RECENT CISSP CAT EXAM NOTES

Got an email from a recent former student...the kind of email I really enjoy:

"Hi Ben,I wanted to let you know that I took my test yesterday and passed at 100 questions :D

 

- After our class, I studied using mostly the Boson practice exams (reading the explanation for EVERY question, failed or passed).

- After that I bounced back and forth between Boson random exams, the updated Sunflower guide, and the 11th Hour book (which was great for last-minute cramming, the last 2 days leading up to the exam).  I also watched Kelly Handerhan's CISSP prep videos at Cybrary prior to our class, and various other YouTube videos (Larry Gleenblatt's CISSP exam tips were helpful) here and there.

- I studied for about 2-3 hours a day, every day, for 4 weeks total (taking 1.5 weeks off for vacation).

- I was 100% certain that I was going to fail while taking the exam.  I was so sure of it that I considered just picking the same letter answer over and over to end the test and GTFO at around 80 questions.  Glad I didn't.

- I took my time reading and re-reading each question and answer so many times that I thought I was going to shoot myself in the foot with the time of the exam.   I had about 30min left at 100 questions.

 

Thank you for all of your wisdom and guidance during our class.  I feel that it helped a lot and set a good expectation for the exam and framework of where to study. It helped me realize my weak areas so I knew where to focus.  Although, the test has a funny way of making you feel that you're completely unprepared while you're actually taking it. :)"

CISSP CAT Format Feedback, Part 2

A second former student has reached out with some feedback...he passed, as well! Smart class, that.

Here's what he had to say (and he says he's glad to answer questions about the experience, too, and will be checking the blog Comments, so feel free to chime in):

"Since you probably haven't gotten much feedback about the CAT yet, I thought I would provide you with my preparation strategy and exam experience.

 

Here were the study materials I used and their usefulness (in no particular order):

 

Classroom notes - 10/10 - This is where I began my studying and it helped me tailor my studying to topics I was unfamiliar with.

The Official CBK CISSP text - 1/10 - I used it during class for subjects I had absolutely no familiarity with, but in general, there is too much information to internalize and lot of rabbit holes that the exam will simply not ask about. Not to mention it's unbearably dry.

Eric Conrad's 11th Hour CISSP Study Guide - 9/10 - Effectively a condensed version of the most important CISSP topics. There were a few areas that may require additional reading (i.e. RMFs) but in general, this is an excellent text reference.

Kelly Handerhan's Cybrary video series - 10/10 - This was by far the most useful resource I used. If I had the time, I would have watched the full series twice, taking copious notes. She also offers an excellent bit of advice about approaching the exam with a managerial mindset, rather than a troubleshooting or technical one.

Phil Martin's Simple CISSP - 10/10 - I found this book on Audible and listened to it during my commutes. The author narrates in a very slow, deliberate, and clear Texan drawl, clearly explaining even some of the most difficult subjects.

Sybex Test Questions - 5/10 - Compared to the actual exam, the practice questions in the Sybex bank are so-so. Many of them ask about details the exam couldn't care less about; many more of them are simply too easy and direct. (For example, the exam will never phrase a question such as "blah blah blah describes which security control/process"). There aren't enough "which of these is the BEST/MOST accurate," which is the entirety of the exam.

Transcender Test Questions - 7/10 - This bank contains many more of the BEST/MOST accurate style questions, but still not enough to truly simulate the exam.  Fun fact: if you purchase the bank from Transcender, six months of access is $160, if you buy it through Cybrary (via the Kelly Handerhan videos, which are free), access is only $40. That's a useful bit of knowledge for the financially-minded."

 

Great stuff to know, and really glad he offered to share.