Welcome to this article series where I, Thor Pedersen, aim to address one of the most common questions I receive from my students: How should I prepare for my CISSP certification? Answering this question can be challenging because everyone learns differently, and the CISSP exam itself requires a unique approach. However, throughout this series, my goal is to help you find the right materials, design a study plan, and guide you on how to study effectively, maximizing your chances of passing the exam. So, let's dive in!

In this article, we'll provide a high-level overview to help you get started. Subsequent articles will delve deeper into the recommended resources, both those I suggest and those favored by my students. Understanding that each student has unique needs and preferences, it's important to find an instructor and learning method that suit you best. To succeed in your CISSP certification journey, there are four essential elements you must focus on:

Knowledge: Acquiring the necessary knowledge is fundamental. You'll need access to articles, books, practice questions, and other resources to gain a strong understanding of the exam topics. While more resources can be beneficial, there is a limit to the number you can effectively utilize.

Articles: Aim to gather at least one, and possibly up to three, reputable article courses. In a separate lecture, I'll discuss the ones I consider good, as well as those recommended by my students.

Books: Select one main book as your primary resource, complemented by a few secondary books to expand your knowledge further.

Practice Questions: Devote approximately 50% of your study time to practice questions. Students often complete between three and five thousand practice questions before the exam. It's recommended to divide them, with half to two-thirds being easy to mid-level questions and the remaining portion consisting of harder questions. I'll explain the reasoning behind this approach in a dedicated section.

Free Resources: Don't overlook the wealth of free resources available. Incorporate these into your study plan to increase your chances of success.

Study Plan: Crafting your personalized study plan is crucial. In the upcoming study plan article, I'll provide guidance on how to create a plan and share templates to help you get started. Think of your study plan as a roadmap, outlining the steps you need to take from your current position to achieving your CISSP certification.

Comprehension and Application: Merely reading articles, books, and answering questions won't suffice. You need to deeply understand the concepts and their practical applications. Ask yourself: What, where, when, why, and how would we utilize this knowledge? While some information requires memorization, the ability to apply the knowledge is equally important. Exam questions will present scenarios where you must make informed decisions and select the best course of action.

Time Management: Efficiently managing your time during the exam is vital. With the CISSP CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) format, each question carries a specific time constraint. It's advisable to allocate more time to the initial questions, potentially the first 20 or 30, to ensure a solid foundation. I'll provide more insights on effective time management strategies.

Remember, this article provides a broad overview. In subsequent articles, we'll explore each element in detail, helping you gain a comprehensive understanding of the CISSP certification process and empowering you to excel.

Continuing on, let's explore the remaining elements you need to focus on to succeed in your CISSP certification journey.

Deconstructing Questions: It's crucial to understand what the questions are truly asking. Avoid falling into the trap of answering what you think should be asked rather than what is actually being asked. Take the time to carefully read and analyze the question. Identify any distractions and boil down the question to its essence. Be cautious, as a single keyword or its placement can significantly impact the correct answer. By deconstructing the question, you'll gain clarity on what is being asked and provide the most appropriate response.

Choosing the Most Right Answer: Often, there will be answer options that seem partially correct. Your task is to identify the answer that is the most right in the specific context presented. Think from the perspective of ISC2 and their expectations. Explaining concepts to yourself not only aids in better comprehension but also helps you argue why a particular answer is the most suitable.

Time Management: Efficiently managing your time during the exam is essential. With the CISSP CAT format, you'll face up to 150 questions within a three-hour time frame, averaging around 72 seconds per question. Developing a pacing strategy is crucial. Keep an eye on the clock, particularly after every 25 or 50 questions, to ensure you're progressing appropriately. While practicing, gradually incorporate time awareness to gauge your performance. Remember, it's important not to rush through questions but to maintain a steady pace.

To summarize, this article has provided an overview of how to start your CISSP certification journey. We covered the importance of finding suitable study materials, creating a personalized study plan, acquiring knowledge while emphasizing comprehension and application, deconstructing questions to understand their true intent, choosing the most appropriate answers, and effectively managing your time during the exam.

In the upcoming articles, we'll delve deeper into each aspect, providing detailed insights, recommendations, and strategies. Stay tuned for a wealth of valuable information to further enhance your CISSP preparation.

Thank you for being here, and I look forward to guiding you in the next article.


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