Tips for Passing ITIL Intermediate Exams

Posted by Brian Flora on Sep 27, 2017 3:54:56 PM

In ITIL, ITSM, ITIL Intermediates

The ITIL Intermediate exams (and the capstone Managing Across the Lifecycle, MALC, exam) feature an unusual format that can be tricky to manage at first. While the exams are multiple choice, each features only eight questions. The candidate is allocated 90 minutes to complete the exam, so clearly these are not the same type of multiple-choice questions you’ve seen on other exams.

The questions are scenario based, meaning the exam will include what amounts to a series of “mini case studies”, each about ½ to ¾ page in length. Most of the time there is one question for each scenario, but sometimes a single scenario may be used for two questions. The scenario typically lays out a service management problem, often with business impacting implications. The associated question(s) will then require the candidate to use the ITIL best practice to identify the BEST solution or course of action for the given situation.

The questions are “gradient scored”. This means that the BEST answer is worth five points, the second best answer is worth three points, and the third best answer is worth only one point. Finally, there is a “distractor” answer, which is worth zero points. In order to pass the exam, the candidate must earn a total of 28/40, or 70%. With 8 questions, that means an average of 3.5 points per question.

The single most important thing with all of the ITIL Intermediate exams is to identify and eliminate the “distractor” answer from the options presented. The distractor answer is worth ZERO points, and these points are difficult to make up elsewhere.

Here are a few other tips that we give students in our ITIL Training Courses:

  • Each scenario will generally give you a specific business problem that needs to be addressed. I always advise students to identify that problem or challenge and highlight or underline it first. Any answer which does not DIRECTLY address that issue will likely be the distractor.
  • When looking at the scenario, try to evaluate the root of the problem. Is the performance of the application slow, or is it a matter of managing customer perception and expectations? Is the software unreliable, or is it that an inadequate process has resulted in a number of failed changes and releases? If the root cause isn’t clear in the scenario, the right solution will address the need to identify it before taking action based on potentially flawed assumptions.
  • The scenario will often place the reader in a specific role (i.e. “you are the new Service Level Manager…”, “You are the CIO…”, “You are a consultant…”, etc.). Take a moment and place yourself in that role before reading the rest of the scenario. How does the situation described impact you in that role? Own the role, and own whatever perspective that role requires.
  • In keeping with the above, think about who your stakeholders are. A complete answer will treat all of the stakeholders appropriately.
  • Answers which prescribe technology (tool) solutions to process problems are unlikely to be the best answer. Fix the people and process issues first, then use tools to support it.

Of course, none of these techniques is a substitute for familiarity with the source material. Success on the ITIL Intermediate exams will require expert level process knowledge, as well as an understanding of how the scoped processes work together to support IT Service Management. Combine that with the test taking tips above, and you’ll pass the first time!

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