Six Tips for Passing the CISSP Exam on Your First Attempt

Preparing for Success and Reducing Your Exam Risk

Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

Make sure you understand what the exam entails.

I read a lot about the exam before I booked my test date. There is a lot of out of date information online, and some people seem surprised by the actual format of the test, so here is my summary:

  • It is a computerised adaptive test with between 100 and 150 questions which you complete on a computer with a mouse.
  • You will not be able to go back to a previous question and change your answer. When you click next, that answer is locked in.
  • Questions will be multiple choice with four answers and interactive questions.
  • You will get a wipe-clean board to write notes.
  • One surprise is you don’t get a score, most sites refer to 70% but you actually just get a pass/fail.

Your breadth of experience is vital.

The CISSP exam covers a vast range of topics, from physical security to encryption algorithms to software development lifecycle. It is therefore essential that you have a deep understanding of each of the areas for the exam.

Use the official reference book, it is good.

I found the Official Study Guide to be excellent, and it prepared me well for practice tests. The actual exam goes way beyond the information in the reference book. You will rely on your experience as well as the information in the reference book.

The exam is about the application of knowledge over rote learning.

I found that many of the practice tests focused a lot on the trivia of cybersecurity, The DoD Red/Orange book and general trivia around the subject matter.

Read the questions carefully; you will need to infer information.

I found that the Boson Practice Tests were relatively good preparation for the test-taking techniques. However, I thought they focused too much on the trivia of the subject matter, which may be a throwback to the paper-based test of old.

Learn to think like a Senior Manager

Lots of people say that you need to think like a manager to pass CISSP. It is actually beyond that; you need to think like a senior manager.

I am the CEO and Founder of RazorSecure, a startup focused on providing cyber security solutions, powered by machine learning, for the railway industry

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