Hello CISSP Aspirants – As promised here is my CISSP Journey experience!!!
CISSP, wow what a great certification!!! I was happy to know the value of it around 2016 but never really thought or put in my effort to achieve it, as the days passed on, got busy with my profession & as usual with my family. My kid was born during the same time and as you know my full energy was with my family, kid & of course with my profession.
As years moved on, my kid started to grow up & I achieved milestones in my career. Now that during this COVID-19 unprecedented situations I have been hearing sad news everywhere, as this is out of everyone’s control. I was thinking how I can better utilize this time of being house arrest :) in an optimist way. That’s when I decided to start the CISSP game. I set forth the goal to complete the CISSP in 3 months.
I started during April 3rd week (2020),decided to sit once for all & with my great effort, hard work & sacrifices, successfully cleared my CISSP.
I must admit my Wife & Kid (3+ years) were so much supportive, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.
To Set My Mind for CISSP- What DO I NEED? 1) Dedication - I mean even on weekends you need to stick with your study plan - “Get up early at 4 AM or 5AM even on Saturdays & Sundays”.
2) Perseverance - Any difficulty that crosses your way during the CISSP journey you need to ensure you come over it or compensate the study hours by adjusting your routine schedule or stretch your day to achieve your day & goal.
Please understand we all live in a very dynamic world, meaning we may not be able to follow the CISSP preparation plan but it is most important that how you find alternate ways to come over it, and this is where you are unique and stand out of crowd.
Definitely there is a way to achieve this CISSP. It’s just that how we play the game in our unique way!! That matters the most.
3) Keep yourselves Honest & BEAWARE - CISSP is not easy to achieve it is difficult , hard, tough, but 100% POSSIBLE POSSIBLE POSSIBLE!! Just plan right, be ready to sacrifice your personal time, social time, your hobbies etc. Talk to your families and ensure you have their buy in before you start your Journey.
Let’s jump to my study plan: High Level Plan First and foremost decide the duration of your CISSP preparation - like 3 months,6 months etc. - I chose to complete in 3 months
Prepare a solid study plan. Prepare a schedule as per your overall study plan (like 3 months or 6 months) divide the time as per your convenience, family time, work time etc.
Choose one base resource(study book) to stick with plan and use other resources like Shon Harris, CBK for reference Stick with your study plan on daily basis
Book your exam in the beginning- VERY VERY VERY Important. Highly recommended, this is internal motivation as you have paid your money!!
Parallelly start with your practice questions daily
Parallelly join the great study communities like Study Notes and Theory, Thor's (Discord), Wentz Wu
Clear all your doubts & question at once - NEVER EVER SKIP them or push them to next day!!
BE relaxed, take good rest the day before the Exam, Be fresh on the exam day
Just knock out the CISSP exam and Get the “Congratulation” result and have a blast celebration :) :) Deep Dive of the above plan:
1) Study Resource : I decided to select the book that I wanted to start with, after all my researches, suggestions I later finalized to go with Sybex 8th edition. Then I went with Eric Conrods 11th hour for final revision before exam. Sybex 8th Editions: studied cover to cover 3 times
Eric Conrad 11th hour: Cover to cover just one week before the exam. Very powerful revision towards end of your preparation
2) Study Schedule : I spent good amount of time reading almost 45+ success stories to understand how individuals carried their success stories to crack this tough Journey. I learned a lot, there is no one rule to success. Since we all know ourselves well, as I do, I started to
Prepare the solid study plan based on my family situations, work timings & other criteria. I’m strong and comfortable to study during late evenings after my work timings, that’s my way I'm a night owl, late rider, I love the silence during the night - very calm, whole world is silent which seems perfect time to stay focused
Prepared My study schedule: Study every day from 8PM to 3AM, Completed 2 domains per week. Any time any concept that was tough or not clear I don't glance over or skip or plan to come later- NO NO NO never done that - Any time any concept you don’t understand get that straight and clear.
I used search engines, watched lot of you tube videos, took help from various study communities like:
Study Notes and Theory
I made sure I get my concepts clear before I move on to next. I personally know lot of people who skim over the concepts which they don’t understand and those are the ones which will appear on exam !! ha ha ha that's life & that’s reality to be honest :)
3) What unique approach helped me crack CISSP? As everyone, when I was working through my initial study plan, I decided to do at least 50 -100 practice question everyday (mostly from the same domains that I study)from the day one. This way the concepts were fresh, I was able to judge the effectiveness of my study plan. This helped to weigh my preparations. Another advantage, you also practice getting the feel of exam/questions/starting to get in to the CISSP world of questions like - MOST,Least,First,etc.
From the day 1 this worked in an awesome way and gave a bigger benefit and added to my study plan. Try this!!
When I go to bed at 3AM I spend 30-40min on bed recalling all the concepts I studied, I tell myself all that I learned and whatever I forget, I revise them or study them the next day without fail. I did this every day, “Don't try to remember the exact terms, wordings of what you learned the previous day” no that’s not the idea and you will not remember all the things you studied 2 or 3 days ago, which is absolutely fine. The overall idea and goal is only to improve the memory to stay in touch of all the concepts.
4) What to concentrate while studying: Concepts, Concepts, Concepts Any topic you study, ask 3 things - 1)Why, What, How Get to the nerves of your study Clear all your doubts, questions at once. Never push them to next day What to do when your study does not clear your doubts - Reach out to CISSP communities out there, anytime I need to clear my questions and concepts I reached to study groups like
1) Studynotesandthoery CISSP Exam Preparation Facebook Group
2) Wentz Wu
3) Discord (Thor’s)
4)Telegram group etc. Post your questions and I promise there are lot of good souls out there to help your doubts, the same way when others post their questions you must participate, don’t worry whether you are correct or wrong just share your thoughts and answers- this way you help others, enrich your knowledge on the same topic when others help/answer the question- it is a great way for learning, very very very useful and effective Be an active member even after you clear your certification.
Do lot of , I mean lot of practice questions - I did 9000+ questions overall during my study time. I got lot of them correct and wrong, it’s at most important to know why you got them correct and wrong. You might have answered from your point of view and got it correct but when you read the explanation you might come over that there another perspective to the same questions!! Enriches your knowledge.
5) My source of practice questions:
Sybex questions behind every Chapter
Totalsem (5th edition & latest edition)
Exam cram Fourth editions
Boson Questions(Part A,B,C,D,E
Luke Ahmed's Study Notes and Theory Questions
Questions on Discord.com
Mobile Apps (CISSP Pocket prep, CRAM-IT, CISSP practice questions
6) How do you know you are Prepared:
Watch out to get consistent scores in all your practice questions minimum 80%. I was always scoring around 75% to 83%
Recall all your concepts when you get free time, be sure you understand the concepts solid Call up your friends if anyone preparing for CISSP and explain the concepts and if see they understand the concepts --then you are sorted
7) I have done all this, Is this enough to Pass? - Maybe, or May not be:
What more to do - One important step is to “Go beyond” - I mean study, do practice questions more & more; whenever you get time; during your break time, travel time etc. I studied during all my break time, lunch time, whenever I get free during my workday.
Never stop yourself with practicing 5000 question Go beyond, never stop with just understanding the concepts get stronger in them go beyond!! Practice lot of practice questions : Practice Makes A Man Perfect !!!!
8) What DO I Need to Do The Day Before the Exam:
REMEMBER - Take good rest the night before the Exam - VERY IMPORTANT
Exam Day Morning - Don’t stress too much. Just revise, Be Relaxed, Just glance your notes
Take Snapshots of all your notes to the Exam Hall- I Mean mind snapshots. The exam rules say that you cannot carry any hard copies of snapshots!!BUT they never say YOU CANNOT TAKE MIND snapshots into the exam hall; so do that. I did the same
9) Climax - On the Exam Day!! Now all your 3months/6months/a year long study has come to end. You are on the hot seat: Proctor makes you comfortable on the hot seat!! Exam starts........
Read thoroughly the questions minimum 2 times, deconstruct the question into multiple pieces, understand the questions very clearly coz the questions are very tricky Watch out the key words in EXAM for LEAST, MOST, FIRST, BEST. Read the answer choices minimum 2 times, one global rule eliminate the 2 wrong choices, then you will be left with 2 choices(True or False) Now match the best/most suitable answer for the question. Don't over think on the questions - You will go wrong, REMEMBER you are a RISK ADVISOR, Manager, C level executive!! You are not fixing the problem, you are suggesting the best plan of action to take
Always go with your first choice of option. Gut feeling works well!! First instinct is mostly correct.
Always pick the high-level answer which encompasses the rest of options
DO REMEMBER !! IF you are time out during the exam:You FAIL BY DEFAULT; SO NEVER EVER LET THE TIME RUN OUT. Watch out for time. DO A TIME CHECK for EVERY 25 questions to make sure you are within your exam time limit.
Take a break every 1 hour as it's a 3 hrs. stretch exam or just do what you can do sitting in the same place as - close your eyes, take a deep breath. It helped me a lot. Try this!!
IF you are towards the end of time and you are at 145th question and left only 2 min the take the best route!! BE SMART!! You will anyways cannot read the question and answer, as the time will run out so Just answer randomly and finish the exam as you are not left with any other
choice. But be on safer side to not get into this option
I was little off the time but was in better position to finish the Exam. By the way I completed my Exam on 113th questions around 2hrs:20 min
After you have done your Job - You have dedicated studied, Researched, worked hard, late long nights, sacrified all your personal time, social time, did not do any of your favorites hobbies that
you like, completed the exam on time
10) CONGRATULATION YOU HAVE PROVISIONALLY PASSED THE CISSP!!!
“If others can do, You can do this. Just be honest and give your
100% God will do the rest. Trust me on this, this is reality”