The CISSP exam changed to CAT format in December 2017. We spoke to one of the first to take the CISSP CAT exam, Keith Yanachik, to ask him about his experience. Keith is an Enterprise Architect and has a bachelor’s degree in information systems management, as well as an MBA.
Why did you decide to pursue the CISSP certification?
I pursued the CISSP certification as a means to recognize my cybersecurity skills and to confirm that I know what it takes to manage an organization’s information systems security.
What study tools did you use to prepare for the CISSP CAT exam?
To prepare for the exam, I took a five-day (ISC)² classroom-based training course. I studied the (ISC)² Official Study Guide and took the 25- and 50-question practice tests from the (ISC)² CISSP Practice Test iPhone app. After taking the training class, I took the assessment test in the study guide and answered around 60% correctly. I read every chapter in the Official Study Guide while taking detailed notes and I answered the review questions after each. I averaged around 70-90% correct in those review questions. The iPhone practice test app was helpful, although I began to memorize questions after taking the practice tests numerous times.
Did you have any past experience with CAT-style exams?
I took the GMAT exam five years ago, which was in a CAT format. The CISSP exam felt significantly more difficult than the GMAT to me.
Do you have any advice for those about to sit for the CISSP CAT exam?
My exam ended after exactly 100 questions and took me a little more than an hour to complete. A test taker will have plenty of time to complete the test and should re-read each question to have a thorough understanding of what is being asked. Most of the questions in the CISSP CAT exam had answers that were each correct, and the test taker had to select the “most correct” answer. Very few questions felt like “gimmies” – and most will require you to understand the underlying concepts to determine the best answer.
Congratulations, Keith! Your hard work and preparation certainly paid off!
Everyone’s CAT experience will vary – as you’ll need to answer any number of items (or questions) from 100 to 150. Despite the exam format change to CAT, all CISSP candidates will be tested with items based on the same exam content outline as the linear, fixed-form exam and the same passing standard. Do you have questions about this new format? Read our CISSP CAT FAQs!