Pretty well every Certified ScrumMaster training workshop opens with the question, “Tell about the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification exam”. Along with “How difficult is it? Is it online or do I have to go to a testing centre? How many questions are there?”
Let’s dispel some myths and clear the air, offering you insights on how to approach the exam confidently.
The CSM certification, awarded by the Scrum Alliance, has become a globally recognized accreditation for Scrum Masters. It not only validates your understanding of Scrum principles, roles, events, and artifacts, but also your ability to effectively apply this knowledge in real-world scenarios.
You can’t sit the exam without taking a workshop. Unlike other certificates, the focus of the CSM is not on the piece of paper nor is it on passing an exam. Instead, the CSM is focused on equipping you to coach teams in the real world. Our immersive learning experience provides you with a comprehensive understanding of Scrum, offering ample opportunities for interaction, engagement, and answering difficult questions. Our workshop includes an in-class test at the end of the workshop, to help identify any remaining questions or misunderstandings about Scrum, which we can address before you leave. It isn’t the official test by any stretch of the imagination, rather it is a tool to help you understand where you’re strong and weak in your understanding of Scrum.
Following the CSM workshop, you’ll have 90 days to take the official Scrum Alliance exam, which comprises 50 multiple-choice questions, to be completed within 60 minutes. The passing score is 74%, which equates to answering 37 questions correctly. If you don’t do well on the first try, the Scrum Alliance gives you a second shot. Unlike other well-known exams, the goal is not to cause stress or heart attacks, rather it is to help ensure that you have a solid understanding of the basics of Scrum and a good start toward your Scrum Master job.
Here are some strategies to effectively prepare for the CSM exam:
- Review the Scrum Guide: This guide is the foundational text for understanding Scrum principles. It’s a concise, 18-page document that covers the core of Scrum. More importantly, it is the only document the test is based on.
- Leverage the course material: Revisit the course material from your CSM training. Pay particular attention to any areas that you found challenging during your practice test.
- Don’t take practice tests: Do not, under any circumstances, take a practice test online. The authors of these tests haven’t seen the official test. More importantly, you don’t know if the people who wrote the test have a good understanding of Scrum. I’ve tried a few practice tests and I can safely say many of my attendees have a deeper understanding of Scrum than the people who wrote the tests in question.
Stop, Halt – Don’t overthink, this is a short multiple choice test based on the Scrum Guide, you don’t need a practice test, a study group, etc.
Let me tell you a story that should help with perspective. Back when in-person workshops were still a thing, I ran a workshop in downtown Toronto (living the wild life). The workshop was a five minute walk from Union Station. After the workshop, an attendee went to the Mill Street Pub in the station. Less than 30 minutes later (while I was boarding the train home), I had received a photo of his completed certification (meaning he passed the test) along with a completed pint of beer. I don’t endorse the consumption of beer during the CSM exam, nonetheless, it didn’t seem to harm this person.
So relax, don’t stress over the test, focus on figuring out how to use your certified scrum master training and certification to start helping your team.