Taking the CSI Intermediate ITIL Exam: Take 1

Alright, got the disappointment off my chest.  Now to give you more beneficial feedback on taking the ITIL v3 Continual Service Improvement Exam.

Cold, rainy Seattle morning.  Time was set to take the CSI Exam at the local community college.  Don’t think I spent enough time preparing.  At least not like I prepared for the other exams.  Overconfidence – maybe.  Hell, I have already banged out 3 other ITIL Intermediate exams over the course of the last 3 weeks – how hard could it be?  Harder than I thought.

Continual Service Improvement intertwines with all the other core publications of ITIL.  It is the quality and betterment that drives the entire IT service lifecycle.  Although the shortest core publication; it is the farthest reaching.  Mainly due to the fact that it extends even beyond the core publication and the foundational knowledge found within the other core books.

I found this exam to pull from outside best practices and references more than the other exams.  CMMI, COBIT, ISO standards, Quality Management, PRINCE2 and other project management practices, etc seemed to seep in this exam.  They don’t inform you that you must be proficient in these other knowledge areas, but it definitely helps.

Many of the questions seemed to seek your ‘next best action’ or ‘best course of action’ or ‘where do you start’.  Subjectivity is nothing new to these exams.  It is only ‘best practices’ after all.  And it is whatever best practices or mode of action the authors of the exam feel it is best.  Granted, there is a lot of supporting evidence -primarily what is written in the official manuals – but everyone’s experiences and perspectives are different.  So take this as caution when you take the exam.  Understand what you think they want you to do.  Not necessarily what may be the case in your niche workplace.  They are looking for application to the scenario at hand.

My final word of advice would be to take this exam last, if you are pursuing the certifications on the Lifecycle Module path.  If you are mixing and matching between modules, just skip it

This post was originally entered on my previous blog.

36 thoughts on “Taking the CSI Intermediate ITIL Exam: Take 1

  1. I wish I has seen this before I enrolled for the course. After scoring over 90 in three intermediate exams I thought I would at least pass CSI. I flunked! I am retaking next week. While I have been preparing for it I still am not sure how to ensure I pass.
    Appreciate any suggestions/ advice you may have. Thanks.

    1. Glad I was not the only one! It was definitely the most difficult of the 5 intermediate exams. It should not be. It should be straight forward; especially for people who work on quality improvements, etc.
      Let me know how you do. I am really curious on how others do. Thanks!

  2. Another one here. I also passed SS, SD, ST and SO for around 90%. This one I failed.

    Currently strugling with how to prepare for my next try…

  3. Took this exam in the UK a few weeks back – also failed. Had done SS, SD, & ST without problems.

    I don’t care how ITIL-proficient the individuals setting the exam were – as far as I am concerned it was ultimately the exam’s fault (not mine) that I failed.

    You get 8 questions – where if you randomly selected the answers you would get 2×0, 2×1, 2×3 & 2×5 = 18/40.

    I spent 90 mins carefully understanding the questions and applying my ITIL knoweledge and only got 26… Something’s rotten there as the material is simple and there’s not masses of it.

    I think the degree to which they keep the exam papers in lock-down speaks volumes.

    1. Something is awfully screwy with the CSI exam. With luck they (APMG or other exam writing groups) are improving their authoring of the exam. I think I will reach out to a few and offer my assistance in editing/improving the exam. Otherwise, no one will attempt to sit for the CSI exam if there is consensus that it is flawed. Especially as you stated, there is not much material to cover.

  4. Failed as well: 22… At least I failed good 😉
    The answers.. I just didn’t get most of them. Like, one word difference in the answers. I basically got the question OR completely wrong OR completely right, nothing in between. I have NEVER chosen the distractor before… and always mae at least a 75% score.

    Well, now I have to figure out how I can resit..

  5. I agree! I couldn’t have been better prepared before the exam. Knew all the material and have over 30 years in IT. The 30 years spread across successful global rollouts of complex applications, positions in most of the roles defined in ITSM at one time or another (including CSI) and still I failed this exam. I don’t think the exam tests one’s knowledge or analytical skills at all. It just tests how good one is at spotting the distractor and all the Tom Trickery of the authors. How the hell it certifies anybody to the job in hand I will never understand. Studying right now for a re-sit but it will still be luck not judgement if I pass. There my anger has now been vented!

  6. I have just taken the CSI exam resit as I failed the first time. I have passed many others but have found this the worst. I’m praying that i’ve passed it this time as there is no way i want to do another resit!

  7. I just took the CSI exam and failed. I spent more time studying for this exam than any other and received my lowest score ever. (previously passed SS, SD, ST and SO) My instructor mentioned that CSI use to be the easiest so it was revised to make it one of the hardest. APMG should performance a full assessment of this exam.

  8. After reading all these comments of failures particularly in CSI exam, I have started believing there’s surely something wrong with this exam as I failed it too after scoring 26 last week, while I managed to pass all others easily though SS at margin only. Is it possible that they intentionally make it tough?

  9. Missed it by 1 point, after passing 4 other intermediates so far. Toughest exam ever. Deeply complex scenarios, questions that are “what should you do” or “best for this scenario”, and answers that are so close (right or wrong) it is literally word by word analysis judging how you think the author is attempting to trick you into selecting the wrong answer. I’m a manager of large Global ITSM team for a Fortune 500 company, and have been in this space for 10+ years and live and breathe this stuff every day! I failed! One of my junior employees on my team passed it, obviously better than me at word by word analysis and picking up at author trickery. Retaking the exam tomorrow via ProctorU, we’ll see how that goes.

  10. I took the exam last month and score 26 – 68% …. I’m studying a lot for my next exam on december 22. But I’m a really concerned as I didnt pass on the first test. Does anyone have more sample questions than the 2 provided by Axelos?

  11. Took the CSI exam yesterday and passed with 32 of 40. It was my first intermediate ITIL exam. My tip is to read the case carefully before answering, and starting exclude all wrong statement before choosing the appearant right answer. After reading your experience with the other exams I want to take these courses as well.

    1. Congratulations, John! Quite the first intermediate exam to start with. Your strategy of removing the wrong answer before selecting the right answer is a good strategy. And it seemed to work 🙂

  12. Just passed today SO. I already passe SS, SD and ST. Tomorrow I’ll start to study CSI. I’m a little bit scared after reading your comments. I’ll let you know!

  13. I took the CSI exam yesterday. I failed. I am super bummed, and I didn’t study as hard as I should’ve. I will be re-taking the exam for redemption. I have to focus on the 7-step process. CSI Principals, and Implementing CSI more.

  14. Got up early morning here in Germany.I took my Exam today for CSI and failed. Got 26/40. The previous two Exams SS and SO I passed at first attempt.

    1. Birbhanu, what do you think was different about your experience with the CSI exam compared to SS and SO? I captured some of my thoughts in this blog for when I took all those exams years ago; I am curious as to whether the exams have changed any since then. Thanks again for sharing!

      1. Hi Nealrowland, I passed my CSI exam today with 31 score. CSI indeed is tougher than other ITIL papers. I think one should be clear with the role of CSI, PDCA, Seven steps improvement process, Risks and Challenges, Value vs ROI, CSI in conjuction with other Life Cycles. It is very important to read the scenario again and again and then go to answers. I tried this and passed after first unsuccessful attempt. Now look forward to Service Transition.

  15. So i just finished training for CSI, but haven’t scheduled my exam yet. This is my last intermediate exam (taken them in order) and have passed all of them on the first go. I have to say, i don’t like the content for the CSI curriculum nor was I particularly happy with the sample tests provided. I failed both of the sample tests, imo due to large amount of subjectivity in the questions and answers. I going to spend a lot more time preparing for this test than I normally would based on your guys’ feedback. Fortunately my provider has a ‘pass guarantee’ so I can keep taking the class and the test until I pass.

  16. I took my ITIL CSI today and failed. I studied, made flash cards, new my theories and passed a practice exam. I wish I could get my hands on more practice tests. I dont know how to prepare for a retake.

  17. Hi, Where did you attend the training courses? What books or materials you used to prepare for the exam? Kindly share your ideas.

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