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How Andrea Cracked Her CISSP Exam!

Let me first share with you that it was only 2 years ago that I even had heard of the words Information Security. I started working on the ISO27001 from a quality management perspective and really enjoyed the topic so I decided to shift my career towards InfoSec.

I was aware of the fact that I needed to learn a lot so that was the reason for me to start CISSP. I had never in my life heard of OSI model, symmetric cryptography and many other CISSP related topics since 6 months ago that I started my journey. I believe that if I can tackle this beast anyone of you can.

Let me summarize what I did:

  • I used the CBK book as my main material. I worked through domains 1 through 4 and made my own summary. Then I started to study mostly for domain 3 and 4 as this was literally all new to me. I used simple internet to help me grasp the different topics and already did practice questions to accelerate my understanding.

  • I watched Kelly Handerhans Cybrary videos because she is very good in explaining concepts in simple words and she also gives you the right focus for the exam.

  • After that I continued with domain 5 through 8 and studied those after finishing the entire book.

  • After finishing the entire CBK book I started combining as many different sources and methods to understand all concepts

  • I used the Sunflower summary and many of the material from the Study and theory website.

  • I listened to podcasts while driving to and from work (Podomatic had one but the guy was quite monotone so I am sure there are more inspiring podcasts you can use).

  • I used the ISC2 official mobile app while waiting for the dentist or hairdresser.

My exam practice material:

  • ISC2 official practice test (€28 on Amazon). This has been my life saver. I first went through all 800 domain questions and made flash cards of all the concepts I got wrong or did not understand sufficiently. After that I went through the practice exams as well.

  • McGraw Hill also good practice material and for free!

  • Sybex: too easy compared to the exam but very good to identify your weak points

  • Eric Conrad exams. Not my favorite but still good to practice with.

Couple of weeks before the exam:

  • 3 weeks before the exam I watched all Cybrary videos again to check if I had all important concepts straight (This really helped me through the exam!)

  • I redid the ISC2 official practice test and mostly focused on the explanations of the answers.

  • Went through my summaries and flash cards

  • Scrolled through many of the posts of the Facebook page to also practice some questions.

  • One day before the exam I did nothing, went to the beach to get fresh air so I would fall asleep easily (this really helped because I was very fresh the next morning).

At the exam:

  • Got sufficient food and drinks

  • After 3 a 4 questions realizing I wasn’t able to read it properly I would just shortly go to the bathroom, do some stretches and splash water in my face to get my energy back

  • Had 1 bigger break of about 10 – 15 minutes to eat something.

I realized at the end that it may have been an advantage for me to not have that much experience as many of you do. I didn’t have to reset my mindset and that made my life easier. So if you have a lot of (mostly) technical experience, you need to really reset your mindset for this exam!

Good luck to everyone!


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