CISSP passed - first attempt - July 10th

malcolmcatmalcolmcat Member Posts: 12 ■■■□□□□□□□
I am pleased to share (and quite relieved as well) that I successfully passed the CISSP exam on my first attempt today.


18 years in corporate IT environments, 5+ years of Information Security experience in the Access Control and Security Operations domains. I have been meaning to get this certification for the past few years and finally committed to a study plan last fall.

Study materials:
Shon Harris CISSP All in One 6th edition
Shon Harris CISSP Practice Exams book 2nd edition
Eric Conrad CISSP Study guide
(ICS)2 Official guide the CISSP CBK 2nd edition
The CISSP Prep Guide: Mastering the Ten Domains of Computer Security
Sunflower PDF
CISSP aide-memoire document
Cccure site quizzes
Total Tester software practice quizzes
McGraw Hill website test questions
Transcender practice questions.
And other sources

This forum has been a big help in my studies and my progress towards taking this exam. I have been reading the forum daily for the past couple of months and many people have offered valuable advice. Seeing what other members have posted about their exam experiences and study materials they have used by been extremely helpful.

At some point last fall I got the Shon Harris 6th Edition book and 2nd Edition Practice exams book. Got the Eric Conrad book at some point last fall as well.

I used lots of note cards, possibly 1500 to 2000 note cards. At some point I used colored notecards and post its to divide the 10 domains in 2 sets of 5 colors and labeled each book and domain with the appropriate color.

I also printed out the Sunflower PDF, the Cissp-Aide-Memoire document, wrote out the Shon Harris end of chapter Quick Tips and in chapter Key Terms items, and put all of those items on domain specific notecards and kept them together so I could review each domain and the different information sources at one sitting. This was critical in learning and reviewing the information for each domain.

Somehow managed to read all the way through the Shon Harris book over the winter, making more notecards, highlighting stuff that I thought was important, and did the same for the Eric Conrad book.

My original plan was to schedule the exam around the end of April 2014, but I knew that wasn’t going to work out. I ended up scheduling the exam for today back at the end of March, and the closer I got the exam date, the more involved and committed I became to studying. Started taking practice questions a month before the exam. 3 weeks before the exam I purchased the cccure site practice quizzes, and was using the McGraw Hill site quizzes a lot as well. If I got answers wrong I made to understand what I got wrong and why, and then looked up the specific topic in the AIO book.

When doing the cccure site quizzes I noticed that a lot of items referenced the "CISSP Prep Guide: Mastering the Ten Domains of Computer Security" book so since I had that, I read through that book and the "Cissp Study Notes from CISSP Prep Guide” by JWG.

By 2 weeks to go before the exam, and after reviewing various comments from successfully test takers, I purchased the Transcender practice exam material and used those for my primary "practice exam" tests. Managed to score between 82 and 85% correct results each time (in the 5 or 6 full practice exams that I took), but I noticed while taking those exams I was never confident that I would score a passing result.

In the last week I was fortunate that my wife and kid gave me plenty of space to focus on just the exam, Having July 4th off from work, that weekend, worked Monday July 7th, and took Tuesday and Wednesday off from work so that all I did was study, read and take practice exams. It was interesting that in going through various practice exams, if I came across topics I wasn’t familiar with, when I went through my notecards from the Sunflower/Aide-memoire/Quick Tips/Key Terms material, usually somewhere there was a reference to the particular topic, or I could cross reference the topic in one of the books.

By the night before the exam I was pretty exhausted, and my nerves and anxiety about the exam were very real. I took the SSCP exam in March 2007 and did not pass it with a score of 690 and that result was in the back of my mind. Went to bed early but did not sleep well.

Exam day: My exam was scheduled for a 12:15pm start. My nerves and anxiety level were pretty high and the only thing that seemed to calm me down was taking 50 question practice quizzes a few times.

Exam: I don’t want to say too much about the exam due to the NDA. Got through the 250 questions in just over 3 hours (just a short break after the first 100 questions) and took a 10 minute break or so after completing all the questions. I had only marked 6 to 8 questions to review, and only went through the first 100 questions and the others that I marked or flagged. I really didn’t think that I was going to pass the exam at any point going through it. Finished the exam, walked out of the room, collected my stuff from a locker, went to the main desk. The clerk confirmed my name, gave me my sheet, face down. I turned the sheet over knowing I would see the “Failed” and a score but instead got the “Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have passed the…..”
“What?” My disbelief was very real but the sheet said I had passed. Yeah!

I want to give a shout out thanks to several members. JDMurray has been very helpful with answering some questions and general guidance for preparing for the test. I have a copy of his “study plan” from a few years ago and read through it several times while preparing.

EasyPeezy’s “So you want to be a CISSP…???” topics is very helpful. I read through it several times last night and this morning before taking the exam.

CyberfiSecurity and Billyr2009 also answered some study material questions for me in the weeks leading up to the exam.

I’m very glad to have the exam over with at this point. It’s been about 6 to 8 months of dedicated reading, studying and making notecards and the past 6 to 8 weeks of concentrated quizzing and taking practice exams.



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