How Venkatesh Cracked His CISSP Exam

January 5, 2018

 

You never fail when you learn from your mistakes...!!


I failed my first attempt on July 27th scoring 678, I was an inch close but a mile wide from the coveted ‘Congratulations’ message which we all wish for. I was disappointed but was not dejected. When I first
booked this exam, all I thought was to experience this exam and didn’t think much about the result. And when I failed I just said to myself glad I’ve attempted the exam although my result was on a wrong side. I
came back home and analyzed what went wrong. I’ve written the reasons for my failure in a paper.


Reasons to fail my first attempt:

• Lost my focus after 180 questions, couldn’t concentrate further and finished the paper in a hurry.

• Not well prepared. I didn’t read the Sybex (my primary source) cover to cover and I was unaware of few topics in most of the domains.

• I didn’t even attempt/take at least one 250 Qs practice test (which might have helped me to sit with focus on all 250 Qs in the real test), although I did so many practice questions.

• A proper rest- I’ve slept only for 3 hours and felt dizzy while writing the exam.

• Over analyzed questions and changed my answers.
I just said myself that I’ll pass this exam in my next attempt because now I know how this exam is. Also, I’ve learned how to prepare for it and think while taking the exam.

#ExpensiveLearning

I wanted to give my next attempt in November because I didn’t want to rush this time by preparing for very few months (my first attempt was after less than two months of preparation). But I ended up taking
my exam in December. After ISC2 has announced the price of the exam will go up by $100 from October 1 st (Didn’t want to lose another $100), so a day prior to it, I’ve booked my next attempt for December 15th. Luckily, ISC2 has announced the new exam format, CAT will be from December 18th. I was relieved that I’m going to attempt my exam in a format that I’m familiar with.

Preparation for my Second attempt:
I wanted to keep my preparation simple this time. I had multiple study plans to prepare for my next attempt but nothing worked as I was so busy at work. I hardly had time to read for an hour a day. Telegram group was the only source of my study on the working days and on weekends I watched Kelly’s Cybrary videos. I learned the topics that I’m unaware of or I’m weak in and revised the topics/domains I’m strong in. Another excellent resource I referred is Fadi’s (Madunix) process guide.


A month prior to my exam, I’ve signed up as a member on Luke’s ‘Study Notes and Theory’ website and it turned out to be a good decision. His videos are excellent and are very informative. All his examples and explanations are real time based. I liked the BCP and SDLC videos of his most. In the last 10 days I’ve done his practice tests set each day and they are really good. They are lengthy and covered multiple topics in a single question. I’ve scored around 70 in his tests. His flash cards are good as well.

 

Credits to the authors (Joshua and Dan) of the notes on his website, I used them for a quick revision. In the last week, I’ve taken around 7 full practice tests (250Qs), I’ve taken them exactly at the same time as my exam time (12– 6 PM) so that I can get used to it. I scored mid 70s in them.

Exam Day:
A day prior to my exam I’ve stopped reading and I spoke to Akhaan, Prashanth and Srinidhi and the tips from them relaxed me a bit. I didn’t think much about the exam or result, had a good sleep and on the

exam day I woke up with a positive mindset. While having my breakfast, I watched Kelly’s ‘Exam Specifics’ video. I reached the test center around 11:15 AM and completed the biometrics process.
They’ve asked me to start my exam early by half an hour, my exam started at 11:30 AM.

I’ve written all the mnemonics and the steps I remember, on the sheet. Once the exam started, I didn’t want to rush. I made up mind and though this is as another practice test (tip from Prashanth and Ebrahim), where my target is to achieve 80 percent. I’ve decided to do 50 questions in an hour so that I’ll complete the 250 Qs in 5 hours and I’ll have 1 hour to review. I know time is not a problem for me. I read the question twice or thrice sometimes and then selected my best answer. I did about 45 questions in the first hour. I’ve taken my breaks for 5-10 mins, after 110, 180 and 250Qs.

I felt so positive and I knew I was doing well, I told myself to continue the same and stay focused for the rest of the questions. I’ve finished my 250 Qs at 5 hrs 20 mins and I flagged more than 50 Qs. I took a 10 mins break and analyzed how my test go and felt confident that I’ve cleared it. After the break I reviewed the flagged questions and changed the answers of 3 questions, I felt I shouldn’t continue reviewing because I might over-analyze the questions and change the answers at the last moment. I’ve ended the exam at 5 hrs 48 mins and instead of walking towards the printer, I was going to the locker to collect my things ( I knew I passed), the lady has come to me with the paper and smiled saying I passed this time (she recognized me from my earlier attempt). I said thanks to her and handed over the snickers that I had in my bag to her.

Thank You:
Thank you is a simple word, but each and every person I’m going to mention here have inspired me in one or the other way and I’ve learned so much from them. Without them, I couldn’t have tamed this
beast. First I want to thank my boss, Sanjeev who motivated and pushed me to take this test. I want to thank Luke Ahmed for the wonderful Facebook group and Ahmed Khatib for the amazing ‘BuddingCISSP’ Telegram group, I owe my success to these 2 groups, especially Telegram group. Fadi (Madunix), you’re an inspiration and a true master. Thanks for your process guide, it’s too good and a must to refer a day before the exam. My anar bimar group (Akhaan, Prashanth, Shalini and Kim), and Srinidhi, you guys rock.

The discussions we had have etched in my mind and helped me a lot to understand so many topics. Satish Pareek, Mohammed Iqbal (MI), Dawood, Srikanth, Adil, Vaibhav, Yaniv, Shourvok, Ebrahim,
Albert, Paul, Olga, Anjilica, Shashi, Rishikesh, Suresh, Bhavya and all the active members of the Telegram group. My apologies in case if I missed any one above.

 

Special mention to Akhaan, thanks bro for all your help (It’s time for you to tame the beast and I will help you tame it). Prashanth for explaining me with the topics that I didn’t understand and for the last
moment tips. Shalini for motivating and for the confidence you had in me. Srinidhi for the last moment motivational words.

TIP: Think like an advisor/CISSP while doing the practice questions or when someone (imagine him/her as your client) asks you why/how for your answers that you give in Telegram or Facebook group.

Resources& Test engines:
Sybex 7 th edition, Eric 11th hour, Sunflower notes and CISSP combined notes, Madunix Process guide.

 

Sybex official practice tests, total tester and thousands of questions posted in Telegram group.
 

Good Luck to all the CISSP aspirants. #Believe, you can do it...!!

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