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How Amit.K Cracked His CISSP Exam

How Amit Kumar passed the CISSP exam:

1. Primary books/Practice set I read/practiced cover to cover :

a. Sybex Official Study guide

b. Sybex Practice set book

c. Shon Harris Practice set book

d. Boson ExSim Max Practice set:

2. Kelly Handerhan Audio/ Video (This is free)

3. Referral books I read/practiced as and when needed:

a. Shon Harris study guide book.

Few important points regarding this:

i. This memory guide has followed Sybex official study guide. So if you are reading the Sybex book then referring this will be helpful else it won’t.

ii. Here and there it has some serious mistakes/inaccuracy in the documentation so be careful.

iii. The document was very helpful in the last week of the exam date as I was able to revise the book’s concepts very quickly. I did 3 times.

5. Any other books: No other books.

6. Free online resources:

a. Luke and Thor FB group: Very useful to feel connected with like minds and goal. Helps keep you motivated.

b. NIST site:

c. Pearson site

d. McGraw-Hill Site: <old 10 domains based but very good> : rol

e. Wiki, YouTube and random ones that Google search provided: Only the concepts where I needed some detailed explanation.

Strategy I planned and executed:

1. Set six months of rigorous study and practice timeline. Choosing the six months from Jun 2018 to Dec 2018 and writing the exam in 1st week of Jan 2019 was a good idea because in December month the office work was very less and was able to spend more than 10 hrs in a week day. Weekend spending was close to 15 hrs/day. Health, family time and other social activities were reduced far down from expected. Also got full support from office senior colleagues to focus on exam studies.

2. All my books were either kindle (online) or PDF types so that I can read/exercise them on the go.

3. Kelly’s audio I used to listen wherever I can’t read but I can listen (driving, gym etc.)

4. I used to read all chapters domain wise and make my personal notes. Writing and taking notes while studying has some great benefits, believe me! The concepts gets committed to brain and memory which last longer and the self-notes will be very helpful in revising the chapters quickly when you come back to the same chapters after 1 month or so. Sometimes you will feel that writing and taking notes is slowing you down but still, please do. Later you will thank

yourself for doing it.

5. After finishing all chapters for a given domain, I immediately picked up practice set books (Sybex and Shon Hasrris which chapters are domain based) and practiced the questions for that domain. Do not rush while going through the practice test questions for the first time.

Take it as another learning book in question/answer format. See why other answers are not correct and why the one which was correct is actually correct. As required, go back to the study book/online resources and understand the concept, get yourself completely acquainted before you move to the next question. Remember: It’s not about how many questions you covered but it’s about how many new concepts you had to brush up/ learn that you did not get it while studying the book for the first time. This is mantra of success when you find your weakness and overcome right there and that will take you to the success.

6. After finishing one domain, move on to next domain and repeat all the steps mentioned in sections 5 above. If you are spending focused 5 hrs a day effort, you will be able to complete all 8 domains studying and practicing questions in 3-4 months. I did not read many study

books. If I would, I would not be able to make it in six months. But if you are planning to take more time for the preparation then including Sybex CBK book is suggested.

7. Repeat section 5 and 6 again to complete it in no more than a month. This is important because as you have had some good insight on all 8 domains while covering sections 5 and 6 for the first time, now this repeat work will really help you in connecting the dots and answer

your obvious questions like why so many domains and why so many chapters they have in CISSP certification. Other questions you may have like “why the heck I have to know what should be the fence height for a building? etc. ”

You will also be able to answer questions where it combines concepts from 2 or 3 chapters or domains.

8. After completing step 7, I was able to draw a complete picture of CISSP certification and need in my brain. This was October month and booked exam to write in 1st week of Jan (1/9). Once I booked the exam and spent $700 for it, a brand new pressure automatically generated: “I

have two months left and $700 at stake”. From here on you need to make up your mind in exam mode. Took a watch timer and Boson questions very seriously like I was sitting in exam hall and started working on it. Boson is costly ($99 I think) so use it wisely, not for study but to get a real feel of exam. Try to complete the test in one sitting and see how it goes. Boson gives 5 practice exams so prepare yourself.

Also practice McGraw-Hill Site:

9. During last week of the exam: At the end of the effort described in section 8 above, you will perfect yourself and feel that now I am ready! During last week of the exam, I was mainly revising the books concept (summary, exam essentials section of the Sybex book) and reading my notes and Prashant Mohan’s Memory palace doc. In this week we need to focus on those areas where we have to memorize the chart, the definitions, the laws, the ports, the weaker part etc. My focus was following:

a. Laws

b. Cryptographic algorithms’ key and block size

c. Formulas

d. Networking, OSI layer protocols

e. Security Models

f. Common Criteria, TCSEC, ITSEC

g. TCP ports etc

10. During Exam day: you got 3 hrs and 150 questions that means for one question you have 1.2 mins if you are to answer all 150 questions. You will be lucky if you get pass at 100th question. My suggestion is to consider you are going to see all 150 questions and you have 1.2 mins per question. Timing is very important and while writing the exam, sometimes you may feel that “OMG!! Only xx mins left for xx questions? Looks like I won’t be able to make it”. To minimize the pressure and anxiety, I have suggested to simulate the exam environment in section 8 above. This will really help. Some question will be long to read and answer which may take up to 3 mins and some will be short to read and answer and will take less than a min. So keep adjusting the overall time management and don’t be nervous otherwise you will select wrong answers.

Always follow this:

I. Read the question

II. Read the answers

III. Read the question again

IV. Eliminate wrong answers (Don’t skip this)

V. If you are still left with 2 answers, select the best one you think and move on quickly.

VI. Don’t hung up on a question for more than 2 mins in any case.

11. All the Best and thank me later.


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