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Reader I

Does Adaptive Exam Devalue the CISSP?

Hi Everyone, 

 

This may have been covered a few months ago when the news was first announced, but I just recently learned the CISSP exam became adaptive. Colleagues asked me about my exam experience. That was three years ago when the exam was up to 6 hours long and 250 questions. So I showed them the web site to go over the domains, exam info, etc. 

 

I was very surprised to see the exam (English language) is now 100-150 questions. While the material is still demanding, I think the CISSP had a strong reputation as the premier information security certification because it was so rigorous with 250 questions. It was a long, tough exam. And people respected (sometimes grudgingly) those who passed. 

 

At 100-150 questions, does this devalue the CISSP? The Security+ is 90 questions. People used to believe the CISSP was several notches above Security+. Now people might think the CISSP is just one notch above or lump them together.  

 

I'm not trying to take anything away from those who passed the adaptive exam. I'm concerned about the long term implications this has on the value of the CISSP certification in the eyes of IT security professionals.  

 

Thanks,

 

Greg

 

 

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39 Replies
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Viewer

Re: Does Adaptive Exam Devalue the CISSP?

Greg,

 

I would invite you to read up on the CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing) . Basically the CAT in most cases is able to determine within 95% statistical confidence that you would be a pass or fail even if you had 250 questions. I do not believe that more candidates are passing as a result of the CAT. I personally know quite a few people who have failed the CAT.

 

 

Jason

 

https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/CISSP/CISSP-CAT

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Viewer III

Re: Does Adaptive Exam Devalue the CISSP?

I would suggest that if the fail rates go down, that indicates 1. the CAT algorithms are not doing a good job, or 2. the test is effectively easier thereby reducing (IMHO) the value to those who have passed.  I can tell you from several different types and levels of tests (CISSP, CCSP, GSEC, PMP, BlackBelt, etc) CISSP used to be a good challenge, hope it stays that way. 

 

Just my $.02

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Newcomer III

Re: Does Adaptive Exam Devalue the CISSP?

We should all bear in mind that quality is always a better yardstick than quantity. 

 

Were the exam to be a straight set of questions there might be stronger reason for doubt, but the adaptive nature of this framework is there specifically to address the quality question and to maintain the current high standard of the qualification. 

 

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, remember that, when comparing with other qualifications. Also remember the qualification is not just about passing the exam but also about having the (appropriately recognised) experience to support the knowledge. Knowledge supported by experience for me is always the best form of assessment.  Remember the human race moves forward through learning from its failures as much as from its successes.

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Newcomer I

Re: Does Adaptive Exam Devalue the CISSP?

I am willing to bet a person, who thinks CAT makes CISSP exam easier, has never taken a CAT exam in their life.

 

I have recently taken the CISSP in CAT format. Having taken GRE when I applied for grad studies, I was familiar with the CAT concept.

 

If I had an option, I'd have taken the 6 hour linear exam where I could go over "A" number of very easy, "B" number of easy, "C" number of hard, and "D" number of very hard questions.

 

1. If you're not sure about an answer, you can skip the question... you do not have that luxury with CAT format.You have to answer the questions in the order presented and your answers are final.

 

2. More than often, in an exam with hundreds of questions, you end up inferring the answer of some previous questions just by reading the proceeding questions. Well, once you answer a question, you cannot go back in CAT format.

 

3. Going through a hard question may discourage you but all you need to do is reading the next question to gain your courage back. Well, in CAT format, if you answer a hard question correctly, you get a "harder" question. And if you get an easy question after a hard one in CAT, you know that you screwed up the previous one. 

 

4. You might be really good at time management and you can easily come up with a plan when you're taking a linear exam. Guess what, you have the same amount of time whether you're done at question 100 or need to answer 50 more in CAT format. 

 

Having said that, maybe it's a lot easier for some folks to take CAT exams... for me, linear tests are very predictable and a professional test taker can easily increase his/her chance of acing the test by preparing for the exam itself as well as the content of the exam.

 

Thanks,

JohnZ