GIAC Exams

SephStormSephStorm Posts: 1,732Member
Question, I know most people use the official study material from SANS to study for GIAC exams, make indexes and tab their books. I'm trying to understand why. What is it that is tested that requires such preperation? Is it the name of tools that perform certain functions, or command line options? During my study for the GCIH, there wasn't much I felt I couldnt remember or have an understanding on, what has been your experiences? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from Paul Boz and Doctrice

Comments

  • docricedocrice Posts: 1,706Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    For one thing, all the questions are derived off the course material. But I suspect you're asking why the need for the seemingly lengthy preparation. In a nutshell - too much minutia to remember. Or it's an excuse in saying my brain capacity isn't that great. Plus the cost of the exam is too sizable to ignore.

    It's one thing to understand the concepts and general philosophy of the subject matter, but sometimes the questions are nitpicky. More recently a number of different topics within the course material can get wrapped into a single question, requiring you to both understand the foundational issues as well as needing to know certain specifics. And then there are times when the question provides answer choices which mirrors courseware text nearly word-for-word somewhere in the books. Those are the really lame questions, in my opinion. I already gave GIAC my two cents about that.

    The exams are typically four hours long. I need to finish in half that time. If I have to go beyond that, my mental stamina gets seriously tested and the potential for crashing exponentially increases. This is why timing is important for me. I never try to underestimate the challenge of an exam, and each time I sat for a GIAC exam I always walked away with some degree of soreness as if I just got out of the gym. GIAC exams are reasonable tests. The ones I've taken haven't been excruciatingly difficult nor trivial even with the books in-hand.

    At the end of the day, you need to know the fundamentals of what the material covers. I don't want to spend exam time flipping pages for every question unless it's just to confirm my suspicion (which I do a lot, and I'm usually right). There's also that psychological incentive of getting the 90+ percent score. That push helps me absorb the material a bit more, hopefully to preserve it longer for future use, but otherwise getting that minimum score doesn't do much except bragging rights since I'm already on the Advisory Board list and these scores aren't publicly published anymore.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
  • SephStormSephStorm Posts: 1,732Member
    1. You have way too much reputation.

    2. Thanks for the reply, that makes sense, I just wish I could track down where I put my GCIH books.

    EDIT: Found. Do you have any guidance on how to make an effective index?
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAPosts: 11,380Admin Admin
    SephStorm wrote: »
    EDIT: Found. Do you have any guidance on how to make an effective index?
    Check out my two blog articles on the SANS 401 class and GSEC exam. My thoughts on indexing SANS materials are there.

    My Study Plan for the GIAC GSEC Exam - TechExams.net IT Certification Blogs
  • paul78paul78 Posts: 3,013Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    SephStorm wrote: »
    EDIT: Found. Do you have any guidance on how to make an effective index?
    I used PostIT note strips. Worked very well for me and I didn't have to spend much time doing it.

    It probably depends on your comfort level with the material.
  • docricedocrice Posts: 1,706Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    My strategy in building an index is creating a minimized **** sheet about stuff I don't know very well. I use the term "**** sheet" because a small part of me feels that way about GIAC exams due to the open-book nature and the seeming ability to game them. Now before I go on, I should say that I think I understand why it's an open-book exam - the subject matter covers a wide array of topics, tools, and other real-world field-lessons that isn't consistent in texture compared to say a Cisco exam where the ideology and specifics feel the same (CLI syntax, etc.). With the technical depth that's typical of GIAC exams, it would be really, really hard for a lot of people to pass without the ability to (paper) Google like we do in real life on the job. Maybe that kind of difficulty level would be a good thing.

    My goal is to understand the material well enough that I don't have to think too much to figure out the answer, even though I don't know the exact little detail (to do x, you must use the parameter y for the tool z). I try to keep my index as few pages as possible. I read through the courseware, note each topic/section and their book/page number as a one-liner, and for any topic that I'm not too comfortable with I make a bullet list of summaries. If the index ends up being more than 20 - 30 pages, I'm going to suffer come exam day. Flipping through pages eats seconds/minutes, and since I must finish within a couple of hours, I need to minimize the amount of time I check my reference material.

    You can probably surmise that I would never do well on the CISSP exam.

    In the end, my index is tailored to my lack of understanding of specifics or ability to grasp them sufficiently. This is why I generally don't share my index with others.

    Come to think of it, for the last few GIAC exams I've taken I've rarely checked my index and instead went straight to the books since I pretty much had every section marked with labeled sticky tabs.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
  • JDMurrayJDMurray Certification Invigilator Surf City, USAPosts: 11,380Admin Admin
    In the SANS course I took it was mentioned that in the real world you would have access to reference materials for solving problems, so this is reflected in the open book nature of the GIAC exams. Open book exams are typically more difficult because the exam items are written with the idea that the exam candidate will have the printed course materials and their notes to reference during the exam. This added difficultly seems to be offset by GIAC exams having lower passing scores as compared to most other IT certification exams.
  • SephStormSephStorm Posts: 1,732Member
    Thank you all for the info, i'm going to take this to heart and see what I can do in the upcoming weeks.
  • YYZYYZ Posts: 8Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Could you give me examples of how you index looked? Any help would be appreciated as I am preparing for the GSEC exam. Thanks
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