How I Passed the CISSP Exam: Study Plan Success and Failures

a year ago   •   2 min read

By Carl Ballenger, CISSP
Table of contents

If I can do it... so can you!

After years of procrastination, I finally decided to take the CISSP exam seriously and studied intensely.  

And guess what? I passed the exam!  

In this post, I'll share the my typical daily study plan I followed and my key takeaways for passing the CISSP exam.

The biggest obstacles for me were developing a consistent and disciplined study habit and working through the breadth of the 8 CISSP domains.  It is definitely a mile wide and an inch deep type of exam.  

To overcome this, I set a concrete goal:

Study for at least 1-3 hours daily for 2-3 months and maintain a strict routine.

Here's how my typical days of CISSP study looked:

• 1 hour: Read through at least one chapter from the following resources.

Sybex 9th Edition CISSP Official Study Guide

Complete all end of chapter summary review questions and listen to Mike Chappel end of chapter audio files (*free at Wiley Online after Sybex book purchase).

Destination CISSP - A Concise Guide - Rob Witcher

Read through each chapter and write down weaker understanding topics with flashcards be it digitally or handwritten.  The more practice and ways to memorize things the better!!! Each person learns differently!

Luke Ahmed : How To Think Like A Manager

1 hour: Practice questions from the CISSP LearnZApp Exam

Aim for at least 50-100 questions daily.  Review missed answers in detail.

1 hour:  Destination Certification MindMap video for one of my weaker domains.

On weekends, I also did practice exams from Boson to strengthen my test-taking ability under timed conditions.

Out of 4 Boson practice exams (which are way more technical than CISSP exam), I averaged around 70% which really boosted my confidence in the final week.  

The key takeaways that helped me pass the CISSP exam:

1.   Set a concrete study schedule and stick to it consistently.

2.  Use multiple resources like CISSP video courses, books, apps, podcasts.

The more coverage, the better.

3.  Focus on understanding concepts rather than just memorizing terms.

  Apply concepts to different scenarios.
  Understand the CIA Triad conceptually.  

Critical CIA concepts likely applies to every CISSP exam question.

4.  Do hundreds and hundreds of practice questions.

Review answers carefully.   Repeat questions on mistakes.

5.  Take timed practice exams (e.g. LearnZApp or Boson).

Assess weaker areas and revise strategies.

6.  Stay actively involved in the CISSP online community.

This was a huge one for me.  Seeing other success stories kept me going and motivated!  With focused determination and the right preparation, you absolutely can pass the CISSP exam.

I'm happy you are here and I hope this helps you reach your CISSP certification and future goals!

Now go schedule your CISSP exam—you've GOT THIS!

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