How Sutapa Cracked Her CISSP Exam!
I passed the CISSP exam in March this year. It was a great learning experience, as well
as a test of my resilience to continue my study schedule for about 6 months starting from
September 2020 on a regular basis. Below is a short account of my CISSP journey and
the study resources that helped me crack this exam.
1. (ISC)2 CISSP Certified Information Systems Security Professional Official Study Guide – eight edition (Main study book).
2. CISSP All-in-One Exam guide from Shon Harris (for cross reference).
3. 11th Hour Study Guide 3rd Edition by Eric Conrad (This is a gem for last minute
1. Thor Pederson CISSP bootcamp videos.
2. Luke Ahmed Study Notes and Theory(Videos + Questions)
3. Prabh Nair videos on YouTube on topics like GDPR,SDLC etc.
4. Destination Certification videos on You Tube.
5. Shon Harris videos on You Tube ( a hidden gem).
1. (ISC)2 CISSP Certified Information Systems Security Professional Official
Practice Tests, 2nd Edition
2. CISSP Practice exams 5th Edition by Shon Harris and TotalTester.
3. CISSP Exam Cram 3rd edition.
4. Boson Practice Tests.
5. Wentz Wu daily questions on Effective CISSP Facebook group.
6. IT Dojo CISSP questions of the day.
7. Luke Ahmed Study Notes and Theory questions.
My Study plan
I started preparing September 2020. At the early stages of my preparation. I read through all the chapters in the Sybex book and then referenced Thor videos. Being obsessed with trying to complete as much as I can, I used to read the book an hour before I started with my daily office work and after dinner from around 9 pm to 1 AM or so. I found the book was to be honest super dry and many a times I fell asleep while reading it. After having read the book twice now I started going through the Sybex Official Practice Exams. I was scoring 70% in both chapter wise and full exams. After completing the Sybex Official Practice Exams I started going through the AIO Practice Exams by Shon Harris.
I encountered questions that were quite difficult compared to the Sybex book. Many a times , I cross referenced the CISSP AIO Study Guide and that helped me understand the subjects better. At this stage I booked my exam for December. However due to lockdown the exam centers were closed and my exam was rescheduled to the next year. having more time to prepare I kept maintained study schedule and made it more intense. I started waking up early around 7 am and study till 9 am and again study from 9 pm in the evening to 1 am or so in the night. I used the morning hours for revising the domains and the evening hours to do the full length exams from Shon Harris Practice Exams. Whenever I had a break from work I listened to Destination certification videos which helped to reinstate the subjects.
As lockdown continued to get worse my exam was rescheduled yet another time and I now started looking into Wentz Wu questions and answering them. Also completed all the practice exams from Boson.
Last but not the least, when my exam got rescheduled from Feb to March, I aggressively started solving Luke Ahmed Study Notes and Theory questions. They were difficult to start with, really difficult. But I refused to give up. Whenever I discovered there was a topic I did not know, I went back and read up more about it till I knew everything about it. Compliments to Luke Ahmed for the carefully crafted questions which really help you firstly to familiarize yourself to read long questions and also drill down to the right answer. I found his videos on topics like OAuth, SAML,DPIA,SCADA particularly detailed and very informative – something I could not find much about in the Sybex book.
I also regularly watched a couple of You Tube videos from Prabh Nair on topics like GDPR, SDLC etc. and they really helped me understand the tactic of eliminating the incorrect answer and drilling down to the 2 almost correct choices.
The Exam Day
The night before the exam I was super nervous, mainly because of the fact that it was unclear what ISC2 really expected to be the correct answer. The night before I went Through my handwritten notes that covered almost all the domains. I also listened to Kelly Handerhan video on "Why you will pass the CISSP exam".
My exam was in the afternoon, but I work up a bit early and listened to Kelly's videos around 3 times, trying to retain the points she stressed upon. Having arrived at the exam hall, the Test coordinator after checking my ID etc and doing the other essential formalities led me to the exam room.
My heart thumped hard as I answered one questions after the other. Even though I took my time to answer my questions, I was pretty much on time (approximately 1 min per question) and did not take any breaks(which you can). When the 100th question appeared on the screen I was telling myself, no way am I going to end the exam at 100 questions. However, to my surprise, the exam ended abruptly at 100 questions and I was super happy to see the words "Congratulations" on the paper handed over by the test coordinator after the test ended.
All in all, it was a well-deserved victory after an ordeal of 6 months in the first attempt!