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How Radha Cracked Her CISSP Exam!

“A good beginning makes a good ending”.

I have recently passed my CISSP certification on 10th April 2021 and here is a draft of my success story. I have been in security world since a decade, but initially didn’t know of these highly acclaimed certifications including this beast which I cracked, until few years back, Prashant passed and made it popular amidst us.

There are lots and lots of people to thank to for this achievement, but 2 most important people without whom this would not have been possible are, my daughter, Kiara and my friend for life, Prashant. Kiara has been so supportive, understanding and amazingly sweet daughter, she couldn’t understand what CISSP is but she was able to figure out that this was something big for me. Prashant has been a friend, guide, mentor, trainer, and what not. He has been so calm with all my stupid queries and we also had some healthy debates.

And then, significant contributions from many others like my Mother, who used to wait for hours for my call back as I was busy studying, Ratika, a recent CISSPian, who shared her overall experience of this exam and provided me with all available study material, Deepak, a true leader, friend and mentor from my current organisation and my friends, whom I couldn’t meet as I was busy studying. It was a terrific decision to start preparing for this certification besides many other tasks like being a single mother, which is a full day duty itself along with office work and taking care of household chores all alone specially in these difficult times. So, it wasn’t easy for me. But, as they say, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. So, I started preparing from September’2020 but it was now-and-then studies. There were lots of obstructions since I started, from me getting Covid infection to busy shifting my house, and then an extended trip to my parents home. I gained pace in last 2 months when I finally gave myself the deadline. Below is the plan and study materials I used:

1. Thorough reading of Sybex the first time, and only highlighted points in the next reading

2. Took notes while I was reading Sybex, nothing can be compared with your own handwritten notes. They are your golden source.

3. Around a month before exam, took membership for Luke’s very famous Study notes & theory, watched videos and attempted practice questions. The questions were crazy, but the explanations were truly impressive.

4. Read Luke’s book ‘How to think like a manager’, it’s super awesome.

5. Watched Rob Witcher’s Mindmaps for all domains, they are simply amazing.

6. Watched PowerCert animated videos, they are so beneficial for getting clarity on Networking domain for people with non technical background like me.

7. Watched videos on YouTube from Prabh Nair on some important topics like COTS, SDLC and access control models to name a few.

8. Last but not the least, read our very own Memory Palace twice, first time before starting practising questions and then 2 days before exam. Thank you Prashant for this amazing book (thanking myself too ).

9. Finally started with questions, initiated with official study guide domain wise questions.

10. Did Boson practice tests, left one set to do in the last week before exam.

11. Did online Wiley efficient learning practice questions. Did all the domain wise and full length practice tests and left one full length set for the last week.

12. Was part of few telegram groups, where people like me, preparing for the exam posts questions and helps each other.

13. Did lots and lots of practice questions, whatever I could get from anywhere. Please remember, the more you practice, the tougher you become to face the beast. I did more than 5K questions.

My exam experience: Nervous is a tiny word for what I was feeling, specially in the last week before exam. I had sleepless nights, and annoying days. With all the commitments in my personal life, didn’t wanted to face it again but also didn’t wanted to give up if I fail.

As soon as I started questions started appearing, it was a roller coaster ride inside. Trust me it wasn’t easy. Please understand that taking at least one small break is very very important, so I took break after around an hour and relaxed myself for 5 mins, and started again. Like many others, during the exam, I thought I won’t be able to make it, but when I had the result in my hand, I just saw the word ‘Congratulations’ and was numbed, had teary eyes and shivering hands.

So, if I can do it, it is surely doable. Not easy though, but not impossible also. Thank you for reading such a long note. And all the best for fulfilling your dream.


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