I would like to start by thanking all those who have posted about their experiences in this forum. It has been of great help for people like me who have been reading them passively, to get as close as possible to the realities of CISSP certification exam.
Having provisionally passed my CISSP exam couple of days ago, I feel obligated to give back to this community by sharing my own experience preparing for it.
Though I have been working in the IT industry for over 12 years now, it was only about 3 months ago that I seriously started thinking about the CISSP certification. The trigger was an internal organizational change that I wanted to suited up for. In my current role I lead a team of security and network engineers at work, working on specific missions around securing information systems within our organization.
I did spend some time contemplating whether to go for CISSP or CISM, and after doing some research it was a no brainer - CISSP!
Following is a quick summary of key aspects of my preparation:
- Personal Situation: Working full time for 5days/week & 2.5years old daughter keep things busy at home.
- Total Duration: 51 days
- Time spent per week: 20 hours (2hrs/day on weekdays and 5hrs/day on weekends)
- Mode of Learning: Selfstudy using online ISC2 study materials
- Study materials:
- Official ISC2 CISSP Study Guide 8th edition - I spent 70% of overall time on this 1000 pages long book and practised associated 1320 sample questions via online Sybex Wiley Test Bank.
- Official ISC2 CISSP Practice Tests 2nd edition - I spent 25% of overall time on this practicing 1344 sample questions via online Subex Wiley Test Bank.
- Eleventh Hour CISSP Study Guide 3rd edition - I spent 5% of overall time on this 220 pages long book for a final revision of some of the CBK domains.
- Quizlet CISSP Flashcards - I found this online on the day of my exam and was quite handy for the last minute refresh of key topics before the exam.
Finally, on the day of the exam, I was a bit anxious about the CAT format of the exam, as it was a whole new experience for me.
This is where the experiences shared by people in this forum helped. As experienced by others who have gone through the CISSP exam in English since December 2017, I also felt the initial set of questions quite straightforward and started getting more and more difficult.
Unlike the PMP and CBAP exams I have been through in the past, the CISSP exam didn’t gave an option to bookmark and go back to previously answered or skipped questions. Surprisingly I found this to be a good thing. It ensured that I gave due respect to each question.
Though the CISSP exam is a 3 hours long exam with upto 150 objective questions, for me the exam stopped abruptly at 103 questions with almost half the time remaining. The walk out of the exam hall was nerve wracking as I wasn’t sure whether I passed. I knew I was doing okay, but I expected to reach till 130-140 questions.
I was relived when I was handed over the printout of the result. I had provisionally passed!
That’s the beauty of the CAT format, which actually sets the passing score for CISSP at 700/1000. The exam stops as soon as you hit the passing score, with each question given different weightage based on the difficulty level of the question.
This is my CISSP story, which I have also written down in further detail at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-i-passed-cissp-75-weeks-abhinav-viswambharan-pmp-cbap-csm
Hope it helps you in your CISSP journey.
Once again, thank you for all those who have shared their experiences in this forum and good luck for those who one day would!