Before I share my journey, I wish to express my thanks to my entire family specially my wife Priyanka Aggarwal who gave me enough time so that I could concentrate on my studies after coming back from office and on weekends. Without her it wont have been possible.
I was thinking about writing this exam starting Jan 2016 and came across this fantastic Facebook page “Study Notes and Theory” and Ahmed Khatib Whatsapp group, which helped me immensely to prepare for the exam. I started preparation starting April 2016 along with my colleague and study partner “Venkatesh Golle”.
I used study plan shared by Ahmed Khatib as a starting point and customized it according to my strengths and weakness in each domain. I made sure that I stick to the plan I had prepared, so since starting I was very clear about the time when I have to write my exam.
My primary source for preparation were Shon Harris 6th Edition and Sybex 7th Edition.
For couple of domains I went through Shon Harris like Security & Risk Management, Access Control, Cryptography, BCP/DR, SDLC Security and for others Sybex was my primary reference.
Whenever I had any doubt and wanted to get more clarity on any topic I used to refer to Shon Harris. Once I was done with all the 8 domains from Shon & Sybex, I just skimmed through CBK Official book just to make sure I have not skipped any topic.
For practice questions I relied mainly on Shon Harris, Sybex, Official CBK and few other online sources like McGraw Hill questsion and Exam Cram. In total I did around 1800 questions from these sources and like everyone else a week before the exam I was feeling that I was not fully prepared and should take more time and practice more questions however exactly 3 days before my exam date I read Gaurav Saxena’s exam experience and he also echoed that he had same kind of feelings and he still appeared and cleared. That gave me a lot of confidence that if I have the knowledge of all the domains as per CBK, there’s no point rescheduling the exam.
So, I appeared for my exam on 2nd Aug and fortunately cleared it.
Regarding exam experience, I would say it was very different than any other certification exams I had appeared earlier.
I did around 90 question in first 2 hours, took a short break for 10 min and then resumed and completed all 250 questions in 4 hours with around 45-50 flagged questions.
Again took a break for 15 minutes for lunch and then reviewed the flagged questions and changed responses for about 15 questions finally completed in 5 hours and 50 minutes.
After submitting I was sure that I was not going to pass and was thinking what are the areas I need to focus more next time, however when the controller told that I had cleared it , it was a very different feeling.
Few suggestions I think that can help others are: – Make sure you read at least one book cover to cover (It could be any one of your choice) – Once you start preparing for it dont look back, take your time, do it at your pace but make sure you are consistent – Focus on understanding the concepts more instead on the number of practice questions you attempted. – while answering practice questions try to read the justification for all the questions even if you marked it right. – Do questions only from authentic sources that will help build you intelligence and prepare for the exam. – In the real exam, make sure you read the questions and responses twice before finalising your answer (maybe a single word can change the entire context of the questions)
Last but not the least I got to make a lot of new friends through Ahmed’s group who are always there to help and clear doubts of each other.
To name a few who were always available to discuss on any issues are Ahmed Khatib, Inuse Netminder, Fitwi Tekle, Sri Pravallika Maddipati,Mohammed Rafiuddin, and of course the author of this site, Luke Ahmed.