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ITIL 4 Foundation Exam: Tips and Strategies for Success

Advancing in your career and not falling behind is a matter of constantly improving your credentials and knowledge. In this sense, passing the exam and obtaining the ITIL 4 Foundation certificate is one of the most important credentials you can have on your resume – and if you don’t have it, your competitors will.

So today you will learn everything you need to certify yourself in ITIL 4 Foundation, from the exam characteristics, how to acquire it, its content, how to prepare and how to have a good result.

Exam Characteristics

  • The exam is online.
  • It has 40 questions.
  • To pass, you need to get 65% of the 40 questions correct.
  • The exam price is set in dollars.
  • The exam price WILL SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASE in 2023, potentially reaching R$3,000.
  • It does not require prior knowledge of ITIL v3.


Retake is the process of buying a second attempt. The catch is that this acquisition must be made at the time of the initial exam purchase. Therefore, it is a decision that must be made before passing or failing the first attempt. The retake costs around 25% of the value of the first attempt. Thus, whether or not to acquire it is a decision that depends on the candidate’s self-confidence.


Everyone who took the exam until July 2019 will be pending recertification on the Axelos website. You will not lose your certification, but this pending status will appear on the site if someone checks your name. Recertification must be done every 3 years.

The exam is not complex:

There are 4 multiple-choice questions, but the style of the questions varies: mark the correct/incorrect alternative, mark the alternative that presents the true items (among a list of statements), mark the alternative that fills in the blanks correctly, etc.

Multiple languages:

English, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Japanese and Polish are supported.

The exam is supervised by an English-speaking supervisor:

However, there is simultaneous translation for the information he will pass on the chat. If you do not speak English (or any of the other available languages), it’s not a problem, just notify in the chat in Portuguese and the information provided by the supervisor will be automatically translated.

The exam is without consultation:

You cannot use notes, have anything on the desk where you will take the exam (at a distance), or consult any material during the exam. Do not try to “cheat”; any strange movements, noises, or even looking around can be enough for the exam to be canceled, and you will lose your money.

Preparing for the Exam

Taking a Course or Studying on Your Own?

Buying a preparatory course is NOT mandatory, but this decision comes with some risks.

Studying on your own: when we study on our own, it is important to make sure that the material and sources we are using as a basis are reliable and up-to-date. In addition, our care with organization, planning, and exam requirements must be doubled since we do not have the support of an instructor.

Studying at an accredited school (ATO): what an accredited school offers is, above all, the facilitation of the process – the structure, organization of content, direction to what should be studied more effectively, that is, saving your time and energy to find your own paths within a disorganized set of content, often without translation or presented in a non-didactic way.

With an ATO (Approved Training Organization), you can be confident that the exam will align with the content you have studied. Additionally, you will also have the support of the accredited school: the teacher will be an Accredited Trainer (AT), who will not only present the content but also explain it, provide tips, and answer questions. An ATO provides all the official material from the institute, which individuals typically do not have access to.

What’s on the Exam?

The approach to the questions about the content follows Bloom’s Taxonomy. According to this theory of learning, knowledge can be classified into levels ranging from 1 to 6 as follows:

  • Level 1: Knowledge – memorize specific facts and concepts.
  • Level 2: Comprehension – understand and interpret problems and instructions.
  • Level 3: Application.
  • Level 4: Analysis.
  • Level 5: Synthesis.
  • Level 6: Evaluation.

The ITIL 4 exam, in turn, focuses on levels 1 and 2. Therefore, it is important that you not only memorize the content but also understand it clearly.

Tips for Passing

Study the entire content two to three times:

This tactic allows you to go through all the material, memorize it more effectively, and have a clearer understanding of the parts you master and the parts you need to study more.

Read the supplementary material:

The supplementary material contains the syllabus, with an overview of the content, glossaries, with the definition of terms and concepts, simulations, among other documents of fundamental importance for your preparation.

Take notes:

This habit will help you not only create a summary of important parts of the content but also help you memorize and, especially, study more actively, identifying important parts and paying more attention.

Identify what you got right on the simulated test:

After taking a simulated test, we tend to correct and pay attention only to the questions we got wrong. However, many times, we answer questions correctly without truly understanding the questions, guessing or hitting due to an incorrect association of ideas. Therefore, make sure you also understand the logic of the questions you got right.

Mind map:

This should be viewed as a PERSONAL tool. The Mind Map is a representation of what you understood and the connections you observed in the content. If you like this tool, do not take other people’s mind maps, make your own.

Imagine the content applied to reality:

Think for a moment how that learning can be applied to the day-to-day of your company or companies you have worked for, for example. Try to imagine what the implications, steps, and processes would be; this will help you memorize and understand the content better. However, it is important that this exercise be done considering the culture of the framework, without skipping steps or imagining shortcuts in real life.

Some questions can help you answer other questions:

Often, a question can help you remember a term or a concept that will help you change your answer to a previous question. Thus, it is interesting to reread all the questions and review your answers before submitting the exam.

Understanding is much better than memorization:

Some things about the ITIL 4 exam you have to remember, that is, memorize terms and concepts, others you have to describe, which requires an ability to understand and analyze the content.

Simulated tests are essential, but be careful!

For example, if every time you take a new practice test your score is low, but on the second attempt you get a perfect score, it’s possible that you’re actually memorizing the answers for the second attempt. Look for an improvement in your performance on the first attempts of each practice test. This way, you’ll be verifying real progress.

Be careful with translations:

Translation errors can happen, even in official materials. Therefore, even if you don’t know English, knowing the basics, such as the main terms in English, can help you identify translation problems.

Be careful with internet materials:

Often, materials you find on the internet may be outdated or simply incorrect. One way to avoid this risk is to look for accredited schools (ATOs).

Study at your own pace, but plan ahead!

Organize your study time considering how much time you have until the exam and how much time you have available per day or per week. This is easier to do if you’re studying through an accredited course and instructor.

Use glossaries:

This is the most direct way to learn the main terms and concepts.

Read the Syllabus:

This is another important support material that provides an overview of everything that will be covered in your exam.

Take practice tests:

Practicing and putting into practice what you’ve learned is very important.

Where to acquire the exam?

To acquire your exam, there are two options:

  • Directly through Peoplecert: this is the most expensive option, with payment made in dollars and upfront.
  • Through ATOs: this is the cheapest option, but not all ATOs sell exams.

Remember that from 2023, several fees will be adjusted and all prices will increase significantly.

Before the exam

Test the ExamShield tool. This tool will be used to monitor your exam. Therefore, it’s a good idea to test it in advance to check your connection, webcam, antivirus, and other factors.

Avoid stress. Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before your exam and avoid stressful situations.

Choose a quiet, well-lit, and distraction-free place to take the exam.

During the exam

Use the chat. The chat has a simultaneous translation tool, so don’t be afraid to write in Portuguese, even though your monitor is foreign.

Stay calm. Focus on the exam, at this moment, this is the only thing that matters.

Don’t make any strange movements. Keep your eyes on the screen, don’t look to the sides or down, and under no circumstances, check any kind of notes. Your exam may be cancelled and you will lose your money at the slightest hint of cheating.

After the exam

Check the preliminary result, BUT wait for the final result to celebrate. The final result will arrive in about 2 days.

Post your certificate on LinkedIn. Certificates are meant to be displayed, share them!

Good luck on the exam!



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