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Study habits for the CISSP.

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Macphisto

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:42 am

Study habits for the CISSP.

Once I decided to shift my career focus from System and Network Admin towards Security, I got really nervous that studying simply wasn't my strong suit given my time constraints.  Between family obligations (Married and father to a three year old girl) and professional obligations (Renewing my CCNA or getting CCNA:S and I really should be reading Powershell in Action instead of EH!) and even just personal hobbies (Getting into the Arduino, studying Japanese, and yea, I knit).  All these things that have claims on my time and one of my biggest weaknesses is my impatience.  So, deciding to sit for the CISSP, I picked up the Shon Harris book and just started reading and highlighting.  I'm sorry to say that I got quickly overwhelmed.  Not that the material is too difficult, but I was reading in the vicinity of 30 to 50 pages a night. 

So I decided to try to take a long view (Marathon not a sprint!) and swapped my study habits to what is listed below. 

  • Read 15 pages of Shon Harris' CISSP All-In-One
  • Each night, highlight passages or concepts that would make good test questions.
  • At the end of 15 pages, fire up Anki and review the notes I made with the highlighter and enter each in question format with chapter tagging.
  • Try to clear my Anki reps every day and set the new fact number to 20 per day.
  • When I've finished the All-In-One book and worked through my Anki deck take some practice exams and note where I fell short.  Review those chapters and reset my Anki counts for those chapter tags.
  • Take the exam
  • If I fail reread the book and maybe look into a boot camp type of prep course

For reference Anki is a Spaced Repetition System and has worked miracles for my studies in Japanese, I think it will easily translate to CISSP studying.  I've been using the Cloze deletion technique for my facts, so it forces me to memorize versus hunt for an answer in multiple choice.

I chose 15 pages a night because it allows me to get through a decent amount of information without finding myself up at 2am and too tired to pick up my CCNA books or even enter the CISSP info into Anki.  I'm currently at page 375 and if I can manage to read at least 5 nights a week I'm projected to finish the book in about 15 weeks.  If I manage it every night of the week, I'm projected to finish in 10 weeks.  From what I've read about the CISSP, I feel that's a significant amount of time to study and really familiarize myself with the information. 

If anyone has any thoughts or comments or even warnings, I'd greatly appreciate them. 
CCNA

Goals for this year:
CISSP
CCNA:S
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ziggy_567

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:18 am

Re: Study habits for the CISSP.

It seems to me that you know your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to studying and you've mitigated for your weaknesses. You have a plan (and it sounds like a pretty good one). Now go execute.

Good luck! I'll be hitting the books pretty soon for my CISSP as well...(thanks Don)
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Ziggy


eCPPT - GSEC - GCIH - GWAPT - GCUX - RHCE - SCSecA - Security+ - Network+
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caissyd

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:10 am

Re: Study habits for the CISSP.

Hey,

While my main focus is OSCE right now, but CISSP is my second goal.

I spend a lot of time on commute, driving in traffic (about 2 hours a day). So what I did is convert Shon Harris video training in MP3s and I listen to them while I am driving. Since 90% of the videos are really looking at her telling you stuff, I don't loose much by not watching the videos.

When I reach a more complexe section, I take note of it and go read in her book about it (same book as you, Macphisto). This way, I spend most of my energy on OSCE and once this big cert is out of the way (crossing fingers!), I will take many CISSP practice exams.

I have to say that being a PMP (Project Management Professional) and having three other security related certs help me a lot. I took a short CISSP practice test before starting studying and scored 70%. So listening to MP3s suits me.

BTW, I recommend Shon Harris video training. Add her book as a complement and reference, and it is quite good...

Good luck Macphisto!
OSCP, GPEN, GWAPT, GSEC, CEH, CISSP
(aka H1t.M0nk3y)
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alucian

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:58 am

Re: Study habits for the CISSP.

Hello fellow students

My opinion is that you only need Shon Harris stuff: the book plus the video course. I did the same thing as H1t, and listened the video courses. It really helps. I would recommend doing the tests from the cccure.org, the pro level. The medium level I found it to be closer to Security+. Also, if you want to check yourself, buy the official questions, because those are the real stuff.

In order to have an ideea about the exam, the following questions, available for free from the ISACA's CISM website, are very similar in format as the ones for CISSP
http://www.isaca.org/Certification/CISM-Certified-Information-Security-Manager/Prepare-for-the-Exam/Pages/CISM-Self-Assessment.html

Good luck to all of you!
CISSP ISSAP, CISM/A, GWAPT, GCIH, GREM, GMOB, OSWP
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caissyd

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:27 am

Re: Study habits for the CISSP.

Regarding this:
Also, if you want to check yourself, buy the official questions, because those are the real stuff.

Did you mean buying the practice questions from cccure.org?

Thanks alucian!
OSCP, GPEN, GWAPT, GSEC, CEH, CISSP
(aka H1t.M0nk3y)
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Macphisto

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:29 am

Re: Study habits for the CISSP.

Thanks for all the comments.  I'll definitely check out the Shon Harris videos, thanks for the suggestion H1t.  As well the CISM evaluation might come in handy.  Since i don't really know the format or "feeling" of the questions on CISSP, I've been casting a pretty wide net and relying on memory techniques.

For example, I'm not sure i need to be memorizing the ISO/IEC specifications 1, 3 and 4 for Smart Cards.  But it seemed like it could make a pretty good test question, so I've got things like: 

The ISO/IEC 14443 standard outlines the following items for smart card standardization:  [...]

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The ISO/IEC 14443 standard outlines the following items for smart card standardization:  ISO/IEC 14443-1 Physical Characteristic, ISO/IEC 14443-3 Initialization and anticollision, and ISO/IEC 14443-4 Transmission protocol

My gut feeling is that this is creeping into the line of overkill, but it's easily memorized (especially with an SRS system backing me up).

I can see your point about focusing on the things you find more interesting.  My goal has been to get the CISSP and then I get to reward myself with the things that really get my brain ticking.  Certs like OSCP, C|EH, RHCE, GSEC and GPEN are all exciting to me and hopefully will help me fulfill my CPE requirements once I am able to pass the CISSP.

I have to be honest, and I'm sure this community hears this a lot, I feel a lot more directed in my career and personal improvement goals.  I've been an System and Network admin for more than ten years and while I love my job I really like having the impetus provided by focusing on the security field.
CCNA

Goals for this year:
CISSP
CCNA:S
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alucian

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Post Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Study habits for the CISSP.

H1t M0nk3y wrote:Regarding this:
Also, if you want to check yourself, buy the official questions, because those are the real stuff.

Did you mean buying the practice questions from cccure.org?

Thanks alucian!


I think this is the one:
https://www.isc2.org/studiscope/default.aspx

I didn't buy it back then, so I cannot guarantee for it, but...
CISSP ISSAP, CISM/A, GWAPT, GCIH, GREM, GMOB, OSWP

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