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The 4 Best Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) Study Guides

Article by Jane Newsom. Last Updated: Thursday, Sep 24, 2020.

Overview Of The CISSP Exam

The Certified Information Security Professional (CISSP) is the global benchmark certificate for Security Professionals. It signifies a deep technical knowledge across a huge breadth of IT Security topics, and says you have what it takes to effectively design and manage the full security posture of an organization. It’s a step up in difficulty from the CompTIA Security+ (if you’re interested, see our list of Security+ Study Guide reviews).

We’ll cover the CISSP Exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best CISSP study guides, review guides, and practice tests to ensure your test prep success! The details are below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:

CISSP Exam Details

The CISSP from (ISC)² covers cybersecurity techniques across a broad range of topics.

The exam is currently priced at $699 USD, and is recommended for people with significant Security experience.

The CISSP covers the following domains and their approximate weight on the test:

  1. Security and Risk Management (15%)
  2. Asset Security (10%)
  3. Security Architecture and Engineering (13%)
  4. Communication and Network Security (14%)
  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM) (13%)
  6. Security Assessment and Testing (12%)
  7. Security Operations (13%)
  8. Software Development Security (10%)

The exam is 3 hours in length, and includes 100-150 multiple choice (single and multiple response), and advanced innovative questions.

You’ll also be required to show proficiency in troubleshooting concepts, and best practices in change management, documentation, and scripting.

Scoring

The CISSP is administered by Pearson VUE, and your results will be calculated on completion of each exam automatically. It’s scored on a scale of 1000 points, and a passing score is 700.

Best CISSP Study Guides

CISSP Official Study Guide & Practice Tests Bundle

CISSP Official Study Guide & Practice Tests Bundle
2nd Edition
by Mike Chapple
Price:$58.56
(as of 15 Oct 18 05:05 GMT)

Pros: Complete and comprehensive review of all exam topics, officially blessed by (ISC)².
Cons: None of note.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5

The CISSP Official Study Guide & Practice Tests Bundle is our highest recommended guide, and is the officially sanctioned guide by the (ISC)². The guide itself is fantastic, but we recommend most readers pick up this bundle edition which also includes a ton of bonus practice questions and tests.

The full list of features include:

  • Complete coverage of all exam topics.
  • Access to Sybex’s superior online interactive learning environment that includes four unique 250 question practice exams.
  • More than 650 Electronic Flashcards to reinforce your learning and give you last-minute test prep before the exam.
  • A searchable glossary in PDF to give you instant access to the key terms you need to know for the exam.

With incredibly strong content and essentially nothing in the negative column, this book is an easy recommendation for CISSP test prep. The key to success on the exam is to study early, and run through practice tests to identify where you need to focus your limited study time. This bundle will help you do just that, ensuring a passing result!

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide
8tth Edition
by Harris & Maymi
Price:$51.33
(as of 15 Oct 18 05:05 GMT)

Pros: Comprehensive review of all test topics from industry professionals.
Cons: Organization isn't as strong as it could be.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

The CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide comes in second on our list, behind the official study guide, but it’s a close call. This book has a tremendous amount of depth on all topics covered by the exam, and good review questions that are representative of the difficulty you’ll find on test day.

The full list of features include:

  • 1400+ practice questions, including new hot spot and drag-and-drop questions
  • Digital flashcards for last minute review.
  • Great for on the job reference after you pass!

While it didn’t take the top spot, you’d still do well to consider this guide. The information it contains is top-notch, and the only real drawback to this over the official bundle is the limited number of practice questions. If you’re looking to round out your study or already have an older edition of this book, we think you’ll love it!

Eleventh Hour CISSP

Eleventh Hour CISSP
3rd Edition
by Conrad, Misenar, Feldman
Price:$25.45
(as of 15 Oct 18 05:05 GMT)

Pros: A great condensed overview that's great for last minute prep.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as other resources on this list.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

If you’re short on time and need an accelerated review, or just going for recertification and want to brush up on a few topics, Eleventh Hour CISSP is a great pick for your specific needs. As the name suggests, there’s a special focus paid to the most critical topics, with all of the fluff and extras cut out.

Features include:

  • Contains complete coverage of every objective for the Certification exam.
  • “Exam Alert” and “Crunch Time” modules that highlight areas you need to pay more attention to.

If this is your first attempt at the certification and you haven’t been in the industry forever, this book might not be enough on it’s own to pass. We typically recommend using this in addition to one of the 2 books above as a last minute review in the days and weeks leading up to your test. It strips out a lot of the extras to focus on just what you need to pass!

CISSP Study Guide

CISSP Study Guide
3rd Edition
by Conrad, Misenar, Feldman
Price:$50.95
(as of 15 Oct 18 05:05 GMT)

Pros: Another full length review guide from the authors of the 11th Hour Cram guide above.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as the official guide or All in One above.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

The CISSP Study Guide is another good option for full length review books, and is from the same authors as the 11th Hour last minute guide above. Though it doesn’t take the top spots, this book is very easy to read, and contains good coverage of critical topics.

Features include:

  • Includes two practice exams.
  • Unique terms and definition guide.
  • Over 500 review and assessment questions.

We generally recommend people pick up more than one guide when preparing for the CISSP. It’s a tough (and expensive) test, and it pays to be well prepared. This book is a great resource for focusing your study time in the right areas. While it didn’t take our top spots, it’s definitely worth a look, especially if you enjoy the style of the 11th Hour Study Guide above.

Wrapping Up

For IT Security Professionals, the CISSP is the gold standard certificate. It commands respect, and higher salaries, and says you have the depth of knowledge required to lead an organization on the Security front.

Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.

We’ve rounded up the top CISSP study guides and presented them above.

Our top pick for most people is the CISSP Official Study Guide & Practice Tests Bundle. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, approved by (ISC)², and is the single best resource available.

For those shorter on time, or just needing a quick review, the Eleventh Hour CISSP book is a safe bet for touching on all the most critical aspects.

Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success. We’ve listed some of the best books available. Good luck, and study hard!

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