Believe in yourself! Never Give Up!
I am proud to say that I have provisionally passed my CISSP exam today at 175 questions which took a little over 2 hours and am officially an associate of ISC 2 . The exam was grueling and of end-game raid boss difficulty. I felt like I had fully utilized all my braincells at the end of it, no joke.
I was from a non-IT background, and only decided to pursue Cybersecurity out of interest. I broke into the Cyber industry as a SOC Analyst in a small firm and followed by a couple of stints in Cybersecurity Engineering (related to managing security tools EDR, Threat Feeds, SIEM) for bigger companies, currently am on my 3rd year in Cybersecurity industry as a consultant role.
Tips & Advice for preparing for the exam
Trust in the process. It is really important to find the genre of studying that suits you because it really matters! I am those who hates reading books which is ironic because I am a really fast reader as you can tell from the time, I took to finish the full exam. So, videos were my go-to for my 8 weeks of intense preparation but I still read the official study guide cover to cover 2 times (REALLY IMPORTANT!).
Took the leap of faith to sign up for Luke’s 3-months subscription which was probably the best investment ever. Other video resources were Cybrary Kelly Handerhan, Youtube Inside Cloud and Security - Pete Zerger’s CISSP course, Youtube Destination Certification Domain 1-8 playlist (Best Video playlist for last 1-2 weeks before examination). Try not to have too many resources, ultimately it depends really on your preparation time you catered for yourself.
Luke’s videos were well-explained and gave many examples, which was key to me understanding the scenarios presented during the actual exam as this is the whole point of the CISSP and why more experienced cybersecurity professionals are able to ace this examination as compared to those without. It puts you in a CISO’s or Cybersecurity Manager’s situation 125-175 times within those 4 hours. Luke’s questions may seem agonizingly challenging sometimes but they contribute immensely to my success story, they train you to adopt the CISSP mindset, drive your brains to think about the logic behind the answers and of course read carefully (important skill in the examination).
Rinse & Repeat! Best way to prepare for CISSP is to do practice questions, reinforce your weak points/domain/knowledge and repeat. Remember CISSP is a mindset so you have to build on it! I chose to focused only on Luke’s questions and a small portion of Boson’s questions (The latter is only useful at reinforcing technical concepts IMO but not the mindset intended for the exam).
Exam day Tips
Pace yourself especially at the start, do not rush. You have ample time to finish the examination at a comfortable pace. There is a psychological element in this examination not often discussed especially when you start answering pass the 125th question and the examination does not end for you. Learn how to focus and block out your anxiety and negative emotions effectively. You need to have good emotion management because there will be times you will doubt yourself even if you have the right answer. These are the moments you need to be critical and precise in order to pass. Do not start doubting yourself till you have collected your results slip, since you have prepared for the past n number of months and you had put in the hard work! Hope this helps anyone cause if I (someone who is really new to both IT & Cyber) can do it, you definitely can too! Believe in yourself!
Never Give Up!