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How Sairam Cracked His CISSP Exam


I used to read many success stories of CISSP, especially at www.studynotesandtheory.com , and I wanted to write one when I passed.

The whole article/blog/document/success story [ whatever you want to call it ] is split into


a. In Brief

b. My Background

c. Start

d. My journey

e. Preparation

f. My resources

g. Credits

h. Conclusion


You can skip to the necessary part or spend 7 to 8 minutes reading this whole document.


a. In Brief:

Before I even start, I would like to reiterate what Luke Ahmed mentioned, which is true.


“Amat Victoria Curam”

“Victory Loves Preparation”


On March 27th, 2023, I provisionally passed CISSP. As someone rightly said, “It is an inch deep and a mile wide. " I have done AWS, K8S, Scrum, PO, and other certifications. But CISSP is the one that gave me a HIGH. Man, this certification is worth the hype.


  • Prepared for 43 days and spent approximately 400 hours. CISSP was in my DNA during my preparation. Whenever I see Bollards, CCTVs, Public Wi-Fi Hot Spots, Fences, Fires, etc., it reminds me of CISSP.

  • I used different resources to strengthen my weak areas.

  • If I commit to something, I get it with complete dedication. Have that willpower, and you will pass this exam easily.

  • This exam is moderately difficult, but It's vast. Follow domain correlation videos in SNT. Connect all the dots.


b. My Background:

  • I have about 20 years of work experience in Unix and Windows system administration, cloud computing, microservices, data center management, and some networking. I am a constant learner. I always keep myself updated. I get bored if I am not learning new things.


c. Start

  • I did some research and decided to go with Luke. I subscribed to the video tutorials for CC and CISSP at SNT. That was the best decision I ever made.

  • I started preparing for CC and planned to finish in one month. But the SONIC project course is so fantastic that I have completed the who course in 5 days and have taken my CC exam [ As of March 2023, CC is still free offered by (ISC)2. I passed. That's when I decided I would study for CISSP immediately. STRIKE THE IRON WHEN IT IS HOT.

  • Luke is passionate about cyber security. The way his SONIC project videos are, it took me five days to prepare, feel confident and pass the CC exam. It was a big morale boost for me. That's when I liked his style of teaching.

d. My Journey

  • During the First week of February, I booked the CISSP exam for March 27th, 2023. I gave myself a deadline which means I have a goal to achieve.

  • It takes a lot of work to filter the information the Internet offers. So how to prepare for CISSP is the big question lingering. The Internet has thousands of answers, but what works for me is the key here. Many posts on Reddit and a few other forums discuss the following preparation methods: they are right.


a. Read OSG, AIO, CBK, etc.


b. Practice 5000 questions, at least.


c. Take boot camps.


d. Purchase this course, that course.


e. Exam pass guarantee 100 percent. { I don’t believe in this scam }

[ Even if someone helps you pass with sham methods, you still have to do the job ]


  • I have a considerable drawback i.e. I last read a book in 2002, during my undergraduate final examination days. I just can’t read a page because it makes me sleep. Trust me, I tried, and it never worked. I prefer to learn through video and audio training. Whenever I have to read a book, I either purchase an audiobook, if available, or use software like Natural readers that reads PDF documents. I listen to audio and take notes. That's how I am, and it has worked so far.

  • I purchased an electronic version of OSG and OPT SYBEX from Wiley using the discount code provided with my membership of (ISC)2 and decided to try reading.

  • As of Today, I have not finished reading a single page of OSG, AIO.

  • So I have decided to pursue only video and audio training methods.

  • I have also purchased Kelly H, Thor Pedersen, and SNT video training materials.

  • I have access to Pluralsight and Linked in Learning through my job.

  • What I am trying to tell in the above two sentences is to have multiple sources of knowledge. It can be books or videos, or a combination. You do not need to spend a fortune . Identify the right material.


Disclaimer: What works for me might not work for others. 9 out of 10 folks go through reading OSG at least once, and people like me could not even read it once. There is no right or wrong here. Do what works for you. Remember: Consistency is the key here.


e. Preparation:

  • The first thing I calculated was the course duration from the resources I had and planned to start my journey in ascending order. Kelly Handerhan has a 15-hour video course, hence started with that.

  • I finished watching Kelly H CISSP in 2 days [ 15 hours video course ] and was doing great in my journey.

  • I have taken a practice test from OSG online [ Efficient Learning ]. I got 30 percent correct.

  • Then I Finished Mike Chapple's course in Linked in Learning in 4 days [ 24 hours course ].

  • Confidence was sky-high since I had just finished a course from the author of OSG, and I assumed I had everything on my plate and enough knowledge.

  • I took another exam for official practice tests, SYBEX, and scored 42 percent this time.

  • All my overconfidence was gone, and reality stuck.

  • That's when I realized this exam was not to be taken lightly, and my approach was wrong.

  • With confidence shattered, I reached out to Luke with a lengthy message for help, and we spoke.

  • Talking with Luke was the turning point, and he insisted that reading OSG is essential and how to approach the study plan with supplement materials.

  • I tried reading the OSG and could only go up to 20 pages.

  • That’s when Destination Certification launched their book kindle edition for a couple of dollars. Let's give it a try since it's reasonable.

  • The book was colorful when opened on the MacBook Pro Kindle app, and I enjoyed reading through 3 domains. I hit a wall and could not proceed further as I felt reading was not for me.

  • Sixteen days before the exam, the cry baby inside me kicked in, and I reached out to Luke for guidance. His email response played a more significant factor in passing my exam.

  • Fifteen days before the exam, Flu hit my entire family, including the newborn. I was an inch closer to rescheduling my exam as I could not focus due to sickness and had lost six days, leaving me only nine days. I still haven’t decided whether to take the exam as I cough a lot, and bronchitis hits me.

  • Every day, this thought comes into my mind. Am I ready ? is my video-audio study plan working? Should I reschedule? I check dates in Pearson Vue every few hours for dates in April, but none are available. [ I am glad now that the dates are not available ]

  • Five days before the exam, I decided I would appear for the exam and studied for 12 to 14 hours days and passed.

  • During the exam , I wasted time by over thinking and spent lot of time answering first 30 questions. If I have to change something , I will change my overthinking.

  • Oh! I forgot one more thing. I was doing 100 questions daily for 20 days in LEARNZAPP, and all I got was 60 to 68 percent till the last minute. That worries me even more since experts say you need to have your readiness score at 80, at least, but I never hit that mark.


f. My resources:

1. Buy Luke Ahmed’s SNT!! Every word, and every second of every video, teaches you

something.

2. How to think like a manager by Luke Ahmed. [ The only book I have ever read ]

3. All the exam material you get in SNT.

4. CISSP success stories.

5. Pete Zerger’s CRAM on youtube.

6. Rob Witcher’s Mind Map on youtube.

7. Prabh Nair's coffee shots on youtube.

8. Kelly H’s “ Why you will pass CISSP."

9. LEARNZAPP

10. SYBEX practice questions.

11. I had BOSON but never used it সহ঺঻


All the above resources have directly or indirectly impacted this journey.


Read OSG, AIO, and other materials. Almost every CISSP person will vouch for that. Practice, Practice, and Practice as many questions as you can. If you can do 7000, do 7000 .


g. Credits :

  • I want to thank my wife, kid, and mother-in-law, who gave me enormous support to focus and not get distracted by baby duties or anything else.

  • Luke Ahmed for being there when I was lost. He is my GPS who helped me navigate my journey.

  • My friend Krish for helping me reorganize my study resources and plan.

  • Starbucks – I studied at Starbucks [ Warner and Cooper rd ] for almost 75 percent of my time. The staff there was rooting for me daily, adding extra pressure to pass.

  • Elon Musk – I couldn't go to Starbucks when I was sick . Hence studied in my Tesla since it has YouTube and browser. All my studies are done outside my home at Starbucks or in the car. At home, I was spending time with my family and do not study. I love this car, the reason it became part of my journey.


h. Conclusion:

There is no way to tell if you are prepared for CISSP. Practice lots and lots of questions. The exam is a different beast. It might make you think you failed the exam, but if you “ UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPTS," you can pass it. Understanding the concepts is the key. No shortcuts.


Believe in yourself and trust your gut feeling during the exam. Eliminate the obvious choices [ you get this if you get the concepts right ].


THINKING LIKE A MANAGER IS THE KEY.


Note about Luke Ahmed : I am inclined towards SNT and Luke more than other video materials. He has created a significant impact on me with these videos. Every time he said, “ You got this, you will pass CISSP " in the videos, It increased my confidence.


He is a genius and was born for a reason. He is on a mission to create CISSP professionals. Thank you, Luke, for spending countless hours making such videos. I will take a leaf from this and ensure my part in advancing this profession. I am grateful and hope to get you meet you in person one day.


All the very best for CISSP aspirants.

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