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Page history last edited by Joe Little 12 years, 6 months ago

This page has been replaced by the CSM Evaluation page.




Since Oct 1, 2009, the Scrum Alliance has required the CSM Exam to become certified.  That is, to become a Certified ScrumMaster.


First a word about certification.  We assume any intelligent person can see that the CSM certification has proven only that the person attended the course.  (We think the course is an excellent course.)  As the SA adds the test, certification will mean that a CST (Certified Scrum Trainer, who gave the course) did not see any reason not to "pass" person X (eg, the person did not fall asleep) AND that person could pass the CSM Exam "bar".  While these things might reasonably be deemed necessary conditions to playing the ScrumMaster role or even to doing Scrum more generally, they obviously are not sufficient conditions to prove that one can play Scrum well.  Again, is this not obvious?


OK, here's how the CSM Exam works for new course attendees. 


Note: The CSM Exam will eventually be relevant also to those who wish to renew their CSM certification.  Those details are not covered here.


First, the Exam is required for all attendees whose course ended on October 1, 2009 or later.  Unless they do not speak English and the CST opts out for them.


A few more facts:

* the Exam is only in English now

* if you do not speak English, or it is not your primary language, your CST can opt you out of the Exam for now.  (And you still will become certified)

* initially (for several months??), everyone who takes the Exam will pass.  So the Exam is, in a sense, in beta

* all the Exam content is in the Scrum Guide, which you can download at scrumalliance.org.  We strongly recommend you read this before the Course

* you must take the course first, and be deemed to have "passed" the course by the CST

* typically in the course, the CST will spend some small fraction of time addressing Exam content.  Certainly the Trainer will try to answer related questions, if you have them (obviously, possibly within some reasonability constraints)

* the Exam is timeboxed to 1 hour

* the Exam has 60 pick-a-winner questions, each with 5 possible answers.  There is a best answer and one or two "close" answers. Only the "best" answer wins

Comment: In the opinion of some, Scrum is a simple and, yet at the same time, complex subject. "Best" is not always easy to phrase clearly for every ear.

* the 60 questions you will get will be picked from a total of 90.  The questions each person gets will vary, although you may find someone who got the same questions as you

* you must take the Exam within 90 days (below we explain when the 90 day clock starts ticking)

* the Exam is "open book", but not sure how meaningful that is given 60 questions in 60 minutes


Note: For the time being, there is no exam for the CSPO certification.



* you complete the Course successfully

* the CST uploads you Name and email address to ScrumAlliamce.org

* you receive an email from ScrumAlliance.org with a user name and password

* you log into ScrumAlliance.org and "set things up" (very simple I am told)

* ScrumAlliance.org sends you info about how to complete the CSM Exam (this is when the 90 day clock starts ticking)

* you log on a page, and take the Exam

* you will be notified of your score, and which items you got wrong (perhaps you can learn from this)

* for now, once you complete the Exam (and later truly pass it), you automatically become "certified" on the SA site. This will be visible to the public

* once you are officially certified, you may optionally download a certificate.  You may print and frame this, if you wish

* you will obtain full access to many more things on the SA site


Comments about the future of the Exam:

* it is has been said that some Exam questions will be weeded out, based on experience in the beta period

* it is expected that [in several months??] the SA will set a passing grade for the Exam (eg, 60%??, 70%??) and annouce that from X date, the Exam must be "passed"

* I believe it is possible that new questions could be added, but this is speculative


For later: once the exam is out of beta and an attendee must truly pass it, AND if you don't pass initially:

* if you do not pass, you can re-take the Exam immediately

* if you fail a second time, you must pay an additional fee, wait a week, and then re-take the Exam

* if you fail more than 4 times, you must re-take tke CSM Course

Note: my sources tell me most people are scoring currently around 80%, so either people are very smart or the test is basic and easy.  Or both. Thus, for now the likelihood of needing to take the Exam twice seems low

* again, this is not relevant in the "beta period" (this is an unofficial term)

[again, for now (next several months??), while it is in beta, everyone will pass]


Comments about the CSTs and the Exam:

* the principle is that the CSTs should NOT teach to the Exam (we have had some interesting philosophical discussions about this --- you don't want to know <smile>)

* while some CSTs have been exposed to a few draft questions some months ago, none of the CSTs has taken the Exam.  Nor are we allowed to see it (see the principle above). [Not every CST wants this to be the case...]


A few comments:

* the scrum community is certainly in favor of more explicit knowledge.  Intelligent people can differ as to the relative importance of explicit knowledge versus tacit knowledge (or perhaps yet other types of knowledge or ability)

* no one has stated, and it is probably not useful to state at this time, what future direction the Exam might take.  Like everything in life, it is in some sense an experiment.  If/when it needs to be fixed (enough), it will be

* in general, the scrum community recognizes that tacit knowledge is very important, and that it is almost impossible to test for tacit knowledge (see wikipedia.com if you are unfamiliar with this term).  So, the Exam certainly has this limitation

* success with Scrum seems, at least to some of us, more highly correlated to aspects of character, such as honesty and courage, than to some level of explicit knowledge.  This Exam is not trying to imply anything to the contrary

* the scrum community still believes that the true measure of progress is successful action that benefits real people, not mere knowledge.  This Exam is not meant to be a metaphor for an opposing principle

* we hope that the Exam will increase attention to everything in the Course, not just to those things in the Course that are on the Exam

* we hope that the Exam will lead people to read the books more carefully

* thus, while the Exam has both positive and negative aspects, we hope and believe it will be a net positive


CAVEAT:  This page was prepared, so far, by one CST, based on input from many.  It is NOT official.  Expect improvements to this page.


If you have further questions, please leave a comment below.



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