How Nataraj Cracked His CISSP Exam.


I started studying on Feb 6th 2017.

About 5-6 hours on most days - 6 days a week. I started off with Sybex official ISC2 book. It took me 25 days to complete the book end-to-end. I took about 150 pages of notes during this process. After about 4 domains I started forgetting domain 1, and I had to go back and refresh from domain 1 - the revision took about 3 days.

After completing each chapter I took the end of chapter tests, went back and studied topics that i got wrong. I also used the Shon Harris book to learn concepts that i did not understand from Sybex.

After my first round of learning I started taking tests from Shon Harris - 7th Edition and the ISC2 official guide to CISSP CBK - 4th Edition. I found that Shon Harris was going too much in depth into topics. The ISC2 official guide to CISSP CBK - 4th Edition is the WORST book you can read. If I had started with that book I would have quit studying long back. Anyway, I decided to get some practice questions from cccure.org (Freepracticetests) I took the paid membership and started taking tests (about 250 questions every day) and also kept revising my notes every day.

I feel that CCCure is good only in one thing - they explain all answers and why an answer is wrong. A lot of questions are outdated (like TCSec) and there are far too many questions from Domain 4. I would not recommend cccure - practice tests as its just not worth the money. However, I completed all the questions in cccure. I heard of the Sybex online tests (http://sybextestbanks.wiley.com/) from Luke's Facebook page and gave it a shot - Loved it.

Except for some timeout issues it’s the best (and its free). This along with the Sybex official question bank were really what helped me pass the exam. They are the closest thing to the actual exam. Also saw cissp videos from Lynda.com – this is really good. The author demonstrates various attacks which gives a better grasp of concepts. Besides this, I regularly checked Luke's page for questions and tried answering them - they were really good. Also made sure I read other people's experience and study plans which gave me the confidence. Finally I booked the exam 10 days before - I realized that this was a mistake as I started getting really nervous and almost postponed the exam. Though I had prepared well, it felt like I didn't know anything. Finally on the day before the exam, read Sybex book line by line - all important and weak topics. Went to sleep early, got a good 8 hour sleep and went for the exam. Started the exam at 9AM and found that the questions were not as hard as i had imagined. But it took me 5 hours to complete the 250 questions with 65 flagged questions - took just a 2 minute break for a glass of water. Completed reviewing the flagged items, made a few changes and submitted the exam 3 seconds before the 360 minute limit. I was very nervous as I have seen many people fail with 690+ and I honestly thought I would fail with 698 marks. I was tired, every inch of my body hurt and I was hungry. But, as I was handed the sheet that said "Congratulations" I felt rejuvenated and full of energy, only a few times in my life have I been so happy before. 100 days of hard work has paid off finally. First I would like to thank my wife and 18 month old for putting up with my eccentricity during this period and their prayers. Next, to Luke Ahmed for this wonderful group. My advice for your preparation: • Be clear with concepts – all of them. If you have difficulty understanding a concept - look for videos on youtube or refer wikipedia. Do not memorize it. • Focus on process flows, you do not have to memorize the heading if each process, instead you should understand the flow. This is very important (Eg., BCP, Risk assessment, SDLC, Threat modeling etc.,) • Pick one book and stick to it. Different books have different terminologies, eg., for each step in SDLC - sybex and Shon books have different headings. But if read them both the concept is the same. Do not worry about the headings or memorizing it. Instead understand the flow. • Revise, revise and revise every day. Good luck !!

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