Today (6/23/2017), I successfully passed the CISSP exam! It took quite a lot of studying and exam prep, and despite all the prep done, there were still many questions which were tough to answer due to having multiple ‘right’ answers. I feel fortunate that I passed on the first try after reading a lot of other people’s experience where they barely failed and had to retake one or multiple times. For those wanting to know my process of how I passed, please read on. My personal thought process was that this is a really expensive test ($599 at time of writing) and I did not want to have to take this test twice so I would ‘overstudy’ to succeed. In the end, I feel I did enough to pass (obviously) but I’m not really sure I over-studied, seeing as how the test was still difficult for me. Most questions, if you know the material well you can eliminate two wrong answers, but still have 2 pretty convincing answers left.
First, I am the type of learner where I mainly like to learn by reading and doing, and there are thankfully a lot of reading materials out there for the CISSP. Books/study materials I engaged with include the Official CISSP study guide (no links that I use contain referral URLs or anything else like that, they are clean), CISSP all in one study guide by Shon Harris, 11th hour CISSP study guide, CISSP study guide 3rd edition by Conrad, and finally the complete CISSP course offered by Kelly on Cybrary (FREE).
If I had to rate these materials 1-5 on how relevant they were to passing, 1 being crap and 5 being great, I would give 5s to the official study guide (mainly due to the over 1000 practice test questions and also great content and organization), the 11th hour guide and the 3rd edition by Conrad as these were all very on point related to the exam (however 11th hour guide is just the 3rd edition condensed, if I had to pick one or other go with 3rd edition). 4 out of 5 goes to Cybrary, Kelly is great and the course is on point but I don’t feel it is deep enough to help you pass. 3 out of 5 go to Shon Harris book, this book is long and in my opinion not organized well. Some chapters are over 200 pages!! It took me by far the longest to get through this book, it has the meat you need but also the stuffing, fries, desserts, and crab cakes that you don’t need. I would only recommend reading that if you have a lot of extra time and can persevere through it. I wasn’t surprised to read on Reddit that many people quit the book early on, if it weren’t for the feeling of hating to waste money I would have done the same. I read/watched all of the following guides cover to cover and performed every practice test/end of chapter test.
My strategy was to consistently score 80% or above in exams, and my practice exams were all 77-83% so I felt comfortable taking the test. My main strategy was to read all the material and do all the end of chapter exams for the majority of my studying, and then wait to perform the full 250 question practice exams after finishing reading all of the content. It took me a few months to get through all books, then I did a week of non stop testing every day (one full practice exam per day plus studying all wrong answers), until I finally took the test today. Also the last week I re-read the 11th hour guide, great book with everything you need (almost) and nothing you don’t.
Random gif to appease the gods