CISSP - Passed!! 12/22/2015

kanterkanter Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
I feel obligated to return the favor and (finally) I get to type my "Passed" post! I passed yesterday in 4.5 hours. First try. Then had a few celebratory pints of Guinness... they never tasted so good.

Approx. 7 months of studying. Started the studying off slow but really ramped it up in the last 3 months.

Background: I have a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh and about 12 years of professional IT experience (mostly Tech Support and Sys Admin/Net Admin, and more recently SecOps).

I started out with the InfoSec Bible, which of course is the AIO by Shon Harris. In my opinion, every IT Sec pro should have this on their shelf. The best in study materials and a great reference for on-the-job work. While it is getting more and more outdated with each passing month, it is still a great resource. That being said, I would not start out reading this book first. More on that below.

Other materials I used were:

Cybrary
Eric Conrad Guide 2nd edition
Eric Conrad 11th Hour
Sybex 7th edition (with the new material)
"Combined Notes" from this forum
CCCure test questions (new 2015, pro level)
McGraw-Hill test questions
Conrad test questions
Sybex test questions

If I were to do it again (thank God I don't :), I'd actually start out with the 11th hour. Its a great way to just get the terms down and familiarize yourself with all of the material without trying to digest it too much yet. I also used the 11th hour to make flashcards. After the 11th Hour, I would watch the Cybrary videos. Kelly is spot on with all of her guidance and knowledge. I plan to go donate as soon as I'm finished writing this post.

Sybex 7th ed. is another great resource especially since it has the updated 8 domains and new material. Once you are familiar with terms and basic concepts, this is a great resource to start learning the specifics.

After that I would test, test and test again. I would practice test with every spare moment I had. This is the most important step. Practice tests are what helped me understand and drill the concepts and retain the knowledge. Every single one of those test question engines mentioned above was a huge help. The practice tests will also let you know where you are the weakest, and that's where the AIO is really the most powerful. It describes the material in a lot of detail which you will be able to understand and retain once you have a solid foundation with the initial studying. Everyone in this forum always says, "Learn the concepts," and that's 100% true, but unless you have a ton of experience, you aren't going to learn the concepts by reading one book once, even twice. You really have to attack the material from multiple angles. Immerse yourself in the material from different sources, you'll need to know it up and down and back and forth. Also, the old adage of "Think like a manager" is very true. Keep that in the back of your mind at all times.

Seems like a lot but this is very much a marathon, not a sprint. This certification is so daunting because of the amount of material, but, as others have said, you just have to put the time in and study. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Work hard, make sure you are actually learning and not just memorizing and I assure you, you will pass.

I hope this helps those of you who are pursuing this great certification. It is well worth the effort!

Lastly, I want to thank ALL of you who have posted on this forum in the past 7 months. Thank you! Your guidance and support have made a big difference throughout this journey. I hope this post will do the same... after all, we are here to "advance and protect the profession." ;)

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