ITIL 4 Foundation exam – tips and insights

I attended an ITIL 4 Foundations upgrade course (classroom style training) and successfully passed the examination. During the course, there were some notable concerns raised by some of the attendees related to the volume of new concepts and what could be assessed in the exam. This blog post aims to simply share my experiences and hopefully help others to become more confident with the exam.


Exam Format:

The ITIL 4 Foundation exam format is no different to ITIL v3 and is the same format if you attend the 2 day Foundation upgrade, full 3 day Foundation course or an online course. No prerequisite is required and the format is:

  • Multiple choice examination questions (4 possible answers provided, only 1 is correct)
  • 40 questions
  • 26 marks required to pass (out of 40 available) - 65%
  • 60 minutes’ duration (if the exam is in a language that is not your native or working language you may be given an extra 25% of time – i.e. 75 minutes)
  • Closed book exam
  • Available as an online or paper-based exam


In the ITIL 4 Foundation exam, the questions are designed to assess you at Bloom’s level 1 (Recall/Define basic facts, terms, concepts) or level 2 (Describe/Explain understanding of facts, terms and concepts).

The ITIL 4 Foundation Syllabus from Axelos provides a summary of the learning outcomes, assessment criteria and concepts that are tested in the exam, including references to these concepts in the official publication. This information provides good insights on where you should be focusing your exam preparation.  For example, almost half of the examination marks could be allocated to showing your understanding of 7 specific ITIL 4 practices (previously known as processes) in detail. From my experience, 6 of these 7 ITIL 4 practices are the most widely adopted in the IT industry. In my opinion, this appears to be a fair distribution of assessment marks balancing popular, known practices with new concepts (that you have just been introduced to in the past 2 or 3 days).

If your training provider has included a case study in the course, it is not mentioned or referenced in the exam.

Here is a list of my handy tips for the exam:


  • I’d recommend sitting the exam immediately after or at the end of the course, while the new concepts are fresh in your memory.
  • Regardless if you attend the course online or in a classroom, reserve some revision time to read the official publication (I’m not confident that course materials from training providers will effectively cover all the detail of the new concepts during the designated course time).
  • Practise, practise, practise with the mock exams from your training provider or from Axelos.
  • I like to read the question fully while also avoiding to read the 4 possible answers. Then I develop my own answer first (in my mind). After reading all 4 answer options, I then select the strongest match to my own answer.
  • If your preferred answer is not there, “Use the force” and go with your first choice.  Otherwise I recommend the most verbose answer especially if it talks to end to end co-creation of value with customers.
  • Never leave a question unanswered as you don’t lose marks for incorrect answers. Every question has 1 and only 1 correct answer.
  • My course provider shared this useful tip: “Options with words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘have to’, ‘only’, etc. which are generally incorrect since ITIL is a framework that provide guidelines without mandatory requirements. Answers with absolute words are likely to incorrect.” 


I hope these tips and insights were helpful and good luck with your exam!

Useful links:
Axelos ITIL Foundation certification page: https://www.axelos.com/certifications/itil-certifications/itil-foundation-level
Axelos ITIL 4 Foundation Syllabus: https://www.axelos.com/getmedia/9abec3eb-c4e0-4b61-90ca-10bab8f87faa/ITIL-4-candidate-syllabus.aspx

Popular posts from this blog

Applying Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to IT Service Management and IT Operations

IT process automation and its impacts on IT service management