Ready to Start Your Career?

(Best CISSP Training) Top Tips To Help You Pass The CISSP Exam

Charles Owen-Jackson's profile image

By: Charles Owen-Jackson

August 24, 2021

Top tips to help you pass the CISSP exam

Passing a CISSP exam requires a lot of hard work, but the efforts are more than worth it at a time when cybersecurity professionals are in short supply.

Preparing for and ultimately passing the certified information systems security professional (CISSP) exam is the most difficult task in that it requires careful planning and lots of time and effort. The Official ISC2 CISSP CBK Reference contains around 1,400 pages covering the eight domains of the current framework.

The CISSP exam takes three hours and includes between 100 and 150 multiple choice questions and advanced innovative items. Non-English versions take twice as long and have 250 items. In either case, the maximum possible score is 1,000 points, while 700 points are required to pass the exam.

However, despite the substantial effort required to prepare for and earn a CISSP accreditation, a highly lucrative and successful career is practically guaranteed upon passing. Cybersecurity professionals are in short supply globally, making accredited professionals among the most sought-after in the world.

Here is an overview of what candidates need to do to ensure a good chance of success:

#1. Understand the Requirements

To apply for a CISSP accreditation in the first place, candidates must have five or more years of full-time work experience as a security professional in two or more of the eight domains covered by the CISSP framework. These domains are as follows:

  • Security and risk management
  • Asset security
  • Security architecture and engineering
  • Communications and network security
  • Identity and access management
  • Security assessment and testing
  • Security operations
  • Software development security

Any preparational CISSP training course should cover these eight domains in depth. Taking a CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) exam involves testing candidates across each of these eight domains.

Under certain circumstances, applicants can earn a certification with four years of professional experience. The fifth year can be substituted with a four-year college degree or an advanced degree in information security from a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) or various other approved ISC2 certifications.

#2. Create and Join Study Groups

A high-level career in cybersecurity requires a range of technical, interpersonal, and personal skills. CISSPs routinely collaborate with numerous other parties, including non-technical teams, far from being a purely technical discipline. As such, it makes sense to take a team-driven approach to train as well.

Given that CISSP is a globally recognized industry standard, it should be possible to find local study groups in almost any major city worldwide. Another option is online study groups on forums and social media. However, many online training platforms also take a team-driven approach to learning with collaborative exercises, question-and-answer forums, and more. By joining a study group, applicants can learn from the successes and mistakes of others who have either passed or failed their exams. ISC2 also has an active online study group, and it sponsors localized ones around the US.

#3. Use Multiple Study Materials

Many experts recommend starting with the Official ISC2 CISSP CBK Reference. This is sound advice, but it is not the only source that candidates should be using. While all-in-one guides like these cover everything across all the domains, it is practically impossible to learn the real-world skills and use cases with conventional reading materials alone.

Applicants should source multiple study materials of different types. For example, hands-on virtual labs provide simulations that help trainees match what they learn to real-world use cases. After all, when preparing for the exam, it is important to answer why it is necessary to learn about a particular methodology, system, or process.

Although everyone has their preferred learning styles and methods, every approach should incorporate traditional reading materials, hands-on labs and simulations, team exercises, and live video or in-person training sessions.

#4. Schedule Training Time Efficiently

Given that applying for a CISSP accreditation requires five years of professional experience, it stands to reason that most candidates preparing for an exam will be in full-time employment already. Those who meet the prerequisites should expect to spend around 20 hours preparing for the exam by working through a dedicated course.

It is important to treat CISSP exam preparation as a marathon rather than a sprint. By tackling it in easily digestible sections over weeks or months, candidates can pace themselves better and reduce the risk of being overburdened.

This is why it is essential to start with a strict training program that respects the candidate’s other personal and professional commitments. After formulating a plan, it is important to stick to it rigidly. Fortunately, many online learning platforms allow team leaders and individuals to track their progress and help them stay on schedule.

#5. Take Practice Tests and Exams

Answering up to 150 questions in just three hours only gives candidates a little over a minute to answer each question. While there is no time limit for individual questions, candidates must pace themselves correctly, lest the three hours run out before they can complete the whole exam. This clarifies the requirement not only to be highly familiar with the eight CISSP domains but also to know what to expect and think quickly.

Taking as many practice tests as possible in the weeks ahead of the exam is the best possible way to prepare for the real thing. Based on the results of these practice tests, candidates will be able to manage their time better and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Taking every possible step to increase the chances of a pass is essential, especially given that exams cost $749. Also, a test cannot be retaken for 30, 60, or 90 days after a first, second, and third failure, respectively, and each new test requires paying the fee again.

Cybrary for Teams is an all-in-one workforce development platform that helps organizations develop stronger cybersecurity skills, prepare for new certifications, and track team progress. Enroll today to ensure your team is prepared for whatever lay ahead. All the resources you need are available through Cybrary for Teams.

Schedule Demo