Note: This post has been edited from the original due to legal issues.
On September 4th I attempted the OSCP exam and I passed!!! I was extremely excited, as this was one of my greatest personal accomplishments! I had been working toward getting my OSCP for about a year and a half now. My goal was to pass the exam before 20 years of age. I destroyed my goal! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Before The Exam
The day before the exam I setup my exam machine so I could be more organized. This was mostly just creating directories for each exam machine. My directory scheme basically had a directory for each machine and a report directory in each of those. Being organized is very important during the exam, you do not want to lose track of anything during the exam. Aside from getting ready I was also a little nervous like usual. Luckily my confidence during the exam had been going up due to my first and second attempts. I had my path roughly planned out I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.
I woke up earlier than I wanted to, so the anticipation was burning by the time my exam started. When I got the email at 14:00 I turned on some music:
then connected to the exam lab and went straight for the first machine. After about 30 minutes I had it pwnd. After a while of pwning machines, it was around 23:00 I was getting tired and not able to think straight, I had a passing score. I had more machines left, I decided to call it a night and go to sleep. I woke up after about 10 hours. Got back onto my computer and pwnd another machine! Now for the last machine I would be able to do before time runs out! woohoo! I was stuck on this last machine for a while until I retraced my steps and figured out what I did wrong and then boom! All machines pwnd!!!
Now that I had all machines down I went through each machine and made sure I had all the reporting materials I needed for each machine. I was very nervous and OCD about this because I DID NOT WANT TO MISS ANYTHING. I basically never stopped checking everything until I was really tired. At this point I was very excited but also still very nervous because the reason I failed my last exam was because my report was not good enough!
For my report this time I stuck very closely to Offensive Security's format for their example report. I did the first half of my report the day after my exam and the second half the next day before 14:00. There was about 5-8 times when I was about to send it in and saw something I wanted to change and decided to edit it again and again. Once I thought I had it good enough I went over it once more and sent it to Offensive Security.
The Agonizing Wait
Waiting to hear if I had passed or not was the longest one and a half days I have ever been through. During this time I spent my time having a lot of anxiety. I distracted myself by doing lots of binary exploitation challenges which were very fun. I had left all my tabs open just in case they needed more proof. I also had my email open constantly refreshing it over and over. But finally on Friday around mid day sometime I received an email from Offensive Security. DUN DUN DUN! I was very nervous to read the email but I clicked it and saw 'We are happy' and broke into the most amazing happy celebration dance anyone had ever seen! WOOOHOOOO I had passed! I even cried a little bit.
The PWK/OSCP are a fantastic way to strengthen your penetration testing skills! I definitely recommend giving it a shot! Even if you fail, the PWK labs are awesome! I recommend practicing many pivot techniques when in the labs. I am very happy I went through all that I did, because I learned a bunch from this exam, about myself, and about penetration testing. Each time I took the exam there was always a time when I felt the "I'm not gonna pass" feeling, I felt this because I'm always trying to do things as fast and efficiently as possible. There is obviously no point for this as I was doing great! Each time I was ahead of schedule just freaking out for no reason. So if/when this happens to you, don't worry just keep going at it, you will get there just keep grinding! I plan on writing a "prepare for OSCP / Helpful tips / Helpful tools / Things I learned that could help you out" post as well for attempting OSCP. Also thank you to all who were cheering me on through my journey!