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How Rahat Cracked His CISSP Exam

Ahhhhh… Finally beaten the beast.

I started my CISSP journey in 2011, when it was paper based exam and was failed with 674. I tried to re-attend exam but due to change of job and relocation to UAE, I could not focus on CISSP and also my job was more of technical which needed more attention so CISSP became forgotten dream.

In 2017, I realized that now it’s time to fuel career with industry specific security

certification rather than vendor based certification.

I started reading sybex and making hand written notes… I used to study like 3-4 hours daily and write my own notes to understand the concept rather just reading or trying to memorize it. Writing helps you a lot in understanding because once you write on paper actually you not writing on paper, you are writing on your mind library. Sometime even I used to write same concept multiple times and in different ways e.g SDLC processes and incident management process.

Once I finished Sybex then I refer to AIO for verifying concepts which were missing in sybex e.g Security Frameworks, Glass protection and many of concepts which are not covered in Sybex so it was always recommended to have second reference. Finally, Sybex and AIO(reference) made up my notes.

Then I started question from Sybex and watching videos in parallel and again started making notes out of questions. Initially it was like half of answers were wrong but I still continue and completed all domains + 500 practice question. I referenced many question banks and almost did 6000+ questions and it was not only clicking the question and seeing the answer right or wrong but I used to read explanation even if I choose the right answer because once

you read explanation then your concept becomes concrete and if it’s wrong then it will become beacon on information for that concept.

Later I joined Luke Ahmed SNT group and also Telegram and guys believe me that was best thing which I did. I should have joined from day 1 when I started reading. Luke Ahmed videos, notes, and question with detailed explanation was major pillar of my exam passing. All Telegram guys are really interactive and helpful specially madunix, KIM(Kamran), Kashif Rafiq and many others.

Many of concept was very similar and sometime to try to memorize it but could not so I used to post it on Telegram and gets very interesting answers which clear my confusion in difference. E.g session hijacking and man in middle attack are almost same thing but there is one major difference in both so it was almost confusing that which one relate to which concept.

As I have focused on revision + exam strategy + managing time so I decided to take 2 weeks off from work and just to study. 15 days’ count started. I started going through my notes then question bank notes and silently listening to all discussion in Telegram group and even sometime answering question and asking advice. In last two days, I got affected by severe flu, sneezing and even lite fever. I wanted to read some last missing points but could not due to flu and continuous sneezes. One time I thought to cancel the exam because I was

lying on bed with full headache, wet eyes and running nose. Anyway, my wife suggested me to take leap of faith and go for exam.

My mother-in-law suggested some desi advice and I used them it to control sneezing and running nose. I got advice and read many success stories

that to quit study in last hours and take good sleep for 6-hour exam fight. I was not able to sleep due to fever and took sleeping pill and slept for around 7+ hours.

Exam Day

Wake up early and still feeling cold but again desi tips worked and had quick look on my notes in last 01 hour and left early to exam center. Exam center was near to my home around 20 minutes’ drive. My wife gave me jacket, gloves, winter cap to wear as exam center was going to chill and I was having flu and fever.

Reached center in 25 minutes, register and did picture and palm scan. Exam proctor was looking at me very strangely as I wearing jacking and gloves and having cap in my hand in hot day and if you wear these thing in Dubai then either people look strangely on you or laugh at you. Anyway, exam proctor informed me that wearing jacket is not allowed but I requested him as I was on fever and he allowed.

Exam begin. As suggested by many CISSP to read through NDA and accept within 5 minutes otherwise you cannot attend exam and exam becomes forfeit.

Accepted the NDA and started exam.

First thing I did is to write down some points which was in my mind so I can refer them while doing exam. First question and it’s like blow away my mind. My strategy was to at least remove 2 wrong answer and then focus on remaining 2 left and choose the best one but the first question shattered my strategy and even I could not roll out a single wrong answer but I thought it could be possible that its research question. I continued and did only

16 question in next 40 minutes. I took a break and went to restroom and freshen up and now I started like in rocket mode. I completed 100 question in next 60 minutes. Took a break on 150 question had lunch and again started.

On around 200+, I started shivering due to chill room and went to proctor to either slow down cooling or give me seat somewhere far from AC. Exam protector was very cooperative guy and he relocated me in end of row

last seat. I started again and was able to finished exam in 4 hours 30 minutes. I flagged almost 75 question and started reviewing and as per my strategy I don’t want to change the answer if I am not sure as always recommended to believe in your first instincts. I change only 2 answer out of 75 and finished the exam in 5 hours 45 minutes.

Exam proctor told me to collect your items and while I collecting I heard printing voice and prayed to GOD that when I turned then it should have congratulations written on paper and it did. Exam proctor

also congratulated me.

Thanks to all! Luke Ahmed for running great group and advancing the profession. I also would like to thanks madunix, KIM for their support and guidance. One of my favorite aspiration quote comes from Milkha singh.

“Hardwork, will power & dedication. For a man with these qualities, sky is the limit” - Indian track and field sprinter.

Exam Material


• Sybex 7th Edition (10/10)

• Shon Harris AIO 7th Edition – reference only (6/10)

• Exam Cram 4th Edition – reference only (5/10)


• Cybrary CISSP (10/10)

• Sari Greene (9/10)

• Mike Chappel Linkedin (7/10)


• Sybex practice test

• Transcenders (Cybrary)

• Total Tester

• CCcure

• Exam Cram

• Shon Harris 4th Edition practice test

• ISC CBK books question only

SNT and Telegram group question (I even referred old question starting from August 1st)

I did almost 6000+ questions. I really advice everyone to do as many as question you can and understand process and concept rather just reading and giving right or wrong answers.


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