Advice on Taking ITIL Intermediate Exams

Now having cleared all 5 ITIL® v. 3 Intermediate Exams on the Lifecycle Module path, I wish to share some of my suggestions on clearing them.

One suggestion I mentioned in an earlier blog post was to look to eliminate 1 answer choice off the top. There is one answer that serves as a distractor. Often, it sticks out. Find it. Get rid of it. The distractor may have it’s own direction or something the others don’t.

What I mean by “it’s own direction”, is for example: 3 answers may have a “negative” or all “positive” response. Say, “inform the CIO the suggestion cannot (can) work at the present time…”. Whereas, 1 answer has the opposite approach. That makes it stick out. That is the one you must remove. Granted, there are not many blatant examples such as this, nonetheless there are a few from time to time.

Frequently, the distractor has its own errors. Maybe terms/definitions wrong, off topic, repeats irrelevant material from scenario, or something you can -or should – spot as erroneous.

The other suggestion I have for you: READ THE QUESTION FIRST! It took me a few exams before I started doing this, and I wish someone told me to do this from the start. The scenarios are long. They have lots of information. Potentially, more information than you need. How do you know what is important and what is not? Exactly. You don’t. Unless you read the question first.

Some scenarios are written to be used multiple times for various questions. Each question seeks out different learning objectives from the same scenario. Worrying your little head about all the fine details unnecessarily clouds your mind. This is a timed exam. No reason to waste your time.

Scroll down to the question first. Don’t even start reading the scenario – you may not stop. Read the question – usually a line to a paragraph in length. Then read the entire scenario! Now you have a frame of reference. You know what they are seeking from you. You know which data points are important. You know what to look for.

Before, I would read a scenario slowly. Taking detailed notes. Making certain I had all the information comprehended. Only to read the question and discover some of the information was totally irrelevant. Sometimes all the scenario information was absolutely important. But a few times, I had to demonstrate in the answer is comprehension of a concept. Essentially able to answer without reading the story at all. The story helped put the question in perspective and give it “meat”. But not that crucial to answering the question. If you don’t read the question first, you do not know if the story and all its details are absolutely important, certain parts important, or very little of it.

That is my recommendation. Try it out on your practice exams first. It takes some behavioral change; but an easy one to make. It pays off in your ability to answer the exam questions and the time management. My later ITIL Intermediate exams I was finishing with 20 -30 minutes remaining. Earlier Intermediate exams I was taking them down to the wire.

I shall post more suggestions. More are being included in my ITIL v3 training courses and study book materials. Alas, I do not mind sharing some of my experiences for free.

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.