Whoo hoo! Passed that cissp :)

webpriestesswebpriestess Posts: 82Member ■■□□□□□□□□
Hey everybody! I did it! I passed! I seriously felt like I won a Miss America pageant. Instead of being completely wiped out and exhausted, I'm actually completely wired. My story is a mess of a soap box, but I will hope it will benefit others - as much as your shared has helped me.

I'll be 39 years old on Friday. I have almost 20 years in the IT industry. While I have a very colorful background, my focus has been mostly in application development. I never got much into security until I joined the government sector 10 years ago. My concentration remained in software, with an added security twist. I have no children. My live in boyfriend is also in state government as a DBA. I also have a second career working in the fitness industry.

When I am done with my little timeline, I will explain how I feel about the materials and resources that I used. But first, the story...

Toward the beginning of the year, the entire agency I work at was canvassed to participate in a CISSP training program. There were 40 slots available. I applied, and found out about a month or so later that I was accepted into the program. I took this as a wonderfully rare opportunity - what an honor that I got picked.

Mid-March we all participated in a week-long boot camp. We were given the 3rd edition of the Conrad book. The instructor said that he was waiting for that book to come up. Long, intense, but the best training I ever did. I scheduled the exam for May 3rd. After the training - I read that from cover to cover. I made probably close to a thousand flash cards and took them with me everywhere.

I finished up the book with about 10 days to spare before my first test date, so I started hitting the practice tests on CCCure and the Transceder really hard. I spent about 1-1.5 hours a night reading, some nights I took off if I was too tired. I was mostly a "weekend warrior" - I would read for 12 hours straight. I also watched Kelly's videos the weekend before my exam. They are so invaluable.

I scheduled the test exactly 5 weeks after the boot camp - just like the instructor advised. Instead of a Monday, I scheduled a Tuesday. I took that Friday and Monday off to prepare. I go into take the exam, and I totally fell flat on my face. Instead of slowing down, and looking at the details - I never read in the confirmation email that I had 5 minutes to agree to the non-disclosure. So, instead of starting the exam and agreeing to the NDA, I farted around and let the dang thing time out on me. Which means - no taking the exam that day - and forfeiture of the exam fee.

Without disclosing the gory details (PM me if you really want to know), I managed to get something scheduled about a month later - D-Day - 6-6-16. Noontime. Perfect!

While I was working something out, I picked up the latest Sybex book. What a great resource - went through that beast cover to cover. Bought the little 10 dollar app to go with it - and I used it ALL THE TIME. I also highlighted material that I was still shaky on and went back and wrote it all down. I even read my notes outloud and recorded them. I listened to those in my truck - but I didn't like listening to my own voice. I got as far as Chapter 6 and I stopped doing that - but I still kept writing everything down. I retain the BEST from reading it, trying to put it together in my own words, and then writing it down. A very time consuming technique, but one that works wonders.

I also got my hands on some of Shon's lectures from the older domains. I also downloaded Kelly's stuff on mp3. When I had a spare minute to listen to something - I was listening to one of those two fantastic and unbelievable ladies. If I was writing some mundane code? I was listening to Shon or Kelly. Just listening on a call? My CISSP girls. Riding in my truck - the ladies. Working out on a machine when I wasn't teaching an aerobics class?? That's right - my girls were right there with me.

It probably goes without saying that I completely immersed myself in CISSP - completely. I became obsessed. It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and before I went to sleep. It was my life. My boyfriend is the most amazing man in the world. Not only is he smart, sexy and fun - but he is also the most supportive guy that I know. He picked up and started doing all the housework, ran my errands for me and even did the grocery shopping. The man even took my truck to get inspected so I can stay home and study. I had to watch myself not to talk about it too much to the outside world...even with my co-workers. Which is why I found such amazing comfort here. You guys are amazing.

Before I took the test this round, I slept in, took an aerobics class and left to go take the exam. I reviewed my notes for about 30 minutes, and watched Kelly's 3rd video - very important!

That test. Let me tell you something about that test. There are no words to adequately describe that test. Maybe it was 15% technical. If it were more technical?? It would have been more bearable. It seriously would have been easier. In that case - you would either know the answer, or you wouldn't. The other 85% of the test is sooo high level and conceptual. 6 hours - and I ended with 3 minutes left. Right down to the wire. I had tears in my eyes when I called the proctor over to finish my exam. I was SURE that I have failed. Because about more than 50% of the stuff I had a doubt whether or not I actually picked the right answer.

There was no brain dumping. The only thing I wrote on that sheet was manta like stuff. "Slow down" "think like a manager" "you are a risk advisor" "follow the process" "think longterm" "don't take action" "separation of duties" "senior management and money" "following the rules/law"...and my favorite (thank you ZzBloopzZ): "How would ISC2 want me to answer this question?" BOOM! That was it right there.

My test strategy. I took a break about 2-2.5 hours in at about 175 questions. I was thirsty and I had to pee. Don't get too uncomfortable in the exam - take a quick break. You feel SO refreshed when you sit back down. I took another longer one (10 minutes) when I finished the 250, with a little more than 2 hours to go. I ate some of my favorite dried fruit, some low cal cheese sticks, a skinny cow chocolate bar and downed a Dr. Pepper. That was awesome because I belched in the exam room for like 30 minutes. Hee hee :)

When I got back, I realized that what I thought was a wise move? What I have been doing with CCCure for the longest time? Marking EVERY LITTLE THING when I have the SLIGHTEST doubt? That was dumb. Boy, that was dumb. It ended up being a complete mess, but I managed to get EVERYTHING unflagged...with 3 minutes to spare.

In short, this is how I prepared and my opinion:
Boot Camp Class - if you can get your company to pay for this for you? Or get a discount or something? This is absolutely the way to go. However, I wouldn't do this first. I would save this one toward the end - with maybe a week or two after to prepare. If you can't do that? Then scratch that - I would do something like this:

Maybe start out with something like CBT nuggets or Cyber Kung Fu just to get your feet wet before picking up a book. I really didn't watch these though.

The Conrad 3rd edition (7/10) - It gives you a straight forward no nonsense approach on this. I also would consider this an "easy read". However, I feel it left a lot of holes, and it was all over the place. One big thing that stuck out to me is that BCP was not covered in the first domain. This threw me off a touch. Great book, but I wouldn't do this on it's own.

Sybex 7th edition (9/10) - This was the meat right here. I would recommend reading Conrad first, then reading this beast. That's exactly what I did and I wouldn't have done it either way. If you chose one? Pick this one - but I would recommend Sybex, with something else. Conrad was a great fit to it. I know, it's dry, it's heavy but that $hit works.

Shon Harris audio lectures (5/10) - This woman (may she rest in peace) know her $hit upside down and every which way when it comes to security. Just wow. She is so impressive. However, she could spice it up a bit. However, if you have the time - I would recommend this.

Kelly Handerhan Cybrary Lectures (10/10) - I am donating money to Cybrary when I get a chance and sending Kelly an email personally thanking her for putting these lectures together. MUST HAVE to prepare for this exam. I watched the entire series both weekends before attempting the exam.

Transcender (4/10) - TOO TECHNICAL for this exam. Don't even bother wasting your money. If your taking an MS exam or something - fine. But not this exam.

CCCure (8/10) - Although it's a little sloppy because it's community based, it's the best and closest to the real thing. Stick with this one.

Boson Exam Environment (6/10) - Better than the transcender, but I honestly didn't give it a good shot.

Here is some other advice that I have if you are getting ready for this - take care of yourself. Get adequate rest. Take breaks. Be kind to yourself. Get some exercise in. For god sakes, drink water. Put down the processed and fast food and make yourself something from SCRATCH. You might have days where you may think you can make Einstein look stupid, but it means nothing if your body/organs aren't healthy.

One technique that I swear by if writing stuff down. Not just typing it out or just doing a little shorthand. Read it, comprehend it, put it into your own words, then write it down. On flashcards, or a notebook, whatever. It really makes the difference for me.

Well, that's all I've got. Before I close to try to get some sleep - I would like to thank some very special people:

Kelly H - Her resources and advice are the best! World class training for free. Cybrary will always have my support and I will have nothing but great things to say about Kelly.

Shon H - I was very disappointed when I found out that she us. Truly a pioneer in this industry, and someone that I look up to very much.

BTW - That co-author that finished her latest AIO edition? He's speaking at a local conference this Thursday. I just got the new AIO today (just to have it), and I'm so going to get him to sign that.

Seab - Thanks for warming up to me so quickly and for all your positive energy! Maybe if you come back to the Adirondacks I can meet you for a hike :)

ZzBloopzZ - No words, buddy. Thank you for inspiring me. You motivated me to dig deep - and to really believe in myself.

And most of all - my wonderful and amazing boyfriend and best friend, Peter. He is my rock and his love and support mean the world to me. I would not be here today if it were not for him.

And you guys - thank you! Thank you for support, advice and encouragement. Now I can get a little rest. I might share some sap tomorrow, but I'm tapped out tonight - hahaha! :)

Have a great night everyone!
Love,
::Claudia

Comments

  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,812Mod Mod
    Way to go! Congrats!
  • Pmorgan2Pmorgan2 CISSP, A+/Net+/Sec+/Project+, ITIL v3, CIW SDA & WSP Posts: 98Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats! That's an incredible amount of dedication and professionalism. You deserve the fruits of your hard work!
    2019 Goals: ITIL Foundation, Project+CIW Site Development Associate, CIW Web Security Professional, CCSP, ECIH, ECES, WGU BSCSIA
  • cbkihongcbkihong Posts: 52Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats for the pass, eventually! I guess the very first thing you did this time was to click accept the NDA right away, without meditating for even a second. Just curious, did you pray after accepting the NDA though?
  • ZzBloopzZZzBloopzZ Posts: 192Member
    Congrats!!! I knew you could do it!

    I agree, sometimes I wonder if I would have failed had I not watched the Cybrary videos. Kelly teaches you how you need to learn the stuff the way ISC2 wants your to understand.
  • KillerkingsKillerkings Posts: 8Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congrates....

    No words discribe the feeling when you see words "PASS" on the paper...
  • ivandavidsivandavids Posts: 50Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congrats Claudia and thanks for the write-up!
  • SeabSeab Posts: 127Member
    YAY! :D - Congratulations!! : icon_cheers.gif

    That test. Let me tell you something about that test. There are no words to adequately describe that test. Maybe it was 15% technical. If it were more technical?? It would have been more bearable. It seriously would have been easier. In that case - you would either know the answer, or you wouldn't. The other 85% of the test is sooo high level and conceptual. 6 hours - and I ended with 3 minutes left. Right down to the wire.

    Yep, very similar feeling here! Even worst when English is not your first language!

    Enjoy your free time now!!! :)

    Careful, this is addictive, you will start looking for more cert very soon! I am thinking maybe CCSP, CEH or ISSAP, before the end or early next week. We'll see :) Why not using this momentum... ! So difficult to get in the mood again!
  • Swimfan2516Swimfan2516 Posts: 41Member ■■■□□□□□□□
  • webpriestesswebpriestess Posts: 82Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    cbkihong wrote: »
    Congrats for the pass, eventually! I guess the very first thing you did this time was to click accept the NDA right away, without meditating for even a second. Just curious, did you pray after accepting the NDA though?

    Good question! I actually did my prayer/meditation in the ladies room before I went in. It was nice that I had a bit of a "dry run" before going there, so I knew where everything was :) And for the record - I completely own that mistake. I got so excited when I got all my booking information, that I didn't bother to scroll down to the bottom and read the NDA agreement or the warning that I only had five minutes to accept it. Completely my fault! This time, I didn't even let the exam proctor leave until I cleared the NDA agreement.
  • gespensterngespenstern Posts: 1,243Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Well done. I find your report on preparation materials to be pretty adequate.
  • IaHawkIaHawk Posts: 188Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congrats on the pass!
  • ErtazErtaz Posts: 911Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    Way to go! Congrats!
  • danny069danny069 Posts: 1,025Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats! Was looking forward to hearing the conclusion of the NDA incident. Thanks for the write up!
    I am a Jack of all trades, Master of None
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Posts: 3,250Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    Nice, Congrats!!
  • BuddysmomBuddysmom Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for posting about your experience. I thought it was great and I'm trying to do many similar things. I loved how you refer to Kathy and Shon as the ladies. I'm listening to them all the time too!
  • DAVIS NGUYENDAVIS NGUYEN Posts: 1,472Member ■■■□□□□□□□
  • ITSpectreITSpectre Posts: 1,040Member
    Congrats!!!
    In the darkest hour, there is always a way out - Eve ME3 :cool:
    “The measure of an individual can be difficult to discern by actions alone.” – Thane Krios
  • Terminator XTerminator X Posts: 60Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congrats
    -Tact is for those not witty enough to be sarcastic-
    ~Unknown
  • djasonslickdjasonslick Posts: 42Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Great Job! Way to go! Nice write up too!
  • gncsmithgncsmith Posts: 458Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congrats!!! Wow, Holy write Batman! Great job!
  • faris1faris1 ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 Certified lead auditor, Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), MSc in I UK, LondonPosts: 13Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congratulations Claudia! Well done. Thank you for your tips, I'm preparing for the exam and word ''Believe in yourself'' I think is crucial. Any more tips would be highly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Faris
  • sameojsameoj Posts: 366Member ■■■□□□□□□□
  • Mike7Mike7 Posts: 1,062Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats Claudia! Great to know that you passed the CISSP marathon.
    Here is some other advice that I have if you are getting ready for this - take care of yourself. Get adequate rest. Take breaks. Be kind to yourself. Get some exercise in. For god sakes, drink water. Put down the processed and fast food and make yourself something from SCRATCH. You might have days where you may think you can make Einstein look stupid, but it means nothing if your body/organs aren't healthy.

    I ate some of my favorite dried fruit, some low cal cheese sticks, a skinny cow chocolate bar and downed a Dr. Pepper. That was awesome because I belched in the exam room for like 30 minutes. Hee hee icon_smile.gif
    Sure am glad I did not take the exam with you. icon_rolleyes.gif

    Now on the endorsement process...
  • CISSPBURNCISSPBURN Posts: 8Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats

    After seeing your preparation,you deserve for that.
  • The_ExpertThe_Expert Posts: 136Member
    First of all congratulations! And thank you for sharing such a detailed account of your journey on your way to the CISSP exam.

    All the hard work paid off... Now, go have some fun!
    Masters, Public Administration (MPA), Bachelor of Science, 20+ years of technical experience.

    Studying on again, off again...
  • RonniedRonnied Posts: 2Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats and thank you for your detailed feedback! I agree, Kelly is awesome!
    Ronnie
  • goatamagoatama Posts: 181Member
    Congratulations! Very cool! icon_cheers.gif
    WGU - MSISA - Done!!
    Next up: eCPPT, eWDP, eWPT, eMAPT
  • YoniKYoniK Posts: 11Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats. Nice write up.
  • rajpoot296rajpoot296 Posts: 27Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    icon_cheers.gificon_study.gificon_biggrin.gif
    Awesome! Congrats!
Sign In or Register to comment.