Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Road To CISSP: The Saga Continues

I never followed up on what happened after I received my "passing" email from ISC2. About 10 days after I wrote that blog entry, I received a second email from ISC2, stating there was an error in grading and that I only scored a 696! At first I thought it was a joke, or SPAM, or something not legitimate. But after venting quite profusely to ISC2, it turned out it was real, and I was not alone. Here's the email:

"During a quality assurance review, (ISC)2 discovered a technical error with your recent examination results. During this review, your examination was re-graded. We are sorry to inform you that the corrected results indicate you did not successfully pass the examination. Now that the problem has been identified and the data has been corrected, in order to maintain the integrity of our credentials, we will not be able to allow your passing grade to stand.
We are offering a full refund of the exam fee you previously paid OR the opportunity to retake the exam within 1 calendar year at no charge. Please call Customer Support to begin the reimbursement process receive or discuss registering for an upcoming exam at no cost.
If you have an endorsement on file, we will keep it on file until such time as you do retake and pass the examination. You will not be required to resend your paperwork.
Your updated examination results will arrive shortly in a separate email. We apologize for this error and any concern this has caused.


OK, so a few days later I received emails from ISC2 with a link to the online seminar and an exam voucher number. I was not happy, but there was no way to fight it. SO I reeled in my UPDATED resumes and withdrew to other priorities of family and the job.

A few months ago, I set out to finally master this monster of an exam. I scheduled the last exam date available in my area for the year since the voucher was good until December 31st 2011. October 4th was the big day.

I used all the material I had available from the two previous seminars I'd attended, the Official (ISC)2 Guide to the CISSP CBK, and The CISSP and CAP Prep Guide (By Krutz and Vines). By the time exam day rolled around I was thoroughly sick of looking at this stuff, but I was ready this time.

The room was full, the culmination of a 2 week CISSP seminar that was held. There were mostly first time exam takers, all talking about how they stayed up all night cramming. I did not stay up the night before, in fact I was in bed at 9PM and asleep. Having been through this twice before I knew that losing sleep the night before a 6 hour exam is counter-productive.

So I got up in plenty of time to get to the exam site which was close to where I work. Got my coffee and my 5-hour energy, my water bottle, and a wrist watch. Since you're not allowed to have cell phones or other electronic gear that would have a clock, a wrist watch is VERY helpful in budgeting your time. The proctor only called out time at the 3 hour mark, 1 hour mark, and 5 minute mark.

The exam started just a few minutes after 9AM, and off we went. The rest is a blur, and not that I could talk about it anyhow. I finished at 2:30PM; I did not get out of my seat during the entire exam. Surprisingly, I did not feel the mental strain I had from the previous two attempts, the zombi-land feeling.

It's already been a week, so sometime in 1-5 weeks I'll know if I'm taking the new domain structured seminar next year or working on obtaining enough CPE's to remain a CISSP in good standing.

Please wish me luck!

John Crawford

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