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Newcomer II

CISSP Failed Exam 11/2018 ***Passed. 12/2018***

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!). 


The exam.


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!!!"




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.)

101 Replies
Newcomer I

I passed both CISSP and CCSP and this is want I found out.


In generally, CCSP is easier than CISSP

    - lesser domains

    - less technical (both in depth and in scope)

    - shorter, simpler and more direct questions

    - one can mark a questions for review and then change later


CISSP is using "adaptive" test and after you answer a question, you will not be able to go back and check/change them aka it's one way only.

This simple rule to me means that CISSP is already more difficult to attempt than CCSP.


During the test, I am faced with a question that appears 3 times.

I think (my imagination) that this is actually a psychological test question.

Same question, same answers/choices - appears 3 times in my exam.


It's a calculation and I'm very good at this type of question.

It is required as part of data migration and I got the same question when taking AWS Solution Architect Professional exam too.


Basically, it's a mathematics question and I am 100% sure of the answer.


The first time when it appears, I calculated and make my choice.


After about 30 questions, it appears again.


I re-calculated and also do reverse engineering to confirm my choice again.


The third time when it appears, I fumbled.


A lot of doubts running in my mind and for a short time, choosing another answer came into my mind too.


Well, I just stare at my calculations again and make the same choice.


I would imagine that a good security personnel should not change his mind (choice) in such a short timeframe and this is just part of CISSP (psychology) test.


Its not about studying hard, it's about studying smart.

Buy studying the study guides, exam simulators(online), practice questions does not means you will pass.

In fact, after reading this thread from beginning, confirmed my experience too.


I am also very confident when attempting ISC2 exams.

However, to my horror, the study materials does not pop up and ring a bell at all.

It was a devastating experience.

For CCSP, I marked 10 out of first 15 questions for review.

I skipped 30 questions and attempt to find some comfort feeling but none.


I decided to ditch my hope and take each of the CCSP question one at a time.

Reading carefully and eliminating non-sensible choices and then internalise it before submission.


At the end, from my record, 10 questions are marked as too tough and another 10 questions are marked as 50-50.


With this I pass my CCSP (study guide, exam simulator, practice questions did help, not directly thou).









Newcomer I

Thanks for these tips. Indeed, questions cannot be like mathematical formulas with standard answers. With my preparation on CISA (IT Audit), I do not find any problems with the form of the CISSP questions.