How to Start Preparing for CISSP? What Resources Are to be Used for CISSP Preparation?

In the course of my professional journey, I’ve encountered numerous individuals aspiring to attain the coveted CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification. Given the plethora of resources available and diverse recommendations from various sources, many find themselves grappling with the challenge of where to start their preparation. Today, I aim to assist those beginning on the formidable journey towards CISSP certification by offering guidance on how to initiate their preparation and outlining key resources essential for a comprehensive and effective study plan. This post aims to streamline the process for individuals seeking to navigate the complexities of CISSP certification, providing a roadmap on how to start preparing for CISSP and what resources to use for CISSP preparation.

Please make sure to go through my previous article to get an overview and my exam experience on the certification.

Assess and Understand Your Current Status

Gaining insight into your knowledge of the cybersecurity field is essential for efficiently structuring your overall preparation. To initiate this assessment, consider asking a series of questions to yourself. This self-inquiry can provide a clearer understanding of your current grasp on cybersecurity concepts, allowing you to tailor your study plan to address specific areas of improvement and focus on enhancing your overall proficiency in the field.

How Familiar Are You With the 8 Domains of CISSP?

Take a look at all the domains and the contents within them, you can get the exam outline here. Various domains vary in size, with some being substantial and others more modest. Practical experience within these domains undoubtedly provides a significant advantage. As a result, one can strategically allocate time and attention to specific chapters or topics based on their familiarity and expertise within these domains.

How Many Hours a Day Can You Dedicate to Your Preparation?

Before you begin preparing, think about whether you’re ready to commit for a few months. Are you willing to give up some entertainment time to study? How much time you can set aside depends on your personal duties. There’s no universal timetable that works for everyone. If you have a basic understanding, studying for about 2 hours a day for 3 or 4 months could be sufficient, but it also depends on your current knowledge level.

Do You Have a Preferred Way of Learning: Through Books, Videos, or Live Classes?

Certainly, for CISSP, beginning with one of the main books is a must, and these books are known to be extensive. Begin reading at a steady pace; undoubtedly, many of us may find it challenging to initiate reading. Consider which approach will enhance your understanding of the concepts—whether it’s through an audiobook, videos, or participating in live classroom training. Acquire a grasp of all the concepts first, and then revisit the book; this approach is bound to boost your efficiency.

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The Book ‘Official Study Guide (OSG)’ vs ‘Common Body of Knowledge (CBK)’

Out of the extensive array of resources available, only a select few books are officially authorized by ISC2 for CISSP preparation, and these two books stand out as the primary ones. You can locate these recommended resources here.

When it comes to the official study guide, it’s a hefty 1200+ page book delving into every topic in great detail. This might be overwhelming for beginners as it’s quite lengthy, and the content isn’t organized by domains but rather individual topics. The book comprises 21 chapters, and all 8 domains are spread across them. For instance, Domain 1, Security and Risk Management, spans chapters 1-4 and 19. It’s crucial to navigate through each chapter meticulously, aligning with the syllabus, to ensure no topics are overlooked. You can purchase this book on amazon.

The Common Body of Knowledge book is domain-based and spans 600 pages; however, it might pose a challenge for beginners. The content briefly covers numerous topics, which can be confusing due to the lack of in-depth explanations on many subjects. You can buy this book on Amazon.

When comparing the two resources, my recommendation leans towards the (ISC)2 CISSP Certified Information Systems Security Professional Official Study Guide, particularly for individuals lacking extensive expertise or seeking in-depth insights into the topics. This guide not only covers the material comprehensively but also provides practical examples, facilitating better retention of concepts. Additionally, the inclusion of 20 questions at the end of each chapter serves as a valuable tool to gauge and reinforce understanding.

On the other hand, The Official (ISC)2 CISSP CBK Reference proves to be an excellent resource for those already familiar with the concepts and looking to review for the exam. Its concise nature allows individuals with prior knowledge to efficiently brush up on key points essential for the CISSP certification. In essence, the choice between the two resources depends on the learner’s level of expertise and the depth of understanding they seek

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If you notice some topics vary between the two books, with different definitions or explanations, my straightforward advice is not to stress over these minor differences. Getting too caught up in the details can be draining and make studying less enjoyable. For instance, if one book explains “Business owner” and “asset owner” differently from another, don’t spend too much time dissecting every word in the definition. Instead, grasp the general idea, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy.

Free Resources for Your CISSP Exam Preparation

CISSP is quite an expensive certification, including pricey guides and exams with no free retakes, along with an annual membership fee. If you’re aiming for CISSP, here are some free resources to aid your preparation.

Destination Cert: These are a bunch of highly skilled individuals providing CISSP training. While they offer a paid masterclass, the standout feature is the fantastic free resources on their website and YouTube channel.

On the website, they have created a detailed summary of all 8 domains and the critical topics. They have also provided free mind maps. The YouTube videos explaining these mind maps are also excellent study material.

Cybrary : Kelly Handerhan’s CISSP course on Cybrary is a really good and detailed resource for those preparing for the CISSP exam. Kelly Handerhan is well-known in cybersecurity, and in her videos, she explains the different topics of the CISSP exam in a way that’s easy to understand. Her teaching style is great for breaking down complicated ideas.

The course covers all the important areas you need to know for the CISSP exam, like security and risk management, asset security, communication and network security, and more. It gives a deep understanding of information security and cybersecurity practices according to the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK).

Inside Cloud and Security: Check out the ‘Inside Cloud and Security’ YouTube channel for in-depth coverage of all domains, including new topics and an 8-hour exam cram. The 7 videos break down major topics, making it easier to understand and clarify your CISSP exam knowledge.”

Sunflower Notes: Sunflower CISSP Notes are concise and well-organized study materials designed to assist individuals preparing for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam. These notes offer a summarized yet comprehensive overview of the key topics and domains covered in the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). They serve as a quick reference guide, providing essential information and aiding in last-minute review sessions. The Sunflower CISSP Notes are widely appreciated for their clarity and effectiveness in helping candidates reinforce their understanding of critical concepts in preparation for the CISSP certification.

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How to Spend Your Money Wisely on Credit Resources?

When preparing for the CISSP exam, it’s crucial to make informed choices about your study resources. One key decision is to invest in a primary book like the Official Study Guide (OSG) or the Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). The choice between these depends on your specific requirements and learning style. Rather than randomly selecting resources, it’s advisable to conduct thorough research to find materials that best suit your needs.

Moreover, while self-study is a valid and common approach, individuals who thrive in a classroom environment should explore the option of finding a suitable mentor. This mentor can provide guidance, clarification, and additional insights that may enhance your understanding of the CISSP domains. Taking the time to make well-informed choices in terms

of study materials and mentorship can significantly contribute to a more effective and successful CISSP certification preparation journey.

How to Manage Time Effectively While Preparing for CISSP? 

Managing time effectively can be a challenging constraint for many individuals embarking on the CISSP certification journey. One valuable approach to optimize preparation time is to incorporate memorization techniques into your study routine. By training your mind to establish connections between the concepts you are learning and the world around you, you can enhance your retention and recall abilities.

A practical strategy is to mentally revisit and reinforce your studies during daily activities, such as when you are traveling or taking short breaks. This process not only reinforces your understanding of the material but also capitalizes on otherwise idle moments to solidify your knowledge.

For additional guidance on optimizing your study approach, Pete Zerger, the mentor behind the ‘Inside Cloud and Security’ YouTube channel, shares insights in his videos. Specifically, he provides valuable tips on effective memorization and strategies to align your time more efficiently, offering practical advice to enhance your CISSP exam preparation journey.

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