FARAZ ALI KHAN: CISSP Journey
I heard the term CISSP first time in 2007, when I was at initial stage of my career and seeking for IT certification to boost my career. But I couldn’t stand on this when I heard it’s one of the toughest exam. At that time, I thought I cannot pass this exam as I was not bright student during my school days.
With the passage of time my system administration career brought me into IT security, and once again CISSP came into my life after 10 years when one my amateur colleague passed the CISSP in first attempt. This gave me goose bump and I started my preparation with CISSP with Shon Harris 5th edition book.
1st attempt: (Study Materials used: Shon Harris 5th Edition, CCCure practice questions, Kelly Henderson Videos)
I thought I would pass this exam easily as my colleague did. Purchased CCCure subscription, see Kelly Henderson CISSP videos and went for the exam. The CAT version was newly introduced at that time. When I reached 132 question, the exam kicked me out, printout showed shocking result of fail. I feel I am weak in cryptography as I just know the definitions of them. I need broader knowledge.
2nd attempt: (Study Materials used: Sybex 7th Edition, CCCure practice questions, Sybex Practice questions)
I feel very bad and I want to take my revenge. Just focused on my weakest domain purchased which were Cryptography and Security risk management at the top and after one month sit again. This time I decided to read questions carefully and again and again. This strategy gave me slow start. I realized that I am short of time when I reached 135, its only 5 minutes left, I speed up but still on 147 exam timer stop and result was same. This time, time was my enemy.
3rd attempt: (Study Materials used: Sybex 7th Edition, Sybex Practice questions, CISSP Pocket Prep, 11th hour 2nd edition)
I was starting losing confidence. Ordered Sybex 7th edition this time. My family got frustrated as I am not giving much time to them. However, I decided this would be my last attempt whatever the result would be. Read Sybex cover to cover one time, use Shon Harris as reference. Purchased IOS app CISSP pocket prep, SNT membership and straight after 3 months sat in exam. (as I want finish this) I was ensured this time I will pass, because I was well prepared with think like a manager mindset.
But again I lost. Could not understand where I am lacking. Every time new domain become weakest.
I gave up, and decided no CISSP anymore, one of my friend suggest me to go for CISM exam. As some of the topics are relevant to CISSP. I studied one month and passed easily. I realized CISSP knowledge helped me to pass this exam easily, of course knowledge has its own value, knowledge is not destitute of certificates.
Then elections started in my country (Pakistan), The elected Prime Minister reached this position after 22 years of struggle. He has a famous quote “Never Give up”.
One day I pass through one discussion on info infosec institute website, where one guy passed the CISSP in his 8th attempt (https://community.infosecinstitute.com/discussion/131509)
These two things force me to think about my give up and once again my ambitious nature brought me into battle field again.
4th attempt: Study Materials used: Sybex 8th Edition, BOSON practice questions, Sybex Practice questions, Pocket Prep 11th hour 3rd edition (3 domains))
I decided to give hard time to CISSP, start to read Sybex once again, purchased BOSON questions SNT membership and read Eric Conrad 11th hour (only 3 domain read). My wife was also fed up because in my home, my car, my mobile everywhere I go CISSP was with me. I even didn’t waste time during bank or hospitals queues.
Two weeks before exam I woke up early at 5:00 AM, Read 11th hour, drive to office with Shon Harris mp3, after return from my work various practice questions till 10 or 11 PM. My wife also starts praying for me as my failures also depressed her. She supported me during my journey to cut friends & family gatherings. Then exam day come, I did a speedy start this time because of time shortage of my last attempt, soon I realized I did some mistakes but this is CAT format I couldn’t go back. I reached 150 questions with 15 minutes to spare but no luck. (Something still lacking)
The Last Round: Study Materials used: Sybex 8th Edition, BOSON practice questions, Sybex Practice questions, Pocket Prep 11th hour 3rd edition, Skillset practice questions and videos)
You are not just giving your time to CISSP but also need to compromise your wishes as it expensive exam plus study materials (books + memberships) are not cheap. I did the same and start again from beginning. Purchased Skillset membership this time 11th hours whole book, weakest domains in Shon Harris and completed Sybex again. Also google many stuff, IT mojo YouTube videos, Skillset question videos and many more. I spend 4-5 hours daily and double my hours on weekends. After almost three month I sit in the exam again. Before one day I pray to complete my exam at 100th question because after 100 you start to lose your confident as you know you’re below the passing line benchmark.
Now the D-day has come, I know I almost covered all the things with much broader concepts, exam begins first question was easy for me, I planned to start slow because good scoring in the beginning makes your way easy, questions was tricky but my stronger concepts makes them easy for them (think like a Manager, Rule of elimination etc).
In one hour I completed 40 questions, two hours I reached to 85, so I speed up because there were more than 50 questions in less than one hour. Suddenly my exam stopped, I realized I completed 100 questions in 2 hours 10 minutes. My confident already told me I did it this time, I collected the envelope from print station (didn’t open) went to my car and open it, the Magic word Congratulations confirmed my victory to this battle. I got my revenge of all my defeats.
The only weapon I had is determination to get this certification and hope to never give up, as only retry is the option i had. Thank you so much Luke for creating this group and which keeping motivating people, specially who gives up on their first or second try. Your Questions and videos are awesome sources which really help me to pass this exam.