ITIL 4 Foundation Exam Preparation Tips: What To Expect

July 26, 2019 | Reskill Your Workforce | 9 min read

ITIL® 4 represents a massive paradigm shift in the information technology service management (ITSM) framework. With this latest iteration, the developers of ITIL strive to prepare learners for the new technologies, lifecycles, and agile approaches to service co-creation existing in the workplace.

Skillsoft ITIL 4 Foundation courses offer learners a broad and comprehensive curriculum that will prepare candidates for the ITIL 4 certification examinations. These courses include the core components of the Service Value System and cover subjects such as the ITIL Service Value Chain, ITIL Practices, ITIL Guiding Principles, IT Governance, and Continual Improvement.

Skillsoft’s ITIL 4 Foundation course list:

  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: Introduction
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: Key Concepts of Service Management
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: IT Service Management Dimensions
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: The Service Value System
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: The Service Value Chain
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: The Guiding Principles
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: General Management Practices
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: Service Management Practices (Part 1)
  • ITIL® 4 Foundation: Service Management Practices (Part 2)

Many of you will be familiar with ITIL®3 and perhaps are wondering if it is possible to simply update to the new exam. Given how dramatically the standard has shifted, I would recommend that candidates start fresh and go through all of Skillsoft’s nine new courses, which fully align with AXELOS’ ITIL 4 syllabus and certification exam objectives.

For example, in our new ITIL 4 curriculum, I will cover the new Service Value System and Service Value Chain, which replaces the ITILv3 Service Lifecycle. Also, there are now 34 Practices as opposed to 26, and they are divided into three categories: general management, service management, and technical management. There is also a greater emphasis on governance and automation in the new path.

What Is the ITIL 4 Foundations Exam?

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a popular and widely implemented framework for how the industry views the best practices for IT service management or ITSM. This framework assists those working within IT departments to plan, design, implement, operate, and ultimately improve their company's IT services. Following this framework, IT professionals are able to better deliver efficient and cost-effective IT services. The ITIL 4 exams are designed to test incoming IT professionals on their knowledge of this framework and their ability to implement it.

There are four certifications associated with the ITIL 4 exams. The ITIL 4 Foundation exam, as its name suggests, is the first exam in the series and one that will showcase the applicant's general understanding of ITIL foundations. Those who pass this exam will receive ITIL 4 Foundation certification, which generally serves as an entry-level certificate in the IT service management industry, as those with it have demonstrated that they have a solid general understanding of the tested ITIL 4 principles and terminology.

What Can I Expect While Taking the ITIL 4 Foundation Exam?

The ITIL 4 Foundation exam will test applicants primarily on their understanding of the aforementioned ITIL framework. It is important for applicants to always keep in mind that studying for the exam is just as important as taking the exam.

ITIL Exam Format

You can take the ITIL 4 Foundation exam through an accredited training provider, a specialty examination institute authorized to administer the certification, or, in some select cases, online and from the comfort of your home. If you choose an online exam, know that there is proctoring, and you will be monitored remotely via webcam and with screen sharing throughout the entirety of the exam. This scrutiny is because of the exam's more rigid specifications that are designed to ensure applicants are being thoroughly tested on their understanding of the framework.

The ITIL 4 Foundation exam features 40 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within one hour — with a language exception. Currently, this exam is only offered in English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Japanese, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Applicants for whom any of the above languages are not their native or working language will receive an extra 15 minutes to complete the exam. Of the 40 questions, applicants must accurately answer 26 to pass. This is a closed-book exam, and no aids or study materials are allowed at all when taking it.

What Topics Should Candidates Know For the ITIL 4?

For the best chance of passing the ITIL 4 Foundation exam, applicants should have a deep understanding of the following five big topic areas:

ITIL 4 Examination Topics

ITIL Practices

This area is a large percentage of the exam. So, for example, you will need a good understanding of the Service Desk practice, the different types of changes in Change Management, and the three phases of Problem Management, to name just a few. Overall, there are 34 total practices established by ITIL, and these practices are defined as organizational resources that aid in performing IT service and work, or otherwise aiding in accomplishing an IT goal. These 34 practices are separated into the following three categories:

  • 14 General Management Practices
  • 17 Service Management Practices
  • 3 Technical Management Practices

To pass the ITIL Foundation exam, applicants do not necessarily need to know all 34. Rather, there will be questions pertaining to the following 15 ITIL practices:

  1. Informational Security Management
  2. Relationship Management
  3. Supplier Management
  4. IT Asset Management
  5. Monitoring and Event Management
  6. Release Management
  7. Service Configuration Management
  8. Deployment Management
  9. Continual Improvement
  10. Change Control
  11. Incident Management
  12. Problem Management
  13. Service Request Management
  14. Service Desk
  15. Service Level Management

The Service Value Chain

The Service Value Chain has six key activities that, combined, have been shown to provide companies and their clients with the reliable and effective deployment of IT services. The ITIL 4 Foundation exam will test applicants on the purpose and significance of the Service Value Chain as a whole, as well as test applicants on their ability to identify, describe, and understand how the six activities interact with each other.

The six primary activities within the Service Value Chain are as follows:

  1. Plan
  2. Improve
  3. Engage
  4. Design & Transition
  5. Obtain or Build
  6. Deliver & Support

Key Concepts of Service Management

At the beginning of the training, all learners will discover the relationship between value and various stakeholders, core concepts, relationships, and definitions, such as “utility” and “warranty.”

Central to the ITIL 4 framework are four dimensions of service management. ITIL designers and promoters hold that keeping all four of those dimensions in mind when managing IT services is the best way to deliver and ensure superior service and software solutions.

As with the Service Value Chain, the ITIL 4 Foundation exam will test applicants on their general understanding of the four dimensions and how they relate to each other. Applicants also might see case studies or scenarios presented in the exam with questions asking how the four dimensions may be applied or how they may be applied in tandem with one or more of the above ITIL practices.

The four key concepts or dimensions of service management are as follows:

  1. Organizations & People
  2. Information & Technology
  3. Partners & Suppliers
  4. Value Streams & Processes

The Service Value System and the 7 Guiding Principles

The Service Value System within ITIL 4 can best be described as personnel architecture. This term refers to a map of those elements necessary within an organization for effective IT operations. Applicants can think of the 7 guiding principles as a type of navigational tool for this personnel map, as they are types of values that should play a basis for the decision and actions made by an organization and its IT service members.

The 7 Guiding Principles within ITIL 4 are as follows:

  1. Focus on value
  2. Start where you are
  3. Progress iteratively with feedback
  4. Collaborate and promote visibility
  5. Think and work holistically
  6. Keep it simple and practical
  7. Optimize and automate

Lifecycle and Capability Modules

Intermediate certifications in ITIL 4 will go more in-depth into the lifecycle and capability modules within ITIL, but those taking ITIL 4 Foundation exam will likely see some surface-level questions regarding these modules. For this exam, it's a good idea to know the basic abbreviations and concepts outlined in both the lifecycle and capability modules.

Tips for ITIL 4 Exam Preparation

The ITIL 4 exam can be nerve-wracking. However, adequate preparation can ensure you’re ready on test day. Below are a few essential tips that can help you prepare for your ITIL 4 exam and feel confident when it comes time to answer questions.

Implement ITIL Frameworks Into Your Daily Life

Think of your ITIL certification training preparation as a journey. The best method for preparing for the ITIL 4 Foundation exam is to get a practical understanding of its core concepts, practices, and principles. Look for case studies and examples and test out how you would use ITIL 4 information to solve real-world problems. When not studying, see if you can use ITIL frameworks in your life to develop your tech skills and approach and solve issues, even non-IT ones. This repeated type of thinking and applying ITIL is the best way to get a more thorough understanding that will stick.

Use Mind Maps and Mnemonic Devices

Use mind maps and mnemonic devices to help you remember the longer lists of keywords and phrases. If you are struggling with keeping all of these categories and sub-categories organized in your mind, consider creating diagrams that you can retrace and study to better organize your thoughts. Mnemonic devices can help you better organize and recall information.

Practice Test-Taking Skills

Brush up on your test-taking skills. If you get test anxiety, breathe and remember that taking the ITIL 4 Foundation exam is like taking any other test — and just like any other test, employing test-taking strategies will go a long way to ensure your success.

Good test-taking strategies include eliminating known wrong answers before circling the correct answer, examining the question structure (i.e., "must", "could", and "always" are often keywords that will direct the answer), and circling and moving on from questions that you're struggling with, then going back for a more thorough analysis once you have completed all rest of the test. Often, later questions can inform or jog your memory to help with earlier ones that you might have otherwise been uncertain about.

Manage Your Training with Skillsoft ITIL 4 Foundation Exam Preparation

Skillsoft ITIL 4 Foundation exam preparation training is designed to help all types of learners pass the ITIL 4 Foundation exam. Through our training, you'll learn how to prepare for the ITIL 4 Foundation exam with interactive tools that engage with relevant scenarios and practice questions that accurately mirror what can be expected on the exam itself. Find a live course today or request a demo to see how this training can help your team.