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How Muhammad Cracked His CISSP Exam

Hi Guys,

My name is Muhammad Awais and I provisionally passed CISSP exam on 10th Jan. 2019 (maybe the Jan. the 10th is a lucky date for me because 3 years back I cleared my CCIE exam on same date as well) and I am writing this to let all CISSP aspirants to know how I cracked it.

It all started after my job change which got me responsible for PCI compliance as we were hosting payment gateway solution and had to re-certify annually with a lot of internal/external audits too.

So I just dived deep in information security field and decided to go for CISSP to complement my job responsibilities. My first step was buying Sybex 8th edition approx. mid of August 18 and immediately I started reading it. Quite frankly, I got bored in couple of days as I am from technical background but then I started setting tactical goals for me and the most important one was reading 50 pages of Sybex 8th edition daily (with some exceptions) at any cost and it gave me a direction and interest as well to achieve that goal.

So ultimately, I completed Sybex within 2 months cover to cover and then I changed my strategy a little bit and started reading Eric Conrad CISSP Study guide (3rd edition) with a daily goal of 50 practice questions per day. Till that time, as I already read Sybex, I was pretty much comfortable with CISSP jargon. It was relatively easy for me to grasp contents of Eric Conrad and in parallel I started looking for my weakness in practice questions by referring to wrong answers and handwriting the concepts which I got wrong. My second strategy went with me till 9th of January 2019 and transformed me in achieving below results:

Books I read during my 5 months journey to CISSP:

  • Sybex 8th edition (1 x time cover to cover and multiple times to cover important topics)

  • Eric Conrad CISSP Study guide 3rd edition (1 x times)

  • Eric Conrad 11th hour CISSP 3rd edition (2 x time)

  • I tried going through mind maps and sunflower study guide but I liked my handwritten notes more and focused on them instead

  • Cybrary CISSP introduction videos of Kelly (a must watch to align you with CISSP mindset)

  • Practice questions:

  • Official ISC square practice questions (good for testing your memory)

  • Mcgraw Hill online practice questions (good for testing your memory and some concepts)

  • Cccure membership practice questions (good for testing your memory)

  • Luke ahmed membership practice questions (really helpful and give you real exam feel)

So collectively, I just covered 5000+ practice questions and 600+ study hours in around 05 months (3-4 hours a day) to CISSP by sacrificing quality family time and gym time too but all is well which ends well.


Time management is really important which is often neglected. Please start your exam with worst case scenario: which is that you are going to face all 150 questions. Fix your goal of solving 25 questions within half hour and don’t lose hope if you are going above 120 questions as I faced complete 150 questions and still passed.

NOTE: My advice to all the aspirants is to study Sybex cover to cover at least 02 times and frequently do practice questions and when you feel you are prepared, go for Luke membership questions which will give you a necessary setback and streamline your direction. Then again study for a month and test yourself again with Luke membership questions and go straight towards your glory #CISSP.


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