 hours.

In conclusion, I passed and the journey continues.

Beesham Sarendranauth

Author: Beesham Sarendranauth