Took exam 10th December Brussels

alkeyholealkeyhole Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi all,

My experiences of the CISSP as I found it very useful reading other peoples.

First a quick bit of background on me purely for context: I'm 40s, been working in IT for nearly 20 years & the last 12 as a pure techie. Originally an OS guy then quickly moved onto networking & firewalls. Qualfication-wise I've done a bunch, including CCNP/CCDP/CCSE. I'm based near London UK but chose to take the exam in Brussels as that was the only way I could do it before Christmas & I didn't want to wait until the New Year.

I studied for about 3 months but that was fairly intense study, several hours of reading most days. I read the Shon Harris book (thank you Kindle, the device which makes heavy books OK for commuting with). I also read both books by Conrad. IMO the Shon Harris was definitely the best one but it's a far from perfect book IMO, although it covers lots of stuff it's so incredibly wordy it's a difficult book to read. And the writing style doesn't give you that much of an idea of which parts are ultra important & which parts are just covered to give a fuller understanding of a topic. Great if you're reading it for fun (!) but not so great if you want a study guide that's going to help you focus on passing an exam.

I also wrote about 30 pages of my own notes, mainly covering the stuff I considered needed to be memorized cold.

I'd spent the two weeks prior to the exam doing every practice question I could get my hands on, thousands of the things, & was scoring high on those, well into the 90s.

I travelled to Brussels on the Friday (nice city, every other shop sells chocolate & everyone speaks English). Booked into a hotel & was all set.

Saturday, the day of the exam: I don't know Brussels so was relying on taxis. This worked but meant I got to the site around 2 hours early. The building (an office building of a large consultancy) was open but the reception area was unstaffed, unlit (!) & unheated meaning it was FREEZING cold. Gradually it filled up with other candidates & we basically sat around, in my case getting up to walk around & stamp my feet to try to keep warm.

Eventually we were filed into the classroom. The dress code said smart casual so I'd worn trousers & a shirt. Almost no-one else did this, practically everyone else wore jeans & a sweat top. So the reality was that the dress code was more casual than smart casual. The classroom was a bit warmer than the reception but still cold. I spent the entire exam with my coat wrapped around my legs & when I wasn't actually writing an answer I sat on my hands to keep them warm.

There were no catering facilities, not even a glass of water let alone coffee etc (different from every other exam I've ever sat). I had known it was up us to take our own food & drink but hadn't appreciated quite how literally this should be interpreted. Since I'm usually to nervous to eat I hadn't taken anything at all.

The combination of the above meant that (entirely due to my own stupidity) by the time the exam started I was already freezing cold & had no prospect of getting warm or eating/drinking at any point for the 6 hours of the exam. Prospective candidates, don't do what I did. Take warm clothes, a flask of hot drink & also cold drinks + food. I wonder whether the spartan conditions are deliberate (perhaps to make testing conditions equal for all candidates around the world?). Either way they are certainly a factor that shouldn't be dismissed.


Onto the exam then. Prior to opening the question book I have to say I was pretty confident. I'd definitely prepared as well as I could & was hoping it would be a breeze.

That confidence had pretty much completely evaporated about 5 minutes later. I can honestly say I found the exam to be an absolute nightmare from start to finish. As is well-known, the questions tend to ask for the BEST answer or the FIRST thing you should do etc etc. What I hadn't appreciated is that in most cases, all 4 answers are entirely plausible (unlike most exams where you can often immediately rule out the two obvious "wrong" answers & then just have to decide which of other two is correct). Again & again I faced questions where all 4 answers were correct. Or incorrect! To try to illustrate this, here is an example of how the questions are (not an actual question, I just made this one up, but it's exactly like the ones I had throughout my exam):

"You are hired to purchase & deploy a firewall for a small Company that is preparing to launch a service the following month. The Company has a strict budget & specific security & encryption requirements. What is the MOST important factor when sourcing a suitable firewall for them?"

A) It's price must be within budget.

B) It must be able to be supplied & deployed in time for the service launch.

C) It must meet the security & encryption requirements.

D) It must be fit for purpose.


Like I say, not an actual question but the exam is chock-full of questions like that.


Personally I cannot overstate how difficult I found this exam. Most exams I've done there are lots of questions you "know" are correct, interspersed with some you have to take a stab at. I found the CISSP utterly disorientating because there are almost no questions (well at least not in my case) where you are actually certain you got the answer correct. It's a non-stop barrage of questions like the above. The net effect was kind of like being hit gently over the head 250 times with a wooden mallet. Not bad at first, but by the end of the exam you are utterly punch drunk.

OK fast forward to the end of the exam. I finished in 3 hours. I then spent another hour reviewing every single question & changed my answers on maybe a dozen. At that point I stopped because I was pretty sure if I reviewed it again I'd change a dozen more & I wasn't at all sure I wasn't changing correct answers to incorrect ones. Of my 250 questions I did not see one question that I'd seen in any practice exam (although obviously there were some that were similar. Not many though!)

Before the exam I was pretty sure I'd pass. Halfway through I was certain I'd fail. By the end I no longer had the faintest clue.

I was about the 3rd person to finish. I left the building at which point it occurred to me I was on an industrial estate surrounded by nothing but motorway in a foreign country with no clue of where I was or how to get back to my hotel. Thankfully one of the guys who finished just before me was outside & gave me the number of a cab firm otherwise I might still be there!

OK so then the wait begins. If the CISSP study is tough & the exam is gruelling, the wait for the results is absolutely brutal! After about two weeks I emailed asking if there was any way I could find out my result but was told no dice.


And then finally last night.....got my results email! I knew if I thought about it I wouldn't want to open it so I just opened it instantly, scanned it & o joy saw the word Congratulations!


And that's my story of the CISSP. (Well the exam part, still need to sort out the Endorsement but I work with some CISSPs who can endorse me).


Good luck for anyone doing this. If I had to give 3 pieces of advice they would be:

- Dress warm & take food & drink etc.

- Focus heavily on what the ISC thinks is most important. Endless questions depend on you understanding how things should be prioritised.

- Do whatever you have to do to turn up on the day with a clear head. Consider doing no study at all the couple days before the exam. I couldn't think straight by the end of the exam. Having a clear head is probably far more valuable than having memorised a few extra facts etc.




PS - if by any chance the chap who gave me the taxi number (I think it was a Spanish lad) is reading this - I hope you passed :)

Comments

  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,583 Admin
    Congratulations on passing the CISSP exam and thanks for the excellent review! icon_cheers.gif
  • skvskv Member Posts: 41 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congratulations on the pass!
  • DazeByGoneDazeByGone Member Posts: 8 ■□□□□□□□□□
    alkeyhole wrote: »
    I found the CISSP utterly disorientating because there are almost no questions (well at least not in my case) where you are actually certain you got the answer correct. It's a non-stop barrage of questions like the above. The net effect was kind of like being hit gently over the head 250 times with a wooden mallet. Not bad at first, but by the end of the exam you are utterly punch drunk.

    Ha! That is perfect!

    Love your example question, too. So, which one is the correct answer...or does it have one? icon_smile.gif
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,583 Admin
    DazeByGone wrote: »
    So, which one is the correct answer...or does it have one? icon_smile.gif
    Two of the four answer choices are correct, but one is more correct than the other. icon_shaking.gif
  • kgaamangwe(Botswana)kgaamangwe(Botswana) Registered Users Posts: 1 ■□□□□□□□□□
    kgaamangwe(Botswana) PASSED CISSP : SAT ON DEC 4TH, 2011 IN JOHANNESBURG (JHB) SOUTH AFRICA.

    I received my results: " Congrats, ......." when I checked my mail on 04 Jan 2012, sent on 03 Jan 2012.

    I only used the 2008 CBT nuggets video cbt kit, studied for 3 weeks, using these, then skimmed through an old 2004 CISSP Sybex Book the last week . Then attended a 5 day official (ISC) CIsSP Bootcamp course in JHB, RSA. Used the official IC2 study guide handed at the course

    Am an electronic engineer who is an ICT network manager been doing data communications since graduation in Dec 2007. Telecomm/Data coms and Cryptography mainly.


    The exam requires an all rounder in all 10 domains, recommend you attend the official ISC2 course and complement with CBT Nuggets and CISSP Sybex book.

    Have a good night sleep before the exam, since it does really NUMB THE BRAIN , lack of sleep will really make the experience of this gruelling 6 hour exam very unpleasent.

    With Regards,







    alkeyhole wrote: »
    Hi all,

    My experiences of the CISSP as I found it very useful reading other peoples.

    First a quick bit of background on me purely for context: I'm 40s, been working in IT for nearly 20 years & the last 12 as a pure techie. Originally an OS guy then quickly moved onto networking & firewalls. Qualfication-wise I've done a bunch, including CCNP/CCDP/CCSE. I'm based near London UK but chose to take the exam in Brussels as that was the only way I could do it before Christmas & I didn't want to wait until the New Year.

    I studied for about 3 months but that was fairly intense study, several hours of reading most days. I read the Shon Harris book (thank you Kindle, the device which makes heavy books OK for commuting with). I also read both books by Conrad. IMO the Shon Harris was definitely the best one but it's a far from perfect book IMO, although it covers lots of stuff it's so incredibly wordy it's a difficult book to read. And the writing style doesn't give you that much of an idea of which parts are ultra important & which parts are just covered to give a fuller understanding of a topic. Great if you're reading it for fun (!) but not so great if you want a study guide that's going to help you focus on passing an exam.

    I also wrote about 30 pages of my own notes, mainly covering the stuff I considered needed to be memorized cold.

    I'd spent the two weeks prior to the exam doing every practice question I could get my hands on, thousands of the things, & was scoring high on those, well into the 90s.

    I travelled to Brussels on the Friday (nice city, every other shop sells chocolate & everyone speaks English). Booked into a hotel & was all set.

    Saturday, the day of the exam: I don't know Brussels so was relying on taxis. This worked but meant I got to the site around 2 hours early. The building (an office building of a large consultancy) was open but the reception area was unstaffed, unlit (!) & unheated meaning it was FREEZING cold. Gradually it filled up with other candidates & we basically sat around, in my case getting up to walk around & stamp my feet to try to keep warm.

    Eventually we were filed into the classroom. The dress code said smart casual so I'd worn trousers & a shirt. Almost no-one else did this, practically everyone else wore jeans & a sweat top. So the reality was that the dress code was more casual than smart casual. The classroom was a bit warmer than the reception but still cold. I spent the entire exam with my coat wrapped around my legs & when I wasn't actually writing an answer I sat on my hands to keep them warm.

    There were no catering facilities, not even a glass of water let alone coffee etc (different from every other exam I've ever sat). I had known it was up us to take our own food & drink but hadn't appreciated quite how literally this should be interpreted. Since I'm usually to nervous to eat I hadn't taken anything at all.

    The combination of the above meant that (entirely due to my own stupidity) by the time the exam started I was already freezing cold & had no prospect of getting warm or eating/drinking at any point for the 6 hours of the exam. Prospective candidates, don't do what I did. Take warm clothes, a flask of hot drink & also cold drinks + food. I wonder whether the spartan conditions are deliberate (perhaps to make testing conditions equal for all candidates around the world?). Either way they are certainly a factor that shouldn't be dismissed.


    Onto the exam then. Prior to opening the question book I have to say I was pretty confident. I'd definitely prepared as well as I could & was hoping it would be a breeze.

    That confidence had pretty much completely evaporated about 5 minutes later. I can honestly say I found the exam to be an absolute nightmare from start to finish. As is well-known, the questions tend to ask for the BEST answer or the FIRST thing you should do etc etc. What I hadn't appreciated is that in most cases, all 4 answers are entirely plausible (unlike most exams where you can often immediately rule out the two obvious "wrong" answers & then just have to decide which of other two is correct). Again & again I faced questions where all 4 answers were correct. Or incorrect! To try to illustrate this, here is an example of how the questions are (not an actual question, I just made this one up, but it's exactly like the ones I had throughout my exam):

    "You are hired to purchase & deploy a firewall for a small Company that is preparing to launch a service the following month. The Company has a strict budget & specific security & encryption requirements. What is the MOST important factor when sourcing a suitable firewall for them?"

    A) It's price must be within budget.

    B) It must be able to be supplied & deployed in time for the service launch.

    C) It must meet the security & encryption requirements.

    D) It must be fit for purpose.


    Like I say, not an actual question but the exam is chock-full of questions like that.


    Personally I cannot overstate how difficult I found this exam. Most exams I've done there are lots of questions you "know" are correct, interspersed with some you have to take a stab at. I found the CISSP utterly disorientating because there are almost no questions (well at least not in my case) where you are actually certain you got the answer correct. It's a non-stop barrage of questions like the above. The net effect was kind of like being hit gently over the head 250 times with a wooden mallet. Not bad at first, but by the end of the exam you are utterly punch drunk.

    OK fast forward to the end of the exam. I finished in 3 hours. I then spent another hour reviewing every single question & changed my answers on maybe a dozen. At that point I stopped because I was pretty sure if I reviewed it again I'd change a dozen more & I wasn't at all sure I wasn't changing correct answers to incorrect ones. Of my 250 questions I did not see one question that I'd seen in any practice exam (although obviously there were some that were similar. Not many though!)

    Before the exam I was pretty sure I'd pass. Halfway through I was certain I'd fail. By the end I no longer had the faintest clue.

    I was about the 3rd person to finish. I left the building at which point it occurred to me I was on an industrial estate surrounded by nothing but motorway in a foreign country with no clue of where I was or how to get back to my hotel. Thankfully one of the guys who finished just before me was outside & gave me the number of a cab firm otherwise I might still be there!

    OK so then the wait begins. If the CISSP study is tough & the exam is gruelling, the wait for the results is absolutely brutal! After about two weeks I emailed asking if there was any way I could find out my result but was told no dice.


    And then finally last night.....got my results email! I knew if I thought about it I wouldn't want to open it so I just opened it instantly, scanned it & o joy saw the word Congratulations!


    And that's my story of the CISSP. (Well the exam part, still need to sort out the Endorsement but I work with some CISSPs who can endorse me).


    Good luck for anyone doing this. If I had to give 3 pieces of advice they would be:

    - Dress warm & take food & drink etc.

    - Focus heavily on what the ISC thinks is most important. Endless questions depend on you understanding how things should be prioritised.

    - Do whatever you have to do to turn up on the day with a clear head. Consider doing no study at all the couple days before the exam. I couldn't think straight by the end of the exam. Having a clear head is probably far more valuable than having memorised a few extra facts etc.




    PS - if by any chance the chap who gave me the taxi number (I think it was a Spanish lad) is reading this - I hope you passed :)
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