ISC2 certifications have earned their reputations as premier cybersecurity certifications thanks in large part to exam rigor. They’re challenging, and that’s why employers worldwide put a premium on ISC2-certified candidates. To pass, you need to prepare and plan with a clear strategy in place.

First up, check off your task for today: register for your exam. When you commit to a deadline, you create a clear timeline. And with your exam on the calendar, you’re on track to stay motivated. Experienced test-takers will tell you, if you don’t schedule it now, your exam could end up a moving target and the first thing that shifts to the backburner when scheduling needs pop up.

Once you’ve registered for your exam, create a study plan by working back from your test date. A good approach each week is to block out 15 minutes a day and a couple of hours over the weekend. But try to avoid studying more than five hours in one weekend because the crammed knowledge could get lost in the week ahead.

Training and Self-Study Tips

With your study plan in place, it’s time to become familiar with the exam. Use the exam outline to get to know the topics you’ll be tested on. Then consider registering for structured exam prep. ISC2 offers flexible training options, including Official Online Self-Paced, Online Instructor-Led and Classroom options, depending on the certification.

All ISC2 training options include knowledge checks to gauge your learning as you progress through the course. When you first start out, consider taking the assessments as a level set, identifying the domains that need the most review. Then, as they say, eat the frog: tackle the domain giving you the most trouble first. From there, the rest of the domains are more likely to be a piece of cake.

As you train for your exam, remember it’s not about memorizing questions and answers. Instead, you’re building your understanding of the topics covered in the certification’s Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). Don’t expect the items on the exam to be the same questions from the training. You’re building overall comprehension, not memorizing facts.

Use ISC2 self-study tools to supplement your learning and reinforce concepts. Depending on the certification, they may include an Official Guide to the CBK, a study guide, flash cards and study apps.

More Proven Study Hacks

ISC2 members who passed their certification exams say multimodal learning — hearing, seeing and taking notes — helps cement learning.

Consider using text-to-speech apps or audiobooks to listen as you read along. Text-to-speech technology allows you to focus on the content rather than on the act of reading. It’s been shown to not only make it easier to retain information but also increase confidence and motivation. Available apps include NaturalReader, Murf, Amazon Polly and

Another way to retain information: handwrite your flash cards. The act of writing rather than typing notes is proven to help retain information. Once written longhand, divide your cards into stacks. Put the topics that require more review in their own pile so you immediately spot where to spend the most time and attention.

Think about connecting with other certification candidates as study partners. Reach out to professionals in the virtual ISC2 Community and join ISC2 online study groups. In person, you could visit your ISC2 Chapter and form or join a local study group that gets together on a regular basis. You could also meet other certification candidates at ISC2 events like ISC2 Security Congress and ISC2 SECURE events.

When It’s Almost Time

When you’re close to ready for your certification exam, here’s how to prepare so you’re bright-eyed and ready on the big day.

A few days before your exam, map the best route to your Pearson VUE testing center. Consider doing a practice run so you’re sure you know where you’re going. Double check your route hours ahead of your exam to factor in street traffic or public transit delays.

More practical advice as exam day approaches:

  • Lay out your clothes the night before.
  • Place your ID somewhere you won’t forget it — anyone without ID will not be admitted.
  • Get lots of rest leading up to your exam.
  • Eat a healthy meal before your exam for a nutritious brain boost.

Cybersecurity is always evolving and requires lifelong learning to stay ahead of cyberthreats and the latest trends. Certification isn’t the end of your journey, it’s a window to your future. And ISC2 is here for you every step of the way.

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