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How Jay B. Cracked His CISSP Exam

Romans 8:28 (NASB): And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Guys/Gals, I passed this thing June 23, 2019, and I honestly thought it was a glitch when the test ended and I saw congratulations on the paper. Truthfully, there were times I wanted to get up and walk out. But I want you all to know that although it was difficult, it was not unbearably difficult. If I can pass, anybody reading this can pass. Thank you to God, my family, to this forum and Luke.

Also thank you to Certificates. Web encryption moved from my least favorite subject to one that I’ve grown to love, and without the overall experience I never would have passed this test-- nor wanted to. Passion, focused in a proper direction leads to incredible things. Therefore, if you are reading this and think you’re the least capable, you now can say, “nope, there’s this guy Jay who passed, and I know I can do it.”

FYI I am not technical, I simply followed the method that many others here have used. I took as many test questions as I could find (at least 5000 but in all actuality if you add up the number of times taking retests or the same questions it must have been many, many more). I read, watched, studied, read more, tested more, changed my schedule and sacrificed a lot of time. Time is the factor, put the time in. Passed the test, the secret is timing, it is not your vast inherent technical knowledge.

McGraw Hill Practice Tests (this is the best and was my 5-6:30am every single day for the two weeks leading up to the exam)

5 complete Boson tests ($84.00)

Kelly Handerhan 14 hour? CISSP video

Kelly Handerhan “Why you will pass” (like 5 times)

Luke’s Study Notes and Theory Practice tests (I did A through K) I cannot thank Luke for his time compiling all of the videos and documents together. It is worth every penny, worth it most of all for the therapy, I’m not kidding. Thanks Brother.

Official Study Guide (read cover to cover once) did ALL practice tests on paper

Official Practice Test book (all tests on paper) Official CBK (read some of it, used for reference but I did all practice tests)

11th hour CISSP (only 200 pages read it the week before the test)

Pocket Pro CISSP app (bought the 700 question pack—sometimes 10 q’s at a time, sometimes 50, but over a month or two with this thing)

Sunflower PDF printed and looked at every day (was at my desk and all the way to the exam parking lot)

All CISSP IT Dojo Questions on YouTube

Did not use or review Shon Harris book or tests

CCCure test

Longer Story Below I have been in the world of Cybersecurity Risk Management since June 2018. Honestly, it’s my dream job—getting to quantify the loss exposure of various types of cyber events using statistical analysis, working with SMEs and loss data, looking at controls, vulnerabilities, threat actors, etc. is truly awesome. One problem, I really have no clue what I am doing.

Getting onto the team, our boss made it known that he wanted all the staff to earn the CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional. Doing my best to look like the eager new staff member, I scheduled the test a month in advance (that’s enough time right—it’s just a test). The company paid for the test, the official study guide, practice test book and CCSP CBK. It came with the Wiley online portal and I started hitting practice test questions every day, maybe a couple hundred a day.

I sped through the official study guide and did some of the questions in the practice test book. I felt pretty good. A couple weeks before the test I found an installer with more CCSP practice questions and read a few chapters in the CCSP CBK. Finally test day came, felt pretty good. My first “cert” test, I was going to crush this thing. It was Saturday at 4:00pm. Went through the whole deal… palm scan, they took my picture—I had a big stupid grin on my face. After all the body searches and scans I sit down in front of the screen, hit start and read the first question.

And I think, what the h is this? Ok flag this one… next. Next question, same thing, flag. Third question, flag. Uh oh, what is going on here? I flagged 60-70% of the questions! By the time I got to hour two I was angry, frustrated, and tired. I still had 45+ minutes but I was so drained

I hit submit.

Now I walk out, and sit down in front of the reception desk. The receptionist hands me the paper. And it says, we’re sorry but you didn’t pass. My eyes are huge, how in the world could this have happened?? I got a 669, the equivalent of answering maybe 5 or 6 questions incorrectly. My worst Domain was #5 Operations. What was that domain, I didn’t even remember! I was the one who was totally crushed and went home, called my boss, his reaction was typical. Why would you schedule this test a month after you joined the team, and only a month after actually being in cyber security? I felt terrible! The worst part… I had to wait 90 days to retest.

Man what a punch in the gut, but I deserved it. The next day I opened the CBK and read through domain 5 again. I knew nothing, literally nothing. And that was my mistake. I did not understand the material, I glazed over it, scanned it, who knows if I even looked at it. In the 90 days after I failed I studied Domain 5 non-stop in every available outlet I could. When October came, and I took the test again, I still felt like I was flagging questions but because I built up my weakness (and remembered to take a break halfway through and brought a coffee and snacks to put in the locker…), I passed this thing.

Onto the CISSP. I took a few months’ break and committed to a date and also making sure I did not repeat past mistakes. I scheduled the test six months in advance and progressively upped my study time as I got closer to the test. The few weeks before the test I was up at 5:00am every day going over what I felt was my weakness and taking additional practice tests. At night was the same. You don’t have to know everything down to the innermost detail, but when you look at the Sunflower PDF there should be nothing on that list that makes you say “I absolutely don’t know anything about this.” Put the time in, watch the videos, read the books, take the tests, lean on your support, and you WILL PASS.


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