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Are You Preparing for Your GIAC Exam? Try These Top 10 Indexing Tips


indexing-tips

Earning your GIAC certification doesn't come easy; it takes dedication, determination and time. But nothing worth having comes easy — so they say, and a GIAC certification is no exception to the rule!

The GIAC mission is to provide and certify a level of knowledge and skill that demonstrates to employers, that their employees - current and prospective, are more than capable of the job. And so not only do they examine theory and terminology, but they also test the pragmatics of Audit, Security, Operations, Management and Software Security tasks.

But why choose GIAC?

A GIAC certification is trusted by thousands of companies and government agencies, including the United States National Security Agency (NSA). It provides the highest and most trusted warranty of cyber security knowledge and skill to industry, government, and military professionals across the globe.

How to achieve a GIAC Certification

Certification can be achieved through various training providers and methods including studying at a live SANS training event, through the SANS OnDemand or private training. The most essential thing to remember when studying for an open book exam, is to know where to find all your information. The second most essential thing is to know how to access all this information, fast.

Follow these top indexing tips to ace your GIAC exam and earn that coveted certification:

  • Flag your course books: Flag relevant pages in your SANS course books containing key information, this is your quick reference tool, so don't over complicate the text on the tabs. Remember, you can flag your pages on the top, sides, and bottom; just don't overlap!

    A flag tip from SANS instructor Nik Alleyne: "Indexing is unique to everyone, some use Microsoft Excel, some use page markers and some - like me - use sticky notes. For my indexing, I typically use 3 colours of sticky notes; red, yellow and green. For the topics I believe I would definitely have a challenge with (maybe I'm 40% sure of the answer) and thus need to know how to immediately get to that page in the exam, I use red. Yellow, like the traffic light suggests is much softer. This is for topics that sit in the middle, where I'm 75% sure of the answer. These are the ones where I may need the guidance from the book because I'm not sure. Green on the other hand, is for topics that only sometimes need clarification, where you are maybe 95%, or 100% confident. Remember, everyone indexes differently so make sure you find a way that works well for you, even if that one is mine. Have fun learning!"

  • Create a clear index: Using Excel, Word or whatever works for you, create an alphabetically ordered index of all key terms and acronyms. Your index should state which book and page you can find the information you're looking for.
  • Colour coding: Try colour coding your flags with your index, for example, the sections of your books that you index with yellow flags, block fill those sections on your index in yellow. Using this method will speed up the process of finding information under pressure.
  • Highlight: Your index will help you through those trickier questions and guide you to the right book and page. However, when you get there, you'll need to find the information fast. As you study, use a highlighter to mark critical information and acronyms that will guide your eye.
  • Labs: Most SANS courseware contains labs; these are designed to be practiced regularly in order for candidates to fully grasp the topic. Make sure you go through the labs one last time before your final exam.
  • Study: "On average, a person should study for 55 hours outside of the classroom to pass". — Kimberly Lucht, GIAC Certifications

  • Take a mock test: And then take the mock test again — How did your indexing system hold up? Need to tweak it; now's the time! You will get two practice exams which tend to be accurate representations of the type of questions you'll find in the real exam. Use your index to take your first practice exam and pay attention to whether it is serving you well. You will then gain an understanding of where you index needs improvement and where you need to study more. Make your index adjustments, and study more in the areas that you struggled. Then take your second practice exam and repeat the process.
  • Final review and revision: Even SANS staff improve their skills with GIAC certification. Our very own Cristina Magro gives her own insight into the topic:

    "I like to do a final review and revision at the weekend and take the exam ona Monday (I suggest booking a slot in advance??). Don't forget to include some time to relax after revising!"

  • Don't procrastinate: "Schedule the exam as soon as you can schedule it after the class, even if it's a couple months out, don't procrastinate, at least you have a goal!" - James Tarala, SANS Instructor

  • Read Carefully during your exam: Read the question and all the answer options, and then before answering, read the question again.

We'd love to hear about your top indexing tips, and what helped you pass your GIAC certification, so why not comment with your ideas!

And just a final extra pro tip we've heard from most of our students and instructors: Don't ask for anyone else's index! The whole point of building your own index, is so that you learn and retain the actual material you covered in class. This way you can ensure that you ace your GIAC exam. Best of luck!!

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