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My Top Ten Tips For Preparing and Passing The CISSP Exam nigeria

Nigerian Approach excerpted

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification from The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium [(ISC)2] is arguably the most sought-after and widely accepted certification in the information security industry. It’s become established as the standard baseline for demonstrating knowledge and proving expertise in this sphere.

Compared with most other technical certification exams, the CISSP exam is quite long. Passing the test requires not only the prerequisite knowledge to answer the questions correctly, but the stamina and mental fortitude to get through the six-hour, 250-question paper-based exam. For an information security professional, preparing for the CISSP exam is a little bit like a runner preparing to race in a marathon.

Don’t fret, though. It can be done. There are plenty of CISSPs out there in the world as proof that you can pass the exam. Here are 10 tips I recommend to prepare for this challenge and give yourself the best possible chance of success.

Tip #1: Hands-On Experience
One of the requirements for being awarded the CISSP certification is a certain amount of time in the industry and hands-on experience: three to four years of full-time work, depending on your educational background. Even if it wasn’t a requirement, hands-on experience is a valuable means of learning about computer security.

Note: If you don’t have three to four years of experience, that doesn’t mean you can’t sit the CISSP exam. (ISC)2 will allow those who pass the exam without meeting the experience requirements to become Associates of (ISC)2, and then award them the CISSP title after the experience requirement has been met.

Many people simply learn and retain information better when they actually do it instead of just reading about it. You can listen to seminars and read books about various aspects of information security, but until you do it yourself and experience it firsthand, it’s just theory. In most cases, nothing teaches faster than actually doing it and learning from your own mistakes.

Another way to get hands-on experience, especially in areas you’re not currently focused on at work, is to set up your own mini lab. Use old or virtual computers to experiment with different operating systems and security configurations.

Tip #2: Begin Studying in Advance
The CISSP certification demonstrates that you know a little bit about a lot of different information security topics. Even if you work in the information security industry, odds are that you don’t focus on all 10 core bodies of knowledge (CBKs), or subject matter areas covered by the CISSP, on a day-to-day basis. You may be expert in one or two areas, and very familiar with a handful more, but there are probably at least one or two CBKs that you’ll almost have to teach yourself from scratch to pass the examination.

Don’t expect to start studying the week before your exam and think you can pick up enough about subjects you’re not familiar with to pass. The scope of the information covered is huge, which you’ll need to study and learn over a long period of time, so don't expect to just cram the night before. I suggest you start studying at least three months before your exam date and draw up a schedule for yourself to ensure you dedicate at least an hour or two a day studying. It’s not unheard of for CISSP candidates to begin preparing six to nine months out.

Tip #3: Use a Study Guide, if Not More Than One
There are a number of excellent books you can use to help you prepare for and pass the CISSP exam. Study guides and exam preparation books can help boil down the mass amounts of information and assist you in keying in on the critical components you need to remember to pass the exam.

The sheer volume of information covered in the exam makes it difficult, if not impossible, to learn about everything in depth. Rather than trying to learn in a vacuum, so to speak, and not knowing which components of a given subject area are truly important, checking out some CISSP exam guides can help you key in on the specific information within the CBKs that matters most for passing the exam.

CISSP preparation books will certainly not make you an expert in subjects you’re not already an expert in. But, for the subject areas you know little or nothing about, a CISSP book, such as the “CISSP All-In-One Exam Guide” by Shon Harris, provides you clues and guidance about what the important information from those subjects is when it comes to passing the exam.

Tip #4: Make Use of Free Resources
When the economy dips and budgets get tightened, one of the first things to go from corporate spending is training. There are plenty of courses, boot camps and cram sessions that promise to prepare you for the CISSP exam, but they are exceptionally expensive. As much as possible, for your own benefit, you should look for resources that are free.

Experience is an excellent teacher, but it doesn’t always have to be your own personal experience. By joining online forums, mailing lists or local user groups, you can associate with others working in information security and learn from their mistakes and examples. Exchanging stories, issues and solutions among your peers will provide you with invaluable real-world scenarios to learn from rather than just theoretical book knowledge. Check out the many CISSP study groups on the Web, or look to join a local one with other candidates in your area.

Search online and you can find various study guides and practice exams or articles (such as this one) available for free. Here’s some links to get you started:

* SearchSecurity.com’s “Security School: Training for CISSP Certification” Webcast training series by Shon Harris
* Free study guides straight from the source -- (ISC)2.
* CCCure.org
* About.com’s Web page on the (ISC)2 CISSP certification.

Tip #5: Practice Makes Perfect
Even if you’re confident that you have sufficient knowledge across all 10 areas of subject matter to pass the exam, you should take some sample or practice exams before you go take the real test. Practice exams will enable you to assess your knowledge and also prepare you for the types of questions you might see so you aren't caught off-guard on test day.

Many of the study guides and CISSP preparation books come with a CD containing a practice exam or some sort of practice test. You can also get practice questions from each of the ten CBKs in the Web cast training sessions mentioned above. Longer practice exams that mimic the CISSP in terms of length and scope are available from some providers, like Boson and Transcender. Also stop by CCCure.org and check out its online quiz engine.

Tip #6: Read Carefully
When you first start the exam, you might be excited just to find out you actually understand the questions. The terms used and information covered may seem to be exactly what you’ve prepared for, and you could become a tad cocky or be lulled into a false sense of security.

No matter how familiar the information may seem or how easy the questions sound at first glance, it’s imperative you take a deep breath, slow down just a bit and make sure you read every word of every question to make sure you’re answering the question being asked.

Test writers like to use double-negatives or slide words in to change the meaning of the question. Missing the word "not" in a sentence can be catastrophic.

Tip #7: Watch the Clock
Time management is essential for the CISSP. You have six hours to complete the CISSP exam, which might seem like an eternity to take one test. It’s not.

Do the math: With 250 questions, you have less than 90 seconds per question in that six-hour time span. If you spend five minutes pondering one question, you need to answer three other questions in under 20 seconds to stay on track to finish within the allotted time. And you still have to read each question carefully, as pointed out in the previous tip; keep your eye on the clock as well to make sure you’re making sufficient progress to finish on time.

You should be able to answer many questions in the blink of an eye, so you’ll have some time to spare to dedicate to questions that stump you. However, you aren’t going to suddenly learn information you don’t know if you stare at the question long enough. Give yourself enough time to think about the question and try to remember the answer, but after a couple minutes just pick your favorite answer and move on. Better to take your chances on getting one question wrong than to devote so much time to that one question that you run out of time and never get a chance to answer a handful of easier questions.

Tip #8: Stretch and Relax
It’s difficult enough to think under pressure without adding discomfort. Six hours is a long time to sit in one place. If your mind is too stressed or tense, or you’re physically uncomfortable, it’s difficult to focus and think straight.

Yes, I did just got done writing about how little time you have to devote to each question in the first place. For many people though, a short break to stand up, stretch and relax will prove invaluable. Stretching your muscles and giving your brain a few seconds of serenity will help you to concentrate on the questions in front of you and think clearly about the answers, rather than focusing on how uncomfortable the chairs are or getting so stressed out that you can’t think straight.

Tip #9: Get Some Sleep!
No, there won't be any entertainment during the test and the questions are not that engaging. To make sure you don't fall asleep or disrupt your neighbor's concentration with your growling stomach, make sure you get a solid night of sleep and eat a good, healthy breakfast before testing. Being well rested and getting the proper nutrition the day of the exam will serve you much better than pulling an all-night cram-session.

Aside from these two imperatives, though, how you prepare the night before or the morning of the exam is a personal choice. Some people may want to read their notes, take another exam simulation test or cram down to the very last second. Personally, I woke up and played Tetris all morning. I find it gets my brain in gear while also taking my mind off of the stress of the exam.

Tip #10: Don't Be Intimidated
Some people can take almost any test cold and still pass. Others may have dedicated themselves to studying and learning everything they possibly can for months, and freeze up on test day. If you have the above tips you should be prepared and have no problem passing the exam. Don't let the 250 questions or the six hours intimidate you.

It’s a long exam to earn a valuable certification which may have an impact on your career and your future. But when exam day comes, you either know the information or you don’t. Have faith in yourself that you’ve done all you can to prepare for and pass the CISSP exam and don't pop a blood vessel trying to second-guess yourself.

Best of luck to all of you on your path to the CISSP!

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Replies to This Book Discussion

The exam is a very strenuous one so time management and fatigue strategy is essential.

1. Answer questions that you're SURE of within the first 100 questions
2. Then take a 5 minute snack/drink break or restroom break
3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you get to the last question which should be question 250
4. Then answer questions that you are not so sure of but have a "pretty good idea" what the correct answer
5. Then take a 5 minute snack/drink break or restroom break
6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until you get to the last question
7. Go through your scantron sheet (yes, I said scantron 'cos there are still people out there still using them)
and guess the remaining questions. You have a better chance guessing than not answering at all.

Be very careful not to answer a question more than once by shading in more than one response because you'll be marked wrong. Scantron sheet markers only recognize one response. You have 6 hours at your disposal so use all the time you need. You don't get special marks for finishing early...

Above all, pray that God grants you the focus and strength to finish successfully.....

I hail~!
I hail~!

I found this blog and thought it would be helpful for all CISSP aspirants. The writer adopted some of the strategies I used. I hope you enjoy the read and extract some wisdom for your quest to become a CISSP.


nice blog na wa o d guy spose get hundred percent !
another testimony of how i passed the cissp exam !

Well, yes it’s true. I cleared the CISSP exam (Certified Information System Security Professional) from ISC2 (www.isc2.org) last week and just few days away from getting the actual certificate. The last step in certification, the endorsement, is going on and might get over in couple of weeks.

The sheer success, the help I got and my efforts compelled me to share my study pattern and exam plans with the community. Hope it will be of use for other aspirants.

I have been working in information security area all my career (of seven years, my Linkedin profile has more info) and was longing for a security certificate despite different titles and roles I had as practitioner, manager or consultant. So, after being pensive for couple of years I finally reassured myself that I am competent enough to sign up. I also coaxed one of my friends to sign up along (he too eventually passed, read his experiences in his blog here).

I picked up the following to start with:

1. Cccure.org’s Introductory video by Clement Dupuis
2. Shon Harris, All In One (AIO) CISSP Exam guide, 4th Edition
3. The cccure.org CISSP Discussion Forum
4. Free practice tests from cccure.org
5. Support and cooperation from family members (and assurance from my manager!)

Clement’s introductory video was too good for me and I would strongly recommend it for all the CISSP aspirants. This should be one of the first things to start with. I browsed through the CISSP forums in cccure.org and found a lot of quick tips on study patterns, books to refer, tips and suggestions on easy/tough domains, etc. I also took up some free practice tests from cccure.org and from the CD that came with the Shon's book. All those combined helped me to identify my weak and strong areas. I prepared a plan prioritising the domains that I should start with and concentrate more. I (falsely!?) assured myself that Shon Harris's AIO was enough and started with the domains that I believed was weak. As the book was heavy I tore the book apart vertically in three pieces and so that the each piece ends or begins with a new chapter. This doesn’t look good but helped me as I read them while on bed too.

After the end of each chapter, I took up practice tests to gauge my new skills and to note down my weak topics. I studied for 2-4 hours after work and on some days it was nil. This was my study pattern up to a week before the exam. I had about 3 months of time from registering and the exam date (I had deferred it once) and didn’t actually utilize all the available time. I covered all domains once eventually in 3 long months, though I should have revised once or read another exam reference book in same time.

During the last week, I took 4 days off from work and increased my study time to 12-15 hours per day. This is where I started to feel that the Shon’s AIO was not enough and borrowed the ISC2 Official CISSP Exam Guide book to study more. I dreaded to read that 1000+ pages of dead weight and dropped that idea. I got some quick reference guides and memoirs (my friend shared all those with me and explains them in his blog) to read with. Two days before the exam I reserved my time for revising and updating myself from all the quick points I made and the short guides. I repeatedly took practice tests to make sure I am able to keep things in my mind. For the last day, I took a print copy of the ref guides and my notes to study offline and to take some times off from the computer screen.

For the exam, I had prepared myself with all gears as suggested by ISC2 candidate bulletin and tips from cccure.org forum. I got some new no.2 pencils, a dust free eraser, pencil sharpener, ID proofs (passport, driving license, etc), sandwiches, fruit juice, a winter jacket, print copy of the admission letter, an English-English pocket dictionary. Never mind of what people may think of you, make sure to utilize all available resources to help write your exam peacefully. In my opinion, food is an absolute necessary as it would be a long day with 6-hour exam, plus time for resgistering and travelling. It’s better if the food is prepared at home by your wife, mom or by yourself (wife or mom will add that special and unique ingredient called love!) as you wouldn’t want to take chances on outdoor food. A jacket will help if the exam room is too cold; I didn’t want to waste my time in an argument with staff, proctor or other candidates on what should be the ideal room temperature. The dictionary will help you to look up for new words that you might not have heard of but knew its meaning.

On the D-day, as planned I took all the stuff, but missed to include the dictionary and jacket, though it didn’t affect much. I used a particular pattern to take up the exam efficiently and successfully which you will get to know in a while. Do listen carefully to all the instructions the proctor says, its very very important. You might invalidate your answer paper or candidature if its not followed properly. After he finished and gave the go ahead, I had a quick glance on the questions, and started answering.

As said, the pattern that I adopted for the exam is multiple iterations of quick scanning all 250 questions and answering them. In the first iteration, I spent not more that 20-25 seconds for each of the question (the paper has 250 questions and 6 hours, which effectively comes to around 84 seconds per question including breaks, paperwork, etc). Here I answered the questions I was dead sure of and left out the questions that I was unsure. I spent about 2 hours and answered only about 120 questions, but for the ambiguous answers I made sure to mark both. After the first cycle I realised that Shon’s AIO book indeed is not enough and was scared to hell at the meagre number of right answers I had. There were numerous questions which I was never heard of and was sweating from head to toe!

Wiping the sweat off my palms I went for second iteration; here I was able to answer many more, including few questions that were ambiguous. The first cycle’s experience helped a lot here. I was able to answer about 100 more in next 2 hours. I also changed some answers that were recorded in first cycle and corrected some parallax errors, whew!! By this time, I was picking up pieces of my courage and confidence from the floor.

In third iteration, surprisingly, I was cooler than before and had a clear mind to solve new problems. I answered the questions that I thought were completely new to me, and corrected couple of more answers again. In this iteration I had to guess couple of answers which I was unsure of. I did a final comparison of marked answers in the question paper with those darkened in the answer paper and made sure that all were right and all 250 were answered. By this time, it was 3pm and the proctor made the final call and I realised that I didn’t had a single minute and niether wasted any.

Few crucial things I did parallely were: transferring the answers to the sheet for every 20 questions that I answered. That is, all the tick marks done on the question paper need to be transferred to darkened circles for the right question numbers in the OMR sheet. This looks trivial, but is very important as many people don’t get time to transfer all answers to the paper at the end. Make sure you keep transferring answers regularly or at least keep an hour at the end. Also I made sure to take quick regular breaks for the loo, water and for food: my fruit juice and sandwich. Don’t take on the exam with an empty stomach or tight filled bladder. Those things make your mind wander and weaken your analytical skills and ability to solve problems. Never mind of other candidates and eat your snack peacefully at the counter. I had strange looks from them when I took my tiny picnic bag out to the counter!

At the end, I had the usual let down feeling with bad performance and was cursing myself for not spending enough time and effort for the preparation and thought I blew off my 30 Grand rupees in the air. At other corner of my mind, I also had a comfort feeling and satisfaction of answering all questions right (of course, it would have been the right answers for each of the candidate!). I kept the second thought alive, spent the next two weeks peacefully and waited for the mail from ISC2 saying “Dear Niranjan, Congratulations….”!!!

What I have put down here is actually what I did to prepare and write the exam and may not be considered as the best. I suggest you not to stick to my ways alone. I know there are gaps here and could have made it better. I even might have made it barerly and would'nt know it. Any suggestions or criticisms are most welcome as it will help the readers quell any false sense.
Posted by northpole on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 http://outscribe.blogspot.com/2009/04/how-i-passed-cissp-exam-and-h...


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