Complete Guide to the ITIL Foundation Exam: What You Need to Know

Taylor Karl
/ Categories: Resources, ITIL
Complete Guide to the ITIL Foundation Exam: What You Need to Know 2906 0

All About The ITIL Foundation Exam

Digital transformation efforts across industries are accelerating as organizations attempt to prepare for the future of business. With more than half of organizations increasing spend on technology faster, IT service management (ITSM) is essential to make good on their investments. As organizations commit to digital transformation efforts, they hire the best technology professionals to lead them to success.

Digitization is excellent news for IT professionals interested and ready to take on new challenges, advance their careers, and earn a higher salary. Completing the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundations certification is an excellent place to start if you're eager to make yourself more competitive. ITIL is a globally recognized framework for delivering IT services to customers that consists of integrated processes and best practices.

The ITIL Foundations certification proves you have a professional-level understanding of how your organization facilitates IT service delivery, including managing all resources and IT employees, such as IT administrators, service providers, vendors, and customers. You must complete and pass the ITIL Foundations exam to earn this certification. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know to pass the exam and kick-start your career in IT Service Management. 

The Importance of the ITIL Foundation Certification

ITIL is the world's most widely adopted approach to IT Service Management. This professional IT credential enhances your understanding of ITSM, including its guiding principles. It helps you understand your organization's overall vision for its IT services and the format of IT services.

Organizations see tremendous value in hiring IT professionals with the ITIL Foundation certification because they can improve service delivery and reduce risk. When a potential employer sees you are certified, they know you have the knowledge and skills to help them reduce IT costs, deploy operational processes, and improve overall customer satisfaction. Overall, the ITIL Foundation certifications increase your credibility in the industry, leading to new opportunities to advance your career.

Exam Structure and Format

Obtaining the ITIL Foundation certification requires an hour-long exam to test your ability to recall the ITIL framework. It has 40 multiple-choice questions (MCQ); you must get at least 26 marks to pass the test. There are no negative points for incorrect responses, allowing you to use your best guess when necessary.

Types of Questions

The ITIL 4 Foundation exam covers the core concepts and terminologies of the ITIL methodology. Passing the exam requires demonstrating your proficiency in the following areas:

The key concepts of service management in ITIL include the Service Value System (SVS), the Four Dimensions Model, the Service Value Chain, Guiding Principles, and ITIL Practices. These concepts provide a comprehensive framework for designing, implementing, and continually improving IT services

Preparation Tips and Strategies

All IT staff, management, and customers who work closely with IT to support business requirements should consider pursuing the ITIL Foundation certification. Preparing for the ITIL Foundation exam requires time, money, and effort. Many study materials are available to help students prepare for the exam. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the ITIL framework and reviewing the official ITIL Foundation study guide. Additionally, most certified professionals take an instructor-led course before scheduling their exams.

As an Axelos Accredited Training Provider, ITIL professionals developed New Horizons ITIL 4 Foundation course. Visit our course page for more information on enrolling. We offer multiple training options, including instructor-led online and on-site group training. Our instructors integrate practice tests and quizzes into every class because they can provide a solid understanding of the exam content.

There are no prerequisites for enrolling in the ITIL 4 Foundation course, but practical experience is always valuable. Before you schedule your exam, we advise completing a practice exam to determine. This will allow you to identify areas of need to focus on before taking the official test.

Additionally, many excellent third-party prep materials are on the market for those who desire more than the standard class offering. However, students of a Foundations course will have all of the required study materials to prepare for the exam and two full "sample papers." We also recommend studying Axelos' ITIL eBook: Future Proof Your Career with ITIL 4 and Axelos' ITIL Job Hunting guide.

ITIL Foundation Sample Questions

Below are sample questions taken directly from a recent version of the ITIL Foundation Exam:

1) What is the effect of increased automation on the 'service desk' practice?

  1. Greater ability to focus on customer experience when personal contact is needed
  2. Decrease in self-service incident logging and resolution
  3. Increased ability to focus on fixing technology instead of supporting people
  4. Elimination of the need to escalate incidents to support teams

2) Which term describes the functionality offered by a service?

  1. Cost
  2. Utility
  3. Warranty
  4. Risk

3) Which is the purpose of the 'monitoring and event management' practice?

  1. To ensure that accurate and reliable information about the configuration of services is available when and where it is needed
  2. To systematically observe services and service components, and record and report selected changes of state
  3. To protect the information needed by the organization to conduct its business
  4. To minimize the negative impact of incidents by restoring normal service operation as quickly as possible

Tips From NH Instructors

We asked our instructors for advice on preparing for and passing the certification exam. Here's what they said:

  • Pace yourself. Know how many questions you have and how much time total. Make sure you are on pace so you do not need to guess at the end, but also make sure you are not going too fast, as this leads to misses, as described previously.
  • Compartmentalize the material. Is the question about the Guiding Principles, the Service Value System, or the Four Dimensions? Students can get these topics jumbled up in their brains. Instructor-led courses are so important because we can help keep students on track.
  • Carefully read the entire question and all answers. When you take practice exams, you will miss questions for which you know the correct answer. Most of the time, you will realize that the root cause of these misses is failure to read carefully.

Registration and Costs

Axelos is the global administrator and provider of resources for numerous certifications and the ITIL Foundation test. Axelos collaborates with accredited organizations such as PeopleCert, which administers the exam. You can visit the PeopleCert website to schedule your exam. An exam fee of about $495.00 for the US will vary with the country of the test.

New Horizons offers our unbeatable Learning Guarantee if you do not pass the exam. This guarantee allows students to repeat most New Horizons courses if they are the same version, FREE OF CHARGE, within six months of completion. Note: If you request a retake for a course, you will need the most current courseware, and you will be responsible for purchasing the new courseware, admin fee, lab, and exam voucher.

On the Day of the Exam

The exam is one hour long. If you take the exam in a non-native language, you may be granted an additional 15 minutes of examination time. The examination is a "closed book," meaning no other materials are allowed.

After the Exam

You must get 26 questions correct (65%) to pass the exam. While there are occasionally options to take the exam in person, it's almost exclusively an online exam. The exam is proctored, and you will not have access to any material during the test. You will immediately receive a provisional score after you finish the exam online. Your official score will be sent to you within two business days. After you complete and pass the exam, your certification will allow you to progress to higher levels within the ITIL 4 certification scheme. 


ITIL is regarded as one of the best IT certifications for raising compensation. It's also among the top five highest-paying qualifications, and an ITIL Foundation-certified expert can expect to earn approximately $98,000 on average. The ITIL 4 renewal lifecycle includes a recertification commitment every three years, during which credential holders must earn sufficient educational credit hours to maintain their ITIL certifications.

If you're ready to begin your journey toward the certification, enroll in a training course with New Horizons. After you complete our course, you will be comfortable with the material and be ready to take the exam. By passing the exam, you show employers your comprehension of ITIL terminology, structure, and the essential concepts of the ITIL approach for Service Management.

Additional Resources

In addition to the New Horizons free Introduction to ITIL 4 eBook, we recommend the following training materials: