The (ISC)² is arguably the largest IT security company in the world. It’s a non-profit enterprise that stands for International Information System Security Certification Consortium and specialises in cybersecurity certifications and training courses for network and information security professionals.
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP for short, is among the most highly demanded cybersecurity training and certification programs today. Introduced in 1994 by (ICS)², certified CISSP professionals make up about 85% of the 1,67,000 experts certified with all (ICS)² credentials.
If you want to become a certified CISSP professional, there is one thing you should know. One thing that makes the CISSP certification so valuable is that it is extremely difficult to attain. The exam has been designed to evaluate a candidate’s managerial as well as technical skills across eight different domains. This makes for a huge bulk of information to be learned and understood. To make things harder, the test format and course material for CISSP have changed several times over the past five years and will most likely get another update in 2021. For those who are appearing for the second time or more, this means additional material to study and learn.
Some applicants prepare with the belief that like all other certification exams, studying from the course material is the key to success. However, on a standardised test like the CISSP, that might not be the case. If you have not cleared the certification exam in the past, here are some reasons why that might be. If this is your first time, these are things you would want to avoid.
1: Cram and Memorise
It has been scientifically proven that if you mug up information for a test, it is not as effective as learning by understanding. You also fail to retain information in the long term. Getting a CISSP certification requires using the things you learn at work every day, so if you study without learning or remembering anything when you work, there is no point even if you do get the certification. Many online learning portals offer crash courses or boot camps as a learning model despite their proven ineffectiveness. They offer over a hundred hours of lectures and learning crammed up into as little as a week. This gives you very little time to process, retain and understand this information. By the end of these courses, you barely learn anything and end up paying a lot without improving your odds of success.
2: Learning without a Goal
Success in an exam requires time management. Set time aside to identify which topics you should prioritise and why. Understand your strengths and problem areas and develop a study plan that tells you when and where to focus your efforts.
The CISSP exam tests your competency in both technical and managerial skills. While studying, it is easy to get lost in the smaller technical details. Instead, you should use a higher managerial-level perspective to tackle problems. If you’re moving very fast in the wrong direction, you might as well be standing still.
3: You Reached a Roadblock
The CISSP exam is 3-hours long and has about 100-150 questions you need to answer. The changing formats and constantly revised study materials can confuse you even if you do, in fact, know the right answer. When you’re preparing and breaking down your time for each question, factor in a few physical and mental breaks as well so that you don’t get fatigued. If you black out mentally in the exam, you lose precious time that you were trying to save by powering through. Instead, taking short, quick breaks can help you refocus and recall what you’ve studied more clearly.
4: Intentional Traps Found You
Candidates who take the CISSP exam spend hours preparing for the test. If you’re doing the same, you will realise that your mind retains certain keywords and terms that you recognise on mock tests and study material. However, when you are sitting for the exam, you might notice the question framed differently. This means either the terms are rephrased, paraphrased or written in a new way. The primary purpose of this is to confuse you and test if you understood the concept or just memorised the terms. Test-makers also use similar-sounding phrases in options to mislead you. These answers are designed to make you overthink your technical skills and give up from exhaustion.
To get past these test traps, you should learn your concepts thoroughly and go through common rephrased questions to recognise them on the tests.
The Importance of Training:
With a focused study plan, a 1-on-1 learning experience with industry experts and multiple practice tests, you will always have the upper hand going into the exam. Have a study plan in place before you enroll in a cybersecurity course to train for the CISSP exam.