When the new edition of ISO/IEC 20000-1 was published in April 2011, APMG-International updated the syllabus for each of our ISO/IEC 20000 qualifications, retaining the existing examination format of a combination of multi-choice and written papers.

We’ve now made further updates to the three ISO/IEC 20000 exams to align them with the APMG format. The format uses  objective testing. People who have done other APMG exams will be familiar with this method and format. It is a multiple choice format which examines specific syllabus topics using different techniques for each level of capability to be examined.

The three exams remain as foundation, practitioner and auditor.

Learning Outcomes

Each qualification has defined learning outcomes. The learning outcomes for ISO/IEC 20000 are defined in the table below.

ISO/IEC 20000 Learning Outcomes Assessment Model



2. Comprehension

3. Application

4. Analysis

ISO/IEC 20000 learning outcome assessment model  Know facts, including terms and definitions, concepts, requirements, processes, key responsibilities  and use of documents outlined in the standard Understand the concepts, responsibilities, tools used, and the requirements, processes and documents needed to conform to the standard Be able to apply key ITSM concepts relating to achievement of  the requirements of ISO/IEC 20000-1 for a given scenario Be able to identify, analyse and distinguish between  appropriate and inappropriate  use of ITSM methods and techniques for achieving the requirements of ISO/IEC 20000-1 through assessment of situations outlined in typical scenarios
Foundation No No
Practitioner No – but assumes this knowledge
Auditor No

The syllabus for each course has been updated. Each syllabus is split into areas:

OV Overview of ISO/IEC 20000 and related best practices, standards and schemes
MS Service management system general requirements
DR Service delivery and relationship processes
NC Design and transition of new or changed services, control and resolution processes
AC Achieving ISO/IEC 20000 certification


Each syllabus area is broken down into detailed topics. The primary reference material is ISO/IEC 20000-1. However, part 3 is also covered in some detail. Part 5 and part 2 are referenced purely for their purpose at overview level. The APMG certification scheme is referenced, as is an APMG white paper for some parts of the syllabus.

The purpose of the foundation qualification is to confirm that a candidate has sufficient knowledge of the contents and high level requirements of the ISO/IEC 20000 standard, and understands at a foundation level how the standard operates in a typical IT service provider organization. This qualification is aimed at staff working within an ITSM service provider organization that requires a basic understanding of the standard. There is no pre-requisite for the foundation qualification but a background in IT service management would be an advantage.

The purpose of the practitioner qualification is to confirm whether the candidate has achieved sufficient understanding of ISO/IEC 20000 and its application to be able to analyze and apply their knowledge to a range of activities that would support organizations in conforming to the requirements of ISO/IEC 20000-1, and achieving and retaining ISO/IEC 20000 certification.  This qualification is aimed at practitioners, managers and consultants involved in an SMS implementation and/or on-going activities based on ISO/IEC 20000.  The pre-requisite for this qualification is either an ISO/IEC 20000 Foundation or an ITIL Foundation qualification.

The purpose of the Auditor qualification is to confirm that the candidate has sufficient understanding of ITSM generally and knowledge of the contents and requirements of the ISO/IEC 20000-1 standard to be able to perform audits against the standard. This qualification is aimed at third-party auditors who work for RCBs and internal auditors. Candidates are required to have a minimum of three years’ experience conducting audits in an IT environment. The qualification assumes knowledge of auditing and auditing techniques and does not cover the generic principles of management system auditing.


The examinations are all multi-choice. Different types of questions are used to test differing capability levels. The types of questions are:

  • Classic – a standard question with 4 options where 1 is correct
  • Missing word – a statement asking which is the missing word from a choice of 4 options
  • Sequencing – identifying the correct order of 3 or 4 items
  • Multiple Response – choose two correct options from a list of 5. Both responses must be correct to gain a mark
  • Matching – link items in one list to items in a second list
  • Sequence Matching – position events in a sequence matching events in column 1 to activities in column 2
  • Assertion Reason – evaluate two statements (an assertion and a reason), to determine if either, both or neither is true and, if both are true, whether the reason explains why the assertion is true.

Details of the examinations are shown below.

  Foundation Practitioner Auditor
Open or closed book Closed Open for ISO/IEC 20000-1 only Closed
Number of question items 40 80 40
Pass mark 26 40 26
Time 1 hour 3 hours 1 hour
Question types Classic
Missing word
Classic, Sequencing
Multiple response
Sequence matching
Assertion reason
Missing word
Use of scenario No Yes No


Examinations in the new format are available from March 2012. All APMG ISO/IEC 20000 examinations will be in the new format from June 2012. See Kate’s blog post on multiple choice exams to see what other people think.