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  1. Junior Member
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    Jan 2012
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    CISSP, CIPT, CISA
    #1

    Default CISA exam - my experience and how I studied

    I bought the ISACA CISA review manual in Feb. when I registered for the May/June window, and my co-worker loaned me his ISACA Question/Answer printed book. I didn't opt for the QAE online database of questions since I had his hard copy already.

    That book was a long, hard, slog. I'd only gotten 2/3rd of the way through the first chapter (of five total chapters) by April 1st. So I switched to the Q/A book questions, and was only getting about 50% correct. It was frustrating for me, the way the questions were worded...so many clauses with seemingly insignificant info., which actually pivoted the inherent meaning and so changed what I initially considered the answer to be.

    An answer may seem to be right, but I wouldn't pick it because I didn't recognize the specific term and worried it was "made up". Hint: I think I remember the ISC(2) CISSP used that tactic, but the ISACA CISA didn't.

    By June 1st, seeing the gulf between the amount of material I had to get through in the study manual, and my pattern of scoring 65% on the Q/A's, I was starting to worry. Most folks on this forum were advising to just hammer on the Q/A online database.

    But I'm a stubborn cuss, so Frank Sinatra and I did it our way. I began to study every day (1-2 hours), giving priority to the review manual rather than the questions/answers. I ensconced myself away from my family after dinner each night and got in at least 8-hours per weekend - still just trying to just get through the study manual. I skimmed when I knew a topic, and used up at 3 highlighter pens. But by golly, I made it to the end of the review book!

    I took off work starting Tuesday (exam was 1:00pm Thursday) to review my highlighting and notes. The night before the exam, I'd only made it through the first, second, and 1/2-way of the third chapter (of five) of sample question chapters in the Q/A book, but didn't have any gas left to feel bad about it. My brain was fried, it was 114 degrees outside, I was unshowered and talking in tongues. So I stepped away, had a glass of wine and a shower.

    The morning of the exam, I took my first stab at a sample test of *all* chapter material. I took it in 20- question increments to check my wrong answers immediately. I was still getting about 8/20 wrong. Sample questions included a tricky, pivot word like "management assumes implementation went well," and I didn't know how an assumption should change the expected auditor action. Or the word "monitor" changing the BEST answer from what it would be if the word "assess" was used. So I resigned myself to failing.

    I took the CBT version of the exam via. a PSI testing center. You have to check in 30 minutes before exam time. If you are late, too bad. I think they lock the door, so don't expect to sit in your car cramming until the last 5 minutes.

    I found the exam questions to actually be relatively straight-forward. No 3-line, multiple dependent-clause questions leaving me scratching my head to find the key phrase or trick word! I'd associate the Q/A sample questions to "college-level" of difficulty, and the test itself to middle-grade to high-school level. I sped through the test, not flagging anything for review b/c I felt confident of my answers, and finishing in 2.5 hours.

    My co-worker took the paper-based test, and said he found the exam questions similar in nature to the examples in the Q/A book in terms of complexity. Folks on this forum have said that as well. So I am left wondering if the difference was because my test was CBT? The ISACA website says no, there's no difference. Maybe I psyched myself out. Maybe it was the heat. But, I passed the exam. My score breakdown email is coming next week.

    That was my experience. I don't want to tell anyone not to worry, that the test is easier than the sample questions - but I will say don't get inside your own head. Take your time, study hard, do your best. And shower!
    Last edited by DazeByGone; 06-25-2017 at 08:24 AM. Reason: rambling
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  3. Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    #2
    Actually, JoJoCal19 who also did the exam had the same experience, but others found it to be similar or more difficult than the QA database. I'm thinking maybe not everyone gets the same exam with the same questions.
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  4. Junior Member
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    Nov 2015
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    Florida
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    A+, HCISPP, CCSFP
    #3
    Thank you for sharing this! I have been using an older version of the QAE database to study and have it mostly completed. Like you, I am still not scoring too well and find a lot these questions are really hard to pin down as you also described above. Hopefully I will have a similar experience that you did for your exam but right now I just feel defeated. Exam is on Tuesday.
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  5. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Jun 2017
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    #4
    How was it rwinkler
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  6. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Feb 2017
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    Ohio
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    CDMP, CBIP, CISSP, CISA, CEH, CNDA, Sec +, OCA, CMMI Associate, PSM, PSPO
    #5
    I took the test today and passed. Do anyone know how long does it takes to receive the official results?
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  7. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
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    CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, GCIA, GSEC, CEHv8, CHFIv8, ITIL-F, MSISA, BSBA
    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by guyenko View Post
    I took the test today and passed. Do anyone know how long does it takes to receive the official results?
    Exactly 10 days.
    Have: CISSP, CISM, CISA, CRISC, GCIA, GSEC, CEHv8, CHFIv8, ITIL-F, BSBA - University of Florida, MSISA - WGU
    Currently Working On: MS Cybersecurity, Learning Python
    Next Up:​ None
    Reading:​ Python Crash Course
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  8. I'm Batman clarkincnet's Avatar
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    Jun 2014
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    Raleigh, NC
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    CISSP, CISM, CRISC, ITIL-F 2011
    #7
    Congrats! My CRISC results came back in 7 business days... which would have been exactly 10 days counting weekends
    2015 Goals: CISSP [X], 2016 Goals: CISM [X], 2017 Goals: CRISC [X]
    2018 Goals: eCPPT [ ], CSXP [ ], or OSCP [ ] (choose one)
    Currently studying: pentesteracademy.com classes
    "Distrust and caution are the parents of security" - Benjamin Franklin
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  9. Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    9

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    CISSP, CIPT, CISA
    #8
    I got my score via email in 9 days. It was 591, but because it was CBT, there wasn't the "you score in the top xx percent". Judging from previous paper-based exam results, I'm could extrapolate that was in probably in the top 20%.

    I sent in my paperwork via scanned image email attachments and received formal approval of my certification in 8 days. Now, that's fast!
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