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CISSP: Certified Information System Security Professional

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Overview of the CISSP Exam

The CISSP exam focuses on security from a 30,000-foot view; it deals more with theory and concept than implementation and procedure. It is very broad but not very deep. To successfully complete this exam, you’ll need to be familiar with every domain but not necessarily be a master of each domain.

As of December 18, 2017, the CISSP exam is in an adaptive format. (ISC)2 calls the new version CISSP-CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing). For complete details of this new version of exam presentation, please see https://www.isc2.org/certifications/CISSP/CISSP-CAT.

The CISSP-CAT exam will be a minimum of 100 questions and a maximum of 150. Not all items you are presented with count toward your score or passing status. These unscored items are called pretest questions by (ISC)2, while the scored items are called operational items. The questions are not labeled on the exam as to whether they are scored or unscored. Test candidates will receive 25 unscored items on their exam, regardless of whether they achieve a passing rank at question 100 or see all of the 150 questions.

The CISSP-CAT grants a maximum of three hours to take the exam. If you run out of time before achieving a passing rank, you will automatically fail.

The CISSP-CAT does not allow you to return to a previous question to change your answer. Your answer selection is final once you leave a question.

The CISSP-CAT does not have a published or set score to achieve. Instead, you must demonstrate the ability to answer above the (ISC)2 bar for passing, called the passing standard (which is not disclosed), within the last 75 operational items (i.e., questions).

If the computer determines that you have a less than 5 percent chance of achieving a passing standard and you have seen 75 operational items, your test will automatically end with a failure. You are not guaranteed to see any more questions than are necessary for the computer grading system to determine with 95 percent confidence your ability to achieve a passing standard or to fail to meet the passing standard.

If you do not pass the CISSP exam on your first attempt, you are allowed to retake the CISSP exam under the following conditions:

  • You can take the CISSP exam a maximum of 3 times per 12-month period.
  • You must wait 30 days after your first attempt before trying a second time.
  • You must wait an additional 90 days after your second attempt before trying a third time.
  • You must wait an additional 180 days after your third attempt before trying again or as long as needed to reach 12 months from the date of your first attempt.

You will need to pay full price for each additional exam attempt.

It is not possible to take the previous paper-based or CBT (computer based testing) flat 250 question version of the exam. CISSP is now available only in the CBT CISSP-CAT format in English.

The refreshed CISSP exam is available in English, French, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Korean.

Effective December 18, 2017, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam (English version only) will be available exclusively via CAT through (ISC)2-authorized Pearson VUE test centers in authorized markets. CISSP exams administered in languages other than English and all other (ISC)2 certification exams will continue to be available as fixed-form, linear examinations.

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