Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Top tips for passing your CISM or CISA exam


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ISACA extended its exam registration deadline until 22 April, which means one thing: it’s time to start preparing.

CISA and CISM are top credentials for IT security professionals specialising in managing, auditing, developing and reviewing information security systems and for developing best organisational security practices. Because of their high prestige, CISA and CISM are not easy to get, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be on the right track:

  • First thing’s first, read ISACA’s CISA or CISM review manual, as it provides you with the content, structure and main topics of the exam. Make sure you understand the key areas, but don’t just focus on the main bits, read everything at least once. It's better to not leave things to chance, right?
  • Take notes. It may be old school, but it works. Writing things down helps you remember and familiarise yourself with the concepts.
  • Once you're confident in your knowledge of most, if not all of the basic concepts of CISA or CISM, you can start testing yourself. Read the review questions, answers and explanations.
  • Remember, you’re not a student. You're an IT professional, and you have to manage IT systems efficiently, whilst making good, informed decisions.
  • Last minute revision: some say it’s good, some say it’s bad. Your call. Because you can’t take the CISA or CISM review manuals into the exam, it may be worthwhile to skim through the key areas 30 min before the exam.

Some people tend to get more nervous than others when it comes to taking an exam, so here are some general tips for keeping your cool before and during your exam:

  • Take a break every now and then. Doing long sessions of study or revision without a break won’t get you far, because you’ll lose focus. Take at least a 5-10 minute break for every 50 minutes of work.
  • Read it out. Verbal memorisation is often a better way to learn than just reading in silence.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay focused and hydrated.
  • Try to avoid caffeine. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a can of Red Bull, caffeine will make you feel more anxious, so try to avoid it before going to your exam.
  • Do a bit of exercise. It gets your blood flowing and you’ll feel fresh. It also increases your focus.

Good luck. 

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.