Starting the GSEC - First SANS Course

5ekurity5ekurity Member Posts: 346 ■■■□□□□□□□
After much debate and going back and forth, I've decided to pursue the GSEC before I venture into the GCED or GCIH material I'm also interested in taking. Since many of the other course require the fundamentals, I figured it would be best to validate and fill in the gaps (especially in the Linux arena) with the GSEC.

I'm going to be starting the OnDemand training over the next couple of days, and have also armed myself with the Network Security Bible (2nd Edition). My approach is going to be watching the OnDemand videos and then reading the courseware; after I am done with a section, go back and index it while each concept / term is fresh in my head (and so I don't get burned out by indexing later on).

Anything else I should be aware of?


  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 12,015 Admin
  • LionelTeoLionelTeo Member Posts: 526 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I personally like to read through the book for the second time and highlight out those important point, its makes me understand better as I read along; and helps to pick out anything I did not digest correctly before. It's the easiest way to bump up your score by 10-20%
  • laughing_manlaughing_man Member Posts: 84 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Also check out this link:
    How to Guide for making a SANS / GIAC Index with Pictures | Digital Forensics Tips

    Gives a great example on how to make and index. Granted this was for the GCIH, but the index format works just the same. Good luck! When you are done I'd love your personal thoughts comparing GSEC to CISSP.
  • 5ekurity5ekurity Member Posts: 346 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks everyone for the links / tips! Just got the OnDemand access last night and started to dive in a little before I went to bed. Excited to knock this thing out!
    When you are done I'd love your personal thoughts comparing GSEC to CISSP.

    No problem, I'd be happy to do so. Some of the topics seem like they would be very similar, but I've heard the GSEC is a more 'technical' exam. I'm hoping that they end up complimenting each other well.
  • 5ekurity5ekurity Member Posts: 346 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Finally getting around to taking the GSEC within the next week or so. OnDemand completed; made about a 20 page index and completed the practice exam last night in about 2:30 with a passing score of 94%. Initially, I was checking answers I was pretty sure I knew, but then as I got in my groove I found myself using the books and index a lot less from about the half-way point on.

    I've heard the practice exams tend to be a bit more difficult than the actual exam; anyone have thoughts regarding this? Not worried about passing the exam, but I definitely want to get a 90% or better on the actual.
  • laughing_manlaughing_man Member Posts: 84 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Sounds like you are on the right track.

    Folks have differing opinions on the practice test difficulty. I have only done the GSEC and GCIH, but all 4 of the practice tests I took I felt were harder than the real thing. It may be strictly psychological though.
  • Khaos1911Khaos1911 Member Posts: 366
    I personally thought the practice exams and the real thing were about the same in terms of difficulty. GSEC was exhausting, man! I did it in about 4 hours and didn't take a break, double checked way too many questions I knew the answers to. When I was done I was so drained, I just went home and laid the down the rest of the day. I passed with a 85. Good luck to you!
  • 5ekurity5ekurity Member Posts: 346 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the feedback; I sit for the exam Tuesday morning so I think I'm good to go!
  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    The GSEC was my first GIAC exam and I distinctly remember starting off a little too fast paced and it cost me during my first thirty or so questions when I wasn't reading carefully or second-guessing myself. GIAC exams provide enough time for you to complete the exam, provided you have a fundamental understanding of the material. Avoid the temptation to rush through it. The questions are well-reviewed and almost never have grammatical errors, etc. which may confuse or mislead (unlike other certifications exam from other providers I've taken).

    Your index is your friend, but be sure to tab your courseware books so you can look up sections quickly. I almost never use my index these days (mostly just the courseware), although the process of creating the index helps ingrain the material better into my head, making it more second nature.

    Practice vs. real exams - these have always felt roughly the same to me. I've gone through quite a few GIAC exams in the last few years and that's been my personal experience.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written:
  • 5ekurity5ekurity Member Posts: 346 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the added feedback; sat for the exam today and passed with a 95% in 3:30. I found myself selecting the answer I was pretty sure of, then validating via index / book reference. I felt like I started off a little slow, then started picking up around questions 100-110. I think the practice was a pretty accurate depiction of the real exam, not too many surprises on the real exam that I didn't feel were covered in the material.

    Overall, the exam experience was good and I'll definitely be taking on another -thinking 501 or 504.
  • azmattazmatt Member Posts: 114
    Congrats! Great score.
  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    To add a side note about the comment where the practice exams might feel a bit more difficult than the real exam - I think 1) going through the actual class, 2) creating your index, 3) listening to the MP3s, and 4) going through a practice exam or two and with additional general study and review, this results in at least four separate exposures / efforts of the course material. At each step, you're reinforcing (force-feeding, layering, filling in gaps, etc.) the information into your head.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written:
Sign In or Register to comment.