How it went

I failed 3 times before I passed the certification exam on the fourth attempt. I say so with pride because had it not been for these failures, I would have probably not changed my ways

I was pretty confident the first time around, and even managed to fall 10 points short of the passing score. Second time around, I fell 20 points short, and similarly for the third attempt. It was then when I took a little detour which, in hindsight, was somewhat ahead of its time. I started looking into Windows Internals, and this bit was useful in engaging my brain to ask questions. I found myself constantly jumping back and forth between different resources, adding more to what little I knew with every iteration

Disclaimer: I do not recommend taking that deep a dive just for PEN-200/OSCP; it's way beyond scope where the course and exam are concerned. If you wish to do so, do it at your own free time for the purpose of understanding the operating system at a deeper level

Come March 15 2023, and the course gets revamped in more ways than meets the eye. I especially loved the capstone exercises; the fact that the previously taught concepts are consolidated into a set of exercises that often encourage external research really goes to show just how much thought has been put into their making. In my opinion, it was the right balance between putting knowledge to application, and putting understanding to the test. It's when you're outside of your comfort zone that you begin to think of creative ways to get yourself out of an otherwise sticky situation, or in this case, into a system your heart so desires to break

For the next 6 months, I'd redo the entire course. A stupid mistake I'd made in all my previous attempts was completely doing away with Active Directory. Don't be like me; you just cannot escape one of the most prevalent domains in the industry and count on your comfort zone to save the day. Even if you manage to own all standalone targets on the exam, you will still need intimate knowledge of AD for your actual job. I paid the price for that mistake threefold, but also gained a whole lot of knowledge in the process, so it ultimately balanced out for me. You, however, should do the smart thing from the get-go

I paid more attention to AD that 4th time around, and it absolutely saved the day when it did

P.S anyone who tells you the exam was not covered in the course materials has no idea what they're talking about. I've done 4 different iterations of the exam, and I can tell you it is 100% covered in PEN-200. I never needed to undertake additional training from any of the available providers to pass the exam; I needed to stay true to myself, and actually address my shortcoming, rather than blame it on the training itself

As for the exam experience, everything that could go wrong did indeed go wrong. I lost 4 hours of my exam time due to unforseen circumstances. I didn't spend the time panicking, working on documentation, or what have you. I simply went over to my friend's, and decided to take my mind off all the stresses. There was nothing else I could do, and I knew worrying wouldn't help if not make things even worse for me. In doing so, I came back home with fresh ideas, and a different approach to attacking the targets

It all worked out, and I've earned the certification I've been after this whole time. Remember: failure's not the end, but the beginning to a deeper level of understanding