How Long Does It Take To Study The CISSP Exam?

How Long Does It Take To Study The CISSP Exam?

This is the second most asked question after how much does it cost to pass the CISSP Exam.

The pain of studying for the CISSP exam is inevitable, however the suffering is not.

When I ask CISSP exam candidates to walk me through their study plan the response most of the time is; what plan? For some their plan is to read CISSP prep books, take a CISSP review course, study for a few hours a week, practice questions and take the exam when they feel “prepared”.

Dude really!

You decided to take the CISSP exam without knowing how much time, effort or money you are going to put into this?

How many projects that you worked on the last five years went well without proper planning?

You plan and stakeholder your projects at work but not the one that is going to have a profound effect on your career, the CISSP Exam?

I have helped a lot of CISSP Exam candidates with their preparation and the one main difference between those that pass the exam fast (between 3 to 4 months) and those that don’t is a plan to attack the CISSP exam.

There are some candidates that have a plan which is to buy and read each and every book available on Amazon about the CISSP Exam and anything closely related to it. Attend a review course, watch videos, practice test and then register for the exam. My question is how long is this going to take you? How much is it going to cost you? And do you know that you need 700 points or greater to pass and not a 1000?

If you get less than 700 points you fail, however guess what someone who passes with 702 is going to be called? A CISSP! Knock yourself out if you want to get a 1000. From my personal experience, it is better to focus on passing the CISSP exam and getting on with your life.

So again how long does it take to pass the CISSP exam?

With focused study, a burning desire to pass the CISSP exam and get on with your life you can pass the CISSP exam in 3 to 4 months. How?

  • Get Support (Stakeholdering): The importance of proper Stakeholdering. Get everyone that matters in your life on board with the idea that for the next 4 months you will not be able / available for any social outings, movies, little league practice. Explain to your spouse, kids, family, and manager at work, co-workers and friends how important passing this exam is to you. To your family explain the benefits, both professional and at a personal level passing the CISSP exam will bring. Every minute that you are not working, or studying for the exam spend with your family. There is not going to be any personal time for you until you pass the CISSP exam. No shopping with the girls or happy hours with the boys.

I have been through this and know exactly how it feels. My husband and kids kept me straight. If anyone of them saw me in front of the TV or not studying they would ask me if I passed the CISSP exam.

  • Set A Budget: You will need to set a budget for this effort. Did I say the B-word? Well I have to, as no one has unlimited time or money. In addition to the hard cash that you will need to plonk down for the exam, be aware that there is an opportunity cost involved as well. How? The longer you take to pass the exam the longer it is that you will get the raise, promotion or job that “requires” as CISSP. There are lot of CISSP review courses and seminars available. In person, online, videos, etc. at various price levels. Find out if the course includes a question bank, what about books? Find out what exactly you are paying for and what other study aids you will need in addition to the course. They tout all kinds of statistics, pass rates, testimonials etc. Chose the one that suits your schedule and style. If you like to study every day from 4.00AM to 6.30AM an evening review class may not work for you. Check out the Demos (if they are not available, I probably won’t buy it) before you part with your hard earned money. See if they have a refund policy. Check out the policy in case the exam changes and you need updates. Ask if updates will be provided free or you will need to pay for them.

It takes a while to make the kind of cash required to buy the CISSP review seminar / class so research the heck out of it.  In short do everything you would do when you buy an old car. Kick the tires as this course will cost you almost as much as if not more than the cost of your first car.

  • Register for The CISSP Exam: When do I register for the CISSP Exam? Too soon and you will stress yourself out, too far out and it’s difficult to maintain a focused study schedule. So like Goldilocks the CISSP Exam should be not too soon and not too far away. WTF (Why The Face?)

Depending on your style schedule the time of your exam. I personally do not like to schedule any exam before 11.00AM. This leaves enough time to reach the exam center on time and if there is inclement weather it gives you a buffer to find out if your center is closed saving you the trip.

Once you start studying and are now getting 80 to 85% consistently on your practice exams you should schedule your exam about a month out. During this time write down the notes you made during studying a couple of times. Write the notes down because you need to the material cold. Writing will help you memorize the concepts. Practicing the questions will help you answer the easy questions fast on the exam and give you time to spend on the difficult questions.

  • Day of the Exam: The night before the exam stop studying and put your books away by 7.00PM, why? Because I say so. In order to tackle the CISSP Exam you will need all the physical strength, and mental faculties and confidence. The CISSP Exam is mentally and physically exhausting. If you are not properly prepared the exam will chew you up and spit you out along with your confidence.

Sleep well, get up early and have a breakfast before you leave for the exam center. Take a couple of cereal / chocolate bars or snack of choice, bottle of water and red bull or any caffeinated drink of choice.  Read up on your last minute must have notes for the last time. Close your eyes, breathe and see yourself getting a PASS on the exam. This is very important, you have put in a lot of hard work, spent hours away from your family. All your efforts will pay off.

As you start your exam answer the questions you are sure about and mark the questions for later. During the exam keep track of your time. You need to be doing about 45 questions an hour. About three hours into the exam take a break, sign out and use the rest room if you need to, eat the cereal bar / snack, water or caffeinated drink . Stretch yourself and get back in the game. You are half way through and ready to attack and pass the CISSP exam. Once you are done with the first round of the questions go back and review the marked questions. Keep track of the time and pace yourself.

Let me know how you did on your exam and how much time it took for you to study.

All the best for your CISSP exam journey !

About the Author Niloufer Tamboly

I’m Niloufer Tamboly. I write about anything that interests me, and help IT security professionals pass the CISSP exam. I am a community leader and co-founder of (ISC)2 New Jersey Chapter and mentor students and professionals. When I am not at my day job or spending time with my family. I enjoy travelling, photography and listening to music. If you have a question either about the CISSP exam send me an email hello AT This Domain. Niloufer Tamboly, CISSP, CPA, CISA, CIA, CFE, CGMA

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