Everything you ever wanted to know about ITIL Foundation Certification – answered!

In my day to day work as an ITIL tutor, I see many of the same questions being asked over and over again in forums and discussion groups relating to the ITIL Foundation. In this article I’ve answered questions about fees, certifications, exam types and more.

If there’s a question missing that you’d like me to add, please comment or contact me via the ITSM Zone site.

I hope you find it useful,

Claire Agutter

What is the ITIL Foundation?

To give it its full title, the “ITIL Foundation in IT service management” is the entry level qualification in the ITIL certification scheme. ITIL is a globally adopted set of best practices for IT service management, and ITIL Foundation certification is seen as valuable by recruiters and companies around the world.

Achieving ITIL Foundation certification means that you have an understanding of what ITIL is, where it has come from, key terms and processes, and how it can be used to help an organisation.

Many companies in the public and private sector use ITIL processes to run their IT departments, so they look for ITIL certified staff who can fit in with their existing teams. In 2014 alone, 303,497 people around the world took ITIL exams to help them progress in their careers.  Around the world, more than a million people hold ITIL certifications.

Who is the ITIL Foundation certification for?

The ITIL Foundation certificate is suitable for anyone working in (or wanting to work in) IT service management. You don’t need any prior experience to take the course.

Examples of ITIL candidates include:

  • School leavers wanting to work in IT
  • People wanting to move into IT from another career
  • Technical IT staff who want to move into a more service-oriented role
  • IT staff who use ITIL, but want a certification to validate their knowledge
  • IT staff who are looking for a new role

What is the current/latest version of ITIL?

ITIL has evolved as the IT industry has evolved. Version 3 of ITIL was released in 2007, and then updated again in 2011. So, the latest version of ITIL would be Version 3 or V3 (2011 edition).

However, the owners of ITIL have removed the numbering/naming convention so ITIL is now just known as ‘ITIL’, with no version number.

Who owns ITIL?

ITIL was originally developed and owned by the UK government’s Cabinet Office. In 2014, a new company called AXELOS purchased the ITIL intellectual property and now owns ITIL, alongside other best practices like PRINCE2 and RESILIA.

AXELOS is a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Capita.

Who else is involved?

AXELOS owns and governs the ITIL certification scheme. It publishes the syllabus and creates exam questions.

AXELOS doesn’t sell exams. Instead, it accredits organisations called Examination Institutes (EIs) who sell exams on its behalf. You can see the EIs here: https://www.axelos.com/becoming-an-axelos-partner/examination-institutes

The EIs all offer the same exams based on the AXELOS materials. They differentiate based on price, geography and delivery methods for exams. An ITIL Foundation certificate from one EI isn’t worth more or less than one from another EI – the certification you receive is exactly the same.

The EIs in their turn are responsible for accrediting and managing Accredited Training Organisations (ATOs). ATOs choose an EI to work with, and their EI will check their management processes and course materials meet the minimum requirements.

ATOs pay fees to use the ITIL intellectual property, and should display their accreditation status on their website or marketing material.

Unaccredited training organisations selling training are known as ‘grey’ training providers. From a customer’s perspective, you have no guarantee that the material they are using is correct or meets the syllabus requirements.

How can I prepare for the ITIL Foundation exam?

There are a number of different ways to prepare for your ITIL Foundation exam. The one you choose will depend on your budget, your requirements and your experience.

It’s not mandatory to take a course before you take your ITIL Foundation exam.

Study methods include:

Using free material from the internet: there is a lot of free material around, but a lot of it is out of date and inaccurate, so be careful. Download the ITIL Foundation syllabus and free sample exam from the AXELOS website to make sure you’re on track.

Using a book: there are a number of different books available to help you pass the ITIL Foundation exam. Make sure they are official licensed products to be sure you are getting correct information. Licensed books include:

Taking a training course: you can train online, in a virtual classroom or face to face in a classroom. Choose your training provider carefully and make sure they are accredited. If you’re studying in a classroom, check that your trainer has experience and knowledge to bring the material to life. If you’re studying online, ask for demo access to the course.

How difficult is the ITIL Foundation exam?

The ITIL Foundation exam pass rate is approximately 95% across the world. If you’re prepared, the exam should be fairly simple. Use sample exams to gauge your readiness – you can download one for free from the AXELOS website or get them from your accredited training provider.

Where/how can I take an exam?

ITIL exams are available online (using a remote proctor), in test centres like Prometric and Pearson Vue, and via training providers. You may write your exam online, or on paper in a classroom.

You can take an ITIL exam in any country in the world.

Who can sell me an exam?

You can purchase exams from an accredited training organisation, from an examination institute, or from a test centre.

The ITIL certification scheme rules only allow training organisations to sell exams to candidates who have also taken training from them.

How much does the exam cost?

The exam cost will vary depending on where and how you take it. The cost may be paid separately, or bundled into your course.

Your training organisation or one of the ITIL examination institutes will be able to give you an up to date price. Prices vary by geographical region.

Do I get a paper certificate?

Paper certificates are available, but some examination institutes charge an extra fee for them. If you want a paper certificate in addition to an electronic certificate, check with the organisation that is supplying your exam.

What exam code do I need?

I often see people in forums asking questions about the exam code they need (for example, “do I need the EX0-001/EX0-101/PC001 exam?”). Exam codes are what each examination institute uses to manage their orders, so if you’re not sure, the best option is to contact the examination institute directly. The exam you need is the ITIL Foundation in IT service management, but if you need to check a code it’s best to do it direct rather than via a discussion forum.

What happens if I fail the exam?

Remember, the pass rate for the ITIL Foundation is about 95%  so don’t worry too much!  If you are unlucky enough to fail, you can retake the exam through a test centre or with your training provider.  Retake fees are normally the same price as your original exam fee.

You can retake the exams as many times as you need to, and you retake as soon as you are ready – there is no waiting period.

A top tip for multiple choice exams is to leave your answers alone at the end of the exam.  Many delegates make last minute changes, then wish they hadn’t…

My results didn’t arrive!

If you take an online exam, you will see your provisional result immediately. This will then be verified by your exam institute before being confirmed. You will then be issued with your e-certificate and, where applicable, paper certificate.

If you take a paper exam, your results may take a little longer to be processed.

If your results don’t arrive and you took your exam with a training company, you should contact them first. If you took the exam directly via an exam institute, you should contact their customer service team for support.

How do I prove I passed the exam?

If someone asks you to confirm that you have passed the exam, you can:

  • Show them your e-certificate or paper certificate
  • If you’ve lost your certificate, contact the exam institute to ask them to verify your result or reissue your certificate
  • Direct the person asking to the successful candidate register – please note this can take a few weeks to be updated after an exam

How long is my certification valid for?

The ITIL Foundation certificate doesn’t expire.

What certification should I take after the ITIL Foundation?

After the ITIL Foundation certificate, you can take higher level ITIL certifications or expand your knowledge into other areas of IT service management and project management.

The Course Guides at ITSM Zone offer more information on topics including PRINCE2, OBASHI, DevOps, RESILIA, ISO20000, Business Relationship Management and COBIT.

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