Passed the CISSP - First test in ~10 Years

bobloblawbobloblaw Member Posts: 228
Study Materials - AIO CISSP Exam Guide 5th Edition by Shon Harris. Exam Prep Quizzer within the book. Transcender CISSP Practice Exams.

I took my friends advice and skimmed the book at first. It can get so in depth so quick that it will really bog you down in areas if you let it. When it starts getting extremely tech heavy and hits on memorization, I would just start flipping pages. I find the CISSP cert to be very broad stroke, so I think getting it conceptually is much better for passing the test than raw memorization.

After skimming the book I would take the quizzes from the Exam Guide by Shon. I was weak in what I consider the memorization domains (Network, Crypto, & Apps/Systems). I focused intensely on these and drastically improved my knowledge and understanding of all of them... only to watch 3-4 other domains take a 10% hit. In other words, don't stop refreshing your knowledge or quizzing yourself on the other CISSP domains.

A couple weeks before the test while I was pretty confident I thought "Why not get another quizzer?" Transcenders have always had a decent rep, so I went out and bought it. Humbling doesn't even begin to tell you how I felt after doing a no study dry run full sim on the Transcender. I got a 67. I had my hands in the air shaking my head at many a question. I'm not saying I passed because of the Transcender. There's absolutely no way anyone could just do the Transcender and pass in my opinion. I will say that without the Transcender, I would have failed. I have no doubt.

My studying two weeks prior to the exam went exactly like this - Quiz a domain on the Quiz that came with the Book/Quiz the same domain on the Quiz from Transcender. Take notes for anything I missed (all practice quizzes where you can review the answers on both). I would get 90+ on the Quizzer w/the exam guide, and 70-80 on the Transcender.

The actual test - The Transcender questions obviously did not match anything on the actual test. They did, however, simulate in a great way how the questions are asked. READ THE QUESTIONS TWICE. I can't stress this enough. I can't speak for anyone else, but I genuinely thought halfway through the test I was failing it. I was livid. I calmed down, decided I would plan another study strategy after getting my FAILED results, and shoot for the end of January. Every test I've taken I've known exactly what score I was going to get. I can't tell you how many questions I answered where I knew it was one or the other, but wasn't 100%. Like someone said before, I'm going with no less than 90 in my case for a coin flip level of uncertainty. Regardless, I surprisingly passed. I have no idea what I got. I could've killed it, or I could've barely passed. Normally something like that would bother me, but for a $600 test that I passed - I could care less.

Good luck to anyone pursuing it. I found Shon's book to encompass all the written knowledge needed to pass the test. I didn't see anything on the test, even if I didn't know it, that wasn't expressly covered in that ~1100 page monster of a book. Also, get another quizzer. Don't rely on just one.


  • emerald_octaneemerald_octane Member Posts: 613
    Congrats on passing. Most everyone feels like they're going to fail big time. Infact I studied during the subsequent weeks after the test (when we had to wait for the results) because i felt there was no way I pulled it off.
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,893 Admin
    Congratulations! icon_cheers.gif And what a great detail of your experience!

    What is your background in IT and InfoSec?
  • paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Congratsicon_cheers.gif The CISSP can be a "fun" one to do if you have never taken a cert exam before.
  • IvanjamIvanjam Member Posts: 978 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats, bobloblaw - job well done! icon_thumright.gif
    Fall 2014: Start MA in Mathematics [X]
    Fall 2016: Start PhD in Mathematics [X]
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,909 Mod
  • bobloblawbobloblaw Member Posts: 228
    Congrats on passing. Most everyone feels like they're going to fail big time. Infact I studied during the subsequent weeks after the test (when we had to wait for the results) because i felt there was no way I pulled it off.

    ~12 years. From desktop support to Novell admin to NT to Active Directory design/admin (you know the drill). Access control, hardening, anti-virus, patch management, change control, etc. It hasn't been challenging for years now, plus I absolutely had to make a change. Systems consolidation is so easy now whereas you used to have a local IS guy (ie - me) managing a dozen or so local servers, you can now essentially have a small handful of guys offsite managing an obscene amount of servers.
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    bobl exactly

    Regardless nice creds to add to your resume. Well done!
  • ThistlebackThistleback Member Posts: 151
    Congrats! I got it this fall on my first try, and it is the only cert exam I've ever taken. It's a doozie alright!
    Feel the fear, and do it anyway!
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