Are you planning to take the CISSP exam?
If you are considering taking the leap, please understand that this is not a test that requires simply reading an Official Guide and passing the exam. In my humble opinion, you cannot just take a prep course and pass the test either.
The questions are not worded to be answered from practicing rote memorization of facts. The new version presents test takers with real world scenarios, some of them very long-winded.
I cannot stress enough that the studying helped, but the hands on experience added the required context to enable me to answer the questions correctly.
My Preparation Materials & Activities:
- I read the BIG BOOK, listened to the free MP3 downloads, and took daily practice exams from Shon Harris, author of the most famous CISSP preparation guide on the market: http://www.mhprofessional.com/sites/CISSPExams/exam.php?id=AccessControl
- I listened to audio files and completed the two 250 question exams multiple times by SANS instructor and author Eric Conrad: http://booksite.elsevier.com/companion/conrad/
- I read the The Official (ISC)2 Guide To The CISSP CBK Third Edition and took all practice tests at the end of the chapters (hard copy)
- I attended SANS Training Program for CISSP Certification (MGT414) taught by SANS instructor Jonathan Ham in April and utilized the prep materials from the course for the two months leading up to the exam
- I sought clarification/illustrations on my weak domains and had verbal practice sessions with my mentor
Stress & Sanity Management
The day of the test, I ate a protein heavy breakfast and brought two protein snack packs, two bottled waters, and two protein shakes with me. I aimed to take breaks after every 75 questions, marking the really long and difficult ones for review until the end. This helped me manage my stress while also giving me the confidence to keep moving through the test as I breezed through simpler questions.
After my third break, I came back and answered all of the ones I had marked for review. I then took one last break to clear my head before reviewing my answers to all 250 questions.
I took a little over five hours because I chose to manage my stress with several breaks and do a thorough review of my answers to all of the questions.
Adequate preparation, difficult “jack of all trades” type job roles, and stress management were the key to passing the exam. This approach may not work for everyone, but I’m sharing in case it can help someone else.