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Book Review: Passing Your ITIL Foundation Exam

It’s a good book says ITSM Watch columnist Rob England, but he just can’t help finding a few flaws.
Feb 27, 2008

Rob England


Okay, so the U.K.’s Office of Government Commerce have released the latest ITIL v3 publication, <i> Passing your ITIL Foundation Exam: the Official Study Aid</i>. First let me say that this book is an excellent idea and an essential part of ITIL. Certification is one of the primary functions of ITIL these days, almost overshadowing the guidance function. Study aids would have been useful in ITIL v2, and there is a thriving industry in unofficial ones. In ITIL v3 they are, as we say, essential.

Exactly what is the target market for this book is unclear though. Those attending a foundation training course ending in the exam will (or should) receive course notes that provide much of the value of this book. They usually include study notes and practice questions. Perhaps many accredited training organisations (ATO) will choose to use this book instead of providing their own material. On the other hand, most ATOs are unlikely to have waited this long for this book and will have prepared their own courseware by now.

It is not widely known that the exam is available online for those who only want to purchase certification without the expense of an associated training course. But, as word gets out, a growing number of people are circumventing the training industry and self-preparing for the ITIL foundation exam.

It certainly isn’t widely advertised by the industry. For them this book is very useful, though it does seem that those dedicated to providing certification “on the cheap” are equally committed to getting their study materials for free or nearly free. There is a thriving industry in stolen IP on eBay (as I reported in my blog), and the appeals for pirated copies of ITIL v3 books began appearing on the ITIL forums within days of publication. All in all, that sector of the market is unlikely to want to spend the £15 for a copy.

Nevertheless, the idea of this book is a good one and it is likely to sell widely and well.

So, How Good is It?

Students often approach the idea of an exam with trepidation. But, the IT industry is very weak on professional certification. For many IT people, it is the first exam they have sat in years. Given the industry’s cavalier attitude to tertiary qualifications in general, it may be the first serious exam they have seen since high school. So, often there is a certain level of nervousness. This book is designed to help allay that nervousness.

The first edition of Passing your ITIL Foundation Exam may have the opposite effect, for three reasons:

First, at least three of the answers to sample questions are plain wrong, which will only undermine the confidence of students thinking they have got on top of ITIL. Anyone confident enough of their knowledge of ITIL v3 to challenge the answers in this book is unlikely to be sitting their foundation exam.

For reference, the correct answers are:

Page 89


6.6.1 Questions

Question 4: Option d should have been: 5,2,3,4,1

Page 90


6.6.2 Answers

Question 3: The correct answer should have been: d - all of the statements are correct as stated in Section 6.4

Page 157


Question 4: The correct answer should have been: a. The rationale supplied is correct.

These corrections come from a correction slip which will reportedly be included with all subsequent copies sold.

Secondly, the sample questions are deliberately harder than those in the actual exam, but this is not stated anywhere in the book (it is mentioned in the errata sheet referred to above). That should up the stress levels for those going into the exam room.

Third, whole tracts of the book have been rendered obsolete by APMG revising the foundation syllabus (yet again) in response to widespread protests at the amount of material included in the earlier version.

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