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How to prepare for CISSP Certification

Does a career in security analytics or cybersecurity intrigue you? Or are you already a cybersecurity professional aiming to expedite your career with industry-standard up-to-date security skills and technical expertise? Then, earning a CISSP Certification can help prove your mettle and validate your expertise by helping you sharpen your skills and knowledge in general security practices and methodologies. Organizations are eager to hire candidates who have passed the CISSP exam because the CISSP credential validates the candidate’s technical as well as practical knowledge of cybersecurity practices and security protocols in the field of information technology, as the exam requires formal training or work experience in these specific domains.

So, if you are planning to appear for the CISSP exam and want to know what preparations are required to surmount this challenge, you have come to the right place! This article will assist you in devising a road map by detailing the essential routes you must traverse on your way to earning your CISSP certification.

What is CISSP Certification?

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is a foundational information security certification that is considered the gold standard in the field of cybersecurity. The CISSP certification is offered by a non-profit organization known as (ISC)2 or the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium. Since its inception in 1989, the (ISC)2 has been widely regarded as the premier institution in the field of cybersecurity. It houses more than 200 K certified members and offers other security certifications like SSCP, CAP, CCSP, and CSSLP.

The CISSP certification validates your academic understanding and hands-on expertise in a variety of areas, such as Security and Risk Management, disaster recovery, cryptography protocols, network architecture and design, network security, and so on, and it is a globally recognized credential that attests to your ability to implement and manage security programs. Thus, the CISSP certification is crucial if you want to excel as a security analyst or if you want to enter the cybersecurity domain. Today, many IT security professionals pursue CISSP certification training to gain the technical understanding and skill set required to design a comprehensive security program whilst building confidence to take the CISSP certification exam.

Preparing for the CISSP certification exam

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Although this quote by Benjamin Franklin may sound like a battle cry, it is very relevant in this context.

The CISSP exam is a tough nut to crack, and therefore in order to be successful in achieving the feat, one needs to have a combination of proper planning, preparation, and successful implementation of carefully planned strategies.

Let us now delve into the crucial tips for preparing for the CISSP exam:

Familiarize yourself with the CISSP exam structure and requirements

The very first step you need to do if you are ready to pursue the certification is to register for the exam. The best source for finding information related to the CISSP exam is the official website of (ISC)2, as they are the authority providing the certification. On the website, you can schedule your exam by creating an account with Pearson VUE, which is the leading provider of global, computer-based testing for certification and licensure exams, and obtain your target date.

About the CISSP Exam and its requirements

The CISSP certification exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions with a time duration of 180 minutes. The candidate is required to procure a score of 700 or more out of a possible 1000 points to be eligible for the certification. Furthermore, the candidate must pay a fee of $699 before taking the exam.

  1. Outline your topics and create a study plan

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Therefore, if you do not want ‘cracking the CISSP exam’ to just remain on that long bucket list, you need to do some serious shifting and make a fool-proof study plan. For course content, (ISC)2 has published the CISSP exam outline in the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) which contains topics that are listed in the form of CISSP domains. The following eight are the CISSP domains, each of which is assigned specific weightage based on the number of questions that are asked from each domain.

CISSP Domains & weightage:

1. Security and Risk Management- 15%

2. Asset Security -10%

3. Security Architecture and Engineering -13%

4. Communication and Network Security -13%

5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)- 13%

6. Security Assessment and Testing- 12%

7. Security Operations -13%

8. Software Development Security -11%

Once you have obtained the exam outline, you must decide how much time you can allocate to each topic and manage your schedule. The idea is to break down the plan into daily to-do tasks in your daily planner or on Notes on your smartphone or laptop. Setting a goal for each day increases the likelihood that you will accomplish it. It is recommended that you devote 120-150 hours of study time to exam preparation, depending on how versed you are with the topics in question. Also, take breaks as needed to enjoy the learning without being plagued by sheer exhaustion.

1. Get the study materials.

By registering for CISSP training, you can avail the official (ISC) 2’s self-study resources that cover all CISSP course domains.

The (ISC)² Self-Study Resources comprises mainly three books:

 1. The Official (ISC)² CISSP CBK (Common Body of Knowledge). It should be regarded as your cybersecurity Bible.

 2. The Official (ISC)² CISSP Study Guide. This is a fantastic book that covers all eight CISSP domains and will help you prepare for the CISSP exam. It also comes with a full-length CISSP practice exam.

 3. The Official (ISC)² CISSP Practice Tests.

 All of these books are available directly from isc2.com/resources, Amazon, or Wiley.com (publisher).

2. Enroll in online training classes

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the course modules, you can enroll in an official self-paced and instructor-led training from (ISC)2 or on other digital platforms like Simplilearn, which offers an excellent training program that is in alignment with the latest (ISC)2 version by providing theoretical as well as industry approved practices ensuring you are well prepared for the exam.

3. CISSP Online Study Group

It is advisable to join study groups and online discussion forums because doing so will help you review and refresh the concepts as well as determine how much further you must go in terms of effort and learning milestones. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to learn priceless insights, study hacks, and strategies from the other aspirants preparing for the exam.

4. Practice is key!

If you want to ace the test, reading study guides and books and watching online tutorials are not enough. Practice as much as you can by answering the questions after learning each domain, so you can determine for yourself which core area or topic requires more attention and where you fall short. The more questions you practice, the greater the chances for you to succeed in the exam.

5. Final tips

The week before the exam should be treated like the final sprint, where you must practice only on practice tests and mock exams and make sure that you excel at answering the CISSP questions. And last but not least, all your efforts will go down the drain if you do not get adequate rest and sleep. The day before the exam, relax and try to stay calm and composed. Remember, only a relaxed mind can conquer the toughest of challenges!

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