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Best practices for taking the CISSP exam

Answering CISSP exam questions is supposed to be pretty tricky. Do you have any best practices for approaching them and the exam as a whole?

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Remember that you are given six hours to complete the CISSP exam. The average test taker uses only half of that time. But if this is an important credential for the future of your career, why not take the time? After months of studying, what's another couple hours? With that much time, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Regardless of whether you are on a roll or having difficulty, I highly recommend taking a break every half hour. You don't have to leave the testing room, although feel free to do so. You can simply close your test booklet and stretch in your chair, rub your eyes, drink something… anything to clear your head. Overconfidence is just as bad as anxiety.

Speaking of anxiety, there are a number of 'beta' questions that are in every exam for evaluation purposes. So be prepared to not recognize the content of some of the questions. They are not counted against you in the final score, but you won't know which ones they are. So don't let them throw you. This is a marathon, right? A few missed questions won't sink you. As for the tricky questions, reading the CISSP books I recommend will familiarize you with the key phrases used by (ISC)2. This will help narrow down the answers to those questions with apparently ambiguous answers.

Many more tips, suggestions and some free study materials regarding CISSP are covered in greater detail in my article, Luck, career goals and a CISSP boot camp, as well as SearchSecurityChannel's CISSP Exam Prep Guide.

This was first published in September 2006

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