Exams: FAQ


GIAC Certification Exams

Tips for Success and Where to Get Help

The GIAC certification program is challenging and we want to help you succeed! We offer the following advice when pursuing your certification:

  1. Plan your time carefully. You have four months to study; take advantage of it. If you wait until the week before your exam to study you are not likely to do well.
  2. Become familiar with the certification objectives for the certification you are attempting. For a list of objectives specific to the certification you are attempting, please review the Exam Certification Objectives listed in the Certification Information found in your portal account at https://exams.giac.org/pages/attempts
  3. Especially for technical certifications, plan to spend some significant "hands-on" time with the technologies covered by your certification objectives. GIAC exams are designed to measure your ability to correctly analyze a situation and properly apply your knowledge.
  4. After significant study time to ensure mastery of the material covered by the certification objectives, attempt your first practice test to gauge your progress. Practice tests serve to get you familiar with the types of questions you can expect to see on the certification exam, as well as the testing interface in general. When taking the practice tests, you should pace yourself and practice using any references you plan on bringing with you to the testing center to simulate the exam experience. They are more beneficial when they are used as a dry run prior to the real exam. You will have the option to display the correct answer for missed questions during practice. NOTE: The first practice exam is a more accurate gauge of your skills than any subsequent practice exams.
  5. When you complete your first practice test, print out the report at the end of the exam. The report tells you how well you performed on each certification objective for your exam. If you have less than four stars for any certification objective consider refocusing your remaining study time in those areas.
  6. Don't wait until the last minute to begin studying!
  7. The exams are open book; take advantage of this.
  8. According to a survey we conducted the average GIAC certified individual spends an average of 55 hours of study time over and above of any classroom training. If you are just learning the material for the first time it could easily take three times that much study to master the certification objectives or even more. Realistically assess your own skills for each certification objective, and be prepared to spend the time required for mastery.
  9. Make sure you read the question and all answer options very carefully.
  10. Before sitting for the exam, use online resources to help address gaps in your knowledge. Search by certification objective topic areas, or specific tools or concepts. If you are a candidate for a technical certification, completing hands-on exercises and lab work from any relevant training you may have received will be a benefit. There are online exercises, challenges, packet captures, and war games available for many technical subject areas. A search engine is your friend.
  11. GIAC exams contain many application and analysis questions that require a person to apply knowledge and solve real problems relevant to the certification objectives.
  12. Send any questions to info@giac.org. In order for us to provide faster service, include your curriculum User ID or your portal SD number and what certification you are attempting so that we can easily reference your account.

What if I fail an exam?

If you fail a GIAC Certification Exam, you may purchase a retake exam for by clicking on the "Purchase Retake" link in the Certification Attempts section of the GIAC Certification Portal. Once purchased, retakes are non-refundable and non-transferable. Please click here for current pricing.
Following any GIAC exam failure, you must purchase the retake within 30 days of your listed expiration date.

Can I attempt a GIAC certification exam without formal SANS training?

Yes, GIAC Certification Attempts are available for purchase independently from SANS training courses. Click here for details and pricing.

Can I get an extension?

Candidates may purchase a 45-day GIAC extension. Please click here for current pricing.
15 days before your exam expires, an extension option will appear in your portal account. The extension adds 45 days to your current deadline. A maximum of 10 extensions can be purchased per certification attempt. Once you have reached this limit, your attempt cannot be extended any further. If you have purchased your GIAC exam in conjunction with an online training course, your online course access will be extended to match your GIAC deadline; however, please note associated course access will only be guaranteed for a total of one year, regardless of the number of certification attempt extensions you purchase.

Can I purchase two exams simultaneously, or do I have to wait another 4 months?

You may purchase and schedule GIAC exams simultaneously. Each exam will have an expiration date of 120 days (4 months) accessible from your SANS Portal Account. Test dates will need to be scheduled prior to expiration. Should you decide to train via the SANS OnDemand online slides, notes, and assessments, you may only register for one course at a time. This training venue will only allow you to purchase and gain access to the exam separately.

How are the exams delivered?

NOTE: GIAC exams are NOT given the day after the conference ends.

GIAC certification attempts purchased without SANS training will be activated in your SANS/GIAC account within 24 hours of purchase. GIAC certification attempts purchased with SANS training will be activated in your SANS/GIAC account 7 days after the end of the conference. In both cases, you will receive an email notification when your certification attempt has been activated in your account. You will have 120 days from the date of activation to complete your certification attempt. All GIAC Certification exams are web-based and required to be proctored. There are two proctoring options: remote proctoring through ProctorU, and onsite proctoring through PearsonVUE. Click here for more information

How soon after the proctored exam will I receive the GIAC framed or paper certificate order?

It may take up to 4-6 weeks for your certificate to arrive in the mail. Once you pass your exam and place your order, you will be asked to confirm your name and address. Please review this information carefully to ensure for accurate and timely delivery. If proof of certification is needed sooner, Certified Professionals can find their official listing by visiting http://www.giac.org/certified_professionals/

Do I have to purchase a framed certificate?

No, you do not have to purchase a framed certificate. If you opt out of receiving the framed certificate, you may order a paper certificate at no cost to you.

How much does it cost to receive a framed certificate?

The 10" by 13" wall-mountable wooden frame is free, but there is an additional charge for shipping and handling:

  • United States: $25
  • Canada: $35
  • International: $45

Can I request a digital/electronic/PDF copy of my certificate?

GIAC does not distribute electronic copies of certificates. For proof of certification beyond the framed or paper certificate option, your record of certification is reflected on our official Certified Professionals directory:

What is a Proctored Exam?

Students are required to take GIAC certification exams in a proctored environment. For detailed information, please visit https://www.giac.org/exams/proctor/index

Can I see what I got wrong on my exam?

GIAC is unable provide a question-by-question breakdown of your results. After completing an exam, you will gain access to a report outlining your performance on each exam objective. This can be found in the Certification Attempts section of your account. For information on GIACs Exam Feedback Procedure, please seehttp://www.giac.org/feedback.php.

Where can I find what material will be on the exams?

The exam breakdown is listed in the Examination section of the "Certification Information - READ ME FIRST" page in your portal account. You can also review the Certification Objectives on the Certification page.

Where do I take the exams?

There are two proctoring options: remote proctoring through ProctorU, and onsite proctoring through PearsonVUE. Click here for more information.

When I take practice exams when does it provide me with the solutions to the answers I missed ?

During the practice tests, each time you choose a wrong answer, you will receive the correct answer and an explanation that will help to reinforce the subject matter presented in the question. The practice tests also include a counter that shows the current number of questions that you answered either correctly or incorrectly and how many questions are left in the test.

Will I be able to print or view the practice exam after it has been taken?

You won't be able to print or view the exam after it has been taken.