I wanted to share an experience about the CISSP exam I’d recently taken, and I'd like to receive exam beneficial feedback. In short, I had failed. In the last 6 weeks, I had clocked over 216 hours of concentrated study. Here’s what I had accomplished:
1) Read the entire CBK 4th edition cover to cover
2) Memorized all the questions and answers in the CBK (why the right are right and why the wrong are wrong)
2) Watched an entire CISSP video training series on Safaribooksonline… twice
3) Memorized all of the practice questions in the video series (why the right are right and why the wrong are wrong)
4) Read the Shon Harris book
5) Memorized the Shon Harris book “Quick Tips” portion of each domain
6) Memorized all the questions and answers in that book (why the right are right and why the wrong are wrong)
In effect, between these three resources, the facts, and I use that word specifically, were all in 100% alignment. In fact, in my last week, I basically reread through all the material in skim fashion and learned nearly nothing new. In my mind, I was 110% confident and ready for the exam ( counted over 500+ test questions memorized from multiple sources!).
I’m going to be as literal as possible, and try my best not to exaggerate my anecdotal figures. Within the first 10 - 15 questions, I already knew there was no way I felt like I was going to pass if the question format kept going the way it was. It was as if though the exam came from a completely different set of material. At the 150th question, I concluded that all that I’d studied was about 80% irrelevant. I’d say 70% or more of the questions were “What is the BEST…,” “What is the MOST likely…,” and “What is the MOST important…” In effect, all the FACTS I’d learned, studied, and committed to memory were completely useless with regard to passing the exam.
Erroneous terms which are not even in the CBK were used in questions. THIS IS UNFAIR TEST PRACTICE. The test felt nothing like what a CISSP exam is supposed to be. In fact, If I had luckily passed the exam, I’d feel slightly undignified in that there's an entire bank of CISSP information in my head that was never even used. I would have been shocked if I did pass, given the questions. I would have thought, "How did I pass this thing anyway? Sheer luck? My knowledge on CISSP was barely touched..."
This is the part that really killed me; fact-based questions. Cold hard facts that you read in the book that I filled my notebook with never appeared on the test. Questions that I should have gotten 100% right because the answers are binary (either is or isn’t correct) were no where to be seen. The way I felt was that this test was not fact-based, it was subjective-opinion based. When I read questions that were almost fact based, there were answers I was expecting to see, and was ready to select. They oddly didn't appear, and I was sitting there with my arms crossed and head tilted to the side wondering, "What on earth are they expecting me to answer? The answer is "X" and it's not on the list!!!"
THIS TEST IS DESIGNED TO FAIL YOU.
Even if I had the CBK to reference on the test, it would have done me no good. The questions and answers to the test were not reference worthy. The mark of a good test is that the questions have to have a correct answer that is attributable to official study material. PERIOD. Otherwise, you're just making things up, and the test is whether or not I can read someone's mind and see the world as they do. That's just wrong.
I don’t know what to feel at this point. I felt so confident, and I was completely shot down, and down $700 with not a thing to show for it. I feel scammed. The sad thing, is that I love IT and cyber security. I’ve been doing it in my career over 15 years. Truthfully, when I started the CBK study, I’d say a solid 60-70% of the material in the book I already knew just from doing it as my job. There was no reason I should have failed this. This cert wasn’t supposed to help me really improve my career as much as it was supposed to validate all that I’d already done.
This is not my first professional grade certification! I am TOGAF 9, PMP, and CompTIA Security + certified. CISSP is the worst test I've ever taken in my life!
Frankly, I don’t even know how to study for this test anymore. How does one study for questions like “BEST, MOST likely, MOST important thing to do…” I want APPROVED material that contains the answer to EVERY possible question that test has for me. If i cannot trace back a test question to a direct answer in a book, then the question needs to be thrown out. Period. You're testing my knowledge on facts written in a book. ISC2 does not have the right to just take someone's money for a certification that is suggested to represent the knowledge found in their CBK and totally rick-roll you into a test with questions that have nothing to do with the CBK official test material. If you have ANY advice to give me, I’d be happy to take it. I still want this cert.
(If you are not a test taker post April 2018, then I don't think I want your opinions or words in this forum as it's probably irrelevant. I want help from someone who has passed it after this date, and the correct material I need to study for the exam. The ISC2 CISSP CBK, Shon Harris book, and the latest Sybex book, which I am reading now, is regurgitating all the information I already know, and KNOW FOR A FACT is not on the test.)
I took the test 06.20.2020 and failed. for preparation I read the ISC2 CISSP rev 8 official study twice and completed the ISC2 CISSP official study guide questions multiple times and the lowest score I got was %80 after taking all the tests. I also bought Boson CISSP test app, completed their tests and scored well consistently. I skimmed through all the chapters and thought I finally was prepared to take the exam or so I thought. At one point in the exam I asked the test proctor to verify I was taking the correct test and not the exam for the ISC2 cloud certification which I saw while researching the certifications. She verified it was the only one they had. Out of 150 questions Out of 150 there were approx 15 questions that were similar to the ISC2 official study guide questions (I'm certain I choose correctly), approx 20 questions about Cloud security mgmt, and many were not in ISC2 Official study guide material. Some questions I could only venture a guess on as they made little sense and were worded poorly. I know two other people who passed the ISC2 CISSP in 2017 - 2018 that said told me all they did was read the ISC2 study guide and do the ISC2 study guide questions and that was sufficient. This is apparently no longer the case in 2020. I want to retake this eaxam and pass but I haven't clue about how best to prepare for the questions the ISC2 test think-tank "may" have on the next exam? After a lot of research it appears that there are many variations of sets of questions and if one is lucky they get questions that relate to their ISC2 recommended study material. Can some one point me to the best method to prep for this test?
Thank you for the info. I have taken a TrainingCamp bootcamp in the past and agree they are very good. I do however find it wrong / unfortunate that one can not rely on the CISSP ISC2 "official" study guide 944 pages and 1000's of study guide questions to prep for this exam.
I recommend Training Camp. They have an official partnership with ISC2. I had a great experience with them. Good Luck.
Official (ISC)2 CISSP Certification Training Camp
Program Price Includes:
- Total-Immersion Training delivered by (ISC)2 Authorized Instructors
- Courseware which encompasses the Official (ISC)2 CBK Review Seminar (v13
(ISC)2 CISSP training manual), Training Camp's (ISC)2-endorsed accelerated
review guide, the Official (ISC)2 Practice Exams, and comprehensive pre-class
- CISSP examination voucher and CISSP examination scheduling on final day of
- Examination Passing Policy: Students that do not successfully pass the CISSP
examination can re-sit any available classroom-based CISSP course
- Six days of hotel accommodations, most meals, unlimited beverages and snacks
Hi Lloyd, I have a Security+, SSCP, Cysa+ and about 8 years of experience working in Help-desk and Identity & Access Management. I'm considering taking the CISSP to help advance my career. Based on your comments, would I be better off going for a CCSP first?