ITIL v3 Certification Exam and Qualification Scheme

itil v3 certification

Introduction: Read here for an introduction to ITIL® and the ITIL® Qualification Scheme. This is a good starting point for IT service practitioners to begin their ITIL® v3 Certification journey, especially for ITIL® Foundation Certification Aspirants.

What is ITIL®?

ITIL® stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. ITIL® provides a set of best practices, common terminology and recommendations for IT service management. ITIL® advocates IT services should be aligned to the business processes, goals and needs and be viewed as a core tool to facilitate organizational growth and change.

The best practices are described in five separate volumes (called the core publications) which address the all stages the ITIL® Service Lifecycle:

  • gathering customer requirements
  • design and implement IT service
  • service transition
  • service operation
  • monitor and improve the service

With the implementation of ITIL®, organizations can benefit from lower IT services costs and higher service quality.

History of ITIL®

ITIL® was first created by the Central Computer and Telecommunication Agency (CCTA) of the British Government in the 1980s in an attempt to ensure better IT services quality and resources utilization in response to the advancements in information technology. The CCTA developed the first version of ITIL® (called Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management (GITIM)) which was a framework for efficient and responsible use of IT resources with the British Government. GITIM came in the form of a number of books giving best practices and details of a different component of the IT management.

In the 1990s, the GITIM was rapidly adopted by large companies and government within Europe, Microsoft was among them to make use of GITIM to create their own operation framework. In 2000, the CCTA merged into the the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and OGC is the current owner of the ITIL®.

During that period, a lot changes have been seen in the IT world. The second version of ITIL® (ITIL® v2) was introduced in 2001 which included further development of the Service Support and Service Delivery books. This formed the basis of IT service management best practices.

The third version of ITIL® (ITIL® v3) was released in 2007 to include a “lifecycle approach” to service management. The current version (ITIL® v3 2011) is an updated version of the ITIL® v3 framework which places more emphasis on business integration. The process of Continual Service Improvement (CSI) has been applied. Updates and amendments have also been made to clarify concepts and make the text more accessible.

The ITIL® Qualification Scheme

There are currently five six levels for the ITIL® Qualification Scheme (ITIL® v3 Certification):

  • ITIL® Foundation Level
  • ITIL® Practitioner (newly added in 2016)
  • ITIL® Intermediate Level (Lifecycle Stream / Capability Stream)
  • ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle
  • ITIL® Expert
  • ITIL® Master

The highest ITIL® Master currently exists in theory only as the actual implementation of this level has not been hammered out. Candidates for the ITIL® Qualification Scheme need to progress through the qualifications in order.

ITIL® Foundation Certification

The ITIL® Foundation Certification aims at raising the awareness of IT service practitioners about Service Management. It tests candidates’ overall understanding of the ITIL® framework as well as the elements, concepts and terminology as outlined in the ITIL® Service Lifecycle.

The ITIL® Foundation Certification is a close book examination which can be taken online or in paper-based format. Candidates need to answer 40 multiple choice questions within 1 hour. The passing mark is 65% (i.e. minimum 26 correct answers out of 40 questions).

There are no pre-requisites of the ITIL® Foundation Certification. Anyone interested in knowing the ITIL® framework can  apply to take the exam and they can either take courses or self study to prepare for the exam. Candidate wishing to earn the ITIL® Intermediate or above levels should pass the Foundation Certification first.

(Read my ITIL® Foundation Exam prep tips here with my study notes and resources available for free.)

ITIL® Practitioner Certification

The ITIL® Practitioner certification is the next step after ITIL® Foundation. However, it is not a pre-requisite for the ITIL® Intermediate Level Certification. It covers the Continual Service Improvement as the way to structure any improvement initiatives. Aspirants can choose to whether sit for the ITIL® Practitioner Certification or go directly to the ITIL® Intermediate Level Certification.

ITIL® Intermediate Level Certification

There are two streams for the ITIL® Intermediate Certification, namely the Lifecycle Stream and the Capability Stream. Candidates passing any one of the modules will be awarded the ITIL® Intermediate Certification in that

The Lifecycle Stream consists of 5 modules, each carrying 3 credits*, these will cover the stages in the ITIL® lifecycle:

  • Service Strategy (SS)
  • Service Design (SD)
  • Service Transition (ST)
  • Service Operation (SO)
  • Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

The Capability Stream consists of 4 modules, each carrying 4 credits*, these are the more specialized studies in one or more processes of the ITIL® practices:

  • Planning, protection and optimizing (PPO)
  • Service offerings and agreement (SOA)
  • Release, control and validation (RCV)
  • Operational support and analysis (OSA)

* credit units are accumulated to earn the ITIL® Expert Certification

All the subjects for the ITIL® Intermediate Level Certification are close book tests to be taken online or in paper. There are 8 scenario based questions to be answered in 1.5 hour. Marks are awarded according to the choices, with 5 marks for correct answers, 3 marks second bests and 1 mark third best answers. The passing mark is 70% (a minimum of 28 marks out of 40 marks).

Candidates sitting for the ITIL® Intermediate Certification would need to have completed an accredited training in ITIL®.

ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle

This is the required module for candidates wishing to achieve the ITIL® Expert Level Certification which carries 5 credits. After candidates have accumulated the required number of credits by taking the ITIL® Intermediate Level Modules (15 credits) plus the 2 credit of the Foundation Level, they need to study and pass the ITIL® Managing Across Lifecycle to have more training in application and integration of ITIL® knowledge.

ITIL® Expert

After fulfilling the 22 credit requirements^ (including the 5 credits earned by passing the ITIL® Managing Across the Lifecycle module), candidates will be awarded the ITIL® Expert Certificate. ITIL® Expert Certification recognizes holders with a balanced knowledge base across all ITIL® processes and lifecycle. They have demonstrated the skills and knowledge in applying ITIL® framework to IT Service Management in entirety.

ITIL® Expert Certification holders will also be eligible to further pursue the ITIL® Master qualification (though the details are yet to be announced).

^ recognition of credits from comparable qualifications is available

Begin Your ITIL® v3 Certification Journey

The first step to earning ITIL® v3 Certification is studying and passing the ITIL® v3 Foundation exam (the exam is indeed quite easy and most Aspirants will be able to pass the exam in first try!). It normally takes around 1 month or less to get certified for the Foundation Certificate.

Understand the ITIL® v3 Foundation Examination and plan you study now!


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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1 Response

  1. John Sarivougioukas says:

    Hi Edward,

    do you have any past exam samples?

    Thanks, in adavnace,