GSNA Re-certification Attempt

bryguybryguy Member Posts: 190
Well- nearly 4 years have transpired since fist passing the GSNA. As most of you know, who currently hold SANS certifications, SANS offers a few different paths for re-certification. In the past, your only option was to re-take the exam; now SANS now offers a "Continuing Education" option similar to ISC2 or CompTIA. While the cost of maintaining your certification is the same regardless if you re-certify by taking the exam, or if you log your continuing education credits, traditionally, I normally choose the continuing education option whenever possible (better risk/reward ratio). Because i work in the auditing field, however, I decided to take the exam.

The first thing I noticed was the cost. When I initially purchased the self-study material and exam attempt, the combined cost was over $4000. With the recertification option, I essentially received the same study material as I did the first time around, including books, certification attempt, tools, 2 practice tests, and downloadable mp3s for a little over $400.

The second difference, was the number of questions had been reduced from 150 for the initial attempt to 115 for the recertification attempt. As near as I can tell, they consolidated the information that was in the "Network Auditing Essentials" book, and redistributed the content in the remaining book. In doing so, they reduced the number of books from 6 to 5. In retrospect, this made the exam a little more tolerable, however it reduces the amount of time you have to take the exam from 4 hours to 3 hours.

Additionally, SANS also replaced their CD's, and distributed their VMs and tools on a USB key. The USB Key also contains videos of the Labs. Unfortunately, the lab content in the book didn't quite match up 1 for 1 with the video content but still was a big improvement of only having audio available in the last iteration. Additionally, SANS also offers a Windows DC that you can connect to via VPN that you can audit. However, SANS didn't provide the necessary keys to connect to said VPN gateway. After contacting customer support, I was told that it's not available to those re-certifying. This essentially made a majority of the Windows labs useless for those attempting to re-certify. Disappointing.

After reading the "new" books, I was largely surprised to find that very little had changed insofar as content was concerned. The books I received were nearly identical to the books that I received the first time around. This contrasted largely in comparison to other technical books that I've read for re-certification (CCNP Security comes to mind). Perhaps not much has changed in terms of auditing methodologies and tools, but I would have expected in 4 years time that at least the available tools would have changed a little. For this reason, I didn't spend nearly as much time or effort studying as I did last time around.

The exam format was largely the same, with 5 questions you could skip and come back to, and one 15 minute break. Similarly, the checkpoints and scoring percentages were also the same. One point worth noting, is that if you choose the re-certification exam option and fail, you cannot fall back on the "Continuing Education" option as a means to re-certify. If you fail- your only option is making another attempt prior to your certification expiring. If I had realized this prior to selecting the exam recertification option, I probably would have just completed the "Continuing Education" requirements and not risked failing. That said, my score never fell below 90% after the first checkpoint, so I wasn't too concerned, but still, it's good to know what the stakes are- especially if you're paying out of pocket.

Hopefully this aids someone seeking re-certification of the GSNA.


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    grouchy_Smurfgrouchy_Smurf Member Posts: 15 ■□□□□□□□□□

    Thanks for the feedback on the GSNA re-cert. I took the course just over 4 years ago and never took the cert, with your recent experience with the GSNA do you feel my old material would be sufficient in testing today?

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