How To Build a SANS GIAC Index

Over the years, my most popular article has been about how to successfully pass SANS GIAC exams.  Most people focus on my second recommendation on building an index for the course material.  Unfortunately, the index guide I linked to is no longer available.  Since I’ve received a number of requests for the Word doc, I’ve decided to write my own version of how to do this.  Enjoy!

  1. Create a spreadsheet with tabs labeled for each book in the course.  For example, “503.1”, “503.2 + 503.3”, etc.
  2. Label the first four columns with: “Page”, “Keyword 1”, “Keyword 2”, and “Keyword 3”.
  3. Read through each course book and summarize each page into three keywords or phrases (e.g. “tcpdump output overview”, “nibble definition”, etc) and note these in your spreadsheet.  Skip this for any pages with no notable information.
  4. For each tab in the spreadsheet, insert a new column before column A and title it “Book”.  For each existing row of pages, populate the book number.
  5. Copy columns A (“Book”) and B (“Page”) and insert both of them before the columns for “Keyword 2” and “Keyword 3”.
  6. Cut the “Book”, “Page”, and “Keyword 3” block and paste them below their respective columns in A, B, and C.  Repeat this for the “Book”, “Page”, and “Keyword 2” block and place these under the “Keyword 3” block you just pasted.
  7. Repeat steps 4 – 6 for each tab in your spreadsheet and remember to save your work. 🙂
  8. Create a new tab in the spreadsheet titled, “Complete”.  This will contain all the data from the previous tabs.
  9. Copy and paste columns A, B, and C from each of the previous tabs into columns A, B, and C of the “Complete” tab.  Paste each new tab’s data below the previous.
  10. In the “Complete” tab, move column C (“Keyword 1”) before column A (“Book”).
  11. Sort the new column A (“Keyword”) alphabetically and perform any edits and formatting cleanup (e.g. remove rows with column headers due to pasting and any blank rows).  Congratulations, you have an index!

Hope this helps and best of luck on the exam!  You’ll do great. 🙂

One final note.  Please don’t ask for the indexes I created, as I will not be sharing them.  The whole point in building your own index is so you’ll learn and retain the material.  Asking for mine or taking someone else’s is a shortcut that will likely lead to your own disappointment come exam time. 😛


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