CCSP Study Guide- How much blood, sweat & tears are required to pass?

Throughout my IT career I’d often wondered what effort and level of knowledge was required for passing the CISSP exam, widely renowned for its difficulty & high relevance in our industry. I let this pass for many years.

Then along came the wide spread adoption of cloud technologies and whole range of security, risk & operational management that comes with it – a true change of mindset when approaching these topics.



As I learnt more about Cloud, the more intrigued I was for the topic of cloud security concepts.  So I enrolled in the online instructor led course to see what it was all about.

Here is a short summary of my learning journey, showing overall, what level of “engagement” was required to pass from my experience.

Everyone’s learning styles are different – this is just my view.  Use it as a yardstick measure to approximate what your own personal requirements may be.

Which course / study mode?  I chose to pay for the online instructor led course with duration of over 8 weeks.  Yes it is one of the more expensive options, but here is my rationale;

  • Paying for the course with my own money gave me more incentive to pay attention & stick to a strict study regime.  Very important to prioritise over the 8 weeks duration, not just attending the class but give it your full attention.  Participate & ask questions.
  • You get the best instructors, equipped with the latest course knowledge / ISC2 updates
  • Course can be bundled with exam voucher – which in itself is quite expensive


Course Learning Schedule

Overall I devoted ~13 weeks start to finish to handle CCSP, with a structured learning approach of forward and reverse review of topics.  What do I mean by this? At the start of the course, read ahead topics you will cover in parallel to the topics you cover in class.  Then towards the end of the course, start reading back the topics you covered at the start of course.  Then use the final weeks to revise, as the instructor questions on doubtful points, do practice exams – the book the actual exam.

I highly recommend you stick to the official ISC2 courseware and additional external sources to study.  Why I say this is each text book has its own style.  Better you get used to one particular style, rather than spending time reading multiple sources of the same topics (which will also be contradictory in some cases).

Don’t leave it too long to book the actual exam.  Personally, for every IT certification exam I’ve taken, I book the exam for within 1-2 weeks of finishing my study.  Also don’t cram last minute – leave 24 hours of rest before the exam. 

CCSP - learning schedule

Daily Routine Throughout Learning Schedule

Throughout your learning schedule, I find its very important to keep a strict daily routine which contains a balance of work, life & study.  Maybe you ask – how do I get this time?  It’s easy – cut out distractions and habits that impair your performance.  

Top items that come to mind for me;

  • Exercise regularly & eat well
  • Abstain from alcohol
  • Abstain from social media. Don’t be tempted – even consider deleting your social media completely, you will need the extra time
  • Give yourself incremental rewards, especially on the weekends
  • Most employers will offer flexible work arrangements / study time. Take advantage of this
  • Tell your manager you have classes twice a week and not available for meetings during class. Be firm on this. A good employer will understand

My Daily Routine

In closing – treat this as an intensive 13 week training course. CCSP exam is intense. Hard work will give great reward.  Good Luck!!

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