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ITIL Foundation Exam-Taking Tips

by Michael Scarborough

Many people's first exposure to the ITIL best practices is in an ITIL Foundation class. Attendees can expect several things, including:

• A thorough introduction to the ITIL best practices.
• Information about benefits often associated with ITIL.
• Key examples of the ITIL best practices.
• Use of a case study to demonstrate use of the best practices.
• A 40-question multiple-choice exam.

ITIL Foundation classes cover quite a bit of material, and, as the last bullet in the list mentions, expect students to demonstrate competency in that material by getting 26 of 40 questions correct on a multiple-choice exam typically delivered at the end of class.

This last part can be challenging. Students spend two and a half days learning, what is for some, new material. However, there are techniques that can help students achieve passing scores on the exam.

First, read the exam questions and answers carefully. In the practice exams that are part of ITIL Foundation classes, it's common to see students miss questions simply because they read the question too quickly and didn't truly understand what the question was asking. I suspect the same holds true on the actual exam. Always read the questions and answers carefully and completely. I always tell students that they should purposefully slow themselves down when taking the exam, as doing the exam too rapidly often results in careless mistakes.

Second, some questions take the form of what I call "complex multiple-choice." A complex multiple-choice question looks like this:

Which of the following are Capacity Management subprocesses?

1. Continuity Capacity Management
2. Component Capacity Management
3. Service Capacity Management
4. Business Capacity Management

A. 1 and 4
B. 1 and 3
C. 2, 3 and 4
D. All of the above

Questions like this are great because you can follow a logical pattern to arrive at the correct answer. Consider the validity of each of the items 1 through 4. Is item 1 true or false? If it's true then it must appear in the correct answer. If it's false, then it must not appear in the correct answer. In this case, item 1, "Continuity Capacity Management," is false, which means that it does not appear in the right answer. That eliminates answers A, B and D since they all contain item 1. The only possible answer is C (note: this is not a real test question. It's one I created for this blog post).

A final technique that can help students achieve higher scores on the ITIL Foundation exam is reading the official syllabus. The syllabus is included with the material provided at the beginning of an ITIL Foundation class. The reason that it's important to read is because it defines the specific areas that the exam will cover.

Passing the ITIL Foundation exam, although challenging, is not impossible. Adequate preparation, sufficient coverage of the material, good courseware, and an effective and experienced instructor are all factors that can contribute to success on the exam. Additionally, reading the questions and answers carefully, taking a logical approach to some questions, and reviewing the syllabus are all techniques that help people successfully pass the ITIL Foundation exam.