Tips for Writing and Passing the ITIL Foundation Exam

Tips for Passing the ITIL Foundation Exam

Hello, my name is Edward and I passed the ITIL® Foundation Exam with 95% in first attempt.

This post is my first-hand tips on how to pass the exam. If you are just at the very beginning of considering whether to get ITIL® Foundation certified, I have documented my exam preparation and my experience of passing the exam here.

Hope my sharing would be useful for Aspirants.

ITIL® Foundation Exam Taking Tips

Admittedly the ITIL® Foundation Exam is not that difficult. With proper study and revision, Aspirants will usually be able to pass the exam the first time.

Nevertheless, just like any activities in life, there are tips and techniques that can help accelerate the study and increase the chance of passing the exam (though you still have to study really hard for the exam). Here are my 2 cents:

  • Think you are working in an organization named “ITIL®”
    • Just like any other professional exams, while writing the ITIL® Foundation Certification Exam, you must not base on your everyday experiences practising ITIL® in your organization because there are lots of adaptations and variations from those practices outlined in the ITIL® books which are perfectly okay in real-world practice but no so in the exam (For those who are PMP certified, that just what’s called the “PMI-ism”.)
    • In the organization “ITIL®”, every process, functions, tools and roles are followed strictly according to the ITIL® best practices, without exceptions.
    • “When in the ITIL® Foundation Exam, do as what ITIL® would do.”
  • Relax, relax, relax
    • Don’t panic, many exam takers have expressed that the exam is not too difficult. Some Aspirants even can pass the Foundation Exam the first try with 2 to 3 days’ study and preparation.
    • However, many studies have suggested that if one is under extreme pressure or stress, the performance will deteriorate significantly. Too much stress would render the chance of passing the exam a hit or miss.
    • It is always a good idea to sleep well the night before the exam by not spending the whole day studying. Try doing something that delights you, be it video gaming, reading, talking with friends or dining with family.
    • Before and during the exam, practise deep breathing
  • Make best use of mock exams
    • There is one mock exam (termed as “Sample Paper”) provided on the website of the official ITIL® Certification website. According to my own and many other Aspirants’ experience, the difficulty of the sample paper is on par with the real exam paper.
    • I would suggest you to make use of the sample paper to assess if you are ready for the exam after you have thoroughly studied for the exam since it is a good indication of whether you are ready for the real exam.
    • You may find the mock exam sample paper here.
    • There are also tons of so called free sample exam papers to be found online but the quality is questionable — beware many of these are based on the ITIL® v3 version, not the current ITIV v3 Foundation 2011 version.
    • If you need to find quality ITIL® sample papers, you may purchase an ITIL® Foundation Exam prep guide which includes more ITIL® Foundation sample papers or an online ITIL® Foundation course which allows you even to take the sample paper in a simulated test environment so that you can familiarize yourself with the actual exam environment.
  • Read the exam questions carefully — word by word
    • Be assured that the exam is not especially tricky, but it is always a good idea to read the questions carefully word by word in order not to miss any questions out of carelessness.
    • This is especially applicable for those Aspirants taking the exam on the computer as they are not allowed to highlight or circle any keywords in the questions.
    • This exam tip echoes tip 1 — don’t think in your own way as you may see some “imaginary” words while skimming the questions that would lead to a totally wrong answer.
    • According to experiences, the single most important word in the questions in “NOT” as in the question “which one is NOT correct”, etc. Beware!
    • Since the 1 hour exam time is more than enough for answering the 40 multiple choice questions, you are highly advised to re-read the questions and answers all over again (and again if time allows) in order to spot any careless mistakes!
  • Make the best use of time with online courses and taking the ITIL® Exam online
    • In case if you don’t know, the ITIL® Foundation Exam can be taken online through a proctored environment. It is just like taking the exam inside an exam centre, the only exception is you can choose where to sit your exam. An exam proctor will take hold of your computer and guide you through your exam process.
    • In addition, there are many online ITIL® Foundation training courses available on the market. One can gain access to the course videos and learning materials immediately after purchase — without having to wait for the start of classroom lectures. Think of the saving in terms of transit time and waiting time.
    • Some Aspirants have reported that they can begin their studies and get certified over the weekend with online training and exam. Normally, online courses for the ITIL® Foundation level can be completed with 20-30 hours of studies. And it is highly advisable to choose only “accredited” course as the quality and correctness of the content can be guaranteed.

These are the most important tips I have learned from my ITIL® Foundation Certification preparation and exam taking experiences. Hope Aspirants can make use of these tips in their exam preparation to help them save a little time and headache.

Wish you ITIL® success!


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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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9 Responses

  1. Neal says:

    Hi Edward, I have signed up with Grey Campus for ITIL and I am using your notes to highlight the key points. Do you think reviewing your notes will be enough? I feel there is ALOT to remember for the ITIL exam. Also under Service Transition, is Service Validation and Testing, and Evaluation not on the exam?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Neal,

      I would say it is almost enough 😛 as the passing score of the ITIL Foundation Exam is not that high.

      Yes, some more involved topics in IT Service Management is not included / mentioned in the ITIL Foundation Exam syllabus.

      Wish you ITIL success!

  2. Andrea says:

    Hi Edward,

    I’m also a working professional pursuing career advancements through Certifications. I passed my PMP a couple of months ago and I’m not studying to for AWS Solutions Architect Associate. I’ve developed a 12 week plan to study. After I pass that, I want to go for ITIL next. My question is, what was harder? PMP exam or ITIL?

    • Edward Chung says:

      Hi Andrea,

      A late congratulation of your PMP Certification. Rest assured that the ITIL Foundation exam is much much easier than the PMP Exam. One will only need to take around 2 weeks or so to pass it.

      Wish you ITIL success!

  3. SAkina says:

    Hi, Edward. I would like to say You greating Thanks for this full of information sourse.
    Iwas at th beginig of my ITL journey, and I was in douptts, needed advice, was searching a lot. Thus, I d found this website, I wrot You took invaliable advice- You said me that it is possible to pass ITIL foundation by using Helen & Liz`s book + Yoyr notes..
    Yesterday I did it) 3 weeks I allowed for non-stop preraration and earned 80%.
    Thank You, Edward..

    Now it is important for me, to go gorward..
    Would YOu, please, inform me, how can I become to ITIL internadiate? I am interested in OSA..What should I do? Should I buy book, which book? Is it possible to prepare by own self? is there any exam samples?

    Best Regards,

    • Edward Chung says:

      Congratulations on passing the ITIL Foundation Exam with great scores! And thanks a lot for your compliments. I take great pleasure in being able to offer assistance to fellow ITIL aspirants!

      Sorry that I don’t have any experiences in ITIL intermediate. I took the Foundation Exam as my way for developing professional knowledge. However, as my organization does not practice ITIL, I have decided not to pursue ITIL intermediate for the being.

      Wish you ITIL intermediate success!