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How Faizan Cracked His CISSP Exam

"Previously, they had 10 domains, now they have 8." This was the first sentence I ever heard about CISSP in my life. Two guys in one of my projects were discussing about CISSP, I began asking them about it and they started narrating CISSP studies as if they were narrating a horror story to give me nightmares. But fortunately, as I really love challenges in studies, I began searching ISC2 website to learn about this Blue Whale, yeah it is huge enough to be called one but beautiful too. The inputs provided by the guys on forum forced me to start studying for it.

Reference Materials:

Sybex 7th Edition CISSP Official Study Guide, Hard Copy and EBook - Cover to Cover except those ISBN and publication details

Shon Harris AIO - Just for random reference of some topics

Sybex Official Practice Tests

Eric Conrad - Just a glimpse

Random Youtube Videos

My Journey:

My sweet Sybex was delivered to me on Nov 14, 2016. I began exploring it on the very first day, and the material inside the book got me drooling as I had studied some part of what I had randomly observed in book except some scary names like Lapadula. Two squares were the most important in my journey, ISC2 and Ahmed2. This Ahmed2, Luke Ahmed and Ahmed Khatib, were actually the fuel in my CISSP car. Luke's Facebook group and Ahmed's Whatsapp which was later converted to Telegram after Security Assessment, lol. These two groups were my bread and butter. I was mostly a lurker in Facebook group but was crazily active in Telegram. The active members in both the groups are gems, they help others in their studies, boost their confidence, share legal materials, mnemonics, mindmaps and ideas.

I am fortunate that I befriended some real geeks from these groups. The owner of these 2 groups are masters of Information Security. Always ready to help. All thanks to Ahmed2.

I took 45 days to complete Sybex cover to cover. I was fast in some topics and slow in some. I used to randomly read about the topics for more clarification on Internet. I used to watch some random Youtube videos for understanding a concept more deeply. I regularly participated in discussions and QnA sessions in Telegram group which gave me a real confidence that I can sit for exam soon. I would say that the material available in Sybex is enough for you to prepare for exam as it covers all the concepts you require. Referring to other materials can give you an extra leg but Sybex is enough as per my opinion.

It rains rarely in Saudi Arabia and unfortunately, it rained few weeks before my exam. I stay on the top floor and my roof is weak. Water was frequently falling from the roof which got my books and my whiteboard drenched. After rain was over, the white plaster of my wall started leaking in particles and I was sitting under it as if I am enjoying snow rain. I postponed my exam once because of projects, and to my surprise I was sent to another project just the same week when my exam was scheduled. My in laws came from India this week and I was roaming around with them while the Blue Whale was watching me. The last days were very tough for me to actually decide if I can sit for the exam or not. But I couldn't postpone my exam, I didn't want to feel like a coward, lol.

Exam Day:

I was scared like anything, I slept only for 2 hours in night, I got up from my bed at random intervals and was thinking if I could postpone the exam. My head was spinning because of improper sleep. I did not drive my car that day as I may not be in a state to drive while returning, lol.

My wife was awake too, praying for me, she slept just for an hour, she got up and cooked breakfast for me and packed food for me. She was continuously boosting my confidence and was reminding me to call her first informing about my success. I reached exam hall before an hour and completed all the formalities. The lady asked me if I want to start my exam earlier and I agreed. I had already read NDA, so I began my exam.

The initial questions were lovely unlike what people had told me that initials are brutal. I was confident about initial 14 to 20 questions that they were all correctly marked. I kept on flagging many questions just to give them a second eye. I was very quick in selecting answers and I clicked 122 in 58 mins.

Then came the questions which shook the earth beneath me as they were ruthlessly framed. No, they were not tough, people lie that exam is tough. These questions will make you to think, if you are not a good thinker, CISSP is not for you. You will definitely get the answer if you have studied the topic of question at least once in your biological life. After completing the remaining questions, only an hour was left for me to review the answers. I changed some answers, couldn't complete all the flagged questions as it is difficult to identify the wounded parts of a Blue Whale in an hour.

Thats it. Only 53 secs left, I left the mouse and began praying to God. I clicked on End Exam, I could hear that Krrrrrrrrr sound of the printer printing my result. Yes, I know that krrrr sound when you withdraw your salary comforts you but trust me this was not the same. The lady at the reception was emotionless, she was concerned about her erasable board and marker and not me about my career. She took my result and placed it on photocopy machine and I was trying to see what is it, I could see "congratulations" with my squinted eye when she picked the copy and the first thing I said was "God is Great, praise be to Him alone (Alhamdulillah)." I went to the prayer mat, prostrated and thanked God and informed my wife first as the poor girl couldn't even sleep.

Exam Tips:

Read the official book completely. This book comes along with an e-copy and an online access to 4 sets of bonus exam and chapter wise tests, these chapter-wise tests has same questions printed at the end of every chapter in hardcopy. Purchase Official Practice Tests and practice all the questions well, see your weak areas and read about them. You might have seen that people say CONCEPTS are the key to pass. Let me make it very simple for you.

You should know the basics about each and every topic, these basics will make you ready to answer any questions associated to it. Exam may ask you few technical questions but it is basically about the basics.

You should know when to go for documentation and when to go for resolution. You should know what a Custodian would do and what management would do. You should know what is the meaning of Corrective and Deterrent controls rather than the mechanics involved in them. That's it, study the basics well and the certificate is yours. Also, make sure you get a good sleep before exam day.

Make sure you eat something healthy and not something heavy. Make sure you have taken blessings from your parents. Do not panic, majority of those who have passed thought they failed but they were successful and so will you be!


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