Test Taking Tips for the ITIL Intermediate Exam

The ITIL Intermediate Certifications are highly sought after by employers and require attendance at an accredited class as well as a passing score on an extremely difficult exam. The exams consist of 8 multiple-choice questions. Each question is based on a scenario that can be a page or more in length. The scenarios are amazingly similar to real-world experiences often encountered in the world of service management consulting.

Each question is graded on a gradient scale — that is, each question has a “most correct” answer, which is worth 5 points. The second best answer is worth 3 points, the third best worth 1 point, and finally a distractor is worth 0 points. To pass the exam, the successful candidate must achieve a score of 28 or more points on the exam. The intermediate exams are an excellent indicator of the examinee’s depth of knowledge in specific areas.

No one wants to attend a very challenging class only to fail the very challenging exam at the end of it. There are several things to consider that can contribute to your success when approaching the ITIL Intermediate exams.

Consider points ITIL tends to emphasize

ITIL places heavy emphasis on a few items that show up in every process area. These are:

  • Measurements and Metrics
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Risks, Challenges, and Benefits
  • Interactions with other processes

Because these topics tend to receive heavy focus, they make excellent topics for exam questions.

Remember the ABC’s

A while back I posted to this blog about the ABC’s of ITIL. When I took the v3 intermediate exams I noticed something relevant. The best answers tended to:

  • Provide the best examples of Accountability
  • Draw the most effective Boundaries
  • Were most Consistent with the best practice

This specific approach is highly subjective, but it tended to work well for me, and I’ve had a couple of students indicate that it worked for them as well.

Identify Your Role in the Scenario

This is very important. Often the scenarios on the intermediate exams will clearly identify your role. Your role might affect which answer is most correct. For example, if you’re told in the exam that you’re a service management consultant, this will generally mean that your response will be more focused on recommendations, whereas if you’re told you hold a role such as change manager, your response to the question is more likely to involve specific actions that a change manager might take.

Use a True/False Approach

When reading the answer choices, one technique that works is read each sentence independently and then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this statement consistent with the scenario?
  • Is this statement consistent with the best practice?

If the answer to both of these questions is true, then mark a “T” on your exam paper to the side of that answer choice. If you’re unsure, or if your answer to these questions is inconclusive, then mark a “-” on your exam paper to the side of that answer choice. If the answer to both questions is false, then make a “F” on your exam paper to the side of that answer choice.

Then, when you’ve done this for every answer choice, count the number of “T’s” you marked on each answer choice. If you did this correctly, then you’ll find that the 3 and 5 point answers tend to have more true statements. You’ll also usually be able to clearly identify the 0 point answer as it will have the most false statements.

The ITIL Intermediate exams are tough but not impossible. When you pass one you should be proud of it because you’re becoming a member of an elite group that demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the best practices. In addition to paying close attention during class and reading the appropriate ITIL core book, the four tips discussed in this blog post can help you achieve a passing score on these exams.

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