Shane Bartholomeusz

Geek and lover of all things tech related

ITIL Foundation Exam Study Guide

ITIL Foundations Logo

ITIL is a well-known and established framework that provides a set of best practices for managing IT services. The ITIL Foundations exam is the entry level exam which aims to provide a general overview of key concepts and terminology of the ITIL framework.

Having just passed the ITIL Foundations Exam I wanted to share my thoughts and tips in this ITIL Foundation exam study guide to help you pass the exam.

About the Exam

It is ideally suited for those who are new to the ITIL framework and require a basic understanding of the ITIL framework.

You can find more about the exam at the below link:

The exam requires you to demonstrate knowledge in the following areas:

Learning OutcomeAssessment Criteria
1. Understand the key concepts of service management1.1 Recall the definition of:
a) Service
b) Utility
c) Warranty
d) Customer
e) User
f) Service management
g) Sponsor

1.2 Describe the key concepts of creating value with services:
a) Cost
b) Value
c) Organization
d) Outcome
e) Output
f) Risk
g) Utility
h) Warranty

1.3 Describe the key concepts of service relationships:
a) Service offering
b) Service relationship management
c) Service provision
d) Service consumption
2. Understand how the ITIL guiding principles can help an organization adopt and adapt service management2.1 Describe the nature, use and interaction of the guiding principles

2.2 Explain the use of the guiding principles
a) Focus on value
b) Start where you are
c) Progress iteratively with feedback
d) Collaborate and promote visibility
e) Think and work holistically
f) Keep it simple and practical
g) Optimize and automate
3. Understand the four dimensions of service management3.1 Describe the four dimensions of service management:
a) Organizations and people
b) Information and technology
c) Partners and suppliers
d) Value streams and processes
4. Understand the purpose and components of the ITIL service value system4.1 Describe the ITIL service value system
5. Understand the activities of the service value chain, and how they interconnect5.1 Describe the interconnected nature of the service value chain and how this supports value streams

5.2 Describe the purpose of each value chain activity:
a) Plan
b) Improve
c) Engage
d) Design & transition
e) Obtain/build
f) Deliver & support
6. Know the purpose and key terms of 15 ITIL practices6.1 Recall the purpose of the following ITIL practices: a) Information security management
b) Relationship management
c) Supplier management
d) IT asset management
e) Monitoring and event management
f) Release management
g) Service configuration management
h) Deployment management
i) Continual improvement
j) Change enablement
k) Incident management
l) Problem management
m) Service request management
n) Service desk
o) Service level management

6.2 Recall definitions of the following ITIL terms:
a) IT asset
b) Event
c) Configuration item
d) Change
e) Incident
f) Problem
g) Known error
7. Understand 7 ITIL practices7.1 Explain the following ITIL practices in detail, excluding how they fit within the service value chain:
a) Continual improvement including: – The continual improvement model
b) Change enablement
c) Incident management
d) Problem management
e) Service request management
f) Service desk
g) Service level management

My Approach

While most ITIL training providers provide all-inclusive training packages which include formal classroom training and the ITIL Foundations exam. From past experience I’ve always found formal classroom training to be a waste of time. Cramming all that knowledge in just a few short days never really worked for me … I’d forget soon after … instead, I chose a different pathway.

My goal wasn’t to just PASS THE EXAM but also to RETAIN the learnings so that I could put them into practice.


I used a combination of reference book materials and online training resources to help me pass the exam.

It must be said that I already work in an ITIL based environment on a day-to-day basis, so some of the concepts introduced were already familiar to me.


My exam preparation included:

  1. Reading the Passing your ITIL Foundations Exam official exam reference book.
  2. Watching the Pluralsight online video training courses.
  3. Reading the TutorialsPoint ITIL guide
  4. Compiling a mindmap of key concepts
  5. Completed practice tests

Formal Training

ITIL offers formal classroom training through various external training providers. Typically the classroom training is held over two and a half days, immediately followed by the examination.

If you prefer to attend formal ITIL training then you can find a local training provider here:

In my case, I opted to undertake self-study to complete the exam. However this is purely my personal preference and may not be applicable to everyone.

Exam Reference Book

The official exam reference book proved to be invaluable because it walks through all the key topics that are covered in the exam and also includes a test exam right at the very end.

I went through the entire book and took notes on the key concepts covered.

ITIL Foundations Exam Reference Book Cover


I watched the fantastic ITIL Foundations training course on Pluralsight by Lowell Amos. I didn’t watch the entire series, only the topics that I wanted to learn more about.

Pluralsight ITIL Training Screenshot

If you’re not already familiar with Pluralsight, it’s an all-you-can-eat online video training library for anything and everything IT related … from Angular web development to Machine Learning to the Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure … it’s got everything!

I’ve been a subscriber for quite a while now and have found it to be really invaluable. Even if you’re not interested in paying for an ongoing subscription, you can take the free 10 day trial to pass the exam.

UPDATE: It is now required that all ITIL training be sold with the exam. For this reason almost all ITIL training videos on Pluralsight and other training platforms have been removed, and therefore the above links do not work anymore.

Pluralsight Logo


All ITIL training must now be sold with the exam. In light of this latest policy change, most of the online ITIL training courses have being pulled down.

Another great resource is the online learning platform Udemy. I’ve personally used them many times before in the past.

I’d recommend the following course on Udemy which runs through the high level exam concepts:

Udemy Introduction to Service Management with ITIL 4 Screenshot


TutorialsPoint is another great online ITIL learning resource. They have a great breakdown of the different ITIL concepts that are covered in the exam.

I didn’t read all of the content on this site, only the parts that I felt I needed to study more about.

Mind Mapping

Like most people, I’m a visual learner. I can more easily absorb visually based learning materials such as videos, mind maps etc.

Mind mapping is a great visual learning technique that involves organising data in a visual manner.

I used the free online mind mapping tool Coggle to create a mind map for the ITIL exam which I periodically studied to refresh my memory of the topics covered in the exam. If there were any concepts that I couldn’t remember then I would go back and study them. You can see my mind map below.

One thing to remember … a mind map should only contain the key concepts, it should not be a novel with paragraphs of information. Keep it simple 🙂

ITIL Foundations Mind Map

Practice Exams

There are plenty of free practice exams out there from various ITIL training providers.

Axelos provides sample test papers which you can download once you register for a free account:

ITIL Foundation Sample Paper

I also used the free practice exam from SimpliLearn. After completing the test exam, you’ll get a breakdown of your result. Including an explanation for each answer.

SimpliLearn ITIL Practice Exam Screenshot

Sitting the Exam

I spent around 1 month preparing for the exam, including reading through the exam reference book and watching the Pluralsight videos etc.

While I’ve heard of people doing it in a shorter time frame – as I mentioned before, my goal wasn’t only to pass the exam, but to fully understand the content so that I could put it into practice in my daily role.

I later booked the online exam through ITSM Hub. It was hard to find a training provider that would provide the exam only as most providers only offer it as part of a training package.

Before the exam, you’ll need to install the exam software on your PC or Mac. When you initially launch the software it’ll check your system for compatibility, including webcam, audio etc. Once completed you can then complete the exam.

The exam runs for 60 minutes in total. You will be asked 40 multiple choice questions during the exam. The pass mark is 65%.

My approach to the exam was to quickly speed through the questions – at most I’d spend 30 seconds per question. Then I’d come back around and go over the questions once again to double-check my answers. Even if you don’t know the question, it’s better to choose an answer, than nothing at all.

I found most of the questions to be quite straightforward, although I did encounter a few questions that were a bit tricky.

Pay close attention to the wording used in each question, a single word or phrase could mean the difference between a right and wrong answer.

So How Did I Go?

At the end of the exam, you’ll immediately be told whether you’ve passed or failed the exam.

The exam summary will include a breakdown of how well you did across each of the main topics covered in the exam.

The pass mark for the exam is 65%. I achieved 85% in the exam. Yay!

ITIL Foundations Exam Results

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found this ITIL Foundation Exam Study Guide to be helpful to you. Best of luck with the exam!

Have you passed the exam? What were your experiences? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Shane Bartholomeusz


  1. Much thanks for your entry. I think it will help me to pass the exam 🙂

  2. Really enjoyed your guide! Thanks for the help and all the very best within your career

  3. Thank you for being kind enough to place these materials for studying and giving your experiences. Good work

  4. Thats Great .. Congrats Shane …

  5. Thanks to help out beginners making easy to start with.

  6. Thanks a lot for sharing this information in such details, it is very appreciated. So far this is the best ‘How to’ I have found on passing the exam. Well done! All the best to you…

    • I passed my exam yesterday (85%)! and I must say that also thanks to you Shane and your guide! 3 things particularly helped me dive in and pass:
      1. Buying and going through entire ‘Passing Your ITIL Foundation Exam’ book
      2. Videos on Pluralsight by Lowell Amos
      3. Practicing the quick tests for each life cycle and mock exams on official Axelos app called ITIL Foundation – here I was practicing really a lot

      Before the exam I had 1 week of intensive learning (several hours a day) and 1 week of reviewing and completing mock exams.
      I would advise to go through official axelos materials if possible, e.g. I find TutorialsPoint as little misleading or does not contain everything, also Simplilearn uses different wording that makes me confused…

      Thanks again Shane for sharing… all the best

      • Shane

        30th September 2018 at 8:24 am

        Congratulations Peter! Thanks for the kinds words.

        It’s great to hear of your experience and your tips for passing the exam. I’m sure it will help others out there. Great job.

  7. Thanks so much!

  8. Simeon Senkabolane

    17th March 2019 at 1:25 am

    Sir help me with set of past papers and answer , doing online computer study

  9. Great article! very nicely explained how people should use the learning resources for the preparation of ITIL certification exam.

  10. Thanks for your experience, it will go a long way. All the best to your career

  11. Very helpful. Thanks

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