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How Gaurav Cracked His CISSP Exam

How I Cracked CISSP

Background Let me start with my experience in this field as I think this exam specifically tests you what you have learnt over the years instead of how many practice questions you have done in last few weeks or month.

Ok! I have 16 years of ground up IT experience. I started from very initial positions where I used to assemble computers and layout new cables (BNC and RJ45 connections) .

Thanks to Sandeep he helped me assemble my first home computer and also told me how to make cross cables and use clamping tool. Then I moved into software development and gradually moved to Project management. I started managing software development project and finally moved in Infrastructure Projects. During all this wihile I earned MCP, ITIL, PMP and CISA certifications.

Failed Story 4 Yrs ago I planned to go for CISSP that time I made following mistakes :

1. I asked my peers who are willing to go for this exam and waited for them to start with me and of course nobody started.

2. I opened Shon Harris and stunned myself with so much content to go in one shot.

3. I did not find such excellent group. I will tell you how this group helped till the last week of my exam. At that time I shut the books and thought this exam is not for me.

Wakeup Time Then recently I realized it has been long time I have done any certification and to gauge myself where do I stand in IT.

Sometimes you don’t do certifications to change jobs or gain salary hike ( they come automatically) but your main objective would be to prove yourself that you have at least this much of minimum knowledge. In the month of Feb’16, I came back to this exam but this time I did following :

1. I did not ask my peers or wait for them to make study group.

2. I looked for Study Group over Facebook like this one. This group gave me assurance every day that I can do it. This group also helped me find the direction for studies. Due to this group only, just few weeks before the exam I got to know that ISC2 official Practice tests have been launched. Since book was not available in India and was taking long time to come from Amazon.Comso I had to go for Kindle addition. But this was worth spending money. Again through this group only 3 days before the exam I came to know even Kindle purchases are eligible for Online Exam Simulator that comes with this books ( which is best exam simulator).

3. I joined a quick bootcamp to go over all the domain in one shot. Deepak Chopra (Thanks!! ) helped me with this . Since most of us are working and family commitments, we hardly get regular dedicated time to concentrate on studies. This camp helped me to go over all domains and gave me idea where do I stand so that I could evaluate myself in terms of how many months of study do I need.

My plan is KISS (Keep it Simple and Straight) because

1. At first, I evaluated myself and planned to look at all domains high level

2. I did not start with Shon Harris this time but used Sybex 7th Edition. Shon Harris has too much content and as they mention that book does not focuses ONLY on exam but be should be taken as reference manual. Sybex is to the point (sometimes less).

3. I had to go back to Shon Harris for couple of topics (Cryptography and Telecom) that need more elaboration

4. I completed Sybex once and looked towards Shon for topic where I needed more details

5. During all this while I was attempting Sybex Questions and closely following this group as well. So on one side I was sticking to domain practice and revision and on the other side this group was helping me with overall understanding (shooting questions left , right and center)

6. I took 1 week off from Office before the exam so that I can think and live in CISSP world only. This is when I actually prepared. With job I was hardly getting 2hrs a day but in the last week I made sure to devote 6-7 hrs a day

7. I did not do many questions and moreover I did only 1 set of 250questions that too initially when I was thinking about this exam. I could not complete all ISC2 Practice Tests as well becasue I got it last minute

8. I resort to focus on concepts from Sybex and Shon Harris (in some cases)

Consolidate what you have gained in your real life experience. May be every night before you go to sleep

I would recommend :

1. Sybex 7th edition

2. ISC2 Practice Tests

3. Shon Harris for Topics that need more details

4. AND follow this group very, very closely. I told you how this group helped me till the last minute

5. Fix the date (schedule the exam) and then things will start to fall in line. It gives you REAL focus

6, Focus on BCP/DRP , SDLC, Cloud , attacks, VPN (of course it does not mean you don’t study other topics. Exam is huge it will cover everything).

Mistake That Turned into a Blessing!!

2 months ago When I was scheduling the exam I wanted to book for 28th Aug but by mistake, I selected 28th Jul. I knew I could change it 24hrs prior to the exam. One month is huge difference but I took this as new baseline and started preparing considering this date and kept saying myself that I will give best shot for 28th Jul BUT review my stand on 26th Jul.

On 26th I asked myself would it make any difference if I move the exam. I got the answer NO because I will just be doing my practice questions and I am sure none of them will come in the exam. Topics I already covered by this time.

SO I finally went for the exam.

It is TOUGH and check you for your overall knowledge.

BUT it is the excitement and feeling that should push you to do this exam. I am sure if you are positive and have dedication then you will clear.

That’s all it takes.

Big Thanks to Monica Rustogi, my wife , who has more confidence in me than what I had for myself. Thanks to Sundeep for helping me in my early years and this great group !!

I am here always if I can be of any help to anyone.

Exam Day Tips

1. Do not bring any notebook/paper for writing, center should provide that.

2. Many people would recommend to take break after short intervals. It is entirely up to your stamina and the speed with which you complete initial 50 questions. In my case I was very slow with initial 50 questions …so slow that for remaining 200 questions I was having less than 1min. Per question. I chose to complete whole exam without break … It was completed in 5hrs and I got enough time to relax and review the marked for review questions.

3. Try to mark less questions for review later and once you are done with response in the first cycle do not go over them again chances are too much thinking might ruin the earlier correct response as well. I kept it under 15.

4. Once exam starts, you can take few minutes and note down your hints on the paper… Like OSI/TCP IP layers…. which app or device works at which layer .

5. Once exam starts it might give you feeling that you have forgotten everything that’s actually the point of make n break …RELAX yourself tell yourself you can do it and there is no harm marking initial questions for review because you are settling down this time chances of error are more.

6. Exam doesn’t test you ONLY for the knowledge you have gained during last few months of preparation… It might ask question which will be mostly related to your work and the way you handled that situation.

7. Drag n Drop questions will be easy you just need to focus on the sequence once you are done with answer . Do not put them in review because chances are high that order must be right in the first attempt.

8. Wear relaxed clothing after all it’s not a date ….I wore TShirt shorts and slippers. You are not supposed to be very formally dressed up.

9. Pass or Fail printout will come as soon as you are done with exam but depending upon the time zone, official email might not come the same day . In my case, India, it came next day.

10. Relax and Go for it… Good luck !!!


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