cism

How to Pass the CISM Certificate in 2024

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Last Updated: January 27, 2024

Overview

As technology becomes more integral to businesses, safeguarding sensitive information and digital assets has never been more crucial. The CISM exam certification, offered by ISACA, validates your ability to manage and govern enterprise information security effectively.

The passing rate for the CISM exam revolves around 50%. This highlights the importance of adequate preparation and a well-structured study plan. This article provides a comprehensive roadmap for taking the CISM exam, ensuring you’re well-prepared to navigate the intricacies of information security management and earn the certification.

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The CISM Exam Requirements

CISM-certified individuals often command salaries 63% higher than those without the certification. This financial incentive underscores the value that employers place on the CISM credential.

So, before starting your CISM certification journey, it’s essential to understand the necessary prerequisites. Here’s a rundown of the vital conditions you should keep in mind:

1.     Work Experience

The CISM certification mandates at least five years of professional work experience in information security management. This experience should reflect your active involvement in overseeing and managing security-related aspects.

2.     Domain Expertise

Within those five years of work experience, at least three years must be in three or more of the four domains covered in the CISM exam.

3.     Flexible Experience Options

In addition to the standard experience criteria, candidates can apply for a waiver based on experience for up to two (2) years. This offers candidates a flexible pathway to meet the certification requirements.

Navigating the CISM Domains

CISM Domains

The CISM exam delves into four pivotal domains, encompassing various facets of information security. These domains are as follows:

Domain 1: Information Security Governance (17%)

Governance takes center stage in this domain, focusing on establishing and maintaining an information security governance framework and supporting processes. It entails aligning information security with business goals and ensuring accountability.

Domain 2: Information Security Risk Management (20%)

This domain assesses your ability to identify and manage information security risks effectively. It involves understanding risk assessment methodologies, risk response options, and risk monitoring techniques.

Domain 3: Information Security Program (33%)

Here, you’ll delve into the strategic planning and management aspects of information security programs. This domain covers creating program frameworks, resource management, and continuous improvement.

Domain 4: Incident Management (30%)

This domain equips you with the skills to handle and respond to security incidents efficiently. It encompasses understanding incident response procedures, communication protocols, and post-incident reviews.

Effective CISM Study Plan

The CISM certification stands out as the most widely recognized benchmark for assessing qualifications in the field of information security jobs. The CISM certification holds substantial worth globally. That’s why preparing for it demands a well-structured study guide. The CISM study guide should align with your strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences.

A strategic approach ensures comprehensive coverage of the exam domains and maximizes your chances of success. Here’s the best CISM study guide for crafting an effective study plan.

1.     Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Before diving into your study plan, assess your familiarity with each of the four CISM domains. Identify domains in which you feel confident and those that require more attention.

2.     Allocate Study Time

Distribute your study time based on the weight of each domain in the CISM exam. Assign more time to domains you find challenging and less time to those where you are already proficient. Strive for a balanced approach that ensures thorough coverage of all domains.

3.     Establish a Study Routine

Create a weekly study schedule that allocates dedicated time to each domain. Set specific goals for each study session, whether reviewing a chapter, completing practice questions, or watching instructional videos. Consistency is vital, so adhere to your schedule diligently.

4.     Regular Review Sessions

Allocate time for periodic review sessions to reinforce your understanding of previously studied material. Repetition aids in retention and ensures that the knowledge remains fresh in your mind.

5.     Exam Simulations and Practice Tests

Practice tests are invaluable for gauging your readiness and identifying areas that need improvement. Invest in high-quality practice exams that mimic the actual CISM exam environment.

Resources like ISACA’s official CISM practice questions can assist you in becoming familiar with the question format and refine your time management skills. These simulations not only assess your knowledge but also familiarize you with the question formats and time constraints.

6.     Adapt and Fine-Tune

Periodically reassess your study plan’s effectiveness. If you notice improvements in specific domains, allocate more time to areas that need more attention. Adapt your plan based on your progress and evolving understanding.

Stay updated with the latest developments in information security. Follow industry news, subscribe to cybersecurity publications, and engage in relevant online communities to enhance your knowledge.

7.     Stay Motivated

Celebrate your achievements by setting milestones along your study journey. Completing specific domains or reaching a certain number of practice questions can be excellent milestones to mark your progress.

Connect with fellow CISM aspirants through online forums or study groups. Sharing experiences, insights, and resources can provide motivation and a sense of camaraderie.

CISM Study Materials & Books

Select highly regarded study resources that provide in-depth coverage of the exam content. Notable CISM books;

You can also refer to the “CISM Certified Information Security Manager Study Guide” by Mike Chapple or “Gain the Confidence to Pass the CISM Exam Using Test-oriented Study Material” by Hemang Doshi.

But always make sure to grab the latest versions of these books to stay current with requirements, knowledge, learning, and understanding.

Bootcamps and Training Programs for CISM Exam

If you prefer a structured learning environment, consider enrolling in CISM boot camps and training programs. Reputable providers offer immersive experiences with expert-led instruction, interactive discussions, and practical exercises. Look for programs that provide hands-on labs and opportunities for peer collaboration.

Given below are a few noteworthy programs to consider:

  • InfoSec Institute CISM Boot Camp: Known for its comprehensive approach, this boot camp covers all domains extensively and offers exam practice sessions. The program has a “Second Chance” option that allows you to retake the course if needed.
  • ISACA’s Official Training Courses: ISACA, the organization behind the CISM certification, offers official training courses. These courses align with the exam content and are delivered by well-versed instructors in the CISM domains.
  • Global Knowledge CISM Prep Course: This boot camp offers a condensed and intensive review of the CISM domains. It’s ideal for individuals with a solid foundation in information security, looking to focus primarily on exam preparation.

Last-Minute Resources for CISM Exam

In the final days leading up to the exam, focus on reviewing critical concepts, domain-specific summaries, and mnemonic aids that help you retain crucial information. Flashcards, concise summaries, and quick reference guides can be invaluable for last-minute revision. Don’t forget to get your hands on the QAE Database.

Furthermore, here are some last-minute resources that can aid in your CISM exam preparation:

Essential Tips for Passing the CISM Exam

As you gear up to take the CISM certification exam, equipping yourself with the right strategies can make all the difference in your performance. With the proper mindset and time management techniques, you can confidently and effectively navigate the exam to ensure success. Here are some essential tips to consider for passing the CISM certification exam:

Approaching the Exam with the Right Mindset

Confidence and a positive mindset are integral to your success. Trust in your preparation, and remind yourself of the knowledge and skills acquired during your study journey. Combat anxiety with relaxation techniques and sufficient rest before the exam day.

Time Management during the Exam

With four hours allotted for the CISM exam, managing your time efficiently is essential. Divide your time among the domains based on their weights. If you encounter challenging questions, mark them for review and proceed to others. Aim to complete all questions within the given timeframe.

Understanding the CISM Exam Frameworks

To excel in the CISM certification exam, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the exam’s structure and question formats.

The exam comprises various question types, including multiple-choice, scenario-based, and drag-and-drop. Each format assesses different skills and abilities, so being well-versed in them is essential for success.

When doing multiple-choice questions, pay close attention to keywords and qualifiers within the question. These can often provide valuable hints to guide you toward the correct answer.

Scenario-based questions require you to interpret a given situation and make informed decisions based on your understanding of information security principles. Drag-and-drop questions evaluate your ability to arrange concepts in a logical order, showcasing your grasp of the subject matter’s flow.

What is the CISM exam cost?

The CISM exam costs 575 dollars for the members of ISACA. Non-ISACA members will need to pay 760 dollars to appear in the exam. Its members can also save money on courses and study materials. Registration remains open 24/7, which means eligible candidates can apply at any time.

Are CISM exam fees refundable?

Certified Information Security Manager exam fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. You must appear in the exam within twelve months (1 year) after registration. Otherwise, you need to repay the fee to take the exam. 

Where can I appear in the CISM exam?

Certified Information Security Manager exams are conducted at authorized PSI centers worldwide. Proctored exams are the option for remote candidates. Once the registration fee is paid, candidates can appear in the exam after 2 days (48- hours).  

What happens if you fail CISM?

According to the recent policy of CISM, you can take an exam four times after registration within a year.

Your first appearance is counted as the first attempt. After the first unsuccessful attempt, you can go for;

  • Attempt 2 (Retake 1): Candidates need to wait 30 days after the first attempt
  • Attempt 3 (Retake 2): Candidates need to wait 90 days after the second attempt
  • Attempt 4 (Retake 3): Candidates need to wait 90 days after the third attempt

What is the process of certification after passing the exam?

After passing the ISACA CISM exam, you can become certified by following these requirements;

  1. Paying 50 dollars application process fee
  2. Application submission to showcase experience requirements
  3. Complying with CPE policy
  4. Adhering to the Code of Professional Ethics

Note: You must apply for certification within five years from the date of passing the exam.

What are the requirements to maintain the CISM certification?

You need to earn and report a minimum of 20 CPE (Continuing Professional Education) within a year and a total of 120 over three years to maintain your CISM certification.

You can earn CISM CPE through the following;

  • Volunteering (up to 20 free CPE per year)
  • On-demand learning (up to 28 CPE per course)
  • Conferences (up to 32 CPE)
  • Training courses and skill-based labs (up to 32 CPE per year)
  • Online training and webinars (up to 36 free CPE per year)

You can explore more CPE opportunities here.

In addition to earning and reporting CPE, you need to follow these requirements to maintain your CISM certification;

  • Paying an annual CISM maintenance fee (US$85 for non-members, US$45 for non-members)
  • Complying with Annual CPE audit (upon selection)
  • Adhering to the Code of Professional Ethics

Note: If you hold over two ISACA certifications, the annual maintenance fee for additional certifications (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc.) will be reduced for both members and non-members (US$50 for non-members, US$25 for non-members).

What to expect on the exam day, what to bring to the exam center?

The experience can vary based on where you are appearing in the exam. If you’re coming to the PSI-authorized centers, then reach the location, and Onsite Procter will verify your identity and assign you a seat. Take the exam, and upon completion, make sure to get permission from the Procter before leaving the exam area.

Likewise, if you are appearing in a remotely proctored exam, log in to your test, keep the webcam on, get your identity verified, take the exam, get permission, and that’s it.

Make sure to avoid any prohibited items like communication or recording devices. Keep your personal belongings in a designated area, and don’t access them until authorized. Calculators, bags, weapons, food, beverages, and other such items are not allowed in the exam center.

Don’t forget to bring your identity proof, which must have your photograph, name, and signature on it. These include, but are not limited to, Green Card, Passport, Passport card, Driver’s license, State identity card, etc.

The CISM Exam Passing Score

An important aspect to keep in mind is the passing score for the CISM exam. The scores are reported as scaled scores, which range from 200 to 800. A score of 450 or higher is acknowledged as a passing grade.

Achieving this score signifies that you have met the minimum standard of knowledge required to demonstrate your proficiency in information security management.

The Role of CISM in Cybersecurity Careers

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job landscape in the field of cybersecurity is expected to experience remarkable growth. Projections indicate a significant 31% increase in employment within the cybersecurity sector from 2019 to 2029.

This certification is one of the most valued credentials, alongside CISSP.

Elevating Professional Eminence

Amidst this fast-growing landscape, the CISM certification emerges as a pivotal credential that can distinctly enhance your standing in cybersecurity. The certification is a testament to your adeptness in information security management, lending weight to your qualifications. In a domain where safeguarding digital assets is paramount, being armed with the CISM certification can set you apart.

Paving the Way for Varied Roles

The influence of the CISM certification extends beyond its intrinsic value. Possessing this credential doesn’t merely showcase your expertise. It opens the door to an array of coveted positions.

With the CISM certification under your belt, you position yourself for roles that hold strategic significance in cybersecurity. Roles like Information Security Manager, Risk Manager, and Compliance Officer become achievable objectives. This highlights the certification’s versatile usefulness across various career paths.

Conclusion

As you embark on your CISM certification journey, remember that preparation is crucial to success. Craft a well-structured study plan, leverage recommended resources, and approach the CISM exam with a confident mindset. The CISM certification not only validates your expertise but also empowers you to make significant contributions to the cybersecurity domain.

The journey to becoming a Certified Information Security Manager may be demanding, but the rewards are substantial. Start preparing today and take the first step toward securing a promising future in this dynamic field.

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