You know how when the date for some big presentation or test is slowing approaching, you start getting nervous? When it’s months away, you go, “Eh, I’ll be fine. I’ll prep tomorrow.” As the date gets closer, “It’s almost here, but I have one more thing to do, then I’ll prep.” Then it’s the week before, and you’re considering buying one way tickets to Yemen. No? That’s never happened to you? Oh, must have been me then.
Way back in 2002, I was out of work, and desperately looking for a new job. I signed up, studied, took ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam, and passed it! That led me to a storied career in IT auditing. Storied, fabled, legendary, you get the drift. Starting in 2006, I had these glorious dreams to take and pass the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam. I took a week-long class, bought the books, got busy with work and family life, and also got totally intimidated by the exam. It’s 10 domains, each one harder than the last. I ended up procrastinating out of fear for years. I have friends and colleagues who were accumulating industry certifications, and I was slowly falling behind. You don’t want to be the 40+ year old guy carrying around one basic certification that he earned 14 years earlier. I mean, what have you been doing with your life? I know I’ve been busy, but people across the desk from you won’t care.
This year, I decided to put up or shut up. I would get a new certification. I had to do it. However, I decided maybe I didn’t want to start off with an extremely difficult exam and set myself up for failure. Why not ease into this slowly with a quick-win? I looked at my options, and signed up in January 2016 for ISACA’s Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) exam. This was a risk professional focused certification, which I figured would be handy if/when I made my move back to Risk Management. I signed up for the June 4 2016 exam in Woodbridge, NJ.
Of course, I procrastinated more than I had to between January – June 4. I did download the exam book to my iPad, and I generally read for 30 minutes on the train. In that time, I spent long nights at the office trying to save my job, experienced first hand as my entire team was “restructured” right out of our jobs, and went job hunting from March to May. Crazy times. Let’s step back and look at the irony of this — in 2002 I was seriously studying for an exam while looking for work. Now, in 2016, I was again out of work, and seriously studying for an exam. Go figure.
This last week of May into June, I’ve been studying crazy, and taking practice exams. I should have finished the material sooner, and started taking the practice exam questions sooner too.
I took the exam this past Saturday June 4th, and I think it went well. I was at the hotel / testing center in Woodbridge with plenty of time. The exam was much harder than I thought, as the questions were structured differently than the ones in my practice book. For many of the questions, two questions were obviously wrong, while the two remaining questions were nearly the same. That becomes very frustrating over the course of 4 hours. In the end, I’m glad to say that I managed my time well, finished transcribing all of my questions just before time was up. Afterwards, I left the site without any idea of how I did, and I wouldn’t know for 5-6 long weeks as they manually scored each exam. On the way home, I stopped at a nearby Sonic for comfort food, then went home to chill out and decompress.