Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I am back......

I have not blogged lately because since February I have been preparing for the CISSP exam! As someone who holds several certifications, I have never taking a certification test like one. I must warn the reader I am a very fast test taker, when I completed my CCSP I took no more than 30 minutes to complete (and pass :)) each test.

Materials used for test preparation:

All-in-One (AIO) 4th Edition by Shon Harris
CISSP for Dummies 3rd Edition by Lawrence Miller and Peter H. Gregory
CISSP Practice Questions Exam Cram 2nd Edition by Michael Gregg by Clement Dupuis
studISCope self assessment from ISC2
Exam Introduction and Overview by Clement Dupuis

Study Plan and pre-Test activities:

First I listened to the great Exam Introduction and Overview by Clement Dupuis. Using the information from this I developed my study plan, including what to study and the order to study the material.

I started by reading through the AIO and taking notes on definitions and other items I felt important. During this first read I did not attempt to “study”, just get my notes made. After completing my notes I ready to “study”. I used the same method for all domains, no matter my level of experience in the domain.

I first read the CISSP for Dummies to get “into” the domain. Using the Dummies book as the introduction I would then read and study each section of the AIO. Once done with the AIO, I would take the AIO, CISSP for Dummies, Exam Cram and practice questions. Any areas I struggled with I made notes for final review. After scoring 85 or better in the domain on practice test I would move on to another domain.

During the last week before the test I had my wife ask me questions from final review notes. I also purchased the studISCope practice test during this time. Finally the Friday before the exam I took the day off from work for final review. I did several practice tests from and studISCope. Finally Friday night I used the CISSP for Dummies book and took the 150 question “final” exam. I went through the process that I had planned for the actual test, including filling in the bubbles on a fake bubble sheet out of the CISSP for Dummies book. By now I studied a minimum 250 hours for this test, if I did not know it by know I was not going to get in the next few hours. With nothing left to do I went to bed early and fortunately was able to get a good night sleep.

Test Day

I woke up early on Saturday, the BIG DAY! I had a nice breakfast and drove to the test. I sat down and listened to the NDA and instructions. Finally I received my test book, and the clock started!

The plan of attack, which I modified a bit during the test, was to read the question. If I knew the answer to the question I circled the answer, otherwise I circled the question and moved on. I did all 250 questions and had answers for about 80% of them. One strange observation is I seemed to not know the answers to questions in clusters. For example I might not know 3 answers in 5 questions then go 15 questions and know all answers, again just a strange observation on my part.

Having gone through the test once, I changed my test taking plan. I originally had planned to go back answer the ones I did not know, not reviewing the questions already answered, then copied over all answers to the scantron.

Instead I reviewed all questions. For questions not answered earlier I eliminated obvious wrong answers. After I read the question again I was usually able to get a better understanding the question and answer it. If still unable to answer the question, I took an educated guess. I would go through 10 questions at a time, then bubble the answers onto the scantron sheet.

After completing my answer sheet I went back to ensure the answer I circled in the book was the answer I had on my scantron. With this review complete I turned in all my material, thanked the proctor and walked out the door.

I looked at the time and it took me 4.5 hours to complete the exam. Time seem to fly when I was in the test and had no idea how fast it would go. In preparation I had thought I would be done in 3 hours, guess not.

Post Test

My wife, who had some work to catch up on, went to the testing site with me. When I walked out she said I looked very dazed and confused. When asked how I did I gave the honest answer I had no I idea.

While drinking a beer at the hotel (testing site)bar one of my fellow test takers showed up. We had the usual conversation about how we each thought we did and he answered the EXACT same way I did, completely clueless on how he did.

Even though its only been a couple of days, I find myself checking me phone for the result email from ISC. Once I receive the results email I will post how I did, and hopefully having passed the CISSP Exam!
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