Four months ago I enrolled in the SANS On-Demand course for SANS542, Web Application Penetration Testing. I chose this course as I love pen testing, I understand and enjoy working with web technologies (My Master's project was web services), and the course looked exciting as Kevin Johnson, the creator of SamuraiWTF, was the "instructor" for the course.
I was initially able to find some time both at work and home to devout to listening to the audio and reading the books. However, I found my workload quickly increasing, causing me to back-burner my study efforts on SANS542. About three weeks ago, I realized that while I was being sent to Vegas for a work trip, that the exam availability would expire prior to my return. I had asked SANS for a few days of extension and was, to no surprise, told no. So I scheduled my exam for the afternoon of the last Friday that I would be in Vegas.
Had I known that by the time for the test had arrived, that I would have been two hellish days into a flu that lasted for almost six, I would have scheduled the exam for earlier. Apart from being disgustingly sick I was also swamped with work and thus had a grand total of 12 hours to prepare for the exam.
So, with little preparation and the flu, I drove on and sat the exam. I ended up using the full two hour time limit as I had to dig through the books for some obscure answers on some tools I don't use very often. However, I am pleased to say that I finished the exam with a passing score of 91.43%. Had I not already had some solid experience in web app pentesting, I am certain that would not have passed this exam at all. I felt the exact same way after I sat and passed the GREM and I do think that SANS did a good thing in making the test shorter in total number of questions as well as time.
It is my belief that by using this new testing format that the number of honestly unqualified people "earning" GIAC certs will decrease, despite the "watering down" of these and others, such as CISSP, from different branches of the US.
I will stop ranting now, before I get too high on my soapbox. The confidence I have in my technical abilities has really increased by quite a few external sources over the last few weeks. So much so that my passing of the GWAPT has me considering seriously a number of different options for my next challenge, including the GSE.
So I am now in a position to decide what I want to do next. For the GSE, I still need SANS504 (Which I've been told is one I could probably sit cold and still ace it. However, there are still at least five other SANS courses I would like to take, as well as the OSCP, the SNORT-CP, MCITP, and two software engineering certs offered by IEEE.
Not bragging...I think it's somewhat funny how many certs I currently hold. Anytime we are allowed to use tuition reimbursement funds for courses, we are required to pick courses that prep for certifications as well as having to sit and pass said certs.
What I currently hold: