ITIL Foundation certification process – Overview

Over the past month I took an online course (it was a little over 25 hours of online presentations,) studied for about a week, then took an online proctored exam and got a 95% passing grade. You need 26 of 40 correct to pass. It’s pass / fail and once you have the certification it doesn’t need maintenance and it doesn’t expire. If you’ve worked or partnered with IT or if you’ve ever even worked with a service desk as a customer you may understand a lot of it and just need brushing up on terminology.

Thought Rock seems to have the best deal with an online tutorial and exam for ITIL Foundation certification. At the time of this writing it was $250 for an online course and it included the cost to take the exam. Here’s the link:

Some things came up during the time I had planned to study and I wound up getting an extension in order to finish the course material. The extension was $50, I had to email support to get it (so you don’t want to wait until the last minute for that) and they sent me an invoice that I paid via PayPal. The extension was for 30 days.

Even with the cost of the extension this package seemed like pretty good ROI for professional certifications.

ITIL Foundation certification process – Coursework and study process

The presentation tool did seem outdated as others have said but the material doesn’t seem to have changed substantively since the course was developed so it was still great preparation for the exam. Going through the material took a while because it’s basically like watching videos. You can probably figure out how to skim but I didn’t do that. Here are the steps I took for studying:

Step 1: Watched the entire 25+ hour course once to get the overview. For notes, I typed verbatim into my Notes app what was being said and the visual notes displayed in the presentation while I was going through the course. I didn’t look at them again, transcribing is just an exercise I do that helps me to understand and remember things.

Step 2: Downloaded about five apps to my mobile phone with flash cards and quizzed myself when I was eating or traveling for maybe about an hour or two of total study time. If you search the app store or Google Play store for ITIL you can find them. None of them were extremely robust and I didn’t think one was better than the other but I did use them all as one or another might be more suitable to your current study environment or what you want to focus on at a given time. If you prefer a browser based experience there are also Quizlets and such online.

Step 3: Printed out two pages from the curriculum that had process and functions diagrams and reviewed them periodically for helping me remember the different processes and functions. This was maybe 30 minutes total but the repetition and visual diagram is what I find helpful.

Step 4: Talked about what I’m learning to another person. For example giving them an overview of what ITIL is and telling them about some of the things I’m learning in the course. This was also maybe 30 minutes or an hour of time but it’s true that if you want to find out if you understand something try teaching it to someone else.

Step 5: Took a couple of practice tests that were about an hour each and here’s a tip: There are about 4 practice tests on the actual testing platform once you register for scheduling your exam (this is not Thought Rock, this is Axelos, the exam provider.) They are PDFs with separate answer sheets and they are cumbersome to work with. I took only one of them and there were definitely questions directly from those practice tests on the actual exam. So I’d recommend taking all four of those practice tests. There is also an online practice test on Thought Rock that I took as a first pass after the coursework to assess where I was.

ITIL Foundation certification process – The online proctored exam

Some tips for the online proctored exam:

The course is on Thought Rock platform but the online proctored exam is on the Axelos platform. If I had it to do over I’d register for the exam platform earlier, as that gives you access to testing materials like practice exams that have questions that are actually on the real exam, plus set up information about the online proctored exam process. I don’t think you’d have to register your actual exam date at that point. If you do have to register your exam date, I found it easy to reschedule online in the exam platform with no penalty.

The virtual testing environment – The instructions are pretty straightforward but I’d recommend testing your system in advance to get accustomed to how the online proctored exam process works. One of the things that was not clear to me ahead of time was that there is a plug in to download and install so that the proctor can chat with you and take over your desktop to work you through the process of clearing you to take the exam. This involves them checking to see your other applications are closed with nothing on your desktop.¬†Also, you may have to wait for the proctor to show up and in retrospect all of this seems normal but when you’re waiting to take your exam these things can be distracting, especially if you haven’t done an online proctored exam before. This set up time is not included in your test taking time but that also may not be obvious from the interface.

The physical testing environment – I took the exam in a conference room so there wasn’t a lot of visual or other noise for the proctor or me to deal with. The online exam instructions say you need a mirror so the proctor can see what is in front of you while you are taking the exam but I did not need one, they had me do a 360 with the laptop’s webcam to see the room. Maybe you’ll need a mirror if you take the exam in a more visually noisy environment. You do need to show an id, and I showed my New York City driver’s license.

ITIL Foundation certification process – How it complements other certifications, specifically PMP

ITIL is an excellent complement to PMP especially if you work with digital development as I do. For one thing, you can get technical PDUs. At the career level, based on the number of job listings that require ITIL, I understand that ITIL may be more known for processes and operations management and specifically in the area of cost savings for the business. This type of knowledge can be a great enhancement to your abilities as a PMP. However, in the current environment and climate of innovation the place where ITIL can potentially really shine is through bringing a formal strategy and design understanding to the knowledge base you have from the PMP. This informs the skill sets needed for Product Management, Program Management and leadership positions.

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