Passed CISSP today 21 July

nk_vnnk_vn Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
OK, after all the emotions have settled, I decided to give my contribution to this great community.

Preparation time: Roughly 5 months, with some gaps to sort out family matters.

Used resources:

Shon Harris AiO 6th edition
Eric Conrad 2nd edition
Transcender questions
Shon Harris questions from AiO 6th edition CD (with totaltester engine)
MG Hill questions
ISC2 workshops (free) during a local exhibition.

Tried but abandoned: Cybrary, CISSP for Dummies, Official CBK, Skillset.

Cybrary is great, but as a first-time introducing resource. When I found out about it, I already have read Erik Conrad from cover to cover once.

Background: 11 years as system and network engineer (Telco), 1 year as a pentester, 2 years in Governance and Risk Management

Study methodology:

Simply reading the books proved to be inefficient. By mid-April I was still not ready (got consistently humiliated by practice exams) and I decided to not take the exam, prepare for the new CBK and find a new approach. I have very hard time concentrating while reading (to the extend of worrying that I might be a case of ADD). Even Conrad was boring for me, Shon Harris was even harder in this regard, CBK – absolutely impossible. Following a post from someone about a flashcards software named Anki, I discovered a free web service named Quizlet that does roughly the same. From then on my study involved “hunting” concepts and terminology that I was not familiar with and constructing my own “body of knowledge” in the form of quizlet study sets. Then I would use the quizlet engine to generate different types of flashcards and multiple-choice tests and I would go through them from the beginning every now and then to refresh what I have studied so far. The multiple-choice generation is really amazing, some of the questions were actually worthy of being on the exam. The quizlet engine is smart enough to populate the “wrong” choices from other similarly looking words in the same study set. This approach helped me immensely to remember all the terminology that I was unfamiliar with. After going through all the stuff I started with practice questions and had fairly good results (around 80% and going up).

Time management is critical in both preparation and the exam. I took advantage of the fact that I had several months of living abroad alone, without my family. During the working week I would spend roughly 2 hours in study, 6-8 hours during the weekend days. I took some days off work, which combined with holidays and weekends gave me full 7 days of doing nothing but preparing for the exam right before my date.

I scheduled my daily routine in a way that would make by body and mind used to what I was going to experience during the exam day. Waking up and going to bed at the same time, do practice tests during the exam time (and breaks also), having breakfast and lunch – everything was scheduled to make the exam day experience familiar and feel just like another day.

I paid special attention to keeping myself well hydrated both during the study and the exam. This was something that I have neglected throughout my entire life and I believe it was of a huge benefit to finally pay the proper attention to it. Your brain has its own physiology, it needs to be well hydrated and fed in order to do its job (memorizing and thinking) properly.

Of course I couldn't sleep properly the night before the exam, but hydration helps with that too. Some exam questions scared me as they looked completely out of the picture, but at some point I recalled that 25 would be “fake” or “research” questions. I was able to recognize several that didn't make any sense and were most likely in this group. I used the standard approach of two passes, marking the questions that I wanted to have a second thought later. Marked maybe 20, changed 3-4 of them and ended the exam with 40 minutes left on the clock. I was almost sure that I failed, as the exam seemed to cherry-pick my weak areas, but the printout said “Pass”. Yay!

A big thank you to everyone who wished me luck and helped me when I didn't believe in myself.
For all future test-takers – you can do it! It is hard but achievable and the satisfaction of succeeding is like nothing else. Best of luck to all of you!

God bless


  • diggitlediggitle Member Posts: 118 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congrats man. I'm studying now for the CISSP icon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gificon_cheers.gif
    c colon i net pub dubdubdub root
  • desi121desi121 Member Posts: 39 ■■□□□□□□□□
  • gespensterngespenstern Member Posts: 1,243 ■■■■■■■■□□
    congratz and welcome to the club!
  • jt2929jt2929 Member Posts: 244 ■■■□□□□□□□
  • g33k3rg33k3r Member Posts: 249 ■■□□□□□□□□

    Well written and thought out study approach. I watched all the Cybrary videos which were excellent and I am a little over half way through the Eric Conrad book. I can understand all the material but have difficulty remembering the definitions during my practice questions. For past exams I've created my own study guide which is time consuming but tends to help me remember the information. I may think about adding your flash card technique to help ingrain the information. Fortunately at work we are working through developing policies and procedures along with preparing for PCI so I am getting more hands on exposure.

    Out of curiosity, would you recommend getting the Shon Harris book as well to read through? or just research any material not found in Eric Conrad's book from quizzes and practice questions?

  • CLICKCLICK Member Posts: 88 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Big CONGRATS!! Thanks for the great write up, scheduled my exam for Sept 1 and been at it since February, working through AIO, Cybrary and next month starting my exam preps using CCURE. At any rate, i appreciate all the feedback here and hope to post my victory feedback note after Sept 1st :)

    Good luck to all of us who're going through the work and scheduled to take the test soon.
  • ZumoZumo Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats and thank you for the valuable write up on your approach and strategy for passing the exam. I hope to have the same success when I take it in four weeks.
  • nk_vnnk_vn Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
    g33k3r wrote: »

    Out of curiosity, would you recommend getting the Shon Harris book as well to read through? or just research any material not found in Eric Conrad's book from quizzes and practice questions?


    If I am to start studying right now, I would take the following approach:

    1. Look at cybrary videos or similar resource to get acquainted to the topics on a very high level;
    2. Read the Conrad book once like a novel;
    3. Skim Shon Harris for terms and definitions that I am unfamiliar with - it is easier with this book, as the structure of the book is such that the important things are outlined either in "Notes" or greyed-out areas, or they are Bold and Italic. You also have the most detailed and "Explain like I am 5yo" source of information right there on the same page(s), which saves time. This would be, IMHO, the most efficient method of building your study notes in whatever format you prefer them - paper notebook, flashcards... Understanding the actual concept of something and writing it down rephrased with your own words is of a huge benefit, as it would require explaining it to your future self and is a powerful learning process in its own right. Every chapter or two refresh your mind with the notes/whatever you used. Some parts of the Shon Harris book are impossible to use in this way, as there are pages and pages that nothing particular stands out, and you just have to read them carefully. These are not that many though.
    4. Start with practice exams and use whatever source you like to explain the answers to yourself.

    I would share my quizlet study sets, but they are not structured well, and again, they are an extraction of what I was unfamiliar with. For example big parts of Comm. and Network would be missing, as I've been doing this for 10+ years.
  • g33k3rg33k3r Member Posts: 249 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the additional feedback!

    I have completed #1 and wrote some notes on the PPT slides available. I am more than half way through the Conrad book where I've underlined the most salient information. Once I am done with this book, I'll look at getting the Shon Harris book as a reference to fine tune my understanding of areas where there is some doubt. Lastly begin with the practice exams.

    It sounds like you felt the Eric Conrad Study Guide provided the necessary information to prepare for the exam in a sometimes too concise format where the Harris book was a great supplement.

    Congrats again!
  • twodogs62twodogs62 Member Posts: 393 ■■■□□□□□□□
  • OM602OM602 Member Posts: 56 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congrats and thanks for the writeup. I thought it was just me with the Shon Harris' book...
    The world chico, and everything in it
  • g33k3rg33k3r Member Posts: 249 ■■□□□□□□□□
    BTW, what is the last edition of the Shon Harris AIO? Is it the 6th edition?
  • OM602OM602 Member Posts: 56 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Correct. And since she passed away it's likely to be the last one.
    The world chico, and everything in it
  • g33k3rg33k3r Member Posts: 249 ■■□□□□□□□□
  • ccnpninjaccnpninja Member Posts: 1,010 ■■■□□□□□□□
    congrats and thanks for the feedback
  • kukkukukku Member Posts: 130 ■■□□□□□□□□
  • mess gerrymess gerry Registered Users Posts: 4 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congrats! kindly share your flashcard and Quizlets so we can benefited.
  • nk_vnnk_vn Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
    mess gerry wrote: »
    Congrats! kindly share your flashcard and Quizlets so we can benefited.

    Thanks. Here they are:
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    nk_vn wrote: »
    Thanks. Here they are:

    Nice! Just downloaded gflash+ on my iPhone and uploaded all your flashcards to it.

    Will still probably go through and make my own. Think I'd learn better by creating my own. Will definitely take a look at yours though. thank you!
  • ksmaheshkumarksmaheshkumar Member Posts: 20 ■□□□□□□□□□
Sign In or Register to comment.