I have been a passive member of this group for the most part, and this group has been of great help for me, especially getting to know the preparation methods and exam experiences of the people. So, having taken so much of inputs from the group, I feel it is important for me to share my study plan and exam experience.
My Sources of Study
1. Sybex 7th edition (Primary resource).
2. Cybrary Videos (Secondary resource).
3. Some videos from YouTube and other sources, on select few topics, such as "Kerberos", etc.,
4. Sybex Practice tests.
I started preparing nearly 4 months back, and I used to study whenever I could concentrate or focus, and couldn't commit myself to any regular study plans, such as so many hours a day, etc., However, I would generally spend a good amount of time whenever I felt focused enough to understand the material. I covered the Sybex book "almost" comprehensively and had studied majority of the domains for about 3 or 4 times. The reason for "almost" is because, I had skipped revising some of the content that I considered to be too theoretical / dry and wasn't keen revising them.
But during the exam, I realized that I was WRONG in doing so - because, I could see questions from those content that I paid less attention to, and I was thinking I should have given due importance to all those topics as well :-) So, that's some take away people may consider, please try and cover the content of the material as comprehensively as possible - the nearest value to a 100% comprehensive coverage would be GREAT to have!
My initial impression prior to beginning my preparation was - I may have to study something like I had done for my higher secondary board examinations (which was about 14+ years ago), and guess what! I ended up studying manifolds more than that... I had booked the exam roughly 34 hours prior to the exam schedule and started to rigorously do a last pass / quick study on most of the domains and some of the items I needed to memorize.
I was going in to the exam, with some understanding in my mind - the most important of all being that the exam would have NO questions that I had studied or practiced earlier and it would be very difficult and challenging, so, I was prepared for both the BEST & WORST outcome - as those were the only 2 probabilities available. I completed the first attempt of answering questions in about 3 hours, during these 3 hours I had already realized I wasn't doing so well and had flagged a lot of questions for review (may be 100 of them). Upon completing the first round of answering, I had taken a break for snacks and returned in 10-15 minutes.
While in break, I was almost convinced that I wouldn't clear it, and also thought that I would NOT even attempt this exam another time. Having gone back after break, I wanted to review the flagged review questions (For a moment, I even thought - Should I even review the flagged ones? because I was doubtful to that extent), but didn't let that thought prolong for too long and went on to review all the flagged questions, and changed the answers of about 10-12 questions.
So, a little over 4 hours, I had completed the review also and I did not want to stay put in the exam for the rest of the time, and called on the exam center coordinator suggesting that I was going to end the exam. I submitted and was very confident that I would NOT clear and expected multiple pages / papers getting printed out of the printer.
But, there came only one paper out from the printer with one side printed, I remember asking the coordinator - is that all? As he was picking the paper from the printer, I could see a part of the word "Congratulations" and TRUST ME, IT WAS AN UNBELIEVABLE FEELING! Thank GOD, I feel a lot of things that contributed in my case, including a pinch of LUCK:-)
The exam is very tough - IMHO, it is difficult for someone to convey to others as to how hard the exam is, unless people experience the exam themselves!
I think these study plans and/or experiences are very subjective, and certain things that work for someone may not work for others, so, it is best left to individual's choice as to what/how would he/she plan and execute.
With that said, I am signing off this note. I thank Luke Ahmed and other key members of this group, you guys are doing a fantastic job. I will continue being part of this group and try and contribute as much as I can. All the very best for all the future aspirants and May God bless us all!