After the CISSP writing workshop described in part 2 of this series, I was contacted again by (ISC)² to see whether I was interested in proctoring CISSP exams in Seattle. I replied in the affirmative, and I was enrolled.
I was directed to arrive at the test site, a large meeting room in a downtown Seattle hotel, an hour before the start of the test. This was on a Saturday at 7 am. I arrived and was met by two other persons who were the official exam proctors. Both were employees of local companies and were volunteers for this effort. The lead proctor briefed me on what to expect, and my role was mainly to “shadow” the effort and help them out as needed. This was an apprenticeship role for me, and I enjoyed the entire affair.
I observed meticulous recordkeeping and the security of the exam booklets and answer sheets, although I can’t share details. It is sufficient to say that the security measures taken align with best practices for sensitive printed documents.
CISSP candidates began to arrive around 7:45 am, and the proctors directed them to find a seat. Candidates sat at long tables, with about six feet between them. I can’t embellish other security considerations further foil any benefit from test-takers who might try to spy on their neighbors’ answer sheets.
At promptly 8 am, the proctor closed the door and began the briefing for the test takers. Anyone who arrived after the start of the briefing was turned away and would have to reschedule the exam for another date. The briefing consisted of a welcome, followed by a long set of rules to be followed by all test takers. Exam takers were directed to fill out their names and other information on the scantron forms issued to them. At the end of the briefing, the candidates were directed to open their exam booklets and begin answering exam questions. The proctor had a LED countdown clock with large letters that showed the hours, minutes, and seconds, counting down from six hours to zero.
The room was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. There were about 25 test-takers who were intensely studying their booklets and filling in bubbles. To my surprise, a couple of the exam takers closed their books after 15-20 minutes and turned in their books and answer sheets to the proctor at the front of the room. There is no way they could have completed the exam; instead, I think they realized that the exam was far more difficult than anticipated. Rather than spending six hours in futility, they opted to spend their Saturday doing something more fun.
The proctor announced the time remaining at the 3, 4, and 5-hour marks, and then at the 5:30, 5:45, 5:50, 5:55, and finally announced the close of the exam. Most test-takers completed the exam between three and four hours, although a few stayed on to the very end.
We inventoried the test booklets, answer sheets, and they were placed in appropriate protective apparatus that I can’t describe further. We chatted a few minutes and then went on our way to enjoy what remained of Saturday.
I proctored one or two more CISSP exams in the same location on Saturdays and met a few more local infosec professionals I did not already know. The routine was more or less the same. I did not become a lead proctor, as other opportunities would present themselves and pull me in a different direction. I’ll share more details in Part 4.
In Part 4: writing a CISSP study guide.
In Part 5: earning the CISA and other certifications.
In Part 6: continuous education and CPE recordkeeping.
In Part 7: paying it forward.