ITIL® V3 Expert Certification Guide

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Many IT professionals and project managers in the service industry are getting into ITIL® certifications. The entry level certification -- ITIL® V3 Foundation -- should suffice to comply and follow existing processes. But as ITIL® professionals grow up the hierarchical ladder, they are expected to do a lot more; they need to know how to develop processes for efficient and effective outcomes and manage deliveries leveraging on ITIL® practices.

A holistic view of ITIL® empowers IT professionals to develop processes that are rigid, input independent and self sustaining; it gives managers the vision to look beyond the present during the planning phase of deliveries. The core books of ITIL® provide the kind of knowledge you need, and the certification that comes along with mastering the core books is the ITIL® V3 Expert certification.

ITIL V3 Expert Certification Prerequisites

I assume that you -- the reader -- are either an ITIL® V3 Foundation certification holder, or you're been working on ITIL® processes for a long long time, and you're thinking of getting certified.

To embark on a journey towards the ITIL® Expert certification, the ITIL® V3 Foundation is mandatory. The Expert certification is not just one exam, but a number of exams, each consisting of certain credits. Depending on the path you choose, you would end up taking five or six modules before the crowning ceremony.

Formal training through Accredited Training Organization (ATO) or approved e-training courses are mandatory before taking up each exam.

ITIL® V3 Expert Certification Credit Scheme

ITIL® V3 Expert certification requires candidates to earn at least 22 credits. Each module exam consists of a certain number of credits tagged to it, and depending on the modules you choose, you either need to complete five or six modules to get the required credits.

The image above shows the pyramid to reach the ITIL® Master Certification, which is still in development at the time of this writing. The highest certification is the ITIL® Expert Certification which is the subject of our conversation today.

Update 5/3/2013: The ITIL Master certification is now available and can be viewed on the certification qualifications website. Watch the video below to view a conversation with the ITIL V3 exam developers:

At the base of the pyramid, you have the ITIL® Foundation certification, which is mandatory (as mentioned before), and it carries 2 credits.

After that there are two different areas you can choose from. The first is based on the service lifecycles of ITIL® V3 and there are five of them.

Service Lifecycle Modules:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operations
  • Continuous Service Improvement

Each service lifecycle module gives you 3 credits. Candidates must receive a minimum of 21 hours of training before they attempt the exam.

The second area, the service capability modules, is grouped based on role mapping. It has four modules in each earning you 4 credits.

Service Capability Modules:

  • Planning, Protection and Optimization
  • Service Offerings and Agreements
  • Release, Control and Validation
  • Operational Support and Analysis

Candidates must complete 30 hours of training to take this exam.

The service lifecycle path gives candidates a good hold on ITIL® V3, and will aid them in making service management decisions. People who choose this area are those who have an eye on a management position to run the operations, organization and other derivatives of management.

The service capability modules add value from an implementation standpoint, and are particularly useful for those deploying services and solutions.

Once the modules are mastered, the integration of all the modules -- Managing across the Lifecycle -- awaits you. This module stands between you and Expert certification, and it carries 5 credits. It is an exam on how well you know the management and implementation side of ITIL® V3. The minimum training hours for this module is 30.

ITIL® V3 Expert Certification Options

You have six options with logical permutations and combinations to choose from; you can pick one of them based on your interests and future considerations. The figure below illustrates them along with the credits that you would obtain upon completion. Note that the Foundation certification and Managing across the Lifecycles are the mandatory ones in the list.

ITIL® Expert Certification Options

Image Copyright: APM Group

ITIL® V3 Expert Certification Examination Format

Every module exam has the same format despite carrying varying credits. The exam consists of eight questions, and it's in multiple choice format. The questions on the exam however, are not straightforward. They present a scenario, and you are required to choose the best answer from the list.

Like other exams, there isn't one right answer, and three wrong answers. All the four choices are correct, it's just the degree of correctness that matters; in other words, all four answers are correct, the best gives you maximum points.

So all exam answers are weighted as best answer, second best answer, third best answer and fourth best answer. The best answer gets you 5 points, second best 3, third best 1, and the last does not carry any points.

So, the exam consists of eight questions, eight possible best answers amounting to 40 maximum points. To pass the exam, you must secure at least 70% which is the equivalent of 28 points. So, in essence, a candidate can get three best answers, four second best answers and one third best answer, and still pass the exam.

You can take up this exam either on paper or online. Generally, ATOs schedule the exams at your request, and the choice of paper or online depends on availability of infrastructure. Results on online exams are instantaneous while you have a cooling off period of 3-4 weeks if you undertake the paper based one.

I personally prefer to take a paper based exam. The scenario based question and the choices run into several lines. I have seen questions and choices running across an entire A4 page. I find it hard to concentrate and grasp quickly on computer monitors, and paper gives me the freedom of reading at the angle and position of choice, and to highlights key points on the question paper. But again, the choice is yours.

ITIL® V3 Expert Exam Resources

The ITIL® V3 Expert certification exam tests your knowledge based on the core books of ITIL®. There is no substitute to the official books. During the training sessions, ATOs condense the information and present it in a format that can be covered over the weekend. It should be sufficient provided you have previous exposure to ITIL® and related processes.

Sample papers are not available on the net, as far as my searching-on-the-web capabilities are concerned. Before I took up the exam, I had to sign an undertaking that I would not reveal the questions to the outside world; hence you won't get anything from me either. ITIL® examination bodies share two sets of sample papers with ATOs, which they would probably share during the trainings, and this is your lifeline to understand the exam, and to check your ITIL® pulse.

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Abhinav Kaiser

Abhinav Kaiser is a veteran in service and in project managements. He advises businesses, organizations and enterprises on how to build service management framework and deliver value. He is currently penning a book on communication in organizations, specifically aimed at IT departments. He holds PMP, ITIL© V3 Expert and Cobit 5.0 certifications and is an accredited ITIL© trainer.