CISSP STUDY GROUP FROM START TO FINISH
So you have just started to study for the CISSP exam, you quickly realized that it is a very large challenge by yourself and you have decided to break the problem into little chunks and form a study group in your area.
This is a very good initiative on your part, I strongly recommend such a study group. However, I must warn you that it is not always easy and it has to be sustained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Below you will find some tips on how to get started, what to do once you have started the group, and a few tips on the exam preparation as well.
FORMING YOUR VERY OWN STUDY GROUP
1. PUBLICIZE YOUR INITIATIVE
First step will be to publicize your initiative, below you have a few good places to start.
- Announce it on our mailing list. Simply submit a message to the list letting people know that you wish to form a study group in your specific area.
- Send a message to the our Support Address at [email protected] letting us know about your group with the details of the group as well. We will help you publicize your effort.
- Add it to the CCCure study group forum for the CISSP. You can access the forum at the following link: https://cccure.training/forum/?action=goto&manage_forum=1#forum/CISSP-Study-Group-0.htm
2. START SMALL AND THEN EXPAND
Gather a group of people together who are willing to participate and help in setting up the study group. Do not wait until you have a very large number, it is better to run a small workshop at the beginning to iron out the bugs and to get better contacts. A small group of interested people is better than a crowd that does not wish to actively participate but only gain from the group. What I usually call leeches. We don't want leeches, all members must do their part for the group to be effective.
3. BE A FACILITATOR, NOT AN EXPERT.
Look for volunteers who have the time and energy to facilitate a domain, an article, a portion of a domain, given everything else going on in their personal, family, and work lives. Ask for facilitators. Don't expect people to become experts on the topic. The facilitator prepares by reading the article enough to identify puzzling stuff or main points for discussion. The facilitator's goal is to make it easier for people to understand the subject or topic enough so the material is more likely to make sense as people study the common body of knowledge later on.
Don't ask facilitators to prepare lengthy presentations or dozens of questions. The more difficult and time-intensive it is, the fewer people will volunteer. The facilitator may wish to just use a yellow highlighter for key phrases or concepts that should be discussed. Encourage people to share relevant personal stories and professional knowledge as you discuss as a group. Often time real life example will drive the point and your will never forget about it.
4. BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR APPROACH
Do not expect anything, politely ask and hope for the better. Participants will vary. Accept that people are not able to come to every meeting. Sometimes everyone needs time for personal interests, family, or work at the same time as the study group meeting. Our group size varies from three to about seven different people each week.
5. FREQUENCY OF MEETING
You have to pick the frequency and days that you wish to run your training sessions. You have to think how long the training session will be as well. I would say: Do not meet more often than once a week, you need time to digest new material and also to come up with new material from meeting to meeting.
As a general rule: meet as often as reasonable on a regular schedule. Meet at a time that is convenient to most people. I have seen study groups that meets on Saturdays from 1-3 pm while others will meet at night during the week. Most study groups do not meet on statutory holiday or long weekends.
Do not try to schedule meeting in the middle of holiday season. Groups will usually stops over the holiday or holiday season and then resume once the new year starts.
6. MUTUAL RESPECT
Mutual Respect is of the utmost importance. We all have our strength and weaknesses and our good day and bad day. As my friend Ginger recommended: Treat everyone with respect. We welcome anyone crazy enough to choose to invest their time in playing, sharing, and learning with us at our meetings. People are encouraged to come even if they do not have time to read the article before the meeting. People are treated with respect for their intelligence no matter how much or little they already know about each of the security domains.
The idea is to help each other understand the security domains, share experiences, motivate each other, and demonstrate our knowledge by passing the CISSP exam.
7. CHOOSE A TARGET DATE FOR THE EXAM
Once you have a large enough group, you have to establish a target date that you wish to take the exam. I would say that you should start studying about 3 to 4 months prior to the exam in order to properly prepare. Once you have selected a date, you must use that date to build your group study plan.
8. SELECT AN APPROPRIATE LOCATION
Now you have to ensure that you have a place to meet that is large enough for the group and that is easily accessible for all. One of the key factor of success is location, location, and location.
Meet at the same place as much as possible. People would be frustrated to discover that they are at the wrong place. Always include clear directions to the meeting location in your announcement emails that are likely to be forwarded to other interested people. The directions make it easy for these new people to find you. A map such as Google map could be sent to the attendees ahead of time. Having a location close to public transportation could help as well.
Assign a person that will be responsible to welcome people at the meeting. It might mean that this person will open and close the facility for each study group meeting. It is always great to have someone come early to post signs on the building and office suite doors if it is needed. The security guard might not be aware of the meeting, let him know it is running and also in which room it is being conducted, he will then be able to direct people to the proper location.
9. MAKE USE OF YOUR GROUP EXPERTISE
Look at the expertise that you have among the member of the study group and have them teach the parts that they are most comfortable or even expert at. For example Clement can teach Network security at the first meeting, someone else teach Cryptography the second week, etc...
10. SEEK HELP IF NEEDED
If needed get experts from external firms to come and teach specific topics. It gives credibility to the firm that will come to teach and you get top notch training. It is a Win-Win situation. Of course, you will need someone that arrange such training, it does not happen by itself.
11. KNOW THY PEOPLE
At the first meeting, ensure that you go around the table and allow people to introduce themselves so that people knows each other and you can also find out who is good in specific areas. This will also help in breaking the ice on the first meeting.
12. ESTABLISH COMMUNICATION
Establish communication between the members. This is a very important point. You could use my CISSP mailing list if you wish. This way you already have a group of people who can start coaching and helping your members..
My preferred approach is to tell you members to use the forums on https:cccure.training The reason being it will be archive and others can see the answers in the future and you help the community at the same time.
13. SHARE YOUR GROUP EXPERIENCE WITH THE COMMUNITY
Ensure that you share your experience, success, troubles with the community so that they can improve their study group as well.
14. CRAM SESSION AND QUIZZES
Once in a while organized CRAM sessions where you can go through questions. Invite people to try the online quiz at https://cccure.education While taking practice tests ensure that you take note of the questions that you missed or that you had difficulty.
On your next meeting you can discuss these questions with your peers.
15. DO NOT REINVENT THE WHEEL
Use the resources that are already available, do not reinvent the wheel.
Best of luck to all
Send us your feedback or any tips and information you would like to be added in this HOWTO at the following email address: [email protected]
Ensure that you have a good subject line such as: STUDY GROUP FEEDBACK
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