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June 2003

Preparing for CISSP exam questions: What to expect

Anybody who says the CISSP exam is easy isn't telling the whole story. There are plenty of difficult questions--some legitimate, some goofy. When taking the CISSP exam, expect to encounter at least a couple dozen questions that will frustrate the hell out of you. (ISC)2 exam designers claim these (and all) questions are psychometrically valid. Annoying or not, they're a useful mechanism for separating qualified candidates (infosecurity professionals who have mastered the CBK to an acceptable level) from unqualified professionals (those without mastery of the material who are simply good at taking multiple-choice exams). Whether you buy this line of reasoning or not, these questions will drive you nuts if you're not expecting them. For discussion purposes, I've divided these questions into four categories, comprising both the "factual" and "interpretive" question types. With each of these categories, I'll try to explain what makes the question difficult, and offer an example. These examples may be a bit exaggerated to illustrate ...

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