Exam Review: Certified Implementation Specialist – ITSM

I want to share my experience about passing the brand new ServiceNow Certified Implementation Specialist – IT Service Management (CIS-ITSM) exam in late November 2017.

In 2013, I passed the previous ServiceNow Certified Implementation Specialist (CIS) exam. It was a difficult certification, and many had to take the five day training boot camp to prepare for it. I choose not to follow that expansive path, but that required me to study some of less common ServiceNow features that I was not familiar with.

Last month, this certification was deprecated as too generic, and replaced by six specialized certifications: Service Mapping, Financial Management, HR, Customer Service Management, “Security Operation – Vulnerability Response” and IT Service Management (ITSM).

ServiceNow consider that CIS-ITSM is the closest certification to the deprecated CIS. This article focusses the new ITSM exam from the perspective of a previous generic CIS holder.

Quick overview of the CIS exams

90 minutes allotted to complete the exam, with 65 multiple‑choice questions. No hard‑copy or online materials may be referenced during the exam. You can pass them on-site at an official Kryterion testing center, or online, using a mandatory external webcam. Please consult the CIS-ITSM exam blueprint for additional detail and some sample questions. The cost is $150 for the exam, plus $75 should you have to retry.

Confusingly, the certification is called “Service Management” on the ServiceNow CIS page, but the blueprint, exam, and certificate specify “IT Service Management”, so I will refer to it as CIS-ITSM.

ServiceNow doesn’t communicate on the percentage of correct answers required to pass the exam. After the exam, you’ll receive immediate feedback on your results (pass/fail), and will receive your PDF certificate via email.

Kryterion Webassessor website could give you nightmares

Since my previous certification was going end-of-life, I decided to pass the new exam as soon as possible. I invested in an external webcam, as to avoid regular trips to the nearest  Kryterion testing center. A Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 successfully allowed me to take the exam from the comfort of my home, while providing great picture quality (nice review here).

I registered with the Kryterion Webassessor web site, and I can assure you that not a single bit of it had been updated since those four years. At that time, their web site was already looking quite old, and now it feels prehistoric…

The “PreparingForYourExam.pdf” documentation asks you to test the compliance of your equipment by directing you to a broken link (now fixed) that is was redirected to the Kryterion home page. From there I had to explore a counterintuitive website, and was finally directed to the same broken link. A bit frustrated, I wrote to the support via the contact page, but as you can guess, nobody answered my plea for assistance.

Desperate, I used the mighty Google, and found my way to an older page that required Flash to test my hardware. It detected the camera, but not the microphone, and returned a frustrating “Could not connect to server, check your firewall” error. I tried to fix by disabling hardware and software firewall, trying several browsers, OSes and networks. This was a dead end and I lost quite some time trying to fix a deprecated page pointing to a server that probably doesn’t exist anymore.

The issue was resolved when I decided to try another angle. I found that you have to register and pay for your exam, then, and only then, you’re given access to a functional link where you’re to be able to validate your equipment compliance. You’ve been warned!

You also may find some issues when scheduling your exam. The two times I’ve used the Webassessor platform, I was presented with a selection of available time slots, but at the checkout, I was notified that my choice was not available anymore. Yet, starting the process again allowed me to select the same slots successfully. Even weirder, if you re-schedule your exam, you are presented with additional slots that were not previously shown as unavailable, so you may use this trick to select a more convenient time for you.

Usability and frustrations asides, when it comes to the exam itself, be assured that the user experience improve a lot.

What’s different for previous CIS holders?

Restricted ITSM scope

The previous CIS exam focused on ITSM and exotic platform features. Those exotic features were where the difficulty was, as most ServiceNow administrators never had the opportunity to work with most them. The new CIS-ITSM exam drops anything not directly related to ITSM. You’ll find no questions on LDAP integration, MID server, VPN configuration, CMS, business rules, transform maps, ACLs and instance hardening or domain separation for MSP usage. The exception I had on my exam were two high level questions related to Constants usage as a scripting best practice.

Instead, the scope exclusively focuses on IT Service Desk usage. By order of importance: Incident, Change, Service Catalog’ Request, Problem, Knowledge and CMDB.

You really need to be familiar with those from an out-of-the box perspective, including table names and relevant roles. I would advise you to study within a Personal Developer Instance if you usually work within more than lightly customized instances.

New questions on ITIL

The CIS-ITSM is clearly focused on ITIL and its formal processes. There are now questions that are textbook ITIL and could be answered without any ServiceNow specific experience. You clearly should be ITIL Foundation certified before trying this exam. This what not the case on the previous generic CIS.

Almost no questions about recent platform features

I did not encounter questions about the Service Portal or list view v3. I had one about the CAB Workbench, one about the updated Incident states, and at least two about the Knowledge Base that could be answered differently depending if you were more familiar with KB v3 than v2.

Some question on scripting

I was only asked 2-3 questions about scripting, mostly high level. If this not one of your strong point, this should not be a worrying issue for you.

More specialized CIS certifications coming in 2018

The number of specialized CIS certifications, currently six as of December 2017, will continue to grow like rabbits. I was told to expect eighteen of them before mid 2018, each with its dedicated training course. They will cover only non ITSM product lines, with subjects like the Service Portal, Project management, Discovery, GRC, etc.

Concerns about expiring certifications

Since November 2017 and for Partners only, all certifications, including CIS, CAS and CAD have a blurry expiration date of “two major ServiceNow releases”. This means that if you pass the certification now, it will be valid for the current Jakarta version, and the upcoming Kingston version. But it will not be recognized once the London version goes out in May 2018. That means that my brand-new CIS-ITSM and the CAS that I passed in late November 2017 will only valid for 7 months! After that, I will have to pay for, and retake the exams to be continue to count as a certified partner. Those retakes are full price $150 and will not count as a $75 retry.

This is quite frustrating, and I hope that ServiceNow will modify its stance on certification expirations. Feel free to send your concerns and suggestions to training@servicenow.com.


Keeping up to date to be at the architect level will require more certifications than before, so I really hope ServiceNow will revert its current stance on expirations.

For owners of the deprecated generic CIS, the new CIS-ITSM exam should be much easier due to its reduced scope. For others, I would suggest that you don’t try this one without at least one full year of experience as a ServiceNow administrator.

11 Replies to “Exam Review: Certified Implementation Specialist – ITSM”

  1. Hi Pranav!

    I don’t think it would be proper for me to list questions not listed in the sample from the blueprint. I’m sure ServiceNow legal department would object.

  2. Hi Shiva Thomas,

    Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation!
    It would be of great help if you can tell us what are the sources to refer before taking exam. I have 2 years of experience as ServiceNow Admin and I’m going through the topics related to ITSM in ServiceNow documents.


  3. Hi there,

    I am not able to attend the expensive route for the training. Is there an online materials or books that can be shared that I can read and prepare for this exam?

    1. Hi Adonai,

      I did not follow the expensive route neither. I don’t have official training materials, nor would it be legal for me to share them. Cheaper alternatives exist, please refer to my “ServiceNow Online Training Alternatives on Udemy” and “How to progress from ServiceNow Administrator to Implementation Specialist” articles.

      Best regards,

  4. could you please mention, what is the passing marks for implementation (ITSM) test? and is there any negative marks for wrong answers?

    1. Hi Prity,

      ServiceNow choosed not to communicate on the the passing percentages. Like you, I’m in the dark.

      Best regards,

  5. As NOW Partner, specialized on SELECTED ITBM-Products, CSM, Custom Apps and Technology Partner we are really disorientated in the new certification chaos. NOBODY at NOW can give us any definitive answer. Even worse: information on the website in the current guide is incomplete and it stays in contradiction with what we’ve heard on Knowledge ’18 in Vegas.

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