Archive for October, 2015

Need more time to study for SANS GSE test

Thinking of taking one day off / week from work until test day. If I take one day off every other week, I won’t be burning too much vacation time. . .

Scheduled the SANS GSE test – and making a study plan

Scheduled the test today. I work mids, so I scheduled it as late as possible. Also, I scheduled the test at a center a bit further away, but after calling them, they said it would be ok to pull up another desk to hold all the books etc.

So the study schedule for the test. I’ve got about 6 ½ weeks – GCIA (SEC503) has been outlined. I’ve moved on to GSEC (SEC401) this weekend. To get GSEC and GCIH (SEC504) re-outlined, I need to get through two books per week, which is a double-edged sword. The 401 material isn’t as tough, but there is a LOT to go through. I have an older outline for GCIH, so I’ll save that for last. Also, the workbook for 503 still needs completed (I’m about 1/3 the way through it).   So:

Oct 15-18:      GSEC 401.1 & 401.2

Oct 22-25:      GSEC 401.3 & 401.4

Oct 29-Nov1:             GSEC 401.5. This will be hard – Halloween is my fav. One book this week.

Nov 5-8:         GSEC 401.6 & GCIH 504.1

Nov 12-15:     GCIH 504.2 & 504.3

Nov 19-22:     GSEC 504.4 & 504.5

Nov 26-29:     Thanksgiving. . . whatever is left over. . . get it?

Dec 2:             TEST

Wow – this is going to be tough.

Paid for the SANS GSE written test . . and some thoughts/advice on practice tests

Paid the invoice for the GSE test. Also signed up for the GSEC re-certification so I could have the latest course material. Discovered that if you go the CPE option, SANS will NOT give you access to the practice tests. I asked nicely if they would. They replied that for the low price of $175 per (or something like that) I could purchase practice tests.


That sucks, guys. Work isn’t going to go for paying out for that kind of stuff. Would it really be that bad to give the CPE guys a practice test?


So, if you are trying to get the testing material and want access to the practice tests, don’t go the CPE route; go the re-test route. Also, complain bitterly to SANS about the lack of practice tests for going the CPE route. I considered switching to test-recertification, but the last time I took the GSEC my grade was 95%. I’m not going to top that while trying to study for everything else.

Hindsight – if you have a test you didn’t do great on, go the re-test route even if you have the CPEs. You can improve your grade on the GIAC site and have those practice tests. This would have been helpful for my GCIA cert. It’s my weakest area and I only scored an 85% last time. I purchased the GCIA re-certification with CPE option back in June, so it’s way too late to even think of asking them if I could switch to testing. Guess I’ll be working extra hard on the labs to make sure I have everything down.

Now that the invoice is paid, I need to find a testing center to take the GSE exam. There was a really nice testing center up in Hunt Valley, but they apparently don’t do it any more. The testing centers in Baltimore are not. . . um. . . up to my standards (I’m trying to be diplomatic – basically the staff is nice, there just isn’t any space for my books and other testers are crammed in like sardines). I may actually go visit the testing centers in Columbia just to make sure they are nice. The last thing I want to do is switch centers and end up someplace worse. At any rate, one thing I have learned doing SANS certifications is to SCHEDULE EARLY! The desirable timeslots tend to fill up quickly.

Going for SANS GSE certification

So, I finally decided to actually do the GSE and stop talking about it. I’m not starting these posts at the beginning of my studies. I’m Actually about ¼ of where I want to be. I’m debating keeping these posts offline until the certification has been completed. . . I don’t like posting failures to a place that can be as permanent as the Internet.

Today is the day after submitting for (and getting) approval to take the pre-qualification test.   SANS is calling it the ‘multiple choice portion’ of the GSE. I didn’t know that the score on multiple-choice test would be combined with the score on the lab portion.   It seems that having a great score on the Multiple Choice Portion can lift the overall grade – very handy in case I don’t do so great on one of the labs.

Let’s see. I’m planning on taking the lab in March. That gives me about 6 months to take (and pass with a good grade) the written portion then study for the labs. It’s a bit aggressive (most people seem to want to take about a year), but I think I can do it.

So far, I have gone through ½ of 503 (Intrusion Analysis) and indexing it again. I recently took the 504 class and certification, so I’m not planning on going through that material for the test (although I’m listening to the lecture in my car). After I finish 503, I’ll get the 501 (Security Essentials) course material and index that again.


The plan is to take the indexes and books from 501, 503 and 504 along with the Blueteam and Redteam handbooks to the test.


I should being a dolly with me.


And I have a lot of reading to do.


The testing center better have space!

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