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Study Groups

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Study Groups

Hi everyone, I've (@RJL01) been using this private study groups idea since 2017 to help provide additional support for studying cyber security certifications and have been a member of more than a dozen groups since then.


@SWALTERSand I have created several groups for this ISC2 WA Chapter (Chartering)

The study groups provide a number of different services which I will break down further:


Question Generation

Finding 'relevant' study questions can be difficult because course content changes frequently. Some new courses might have few (if any) questions available in the public and private domains and some old courses tend to have thousands of questions available but many (most?) are not relevant to the course due to curriculum changes. Indeed, when I was studying CISSP, there were many sample questions available that covered topics no longer in the syllabus at all, wasting time and frightening potential students away from sitting the exam.

Which led me to suggestion #1.

Students in the study group should contribute questions to the study group.

The idea is that if everyone in the study group contributes a question per week and there are 10 people in the group, then that is 10 free questions per week for the group. What I found in practice was that people tended to ask questions about areas they were highly familiar with that were aggregated from many sources and weren’t necessarily focussed on the course material.

Which led me to suggestion #2.

Student questions must provide a reference to the exact page in the ISC2 official student guide or ISC2 official materials.

This led to a lot of fairly simple questions, extracted from a single page of the text and didn’t really generate what students were looking for (many questions were the same or simply variations of previous questions)

Which led me to suggestion #3.

The questions should be made as hard as you can make them. (While still observing suggestion #2)

This started to generate quite a few highly complex, difficult questions, which are exactly what you can expect to find in the exam. Think about this - the examiners are using similar techniques to generate questions. If your study group generates enough questions, you may find that there is considerable cross-over.

Peer Networking
The people in the study group might one day be your employees or your employers.

The study groups are a great way to find hard working, enthusiastic peers in the industry. Next time they, or you, are looking for staff you have a group of potential candidates that you can draw upon that you will know far more about that some randoms from an employment agency. This significantly reduces the risk around new hires and has been particularly valuable in the AISA study groups because most students are based within Australia.

Receiving new questions every week (or day) goes a long way to keeping you actively engaged in your studies. The questions detailed above make great study ‘beans’ that you can review between meetings at work or classes at school/Uni.

When students in the study group sat their exams and passed (or failed) they came back to the study group to provide details on tips and tricks they used to pass (or fail) the exam.

It is always incredibly motivating to hear that your study cohort are passing the exams - which leads me to discuss rule #1

Rule #1
Discussion of questions that were in the ISC2 exam is expressly forbidden.

ISC2 do not permit discussion of real questions from an ISC2 exam and if you do you will most likely have your certification rescinded. Please do not discuss any real questions at all.

Its best for students to discuss the questions themselves and arrive at the correct answer and justification, however a study group moderator will be on hand to provide guidance, this leads to Rule #2


Rule # 2
Based on the rules of this ISC2 Chapter, no chapter committee member is permitted to ‘teach’ any materials from the ISC2 course. It’s an ISC2 requirement and we must abide by this.


There are always a lot of suggestions about the medium to conduct the study groups in, I have tried LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Signal and Slack, but I have to say Signal has, so far, been the most productive.

I believe this is because most participants had Signal Messenger installed on their phone, so they have access to the group in their pocket at all hours, supporting the motivation I discussed above.

@SWALTERS and I have run a test for our ISC2 chapter in Signal and while we are always open to new ideas, we have settled on Signal for the time being.

With all that out of the way, who’s in?