Inch Deep, Mile Wide

The CISSP Journey

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Personal CISSP Experiences

When I first started studying for the (ISC)² CISSP exam I wanted to know what I was up against.  I wanted to know more than the basic rules-250 questions, multiple choice, 6 hours, closed book, 80% failure rate, etc.  I wanted to know more than just an overview of what to study.  I wanted to know how to study, I wanted to know what worked for others and what didn’t.  I started to do Internet searches and found next to nothing!

I started this blog with the simple intention of journaling the journey.  I outlined resources and my study plan.  I switched gears.  But most of all I detailed what worked and what didn’t.  I also detailed my experiences of taking the CISSP exam (both times).

This blog got just under 250 hits in the month of December 2009.  I took the test December 5th 2009 and posted my study plan and experience shortly after.  It has gotten over 500 hits in its first 5 months.  It has gotten over 4700 hits in the first year!  It isn’t because of my incredible writing skills and awesome personality!  People want to know what to expect!  Knowledge is power.

Please, take time to read over my experience and my plan (including Plan B), but most of all please take the time to respond with your CISSP experiences.  List what resources you are using.  Explain your study methods (reading, taking notes, flash cards, videos, testing, etc.).  Discuss what is working and what is not.  How essential has your experience been?  Detail your test experience.  How long did it take?  What were your thoughts?  Was it difficult or easy?  Was it what you expected?  And most of all…Did you pass??!!  Be as honest as you care to be.  Hey I failed my first time.  Be as anonymous as you care to be.

Taking the CISSP Exam – My Personal Experience

CISSP Resources

Practice, Practice, Practice – My study plan, methods and experience

Déjà Vu: Taking the CISSP Exam – My Personal Experience (Part 2)

2 Responses to “Personal CISSP Experiences”

  1. Thanks For Sharing Durk said

    Durk –
    Thanks for sharing your path and results so openly. I heard about the CISSP 3 years ago and started studying for it then. My security qualifications are pretty weak but I’ve been in I/T for many years. My boss doesn’t have a budget for training/education. I’ve signed up for the exam but I expect to learn more than I expect to pass. I’ve read books, I’ve made notes, I’ve watched some vid’s, I’ve studied. Sometimes I feel confident, sometimes I feel like I can’t learn anymore. Sometimes I’m feeling if I can’t pass with what I’ve got then I’ll never pass. I believe that all the questions I’ve seen, ccure and the rest, are minnows compared to the sharks I expect on the exam, and I don’t do that well with the minnow questions. So I’m taking the CISSP exam as part of my study plan to pass the CISSP exam. I will try to pass it first time but I am going to concentrate on learning about it by doing it. Inch deep? Any given question could be a 10 foot deep question. Remember, Jason had to overcome cbk’s too, my friend.

    Durk says: Thanks so much for the comment. I like your plan, very interesting! The truth is you just don’t know until you try! I keep evaluating my experiences and it is like they want you to take all of the knowledge, all of the tests and then step it up to a more practical level. Or to take it all and twist it slightly to be viewed from a different angle…or something. Very good luck to you!

  2. Stan said

    I took the CISSP exam on 10 Jan 2010 and have yet to receive results; expecting worse now that I have learned there is an 80% first time failure rate. I plan to pursue the GIAC Security Leadership Certification (GSLC) fail or pass CISSP. I will not be taking CISSP a second time. My position only requires that I have a GSLC, CISM, or CISSP and the GSLC is more technical in line with my mission. Not to mention the GSLC is open book and an easy read given large font and ample whitespace. Only required to recert every four years versus every three with CISSP. The GSLC exam fee is less, no Annual Maintenance Fee of $85 dollars, no CPEs that can cost as much as $895 dollars a year; more cost effective to taxpayers in long run since government pays my maintenance fees. They require us to be Level III IAM certified so they cover costs albeit I paid out of pocket for initial CISSP and InfoSec course.

    As far as CISSP preparation, I committed well over 1200 hours of focused study too include a Fort Gordon CISSP MTT and InfoSec Institute course week of exam with no television and 16 hours of DAILY study (HELL week all over again). My path to exam included Shon Harris AIO audio during commutes anytime to anywhere even on my 17 hour trip to see Rockets play in Houston. I complete Skillport CBT, Carnegie Mellon CISSP VTE, cccure 1453 questions using max, pro,CISSP for Dummies, Michael Greggs ExamCram (both books), Shon Harris AIO Book, Boson Audio, the Official CBK and many cheat sheets such as AideMemoir, Overly, and Hughes. Basically sacrificed my personal life during the 60 days prior to exam.

    I cannot ethically describe CISSP exam but can say all the aforementioned study prep is nothing like actual exam questions. I felt confident going in and humbled myself departing. Pass or fail I can say, there were 35 questions I vividly remembered and verified later that night. Of the 35 I doubted I only missed 3, but no solace in this since who is to say that the ones I think I marked correctly were correct; very situational and subjective test with two best choice answers. I will let you no results when they arrive.

    Derin says: Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! MUCH appreciated! Well-stated about the going in confident and leaving humbled. I was humbled-and angry! It sounds like you definitely put the study time in. Skillport is also something that my employer offers and I am going to use the Skillport CBTs this time. I am also going to check out those cheat sheets. I sure hope you pass! Best of luck!

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