my experience of the pwk and oscp

in the pwk course they give you a pdf and some videos.  the pdf contains quite a few exercises to perform.  i probably spent 2 weeks just learning from the course material, doing exercises, and doing ‘extra mile’ learning based on ‘getting all interested’ in certain things and taking diversions.  i wasn’t in this just to pass the exam, i had a huge thirst on for ‘all the things’ related to penetration testing

then i started on the labs, which took about 6 weeks.  i fully compromised all 56 boxes in the 4 subnets.  it was amazingly good fun, crammed with nonstop interesting learning, with periods of maddening frustration.  sometimes the solution to a problem was very cunningly hidden, sometimes i just couldn’t see the wood for the trees for a while, and on one occasion i genuinely felt that a box simply wasn’t fair, hehe

i do love a challenge though, and i’ll simply persist until i win.  failure was not an option, and i knew i couldn’t leave the lab with even a single box unconquered, although i’ve read that some people take the exam after 20-30 machines.  as i said before, i wasn’t just in it for the letters after my name, i wanted to squeeze every drop of knowledge and goodness out of the experience that i could

after completing the labs i booked my exam, only to find that the nearest date was 3 weeks away!  i spent about a week re-penetrating all 56 machines and compiling my lab penetration test report.  i’ll say that this re-penetration was well worthwhile because on the second time around with a machine i was often able to refine my technique based on stuff i’d learned since the first

then i spent a week organizing my copious notes, compiling and playing with various exploits in the lab (mostly privescs), and creating a fresh kali VM with everything i needed for the exam installed on it, scripting it up in the process

in the last week before the exam i played around with tools like dradis and beef, did most of the ‘metasploit unleashed’ course, tarted up my course exercises document, ran through some drills that i thought would be useful for the exam, and started reading books on pen testing and social engineering

in the exam itself you get a variety of targets with points values. there are 100 points available in the exam and an extra 10 points available for documentation (5 for lab/exercises and 5 for the penetration test report).  you have to get at least 70/100 to pass. they don’t give out the scores, but i know i got 90/110.  i was a bit disappointed not to get full marks in the exam, but such is life, and the exam was tough

during the exam i got sucked into a few rabbit holes, and at one point i became concerned i wasn’t going to pass.  but i dug deep, gritted my teeth and just kept going. at the end of it i really felt a sense of accomplishment at having persisted so assiduously and overcome what seemed like impossible obstacles on occasion

it’s hard to describe how enjoyable and rewarding i found the oscp to be!

i’m now doing some prep study for the osce, which i aim to complete within 2 months

One thought on “my experience of the pwk and oscp

  1. Outstanding motivational piece. I will be sure to revisit once I begin course (about a week or 2). I can definitely relate to the strategy of revisiting boxes after completed the rest of the exercises. By my understanding that wasn’t originally on your agenda, but it made perfect sense. Again, many THANKS for the heads-up. This actually makes for a nice primer in regards to mental preparation.

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