I PASSED! I literally threw my hands up in the air as the score appeared on the screen. Those practice exams are spot on. From the difficulty to the actual time it took, everything lined up similarly. Probably the best advantage/help I had was the proctor actually offered up a table for all the books that I had. Which, by the way, SANS books take up so much room when you are digging through all of them trying to find the answer you should already know!
My index was a definite contributor to my successes, but I still had a ton of areas where the index did no help at all. I highly recommend doing a hard review of your index after both practice tests (also take both tests, and don’t rage quit like I did on my second one). Some of the specifics of the answers triggered a bit of panic because I didn’t have any of them in my index. The SANS index at the back of one of the books helped a few times, but that was definitely not something I could rely on.
Another big thing that helped was forcing myself to take my time. There were very few questions that I did not reference my index/books, which I think made me double and triple check the questions and answers I was working through. This was definitely one of the most challenging certs I have gotten through, but it was definitely worth it!