All GIAC Certification deadlines are displayed in Universal Time (UTC), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). GIAC requests that certification candidates manage their time properly and adequately prepare for exams so that extensions and retakes are rare events.

Retaking a Failed Exam

If you fail a GIAC Certification Exam, you may purchase a retake by logging into your SANS/GIAC account and clicking on "Certification Attempts" and then "Purchase Retake."

  • The option to purchase a retake will be available for 30 days after your deadline
  • If you do not purchase a retake within 30 days following your exam deadline but wish to attempt the exam at a later date, you will need to start over by purchasing a new Certification Attempt

Your access to any remaining practice tests associated with your certification attempt will be automatically extended to match your extended exam deadline. No new practice tests will be issued with the purchase of a retake.

*Retakes are not available for candidates who have earned a passing score on a previous attempt. Retakes are only available if you have failed a certification attempt.

Retake Wait Periods

Following any GIAC exam failure, a 30-day waiting period is imposed before you can sit for the exam again. The 30-day period provides you with additional time that should be used to master the certification objectives. Purchasing a retake after an exam failure extends your final exam deadline by 60 days; this includes the 30-day waiting period. Your adjusted deadline will be displayed in the GIAC Certification Portal.

If there is an emergency situation that would necessitate an exception to this wait period, you may apply for a waiver here. However, please note that if your 30-day waiting period waiver request is approved, there is still a mandatory 14-day waiting period that applies to all GIAC candidates and cannot be waived.

After 3 failed attempts, your attempt is over and considered unsuccessfully completed. Candidates must wait one year to pursue a new certification attempt in this case. Candidates may submit a waiver to retake the exam one final time prior to the implementation of this policy. This waiver requires an outline of what has changed in exam preparation plus documentation of at least 30 hours of additional training related to the certification exam objectives.


GIAC Certification Attempts have a time limit of 4 months (120 days) to complete. If you need additional time, you may purchase a 45-day extension.

  • Please note that purchasing an extension will automatically cancel your scheduled exam appointment if the appointment is more than 24 hours away
    • If you need to cancel or reschedule your exam less than 24 hours in advance or do not show up for your scheduled exam appointment, you will be charged a $150 seating fee to reschedule
  • The option to purchase an extension is available 15 days before your certification attempt deadline, through 30 days after your certification attempt deadline

    • Click on the GIAC Certification Portal link 'Certification Attempts' and then 'Purchase Extension'
  • An extension will add 45 days to your current expiration date, regardless of when you purchase the extension
    • Once purchased, certification attempt extensions are non-refundable and non-transferable

Your access to any remaining practice tests associated with your certification attempt will be automatically extended to match your extended exam deadline.

SANS online course materials associated with your certification attempt will be automatically extended to match your exam deadline for up to one year from the course start date. Online course access cannot be extended beyond one year, regardless of exam extensions or retake purchases.

A maximum of 10 extensions can be purchased per certification attempt. Once you have reached this limit, your attempt cannot be extended any further.

Complimentary Extension Policy

To ensure fairness and impartiality for all candidates, GIAC can only consider granting complimentary extensions for bereavement, acute medical issues, military deployment, or government duty. If you believe your current situation qualifies, please review the GIAC Special Requests page for more information on the requirements and how to apply.

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
  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 a 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 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.