Passed CISSP on the 25th of July 2016- Details Inside

gradecricketergradecricketer Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi All,

I took the CISSP exam on the 25th of July 2016 and passed (First Attempt). Apologies for the delay in the write up as I went on a holiday right after that.

This forum has helped me a lot and I would like to share my experience so far.


I have a Masters in ICT and I have been working in a Govt department for the last 4.5 years as a Snr. Systems Admin with the last two years focusing on DR, PKI and Compliance.


I first started thinking about this exam a year or so ago when my mentor suggested this as something I should look at in the future. I had someother certs I needed to do before I started this one. I started the preparation on the 15th of May 2016. I had the Shon Harris 6th Edition and the Sybex 7th Edition. Then I found out about Cybrary and I thought I would give that a shot first

1.) Cybrary - 9/10

I have to say that helped a lot in easing me into the subject matter and it was to the point. Kelly has a way of explaining concepts which I could relate to easily. I took notes as I went through and it took me 2 weeks to complete the Cybrary CISSP.

I reviewed my notes every 3 days or so

2.) Sybex 7th - 9/10

After the Cybrary CISSP, I started reading the Sybex 7th Edition based on the feedback I saw on this forum. It is very detailed and there was a lot of fluff for some topics. I started with the biggest domains first (3,4,1,icon_cool.gif and then did the small ones. I took notes while I was doing this. I would finish a chapter and take the review questions at the end of each chapter and then gauge my level of understanding for each chapter (Not totally relaible from an exam point but gave me the confidence that I was understanding what I was reading and taking notes).

My review exam scores were around 79% after all 21 chapters were done.

I reviewed my notes every 3 days or so

This took me 22 days to complete and then I took a break for a week to let it all sink in.

3.) Conrad 3rd Edition - 8/10

I then started reading the Conrad 3rd edition chapter by chapter and I could see that it is no way as detailed as the Sybex but it reads very well and it is to the point. Not a lot on DR though. Some of the organization of content is different from Sybex but grouped logically. It took me two weeks to complete this and I was getting scores of 77% overall in the review Questions.

4.) Practice tests

Two months into the study is when I started doing the practice exams. It worked out as being 2 weeks before my exam. I started with the Sybex Practice test 1 first. I have to say sitting through the exam alone in my study for close to 3 hours was pretty exhausting and I kept thinking about how I was potentially having to sit the actual exam for 6 hours. I finished the exam and was pretty sure I would pass and I passed with a 72.5%. I went a reviewed what went wrong and I could see that I second guessed myself for about 20 questions on the whole.

I reviewed my notes over the next couple of days and attempted the Sybex Practice test 2 and I went with my gut feeling for some of the ones I was not sure about and got a 78%.

I also signed up for CCCURE and I attempted those over the next few days and I only did 4 full tests with CCCURE and I was getting 83% on average on them. The good thing about this is that they give you domains you have done well and domains you have done poorly and topics you need to brush up on. This is not available in Sybex tests and that's why I gave it a 9 instead of a 10. In hindsight I think that the questions in the CCCURE exams are a little bit grouped by Domains ( I randomised the questions and options) which is not the case in the actual exam.

Overall the Sybex tests have the most resemblance to the real exam in terms of style etc..


I booked my exam and the flights to the city where I was writing the exam. I went a day early and relaxed. The day before the exam I watched to Cybrary videos especially the 3rd video on the Exam. Pure Gold

I went to the exam center 30 minutes before, finished the enrollment procedure and went into the room. There was a lot of people in already and the room was jam packed. I requested the proctor for noise cancelling headphones and they gave me one.

I started doing the questions and by the time I reached 150, I was very exhausted and I could see my mind was slowing down. I took a break, got some snacks and after 10 minutes I came back and finished the rest. I took me 3.5 hours for the first pass.
I marked about 50 questions all together by that point and I took another break for 10 minutes.

I came back and started reviewing every question from 1 to 250 again and I change about 7 answers. This took me 1.5 hours for the second pass .

I then went back to just the review questions and spent about 20 minutes on those and clicked submit with 25 minutes remaining. I was fairly confident that I would pass but heart was beating like crazy and I went outside and the printer was printing, I signed out and the proctor handed me the paper and said Congratulations. I looked at the paper twice to make sure that I had passed. It was most relieved feeling ever.

I went to a restaurant had dinner and left for the airport to fly back and flew for a holiday a day later.


I would like to thank my wife who has been very supportive with all my studies on weekends, my manager who was very helpful with approving flexible work options the last few days leading up to the exam (Work would not pay for the course or the exam or the books), ZZBloopZZ who's post inspired to me think of it like any other exam given enough effort for preparation and the confidence to tackle the exam in a short time frame (I believe in his post about shot deadlines for exams like this) and last but not the least, all the people who shared their experiences (good and bad - It takes a lot more courage to share a bad experience) on this great forum.

What Next:

GIAC GSEC. Trying to get into a Work Study program as work wont pay for it. Purchased the GSEC book by Ric Messier and The Network Security Bible by Dr. Eric Cole.

...........................................Keep believing in yourselves all....................


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