What to expect in CISSP exam?

It’s the D-Day and you are nervous… Your heart is beating fast or you are extremely calm. You are just having nice thoughts or extremely petrified as to what will happen in the exam. Everyone faces unique challenges in preparing for the exam. Now that you have done the preparation and revision and are ready to face the beast; read on to find out what ammunition you need to slay this beast… 

Know Your Enemy

Much is available on blogs and ISC2 website detailing what will be the CISSP exam all about. You will have 250 questions to be answered in 6 hours. Many argue that CISSP is not that tough as people portray it. It's only who has experienced this exam can share the real challenges of this exam. 

So here are the real challenges which I faced:

Vastness – It is rightly said “CISSP is an inch deep and mile wide” exam. The enormity of the domains and the material associated with is huge. But hey, you have already prepared and are appearing for the exam. So why to talk about it now? The enormity creates a problem in mind sometimes. Remain calm. There is no substitute for going with a calm mind and coolly slaying the beast.

6 Long Hours – Let do a mathematical calculation here to explain to you that 6 long hours are not so long. 250 questions in 360 minutes. 1 question in 1.44 minutes. Sounds fun? If you take a break, say, 10 minutes (2 times), it becomes 1.36 minutes or just 96 seconds.

Nerves of Steel – You need to have nerves of steel as concentrating for 6 long hours is not a child’s play. The first 2-3 hours are tolerable, but after that, the fatigue starts creeping in. My simple advice – Don’t be harsh on yourself. Take breaks of even 5 minutes after regular intervals to come with a fresh mind again.

Cost – The CISSP exam costs around 599USD or around 39000 in INR. Spending this money for an exam is no joke, so there is always a pressure on you that in case you get killed yourself by this beast, the money goes down the drain. 

No Similarity to any Mock Exam – The questions in the real exam do not have even an iota of similarity to the practice exams available on any website or book(s). The play of words by ISC2 will surely trick you, so the trick is to understand what the question actually asks and which choice is the best one.

Take a break? Kit Kat? – Although you should take regular breaks, but remember, the time goes on. So don’t start having lunches or music breaks in there. Thinking long on the toilet seat can also cost you dearly. So best is to take small breaks…and munch a KitKat and come back. You can enjoy after you have cleared the exam.

Know your center – CISSP exam is scheduled at a Pearson Vue Center. It is recommended that you visit the center once before the exam to find out its real location. Don’t depend on Google Maps or something else. On the D-Day, this surely helps. Reach the center early. Don’t come crashing with papers flying around at the last moment begging them to allow you in the exam hall.

Party’s Started

So now you have given your palm prints and photograph and are sitting in front of the exam screen. What to do now? Read on to find out.

It’s a personal choice as to how you want to attempt this exam. I am sharing my exam strategy with you. The point I wish to make here is you should aim for attempting all the questions and flag and review it.

Some pointers before that:
1. There is no negative marking in this exam. So attempt all the questions.
2. If you have even an iota of doubt in your answer. FLAG IT. No extra cost in that!

So the strategy now:

Answer & Flag – Glance through every question as soon as possible and if you know it, answer it. If you have a doubt, flag it. Try to answer all the questions or just glancing it in around 120-150 minutes. Time is very important.

Review Flagged – You have finished viewing all the questions. Now it’s time to review all the flagged ones. Take your time and read it again and again. Try to understand the question and more importantly the choices presented to you. 
I found this activity extremely helpful as it helped me answer a lot of questions.

Review ALL – I know you are tired. But it’s time for that final blow. If you have time, review all of them. If you have a doubt even at the last moment, not to worry. Read it again and try to understand what made you think about this alternate choice.
Checking, double checking and triple checking your answers will help you to squeeze every mark you can out of the exam, and it could be one question that makes all the difference between a pass and a fail!

I highly recommend reading “Quick Tips for the CISSP exam” to help you better understand how to overcome the challenges listed above.

If you are still preparing for this exam, read “How to pass the CISSP exam in First Attempt”.

Remember, it’s a difficult exam no matter whatever people say and hence staying focused and calm will be the key to slaying this beast and come out victorious.

Would love to hear your experiences in the comment(s) section below. Sharing is Caring :)

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