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How Gagan Cracked His CISSP Exam

Hi Everyone, I hope you’re well. Having cleared the CISSP few weeks back, I thought of sharing my journey with you all hoping it’ll help a few aspirants in some shape or form.

My journey started when CV-19 kicked in and the WFH became a new normal. Having worked in Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) – assessing, monitoring, and managing risk exposures, performing due diligence and compliance monitoring, supporting risk mitigations, and managing specific risk factors that posed greater threats to the organization – I decided to upskill myself and take the path of self-learning.

I started with Security+ and cleared it on my first attempt in Sept’20. That gave me the courage to gear up for CISSP. I started by reading the Sybex OSG followed by the CISSP All-In-One Exam Guide, cover to cover. I wasn’t doing well on practice questions and felt like I wasn’t ready.

I subscribed for Luke’s Subscription 6 Months straight and that was a game changer. I now had a good hold on weaker concepts and in-depth insights to some of the most difficult topics. Booked the test for 17th Nov’21 – went all the way to 150th Question but failed.

Absolutely dejected and unsure what to do – I reached out to Luke to share the results. He kept me optimistic and said I must have done well having reached so far in the test. He asked me to take it easy for few weeks and bounce back. This was a deciding moment – where I could have easily given up. But reading the failure to success stories (filled with optimistic attitude) on Study Notes and Theory FB group – kept me motivated.

Yet another curve-ball. Among all this, I happen to migrate from India to Canada in Dec’21 having got the PR. I informed Luke about it and promised that I’ll commit to my plan irrespective of this transition.

Studied for (x4 months straight) and gave the exam on 30th Apr’22. The moment I saw “Congratulations” – that feeling was surreal. Picked up my phone and immediately texted Luke. Called my family who supported me in achieving this goal, particularly my wife “Param” who kept infusing faith and belief.

Two cents from me on how I prepared for the exam: (This in general was my flavor of the day and mood of the month!!)

- Daily read 10 Pages of CISSP book (be it OSG or AIO)

- Did about 50 Practice Questions daily and revisited the wrong ones and went back to books/other resources to cement the concepts.

- Spent time reading few NIST documents (esp. the ones listed on SNT)

- Coffee Shot’s from Prabh Nair and Destination Certification Videos were on my playlist (be it at home or while driving)

- Last but not the least - I made neat handwritten notes which helped me summarize all that I studied in weeks and months. It acts as a token to access your knowledge bank. Don’t give up. As they say - “The harder the battle the sweeter the victory”. Best of luck and good wishes to all the CISSP aspirants out there!


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