I just passed the CISSP exam today on the first attempt with about a month of dedicated study all together. I kept feeling like I should have put more time into studying but I just felt like I was ready. You can pass this exam as well if you prepare properly.

Since I’m using a similar hero post image as the other CompTIA success posts I’ve done, I have to mention that just passing the CISSP exam isn’t enough to get CISSP certified. I still need to find someone to endorse me, wait like 2 months, and then pay the AMF before I’m official.

Update 9/26: Woohoo, just got the provisionally passed email. Now, onward to the endorsement process.

(ISC)² CISSP Provisionally Passed Email

Update 10/7: Double woohoo, I asked one of my mentors to endorse me and she agreed! Now I wait…

(ISC)² CISSP Endorsement Queue Email

Study Materials Used

I bought a book that I read cover to cover (it’s only 200 pages), 11th Hour CISSP 2nd Edition. It’s written well and is fun to read, but it is a ton of content packed onto each page. If you know nothing about information security, a lot of the terminology will go right over your head. I’m familiar with a good portion of the material and even noticed a few things I forgot I studied when skimming the book the morning of the exam.

By this point I’ve done IT work for about 15 years or so, with the last 5 being specifically in security. I also have an MBA with honors (Beta Gamma Sigma) and actively study business, personal finance, and digital enterprises. So, this exam’s material was right up my alley. I don’t know every domain extremely well, but I’m able to work through the issues.

Additional Study Materials

I used the following materials to prepare for this exam:

  • Full CISSP Course Path by Mike Chapple on LinkedIn Learning
  • All in one CISSP audios by Shon Harris
    • This content is based on the old exam setup, 10 domains, but her explanations are excellent
  • Boson CISSP exam package
    • Practice exams
    • Practice lab

Mindset Videos

These 2 videos below also helped with preparing for the exam as well:

Why you WILL pass the CISSP by Kelly Handerhan

CISSP Exam Tips – Understanding Semantics and Context by Larry Greenblatt

Keeping the Confidence

So what did I do to mentally prepare for this exam?

If you recall the last exam I passed on the first try, I made a note to myself, naming myself as newly CompTIA CySA+ certified. I was very specific about my intention and I think that played a huge role in getting me prepared for the exam. I didn’t write a note to myself this time. But I did create this post, announcing my intention publicly to become CISSP certified in 2019. Not only that, I also told a few people around me as well. I have never made a public declaration in this manner before.

I feel good about the exam. Half of the exam I knew pretty well and the other half I had to work through. I’m extremely happy to keep the “passing on first attempt on all certifications streak” alive.

Just like with other exams, I created my own CISSP study notes. Much like before, I created the notes before the exam to make sure the concepts were fresh in my mind.

The exam was pretty much exactly how I was expecting it to be, except it had a bit more in-depth network admin stuff than I was expecting. Luckily, I know that stuff pretty well.

As always, I should have prepared a little more but I just felt like I was ready so I didn’t study as much as people normally would. I don’t regret this decision since I can always look up the information if I ever need it.

Study Tips

  1. Review the CISSP exam objectives if you haven’t already.
  2. Get a good book, an audio book/notes, AND a video course.
  3. Set a study schedule and plan a date for the exam.
  4. Buy the exam voucher from Pearson Vue.
  5. Schedule the exam through Pearson Vue.
  6. Take practice questions and practice exams. Even if the exam questions are not the same content, you at least get the practice of context and answer elimination.
  7. Review material that’s still fuzzy to you. Watch YouTube videos, review concepts on Wikipedia or other pages, and improve.
  8. This certification is as much an English test as it is a information security test.
    1. Read the question, eliminate 2 answers (1 is an obviously wrong choice).
    2. Re-read the question before selecting the final choice.
    3. Watch out for catchy words like MOST, LEAST, ALL BUT, EVERYTHING EXCEPT, and double negatives. If you speed through reading like I do, these are tough ‘gotchas’.
  9. The exam is Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). Just because you don’t finish at 100, doesn’t mean you failed or are close to failing. The exam wants you to prove yourself. You can still pass after 150 questions.
  10. Know your stuff and be sure to practice!

Have you passed the CISSP exam yet? If so, what do you think of these tips?

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