I have personally attended an ITIL Version 3 training course and I feel about the EXAM...

Very satisfied
50% (155 votes)
8% (25 votes)
No opinion
10% (32 votes)
14% (42 votes)
Very dissatisfied
18% (56 votes)
Total votes: 310


Feelings about ITIL V3 Exam

The course teaches to the exam, that is, it is 75% strategy and 25% (that's being generous) with the rest. The strategy questions are uneven and rely on students knowing ITIL V2 and the relationships between competencies and life cycle. 3 of the questions were way out in left field.

Exam matches the course, not the requirement.

I think that in the main the exam is in line with the training materials, the odd bizarre question notwithstanding. My ‘disappointment’ ranking is more to do with the value of the exam - in terms of what it demonstrates as a level of competency and its usefulness to the student.
With V2, having the Foundation would indicate to an employer that you have a reasonable grasp of the basics, enough to recognise and follow processes, if not design or create them. For most staff, V2 Foundation was enough to help them understand their environment and their job a bit better. Just a starting point I know, but something fairly concrete.
With V3 Im not sure what it tells us – should we expect someone to be competent using any of the processes ? To be a better service desk analyst or change manager or capacity manager ? I don’t think it does that as the scope is too broad and too shallow. The exam tells us someone had a reasonable grasp of the course material ie a very high-level awareness, it doesnt indicate a capability or arm the student with practical help. Despite its many shortcomings, I think the demand for V2 training will continue until the V3 syllabus is revised to be more relevant and useful.

Does simple math expose ITIL v3 Foundation exam flaws?

The ITIL V3 Foundation examination is not a strong endictment of a professional's grasp of anything, except the peculiarly designed ITIL exam. As I have long-blogged, how can you test an individual's basic grasp (their understanding - if we are truly using Blooms taxonomy here), of 380+ figures, 130+ tables and 2000 pages with 40 questions? Simple math and a vanilla application of Blooms gives us an interestingly bigger number.

I'll use a basic formula and bow to any better: Number of subject areas x importance factor x Blooms taxonomy factor to verify type of knowledge required (lets assume for Foundation its # areas x 1.0 x 3 questions.

Lets exclude the items in the appendices for now and focus on the main v3 content, for many that may be the humble 'process'.

We have 5 books + @25 processes + 5 floating topics = 35 'subject areas'. Multiplied by an even importance factor = 35 multiplied by a Blooms factor of 3 (3 questions per area, goal, key concept or two) = 105 questions and a few control or test questions thrown in for good measure to ensure there is a quality management element - giving us around 120 questions.

I am keen to understand what thinking or math was used to leave the current exam at 40 questions, especially when even the Refresh folks admit up to 50% new content...! We have heard 'unofficially' that during this period exams have been subject to 'moderation' - thats laudible but what logic is being used?

Who performed the moderation - the examiner panel? If so, this is akin to the change submitter testing their own change! Did they identify rogue questions? What adjustments were made and why? Does it affect the syllabus, if not then how were questions written that were out of line with the syllabus? Has moderation ended? Were the 'refreshed' exams subject to further moderation? What quality of exam do we have right now?

Where is the transparency we are led to believe we are due as members of the itSMF - the primary marketing channel? What I can say here is that our representatives - the CSME (US) and ISEB have been brilliant in trying to represent our concerns. Yes, a 'major review' is scheduled for Q1 2008, meanwhile we continue to operate at the 'sharp end of the ITIL spear', putting our individual reputations on the line. Simple questions:

  • What happens in 2008, a quiet withdrawal of exam papers/questions and a new round of 'crash tests'?
  • What if its actually admitted there were mistakes made - what credibility then for the credential?
  • Will v2 Foundation get another lease of life as the real 'Foundation', with the v3 Foundation having to morph into some intermediary credential as part of diploma frequent flyer club scheme?
  • What compensation if any will be offered to the 20-40% who may have failed the exam in the interim?

Anyway, back to the basic math. Not enough exam questions leaves us trainers in an inwinnable position of guessing where the exam emphasis will be - and a temptation of returning to the suspect habit of v2 - coaching to the exam - definitely NOT in the best interests of the student unless the certificate is all we are focused on.

If that were not enough, the strange taste possibly being left in candidate mouths right now severely impacts follow-on business in the form of lost consulting, training and book upsell opportunity.

If the recent itSMF USA Conference chatter was anything to go by - we are not alone in our concern for this examination... trouble is - to be forthright directly affects our own business - ouch - conflict of interest anyone - or are we to claim 'caveat emptor" (buyer beware) once again!

Will the goalposts ever stop moving????

Further to Ian's comments above - here is the latest from APMG as regards the V3 Foundation
ITIL v3 Foundation Syllabus

"At the Qualification Board meeting on 8th October 2007 the Board considered a concern raised by
several Accredited Training Organisations (ATOs) that, in their opinion, there is too much
emphasis on Service Strategy and Continual Service Improvement (CSI) in the Foundation
A full review of the Foundation Syllabus is scheduled for the first quarter of 2008. However in light of the issues that have been raised the Chief Examiner has been asked to review these two
areas of the syllabus and provide more detailed advice on specific topics that should be covered
in Service Strategy and CSI at Foundation level. This advice is intended to enable ATOs to
reduce the amount of coverage and time they spend dealing with these issues on the course and,
clearly, examination papers will be adjusted accordingly.
This work is being given priority, but due to other commitments it is unlikely to be completed
within the next two weeks. As soon as advice is available, ATOs will be notified together with a
date from when the Foundation Exams will reflect the proposed change."

And about the Manager's Bridge

"At the ITIL Qualifications Board meeting on Monday 8th October 2007 the Board considered a
report from the Chief Examiner regarding the first two papers to be used by Accredited Training
Organisations (ATOs) for their trainers to take.
The papers had been piloted by two members of the Examination Panel and they believe that the
papers were not balanced across the whole syllabus. Consequently the Board took the decision
to delay the issue of these papers.
The Managers’ Bridge Examination papers are being reworked and will be available for ATOs to
use on their internal course to bring trainers up to speed from 1st November 2007.
This will also delay the availability of papers to the wider community as it is important that ATOs have the opportunity to review material and ensure that trainers delivering the Managers’ Bridge course are fully conversant with the syllabus and have taken and passed the exam. Bearing in mind the proximity of Christmas, the Board consider it will be prudent to delay the date when the Managers’ Bridge is available to the wider community until January 2008.
The Board regret the delay but feel it is the right decision as it will provide time for both the Training Companies to fine tune their material and fully prepare their trainers and the Examination Panel to receive feedback from ATOs on the exam and if necessary make revisions prior to the wider launch."

So - we have spent time developing materials, which will now need to be amended. Meanwhile, the un-"adjusted" papers are still being used. As for the Managers bridge - myself and another trainer looked at the mock exam (we are experienced trainers, consultants, V2 Distinction-level) we did not feel that we had much of a chance at getting the 80% required, mostly because the questions were so unclear. Yet we have to have it in order to teach it. Now we cannot study for the exam, as it is about to change again! As for the delay - it has caused training companies to scrap scheduled courses. Perhaps APMG they should have tried using their own Project Management methods!
Every time I think I understand what I need to do as regards exams, course materials etc. it all changes!

Liz Gallacher
Freelance Trainer and Consultant


A link is here


and here is the link to Sharon's presentation to itsmf US


V2 as Foundations, V3 as Management

Maybe, if possible, and only when everyone agrees, as a suggestion, why don't we keep V2 as the foundation layer since it talks about all the good stuff that V3 expands on, and use V3 as the management layer? I normally used to provide V2 foundation training based on V3 concepts, for that's how I saw V2 making sense... But of course, I might be wrong and in that case, do whatever is best for your customers and your revenue margins.

Use the Intro to ITIL Lifecycle book as the V3 Foundation Syllab

Simple... as we have suggested on a number of occasions through formal channels - use the new Introduction to the ITIL Service Lifecycle book as the singular reference for the ITIL v3 Foundation syllabus! Its perfect. A good book, plenty of material for 3 days, and the exam can stay at 40 questions. No effect on previously successful candidates, and a remedial program for those who have failed the current exam.

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