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How John F. Cracked His CISSP Exam

Good day Ladies and Gentlemen,

(ISC Guidelines 1, 2.1, and 2.2 observed for this post).

Note: Anything that I can disclose is disclosed here in this standardized test.

After 8 months and two tries, I passed my CISSP today. I have seen the post here on what people used as their resources and want to take it one step further by providing my background and profile.

Myself: Ex-Military, Network and Software Test Engineer, PMP (first try), and Sec+ (first try)

Undergrad in Information Systems Management

Part-time grad student in Information Systems Engineer

My initial exposure to IT is asset control, wire tracing, and TCP/IP pipeline troubleshooting. Within these past three years, I expanded to firewalls and Risk Management Framework. I started this in January 2018 and on/off I have been at this for four months for 3-4 hours a weekday and 6-8 hours on weekend. I reached a point where I had no idea what else to study and my Semester was restarting. I decided to take the exam and get a feel for the test, and I was overly confident since I passed my previous two certs on the first try.

My first exam, I came in around 60% with pseudo weight scoring:

Below = 1, Near = 2, and Above = 3.

Security and Risk Management: Below proficiency

Comms and Network Security: Below proficiency

Sec Ops: Below proficiency

Security Assessment: Below proficiency

ID and Access Management: Near proficiency

Asset Security: Near proficiency

Software Engineer: Near proficiency

Security Engineer: Above Proficiency

As a person who works in Network and had a PMP, I was shocked that I had below proficiency in those two categories.

The first exam I prepared by reading and creating my own flash cards using the famous two books: All-in-One Shon Harris and Sybex’s CISSP 7th Edition. Also, I listened and watched two different series of lectures from CBT Nuggets and Cybrary.

After I failed my first exam, I took a break from CISSP to refocus on my Masters. Took the Summer off to get back in the CISSP studying. This time I started with a study sheet called the SunFlower by Marteen de Frankrijker, Christina Reina, and Steve Warnock to focus in.

After the first round of flashing carding the SunFlower, I started to cycle between CCCure’s Test Engine and the SunFlower to identify for keywords associated with the definition and the test questions.

A few extra things I did to prepare for the exam:

Self-confidence: I had self-doubts as the exam drew closer on the second time. I decided to go Star Wars on my mantra, “I am one with the CISSP, the CISSP is within me.” Whether pass or fail, I was going to get a good laugh out of it. Even in the middle of the test, when I was losing focus. I still took a breather and recited my mantra.

Keep studying until two days before the exam, keep the study light a day before. Make yourself tired to ensure you get 8 hours of sleep both two days before your exam. Those days sucked since I am a heavy coffee drinker. Take the exam as close to when you wake up as possible. Studies shows you want to take difficult tasks earlier in your day as possible. As a person who took the test twice, the three hours was gruesome.

Lastly, pace yourself. Assuming you knock out a question per minute, that leaves you 10 mins for a break per hour. This is a self-break scheduled test, which means the counter is still running even if you go to the bathroom. Light breakfast and a small cup of coffee, dump out your system before you walk into the testing area.

I will say that I am more relieved of the fact that I don’t have to worry about this test anymore and can go back to my grad studies without distraction. So now, I have to wait until ISC^2 finish reviewing my test and wonder if they should pass the guy who flipped off the monitor multiple times.

I hope this helps all our future CISSP Brothers and Sisters. Look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Update If you pass, take the next two days off. I went to go workout and everything to make myself tired. Couldn't fall asleep until 3 am


John F., PMP


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