How Do I Start Studying for CISSP Certification Exam?


In the fields of information security and cybersecurity, there exists no certification more rewarding or more demanding than the CISSP certification. 

In spite of this many individuals want to take up the challenge and ask themselves the question, “How do I start studying for the CISSP certification exam?”

Legions of cybersecurity professionals and software developers have tried their hand at clearing the CISSP certification exam but have not been able to meet the stringent and exacting requirements of the exam. 

This is not an accident or by chance. The governing body of the CISSP certification, (ISC)2, has made it a point to make this certification the most exclusive and selective one out there.

Due to this high difficulty and due to the many foiled attempts by many aspiring cybersecurity and information security professionals, there is now a high demand for a learning path or a study path that will help the test takers pass the exam. One good answer is to take CISSP Training Online.

What is the CISSP certification exam?

The CISSP certification exam is an exam having a very high difficulty level. As was mentioned before, legions of cybersecurity professionals and software developers have tried their hand at passing the exam but have been deterred by the high difficulty.

There are 8 domains of knowledge that are tested in the exam and are present in the exam syllabus. They are -

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Engineering
  • Communication and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

If this seems daunting to an aspirant, they should consider themselves fortunate instead. Prior to 2015, there used to be 10 separate domains of knowledge that were tested on the exam and were present on the exam syllabus. Many outdated CISSP Courses still teach on the basis of the old knowledge domains which were 10 in number.

CISSP has introduced a new form of testing known as Computerized Adaptive Testing or CAT. This is a new way of testing the candidates through computer workstations where testing software is preloaded. 

The candidate has to go to a testing center where they are provided with a uniquely suitable testing environment and are asked to enter their answers on a computer workstation.

What is the format of the CISSP certification exam?

The total time period of the CISSP certification exam has been reduced from 6 to 3 hours. Aspiring candidates should thank their stars again. Earlier the exam used to be a gruelling 6 hours of pure mental agony in which the endurance, critical thinking, and memory of the candidates were tested extensively.

Now the total time period is a much more manageable 3 hours but the endurance, critical thinking, and memory of the candidates is still tested extensively.

Earlier there used to be 250 questions on the exam because the exam was a linear fixed format exam. But with the new CAT testing, a candidate can pass the exam after answering as little as 100 questions. Any decent CISSP Certification Training Online will teach the candidates how to pass the CISSP certification exam by answering a few questions as possible.

This is because the CAT testing uses advanced and sophisticated computer algorithms to determine the personal ability of a candidate during the course of the exam by assessing and reassessing their abilities after every question they answer. 

It is so advanced that it even customizes the successive questions which are posed to the candidate based on their previous answers.

Some preparation strategies -

A candidate should proceed domain by domain, successively. They should not try to cover a little content from all domains and try to become a jack of all trades, master of none. 

The best way to achieve a high score on the exam is to cover as much content as possible from one domain before moving on so that one becomes proficient in that domain. One can do this by taking a good CISSP Certification Training Online.

A good way to ensure domain by domain coverage is to take practice exams regularly. One should take practice exams that are focused on individual domains. In this way, they can check their mastery of each individual domain. Also, they should only move on to study another domain if they score 80-90% on the practice exams for the current domain.

One should also take note of the knowledge areas of a domain in which they are weak by analyzing which questions they couldn’t answer in a practice test. 

By analyzing those questions they can make a list of all the knowledge areas they are weak in and then revise those areas systematically by making copious notes during their study. A good CISSP Certification Online will always provide comprehensive study notes.

How to decide in which order to study the domains?

This question does not have any short and simple answers. It is safe to assume that every candidate for the CISSP certification exam is able to meet the education and experience requirements for the exam. This means that every candidate has a different set of education and experiences.

Now we can answer this question on an individual basis. Each candidate should carefully study the content of the syllabus; especially the content of each of the 8 knowledge domains contained in the syllabus. Then they should carefully evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses based on their education and experience.

In this way, they should determine which of the 8 knowledge domains are most relevant to their background, education, and experience and focus on those in their preparation. The secret to scoring well on the CISSP certification exam is to specialize in certain areas and make them one’s strengths so that one can tackle all the questions from those areas in the exam.

Some top tips for the CISSP certification exam -

  1. Scenario-based questions -

Be ready for scenario-based questions. These questions will test a candidate’s judgment and wits. They are especially tricky because more than one answer is correct in the options of these questions, at least on the surface. 

But a candidate has to rise beyond logic and think from a managerial perspective to find the best answer out of all the options.

This way they will be able to acquire the CISSP Certification easily.

  1. Read through the entire test -

At the beginning, the candidate should read all the questions of the test once to familiarize himself with the subject matter being tested. After all, the 8 domains of knowledge on the syllabus are vast and it is good to find out which parts of those knowledge domains are being tested.

  1. Identify the keywords in the questions -

While reading any question, always keep a weathered eye out for any tricky keywords in the question. Keywords can include “best”, “least”, “worst”, “highest”, “most likely”, “lowest”, “earliest” etc. 

These keywords often change the entire meaning of the question and finding the correct answer hinges on recognizing and identifying them while reading the question. The CISSP Certification exam is famous for such keywords.

  1. Answer the correct questions first -

Only answer questions which you feel certain are correct. Flag any questions which you think are incorrect. Don’t attempt to answer those as you will spend valuable time on a question that does not have a correct answer.

  1. Eliminate wrong answers first -

In a question in which you don’t immediately recognize the correct answer, try to eliminate the wrong answers first. 

By following this process of elimination you will be able to remove the wrong options from consideration and minimize the list of potentially correct answers you must contemplate. CISSP Courses usually train the learners in the use of this technique.

So these all are about “How Do I Start Studying for CISSP Certification Exam?”

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