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JDMurray's Blog at www.TechExams.Net

Review of PrepLogic’s CISSP Certification Practice Exams

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by , 01-16-2009 at 10:45 PM (17748 Views)
I found myself with an interesting opportunity to review the CISSP Practice Exams from PrepLogic while preparing for the (ISC)2 CISSP exam myself. Many different sources of reference material are recommended by the (ISC)2 when studying for the CISSP exam. Practice exams are also an important part of studying for any certification because they simulate the knowledge and the feel of the actual exam experience.

The CISSP exam is based on the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CISSP CBK), which is quite an expansive and diverse set of topics encompassed in the ten domains of information security. The information covered on the CISSP exam itself is described as “a mile wide and an inch deep,” reflective of how every CISSP candidate needs to know (at least) a little bit about a lot of things related to information security. (Please obtain a copy of the (ISC)2 CISSP Candidate Information Bulletin for a full description of the CISSP CBK.)

The Product

For a practice exam product to be worthwhile for use by a CISSP candidate, it must contain information sufficient to cover the material in each of the ten CISSP CBK domains that are present in the CISSP exam. The practice exam should present this information in a way that both challenges the candidate's knowledge and makes learning the material convenient and fairly easy. Before choosing any practice exam, I consider several things:
  1. How many total practice items (questions and answers) are given.
  2. How well the practice items are written in both form and information content.
  3. How the practice items can be selected and changed to aid in learning the exam content.
  4. How similar the format of the practice items is to the items on the actual certification exam.
  5. Ease of installation, access, and use of the practice exam product itself.
The PrepLogic Practice Exams is a Windows application that must be installed prior to use. The product registration key must be entered before taking the first practice exam and requires Internet access for activation (but not for use). The application's user interface is simple and easy to understand for an experienced Windows user. All of PrepLogic's certification practice exams are accessed using this application.

PrepLogic includes several useful features in its practice exam application, such as an exam progress tracker, an online check for exam updates, and a feature for reporting problems to PrepLogic about individual exam items. The practice exam product is available as a download from the PrepLogic Web site and will run on Windows 98 and later computers.

PrepLogic supplies three, 250-item practice exams for the CISSP for a total of 750 items. These practice items are divided into the ten domains of the CISSP CBK. There are approximately 25 items per domain in each practice exam. Using the application in Learning Mode allows practice exams to be generated that contain items only from specific domains, and to choose as few items as you wish to test (such as a cryptography-only exam with ten items).

The CISSP practice exams can also be used in a Simulation Mode that simulate the parameters used in the actual CISSP exam. In Simulation Mode mode, each of the three practice exams can be used to create a 250-question exam session in which the candidate is given 360 minutes to complete. The items feature randomized answer choices, no “Show Answer” button, and items may be reviewed before completing exam.

The Practice

The items on the exams are well-written and very relevant to the exam content. The format of the item questions and answers resembles CompTIA certification exam items (such as the Network+ and Security+) than it does the items on the CISSP exam. The items do not employ distracters or tricky wording to mislead the exam taker, and there is not an obvious amount of cluing to guide the exam taker to a specific answer. If you find these questions to be much too easy, you are probably more than ready for the CISSP exam.

When an exam is completed, the user is given an opportunity to review the items in the exam. This review shows which items were answered (in)correctly, and provides the user an explanation of why each answer choice was either correct or incorrect. The user is not allowed to copy the exam items from the window, and no references are given to the source of the information for the exam items.

After reviewing the exam items, a score report may be generated. The score is calculated using the same 1000-point scale as used by the CISSP exam, and with 700/1000 being a passing score. The practice questions are not weighted by difficultly as they are on the CISSP exam. You have the option to include any score in the progress tracking feature to measure how well you are proceeding in taking practice exams over time.

In conclusion

I would say that the PrepLogic CISSP practice exams helped me quite a bit preparing for my own CISSP exam. The practice items are challenging and kept me aware of what areas of the CISSP CBK I still needed to study. Although the practice items are not of the same format or complexity of those on the CISSP exam itself, the simpler style did make learning CISSP CBK material from the practice items easier.

The ability to easily tailor the practice exams by domain and review the answers is easily the most important feature of this product. Learning Mode will help you strengthen your knowledge in your weakest CISSP CBK domains, while Simulation Mode is important in helping to build your mental and physical stamina for sitting the actual CISSP exam. The exam score reporting and progress tracking features I didn't have much use for, but those are features found in all practice exam products, so somebody must find them useful.

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