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ISC2 Team

Share Your Story: When You Passed Your CISSP Exam

I’ve been working for (ISC)2 for almost 5 years and over the years I’ve met many CISSPs at (ISC)2 and industry events. In our conversations I'll often ask them about their experience taking and passing the CISSP exam, as it’s a huge accomplishment and everyone I’ve heard from remembers the day they found out that they passed.


One story that has stuck with me is about a member who was taking the exam back when it was paper-based testing and about half way through his exam he realized that two pages were stuck to one another, so all of his answers from then on were off. He luckily was able to erase and adjust all of his answers in time and he later found out that he passed. Talk about a nerve-wrecking experience!


I’d love to hear your story…

88 Replies
Viewer II

Took my exam on the 2nd November (2017) and passed first time round.  Was a bit of a challenge for me since I had to fly in to London as I could not find a test center here in Malta which offered the CISSP exam. 


I agree with some members here about their experience when you finish your exam - you need to wait for the proctor to log you out, scan your hand and wait that short span of time until you're handed a paper stating that you've passed.  The experience, however, is awesome.


Been involved in the IT industry for the past 25 years now, with more than 10 years of hands-on experience related to infosec.  Prepared for the exam on my own using the official CBK, and some other two excellent books.  The important thing to remember is that you're being tested for information security related questions at a high level - always heard that CISSP curriculum is a mile wide, inch deep. 


So put your management hat on top of your head and always read the questions as if you're being asked by senior management.  That will help - well it sure did in my case anyway.


Good luck to all those attempting the exam and thank you ISC2 for setting up this community of professionals.




I took my CISSP exam on February 9th, 2017.  That was the most nerve wracking day/exam I have ever had to live through.  I live about an hour from the testing facility on a good day and that day was not a good day weather wise.  I woke up to about 3-4 inches of snow on the ground and it was still coming down, we were predicted to get between 10 and 12 inches before it was over.  It was too late to attempt to reschedule the exam so I got ready to leave and headed to the exam, about two hours early.  The driving was slow going and I took my time getting there.  I arrived at the testing facility and was handed the facility rules and told to put everything but my drivers license in a locker.  I then went through the hand scan and sign in procedure.  while I waiting my turn to be escorted to the exam room I overheard one of the other people there was not registered to take that they were there for.  This person drove a similar distance to what I drove, they came a town a few miles from mine.  needless to say that with the drive I just did and hearing the struggles this person was having I was quickly starting to forget all the studying I had done the previous week.  I got called in to take my exam and another hand scan and check to be sure I was who I was and I was escorted to my cube to take my test.  I sat down and could not remember anything that I had studied but I did remember a couple of things that I wrote on my erasable sheet.  One was that the people come first and the other was that I could miss 50 questions and still pass.  I started taking the exam and as I answered questions everything started coming back to me and the question flew by.  I didn't have a watch and no clock to look at so I didn't know how much time I had left.  I finished all the questions and double checked every question I needed to, I raised my hand to have the proctor come get me.  I then did the hand scan again, as if I had left the room and a dopple ganger came back to finish the test.  The proctor printed my results and it said I passed and was I ever shocked at that.  After going through the check out process I went to my car and called my wife to let her know.  I then called my supervisor to let him know that I passed and that I was going to head for home in the snow storm.

Newcomer I

I went to a CISSP bootcamp for 5 days in Dallas TX, but it was a month after my school that I could schedule the exam.  My wife and I drove from our hometown in New Mexico to Lubbock TX to take the exam.  I had been studying hard from the time I got out of the school to work on areas I knew I was weak on but had no idea what I would be facing.  I just tried to relax on the drive there which was about two hours.  My wife was as nervous as I since we had invested time and money in this process.  I made a promise to myself to not let stress sabotage me, after all I am fortunate to usually do well on most testing.  I know that some people are just not good at testing though they know the information.  I went in and wow the security was incredible, bio-metric scanning of my palm, removal of everything except my clothes.  I was thinking they might want a retina eye scan before they would let me in.  Also the proctor was dead serious about his duties.  I took a deep breath and in I went, I used all my tools of testing skills, coming back to questions I was unsure about, making sure I read and understood the question.  It seemed like forever because I was going to use every precious minute allowed, and the questions went on forever.  I am certainly not trying to frighten anybody that has not taken the test yet, because the result was I passed with flying colors.  One thing I will encourage people to do that really helped me while I was studying.  There is a course on Coursera (online MOOK)called Learning How to Learn, and it made a big difference for me.  Good luck with your endeavors to be the best you can be.

Newcomer II

Think like a manager and apply everything to the CIA triad. Took mine in Sept. 2016 after a 6 day boot camp. I had to format my brain to hold all of the information!


Finished in what I thought was a good time (3 hours) thinking something must be wrong. Clicked the submit button and by the grace of God I passed.


Good luck to everyone that follows, you can do it.

Reader I

I started working on CISSP in July 2016. Because I've had one foot in the Sys Admin world and one in IT management for the last 7-8 years, I decided to do the SSCP exam before I did CISSP. There's a decent amount of overlap between the two, even though the focus of each is very different, and I thought SSCP would be a good way to get my feet wet with security certifications. I passed SSCP in March 2017 and , frankly, felt it was a lot harder that I was expecting, Since CISSP covers far more material, I knew I would have to be more diligent in studying. I took a couple of weeks off after the SSCP exam and then, once I was an official ISC2 member, I bought the official ISC2 materials (you have to love the 50% discount on the CISSP books once you're an ISC2 member).

I used a variety of books and videos and tried to spend 1-2 hours per day on it. I deliberately chose a long period of study because I didn't want to just pass the exam - I really wanted to know and apply the information in my career. I decided that since I gave myself 6 months for SSCP, I'd give myself 12 months for CISSP. The CISSP exam isn't an exam where you just regurgitate material back. You really need to know how to apply the information you learned and I thought that a longer learning period would make it easier to really master and digest the info and it would also give me time to implement what I was studying at my actual job.

I read all the books I used multiple times, made flash cards, and did practice exams until I felt like I really knew the information before scheduling the exam. I contemplated trying to knock it out before it became adaptive, but didn't feel like I had enough time, so I waited for the adaptive exam and scheduled it for Feb 2nd. I was nervous taking the exam because of the perceived difficulty and also having $700 on the line (my employer will only reimburse exams that we pass). But once I got started, I felt pretty good on most of the questions and passed after 100 questions. I felt like I knew the underlying material well enough that I could apply it to the scenarios that were being asked. I really think the slow, deliberate approach to studying and really learning the material was key, as was implementing different things at work. Towards the last three months of studying I likely spent 2-3 hours per day working on it,a d in the last two weeks spent about 3-4 hours reviewing info,

There seem to be a lot of people who want to study and pass the exam in a matter of months, but I felt the longer approach worked better for me and would encourage other people to do the same.
Reader I

Good day Cyber Warriors!

I went dark for awhile after failing in Dec 2016. I changed 2 questions and got a 691 (probably not from changing the questions or maybe so, I'll never know) I took a break (horrible idea) for about a month (pity party no one attended) and restarted studying in Jan 2017 (it almost felt as if I was starting over from scratch). In March 24, 2017 I took the SAN GISP and failed it by 2% AND THE SAME AREAS OF THE CISSP FROM DEC! That shook me up and I had to change something. So I started to focus that last week just on practice questions from the Sybrex Practice questions, the Sybrex 7th Edition, and from one of the boot camps I attended. I was scoring in the mid to high 70's and improved to 80-82%. I re-listened to CISSP course 7x and focused in the 1st week all Domains and the last week in my 2 weakest Domains.
The April test felt like a true manager's test. I looked at the questions and asked myself this critical question, "Does my boss NEED to know the depth that these answers go or just the top level idea?"  I did the 3 pass method. I answered the questions as fast as I could and finished in 2.25 hours and marked 91 questions. On the 2nd pass, I asked if my boss really needed the depth or *top-level* idea on each of the marked question. I probably changed about 30 questions. The final pass, I changed another 3 or 4, but I gotta tell you that God put a gut check on 2 of them that I changed and I changed back. At the end, I took about 5 hours and 14 mins. I gave thanks to God and walked back to get the paper with the test results. The proctor looked at me, then the paper, then back at me. I picked it up and I passed!

I used the Sybrex as a base but it was just too much to read again. I liked Simple CISSP and the CISSP study guide the best as a secondary source.
The 4 key takeaways were: 1. Practice questions, 2. Does my boss/CEO/C-suite need to know this and to what level? 3. Know definitions. There was some words or acronyms the first 2 attempts that I just flat out didn't know and probably cost me. And finally, 4. at the end of the exam before I went through the review of marked questions, *CLICK ON THE INCOMPLETES!* I had 3 incomplete as I quickly clicked something I *knew* the answer to but must of missed clicking the radio button because I was in a hurry!!!

I took 2 boot camps, one was with a Florida university that I would not recommend but will not speak ill of which one. I did take a SANS CISSP MGM 414 course in Nov 2016 with David R. Miller as the instructor. He was very good but I had to remind myself that there are other folks in there that didn't want to know about the CISSP exam. I took the GISP as a baseline when I got close (would have been nice to pass) so I could refocus or feel great that I could pass.

I am grateful for this community, God, and my wife who drove me so I could cram a few more ideas in my head.

I was endorsed on April 17, 2017 and received from ISC2 approval with the CISSP cert PDF on May 10th, 2017!

Thank you again, wish you Godspeed!
John Dossa, CISSP 3rd timer

Community Champion

Congratulations Mr. Dossa. Admirable and inspiring. There is a Japanese proverb, "Fall down seven times, get up eight."


I will be writing my exam on May 26, and I hope to pass; if I do not, however, I will keep at it. Success is a matter of keeping at it, and latching onto the affirmative.


Best regards.

Viewer II

I took the exam when it was still 10 domains back on May 7th, 2011.  I remember the day well, because the morning started out with my wife going into labor with our 5th child.  While at the hospital she told me, "I got this, go take your test".  I drove the 60 miles to take the exam and the proctor showed up a 1/2 hour late.  We got started at 9:30 AM and I left at noon.  I got back to the hospital and there was my latest edition.


As far as the test went, I thought that the questions back then were well balanced.  I had studied for two years before taking it because the US Army at the time paid for my voucher and I did not want to waste it.  I am glad that the future generations are able to take the exam on the computer because filling in the bubbles is a serious pain.

Randall Goedel, CISSP
Newcomer III

I took my exam two years ago. I had failed it about six months before and came to the realization that I was looking at the exam as an administrator/engineer. I actually noticed that some of the questions could be answered from either point of view and that one was clearly wrong.


I went back and retook the exam after some study time and looked at the questions from a management point of view and passed. When I get asked today what is the best bit of advice I can give, that's what I say.

Viewer II

The moment I came to know I passed CISSP exam I was thrilled and then folded my hands to thank GOD and my parents for guiding me and giving me strength and continuous support during the preparation time. Appearing for CISSP has to be planned well in advance by about 3 months by dividing your time and keeping slots of 3-4 hours daily for the preparation. Testing & retesting yourself continuously is the secret that induces confidence as the success rate ( passing %) increases.

It was a great experience to me and I really enjoyed the challenge. I could also passed CCSP in the same way.


I did not get any support or benefit  from my organization after obtaining the certification where I am working in the same area. However some certifications provide you great satisfaction  and CISSP and CCSP are some of them. I love to take challenges. I will keep pursuing more of them for my learning and knowledge purpose. I eagerly look forward for completing my CCFP certification once it is again made active.


I would urge ISC2 to keep up the Gold standard and do not let it get diluted by any way.


My best wishes to all CISSP / CCSP aspirants. / Mobile +919650994571