Monthly Archives: March 2015

Thoughts on the ITIL Foundation Exam

ITIL Image

Just a month ago, I obtained the ITIL Foundation certification. While I don’t have any current aspirations to branch out into IT management, I do some project work in my current role and I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with ITIL’s widely accepted set of IT best practices. The subject matter, mostly talking at a very high level about the processes and relationships between different sections of IT management, didn’t really strike a chord with me. This is a common issue in certification studies, sometimes you come to topics that you just cannot bring yourself to care about, and that usually creates problems with regards to your motivation to keep on going through your study material. ITIL Foundation truly felt like a slog to me.

I began by reading the ITIL Foundation Exam Study Guide by Liz Gallacher and Helen Morris. A perfectly good study guide, to be sure, but again, the material was so dry that I almost felt it physically draining to complete reading a page and then move on to the next. This made for slow progress, and there’s no one really to blame but myself. I also made use of the CBT Nuggets ITIL Foundation video series, which features Michael Shannon as the instructor. I will say that I found some of the graphics used to explain some of the theories, such as the Service Lifecycle, that were featured in the CBT Nuggets videos to be superior to their equivalencies in the paper study guide. I did find myself getting distracted and having to rewind portions of the videos at times, a problem that was caused almost as much by the multitasking power of my computer and much as my boredom with whatever the current topic happened to be.

Now, what training topics an individual finds interesting is a purely subjective thing, and I don’t mean to run down the cert or imply that it isn’t worth your time. I thought it was worthwhile enough to put dozens of hours into studying the material necessary to obtain the cert, after all. I do, however, have to bring up a point of frustration with gathering information about the how and where to write the exam. The ITIL Foundation information page provides links to training partners and exam institutes. While I’m not surprised they didn’t include direct links to vendors such as CBT Nuggets, it was very odd there was no readily available link to their officially sanctioned study guide. In addition, it took a Google search and some reading to put together the fact that I needed to select EXIN as the company to find the ITIL Foundation exam within the Pearson Vue catalog.

The exam itself proved to be a very minor obstacle, it consisted of forty multiple choice questions (always choosing one correct answer, though said answers may encompass several choices from a list), and I only encountered one question that I felt was worded poorly enough to cause confusion. I will say that I didn’t feel like any questions came out of left field, they all seemed to draw on knowledge that could be obtained from commonly available training material, which is not something that can be said about every cert exam. With only 65% (26 out of 40) required to pass, you have plenty of room for error. I believe that an exam’s difficulty can heavily effect the prestige of a certification, and while this is an entry level cert, I felt a bit more challenge would have been appropriate.

There is no current news about the current ITIL Foundation 2011 (the previous version was v3) material being phased out in the near future, but as with any cert, practice due diligence and try to determine if you might be writing an exam that you have to essentially rewrite in less than a year. It appears than in previous changes to the material, a bridge exam was needed to keep your cert valid.

A general overview of the ITIL qualifications can be found here.

As always, feel free to post your own thought regarding ITIL Foundation in the comments section!