Just thought that writing about my experience with CISSP would help someone in this forum (I have not been an active member, but read through most of the stuff posted here in the past month...it really helped me in someway or the other. Thanks a lot to everyone in this community).
For my preparation, I used only the Sybex book and took few practice tests from their practice questions bank. My preparation was predominantly only in the last 15 days. I have 3 years of total work experience. And this is my 1st attempt.
- Telling this because it is completely okay to prepare the way you want to, irrespective of what others do: number of books you read from, the tests you take, you chose to or not to watch videos, or the number of months you spend in preparation. Everyone has their own phase. Just stick to it. Don't doubt or question your method when someone could crack it with so little or so much more work than what you have put in.
Few points I would like it tell. Might or might not be right.
- Identify what works best for you (if I had to study for 2 hours everyday for continuous 6 months, i would have definitely flunked. 15 day full shot preparation might not help everyone).
- Identify one good book that would suit you, and believe everything it says. In case you don't understand a particular concept it explains, refer to something else. The goal in exam perspective is to get a good understanding of every topic covered. And from my experience, I truly feel 1 book would just do it.
- Don't ever think of the results while writing the exam. It is not going to make anything better. If it could do anything, it'll just make things worse for you.
- Focus one question at a time. And read the question again and again to understand what they are asking, even before you go to the options part. - irrespective of what goes wrong in the exam hall, always keep your cool (in the end of my 2nd hour, my system came up with a brilliant idea to automatically reboot!!! It took the technicians 20 mins to fix, while the clock was still ticking. I was not told if I would be able to resume from where I left - I could. If I had freaked out at that point, I'm not sure if I would have got the results I have in my hand now)
- Take plenty of breaks. As many breaks as you want to keep you focused. Sleep for few mins if that's required. This is a 6 hours (!!!!!) Long exam, so, chill! You have got plenty of time. Unless you are super talented and the 1st question and 40th question you take can be answered with the same efficiency, then probably you don't need breaks. (I took break for every 25 questions. Slept for few minutes, twice)
- There are few questions you might have no idea about. Like you might even wonder if it is anyway related to the smallest topic you have read during the preparation. And it is completely okay!! (I had like around 10 questions like that)
-By the time you come back to review, you might probably be already exhausted. Try to make the best possible guess while answering it the first time. And if you are changing it during review, do so only if you have a strong justification (I did not review. By the time I completed the 250 questions, it already felt like I had completed a full marathon. And in that condition, I was no way prepared for another review round. But i did plan to review. I had flagged around 90 questions)
My final point and something I strongly believe in - Technical skills are required. But equally, or even more, sharpen your language skills. That will really help you crack exams like these (though that's not fair). I know some really good technical people (my knowledge with respect to CISSP syllabus is nothing when compared to them) who have such sound technical knowledge but were not able to crack this exam. There could be many reasons, but one strong reason I could think of, is the command over the language - probably they did not understand what is the ask or what the answer states. Do give equal importance to work on it.
Hope this would help someone out there!! All the best guys