Test-Driven Study

Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an Agile practice where unit tests are written before the production code is developed. It’s a paradigm-shifting in software development and can be painful for developers in the beginning.

TDD starts with writing a unit test as follows:

  1. Write a unit test
  2. Run the test and see if it fails (The very first test definitely will fail!)
  3. Write production code
  4. Run the test and see if it fails
  5. Repeat Step 3 and 4 until the test passes

Test-Driven Study (TDS)

When it comes to learning, this practice works effectively as well. I call it the Test-Driven Study (TDS). It’s common for students to take a practice test after reading or study. However, TDS encourages people to do some practice questions before each session of study.

Chapter Practice Tests

For example, when you decide to read Chapter 1 of the Sybex official study guide, the following are reference TDS steps:

Chapter Review Questions

  1. Finish review questions in Chapter 1 (say, 20 questions)
  2. Read chapter 1 and research
  3. Do review questions in Chapter 1 again
  4. Repeat Step 2 and 3 until the review questions are done

Chapter Online Practice Test

  1. Take the online practice test of “Chapter 1” provided by the publisher
  2. Read chapter 1 and research
  3. Do the online practice test of “Chapter 1” again
  4. Repeat Step 2 and 3 until the online practice test is done
  5. Move to the next chapter

Integration Practice Tests

After completing the Chapter-based practice tests, it’s time to move to integration practice tests. The strategy is the same, TDS! The following are well-known sources of integration practice tests that synthesize concepts across domains:

  • ISC2 Official Practice Tests (must-have book)
  • Luke’s SNT
  • Thor on Udemy
  • Boson
  • CCCure
  • QOTD: Adam, ITDojo, and Wentz


Before you get started your CISSP journey, I highly recommend you spend 2 sessions completing Chapter 2 of The Effective CISSP: Security and Risk Management.

  • The first session takes one hour at maximum. Browse Chapter 2 in one hour to get a high-level overview of Information Security.
  • The second session lasts for two hours at maximum. You can complete the two sessions all at once.

Top-down, Progressive, and in Parallel

Progressive Learning in Parallel (like the right-hand side). That is, read each domain progressively and in parallel like the right-hand side of animation depicts. Most people tend to read domain by domain like the left-hand side.

  1. Build your own blueprint or conceptual model (e.g., Amicliens InfoSec Conceptual Modelin one week by skimming, browsing, speed-reading your study guide, mentoring, tutoring, training, or any other approaches available.
  2. Base your learning on the model and study topic by topic iteratively and progressively.
  3. After you have informed and enriched your conceptual model, it’s about time to read your study guide from cover to cover.
  4. Review the CISSP exam outline every day to ensure you are on the right track and measure your progress.
  5. Practice questions in Sudoku 365 (Wentz QOTD) until you understand the concepts behind each question and score higher than 80%.


Test-driven study itself is a process of learning. It’s not an assessment or evaluation for your study performance. You have to know why each answer option is right and why it’s wrong, do research, scan materials quickly to get the key points, and improve continuously.

CISSP Exam Outline

To be effective, you have to review the CISSP exam outline every day and make sure you understand every topic listed in the outline.

Sprint Phase

You may sprint at the last phase. The Eleventh Hour CISSP: Study Guide has a good reputation. Sunflower notes, The Process Guide (Madunix), and Memory Palace are fantastic notes to help you succeed in the CISSP exam!


You’re not alone. There are heroes like you out there in communities to support you! Please visit Wentz’s CISSP Starter Page for more resources.

1 thought on “Test-Driven Study

  1. Pingback: Progressive Learning in Parallel by Wentz Wu, CISSP-ISSMP,ISSAP,ISSEP/CCSP/CSSLP/CISM/CISA/CEH/PMP/CBAPWentz Wu

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