Just like any studying in whatever level, you need to have a plan. Of course, a lot of efforts are required to follow up with the plan and most importantly to make things work. In my opinion, studying for professional certification should not be harder than getting a PhD but it still requires a lot of effort in studying. Although not as tedious and long process as getting a PhD, CISSP is considered one of the toughest examination (where its coverage being infamously quoted as “an inch deep and a mile wide”) that requires serious studying to pass the certification.
Due to its enormous coverage, studying all the materials takes a very long time. For a start, choosing which study guide to start with has already taken me months. Many who have passed the certification have recommended a long list of books and study materials to improve the chance of success. However, none of these books they recommended are less than 1000 pages and many actually recommended a read from cover to cover for at least one of the study guides, not once but twice. Taking their advice, my first step is to decide which study guide to invest in and I chose this All in One CISSP Exam Guide by Shon Harris.
I found this boxed set in one of my local bookstore which I’m thankful for because sadly most of the good books are generally not available in my country, so when I found this I was elated and bought it right away. After reading on and off about CISSP for a few months, I actually fell in love with Shon Harris books. She was a great author with her well explanation in everything. Her book is the most comprehensive, therefore some may feel it is simply too much information to study. I decided on this because this book can serve as my dedicated reference guide even after the exam, so it is a good investment. Furthermore, this boxed set comes with Practice Exams which is valuable. One cannot just study without some practice for the exam.
See, I’m not joking about the thickness of this book. A total of 8 domains with 8 chapters and I’m supposed to study them cover to cover so I need a good plan to infuse studying of CISSP into my daily routine. It is not going to be easy with my heavy teaching hours during the semester but I believe it is doable with proper planning. I must learn to work with smaller chunks of free time in between teaching and admin workloads.
So before I can begin with the plan, I must first set a realistic timeline, i.e. when will I be ready to sit for the exam? I estimate to study 2 domains in one month so I need at least 4 months to complete everything so I set July to be the month to take the exam. Sound realistic enough? Should be for now.
Here is my study plan for the next 4 months:
- Read and make notes especially all the important concepts and terminologies
- Complete practice exams at the end of each domain
- Revisit areas of wrong answers
- Cross reference with at least one other official study guide
This study guide has 21 chapters and it is more than 1000 pages long. What I value most of different study guides is the practice exams at the end of each chapter where I can try different type of questions and see how ready will I be.
Now that my plan is set, next should be to make sure I follow the plan. Wish me luck!