My 10 CISSP Study Resources Used and Journey - April 2023

I read a success story couple nights ago at /cissp ... and I can confirm that feeling of (there is no way I am passing this) came over me at several times during the exam. I focused very hard on the first 20-30 questions as the CAT algorithm ...

10 months ago   •   5 min read

By Carl Ballenger, CISSP
CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional
Table of contents

Passing the CISSP Exam Success

I passed the (ISC)2 - CISSP certification exam going the 175 question distance.

Still can't believe it and super excited I finally can say I have a night of not thinking about which of the 8 CISSP domains I'm weak in that I will tackle to study next!

First and foremost would like to thank everyone that contributes on the Reddit /cissp group for the incredible resources and continued motivation.  Definitely would have quit a long time ago if not for the Reddit /cissp group!

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The CISSP Exam Experience or as most would say (The Grind)

I read a success story couple nights ago at /cissp ... and I can confirm that feeling of (there is no way I am passing this) came over me at several times during the exam. I focused very hard on the first 20-30 questions as the CAT algorithm has been said to weigh where exam questions will go accordingly. Got into the flow of what exam was throwing at me and I thoroughly read and re-read each question several times before even looking at answers. I think this really helped me as the reading comprehension part was CRITICAL to finding the BEST answer. For the most part I could narrow most down to 1 or 2.  Like others have said ... the exam is not like any exam study question banks and just something of a different beast.  With that said...  

Understanding the CIA Triad

   in the big picture conceptually is critical in my opinion.

My Background

for those interested.  20+ years in IT.  Started as web application developer early in IT career developing front end and backend web applications with PHP and MySQL. The last 15 years working for a federal agency as a Principal Senior Cloud Engineer managing migration and support operations for private and hybrid cloud environments with heavy VMware enterprise datacenter infrastructure experience. Professional experience also includes cloud security solutions architecture design, FedRAMP NIST SP 800-53 and NIST SP 800-37 security controls planning and management, development and deployment experience including identity and access management, network security, and software development security.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlballenger/
Carl Ballenger - LinkedIn

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from (20+ years ago) in Management Information Systems/Economics.  A GCRT - Information Assurance Certificate from Oklahoma State University completed in May 2022.  

Finally got the courage and motivation to get the CISSP certification done.  

Paying my study methods, resources used and exam experiences forward here to hopefully help others out for CISSP certification motivation purposes.  

If you made it this far a big congratulations to you:)  

You're already well on your way toward becoming a CISSP!

 My CISSP Exam Study Resources

(ISC)2 CISSP (Sybex) Official Study Guide 9th Edition

1. CISSP (Sybex) Official Study Guide 9th Edition

(Gives you access to Wiley online and did all questions and (4) practice exams.) - 10/10. *Even though OSG is dry ... I read through all of it at least once and finished all end of chapter practice questions. Can't go wrong here imo as its the official guide.* Also listened to Mike Chappell audio version of the end of chapter exam objectives which was very helpful. (Can get the audio with the Wiley Online question/exam bank with book purchase.)

Destination CISSP - A Concise Guide - Rob Witcher
Destination CISSP - A Concise Guide - Rob Witcher

2.  Destination CISSP - A Concise Guide

Purchased and read via Amazon Kindle - 10/10. Purchased this late in the game to search through and mapped exactly to ISC2 exam objectives and was incredibly easy to search through. Wish I had this earlier honestly. Great descriptions and diagrams of concepts and helped me greatly for conceptually seeing how all domains and CIA fit and map together (at least for me). *Lets give it a 11/10. Excellent, excellent resource and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

LearnZApp - 1 month subscription

3.  LearnZApp

Wonderful for overall question formats and finding weaker domain areas and extremely easy way to track your progress anywhere you go etc. Worked through 2,200+ questions for all 8 domains and went through all 8 practice tests. (Scored avg in low to mid 70s for practice exams). *LZAPP closest to exam format questions imo and is nice to have the mapped domain objectives for each question below each one for further references on incorrect answers. - 10/10 - LearnZApp practice exam scores: 64, 71, 73, 78, 73, 82, 72 and 75.

4.  Luke Ahmed : How To Think Like A Manager  

(Great for the manager mindset). - 10/10.

Pete Zerger Full Course Exam Cram: 2022 Edition YouTube
Pete Zerger Full Course Exam Cram: 2022 Edition YouTube 

5.  Pete Zerger Full CISSP Exam Cram: 2022 Edition YouTube  

Watched over and over and listened to while working out and in the car at 1.5x - 2.x speeds. - 10/10 - Really excellent FREE resource!

6.  Destination Certification YT channel

Mindmap and CISSP questions playlist - 9/10

7.  Kelly Handerhan : Why you will pass the CISSP exam - YT video

Kelly Great for mindset prior to exam.  Listened to this right before exam. (All of what she says is so true and being more of a technical guy...this was exactly what I needed prior to exam for the right mindset.) - 9**/10**

8.  Boson ExSim-Max Practice Exams - Purchased for $99

Great explanations and ways to find weaker domain areas. Very technical and as a sysadmin it actually helped me with a few concepts/approaches I never actually thought about lol, but worth it for deep down study and the why of answers. Great for additional deep dives in areas you may be weaker technically although would not spend a ton of time here as in the weeds. With that said I did all 4 exams and went through 700 questions here. - 9/10. Boson practice exam scores were: 62%, 64%, 72% and 71%.

9.  Prabh Nair Coffee Shots

Great resource for how to deconstruct questions and get in right mindset for how to answer exam questions. - 9/10.

10.  Sunflower CISSP notes/study guide

Reddit CISSP cheatsheet. - Used this a little, but not much. Good resource though for sure. - 7/10

           Go be awesome and good luck!  

Did you enjoy CarlsCloud™ and has it helped you today?

If so, buy me a coffee or just shoot me an email to say thanks! https://www.buymeacoffee.com/carlscloud

       

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