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Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

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Jhaddix

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Post Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:41 pm

Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

Hey all,

I thought i would post a quick guide on passing your SANS certification tests!

1) Read. No really, read the whole curriculum. The SANS books are the test. There are no questions on the test that aren't in the books almost verbatim. Even the "critical thinking" or "decoding" questions are modeled after examples in the book. If you have the audio lecture, listen through it at least once, on your commute or after the kids go to bed. Some of the humor and points the instructors make in the audio really help when remembering obscure topics.

2) Make an index. Make an index with page numbers for each book and tape/paste it to the inside cover.

I was meticulous and indexed every different slide heading, and then made extra marks for every command/executable referenced (even if they were on the same page) then i alphabetized the index and used it as a semi glossary and added it to a stapled big glossary.

3) Write on the front covers of your book. Write what that day contains, for example the GSEC the cover of day 2 (i think it was) said Internet security technologies, but really this book was NIDS, HIDS, NIPS, HIPS, Honeypots, Firewalls, etc . I cant tell you how much book shuffling you will do, but normally it is a lot. Not having to open the books to know where something is saves valuable time.

4) Take some cheatsheets with you Take the SANS cheatsheet they give you. I also used a port cheatsheet, nmap cheatsheet, *nix command cheatsheet, etc. Sometimes they are faster than the book.

5) Take both practice tests. You have 4 hours.... that's a lot. Try to answer all the questions but don't worry too much about the first practice test you take. The vital thing for me was screen-shotting each question and if i got it wrong the correct answer. Then i made flash cards out of the questions i missed. Then take the second practice test, do the same, and gauge your improvement.

6) Don't stress out. Seriously, pre-test anxiety is what will make you second guess your answers. You know the material, you've done it, seen it, you probably even enjoy it.

7) Prep for the day Get plenty of sleep, eat breakfast, and take a turn on the pot. These are test essentials. Make sure you have your indexes, cheatsheets, glossaries, etc.

Finally, go pass your test! Come back and gloat!
Last edited by Jhaddix on Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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UNIX

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Post Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:16 am

Re: Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

Thanks for the write-up Jhaddix. I think those are tips which could help for mostly all exams someone will take.

Especially the seond and third point (the first one is obvious anyway ;)) are important in my opinion. When not only reading the material, but also write it down and summarize it it will be easier to remember things for most people. What I also do often is to talk to a friend and try to explain things I have read/ learned so far and exchange information in both directories if your friend is learning the same material. Although I prefer learning by myself or in a workshop, it often helps to meet sometimes and discuss about the things done so far. Maybe you will hear from your partner about things you have forgotten or thought that are not that important or refresh the information you have. This is also a good way to see if you have rememberd more than your friend (or vice versa) and add the things you know additionally.
What for myself works is also when read a chapter in a book for example, to talk loudly and summarize what was it all about etc (while walking up and down). This helps also practicing speaking and may help to remember it better because you also hear it.

When you have to learn a bunch of new things relatively fast it helps for me also to use mnemonics or build something like a story or visually images, however, some persons may find this difficult at the beginning.
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humv

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Post Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:49 pm

Re: Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

I did my practice exams without the index.  That makes it a lot harder.  Just did my test with creating indexs.  What I did was photocopy the introduction and tools for each sections.  I laminated them after that and then wrote with permanent marker on them each subsection down to page number.  This worked great for me, I was a little rushed in the end.  I procrastinated until the last week to finish the on-demand stuff so for my next one I will start from day one doing this.  I also put post-it tabs for the definitions in each section.

humv
Certifications: EETN, CCNA, GCFW, GAWN, GCFA, GPEN, GCIA, GCWN
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T_Bone

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Post Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:15 pm

Re: Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

Hi

I have my SANS exam on 23rd November and passed the practice tests.  Just out of curiosity is the actual test in exactly the same layout as the practice test? i.e. will they display when you answer a question incorrectly?

Thanks
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venom77

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Post Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:16 am

Re: Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

T_Bone wrote:Hi

I have my SANS exam on 23rd November and passed the practice tests.  Just out of curiosity is the actual test in exactly the same layout as the practice test? i.e. will they display when you answer a question incorrectly?

Thanks


Yes, the scoring is in real-time after each question so you will know before you finish whether you have passed or not. If  you have done a good job on the practice tests, you should be fine on the real test. It is very similar, just a little more in-depth.
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timmedin

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Post Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:41 pm

Re: Tips for passing a SANS/GIAC certification

They don't show you why you got the question wrong or the correct answer.
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