Friday, 14 April 2006

ITIL Foundation Certificate - Tips to pass the exam

One of the frequent questions I come across is 'how do I pass the Foundation exam?' The ITIL Foundation Certificate is the only ITIL examination that can be taken through self-study and public examination. I personally recommend a course with an accredited training provider as you get the benefit of networking with others and can glean some useful insights into how ITIL works in the real world - which you can't get from the books. Also, decent trainers have prior experience with the examinations and can test you in mock examination conditions using official sample papers. Furthermore, they can advise you of the key things that really must be memorised, and the things that you need to understand (though not necessarily know by rote). I took my ISEB Foundation Certificate through Fox IT in the UK and was trained by Gerry McLaughlin and would highly recommend them.

There are two examining boards for ITIL certifications, the ISEB and EXIN. Whichever board you choose, ensure you learn the content of their syllabus.
Download EXIN Syllabus (PDF)
Download the ISEB Syllabus (PDF)

My advice would be to ensure you know:
- which processes belong to service delivery and which to service support
- the key activities that make up each process
- who is responsible for various activities (in terms of process ownership)
- the acronyms and terminology used in each process as well as key phrases that may indicate which process the question is about (Glossary of terms link)
- the inter-relations between processes
- the benefits that can be realised from each process

Ensure you remember that they are testing you on ITIL as it is in the books, NOT on what you do (or don't do!) in your current organisation.

In terms of the examination itself which is 40 multiple choice questions (ISEB), read the question - ensure you understand it then look at all the answers. If you don't know the answer straight away, work with a process of elimination. Quite often with these there is one really wrong answer, and with the other three there is one that is 'more correct' than the others. So be careful not to be caught out. Read EVERY word of an answer. Overlooking the word 'NOT' can be the difference between a correct or wrong answer!

If you know the material, you'll find the exam is less exerting than a walk in the park. If you don't, you may struggle - so make sure you do ;)

A couple of sample questions from ISEB sample paper 3 2003

10. Which of the following is NOT a technique usually associated with Availabilty Management?
A. Auto error detection
B. Duplexing
C. Analysing Data
D. Queuing theory

16. Which of the following best describes why an SLA should contain definitions of terms?
A. To ensure that anywhere there is a measurement required within the SLA then it is realistically measurable
B. To ensure that both the customer and IT can unambiguously understand the terms in the SLA
C. To make sure that all clauses in the SLA make sense
D. To ensure that the customer's understanding of a particular term is the one meant in the SLA.

Finally, some links that may be of use:

Dr Itil used to have a foundation success blog with tips up but it seems to have died. There is a little entry on his old blog.

You can try some ITIL exam practice.

ITIL essentials study guide (not used myself so unable to confirm accuracy but Dr ITIL linked it awhile back so I'd expect it to be okay).

ITIL reference guide on Robert Perrine's site. Well worth browsing the rest of his site under the ITIL section as he includes slides from his study lessons.

Good luck, see you on the other side!

P.S. Answer to No. 10 = D and No. 16 = B


Dr. ITIL said...

Great Blog - please keep up the good work.

Jut wanted to let your readers know that free sample ITIL Foundation Exam Questions, Study Guides and articles on how to pass multiple choice exams - are all available at:-

Best Regards,

The ITIL Imp said...

Hi Robin,

I saw that you'd resurrected the foundation success site, nice one :)

Robin said...

Dear ITIL Imp,

There are several good articles containing ITIL Foundation Exam Passing Tips and some sample questions over at:-

Best Regards,

ishola Akinropo said...

Hello and thansk for your posts.
However, i also desire to write the certification exam on ITIL but there many constarinst here in Nigeria.The field is very green and even some organisation that opted to train have very high fees.
Can One read on his self for the exam.
IS there any free on not to expensive CBT(Computer based tutorial)

Please do mail me my email addy is

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