certified scrum master

Passed the CSM (Certified Scrum Master) exam today with 34/35 correct which is 97.1%,

The Certified Scrum Master certification requires:

  • taking a two day class _ I like that the instructor made it electronic device free and threatened not to give credit to anyone mentally absent.
  • taking an online, unproctored test

About the test

The test is described well here.  The gist is that it is untimed, open book, unproctored and you don’t have to take it in one sitting.  The idea is clearly to reinforce what you learned in the class and ensure you were paying attention.  You need to get 24/35 correct which is about 68%.  You get 2 attempts and are given the correct answers once you pass.  If you need more attempts, they are $25 each.  Per the Scrum Alliance, the test is a mix of multiple choice and true/false.  (Or so the docs say – I didn’t get any true/false ones). It covers General Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings, and Scrum artifacts.

Once you pass, you are considered certified for 2 years at which point they ask you to pay $100 for another two years.  (by tying certification and membership together)

Some quotes indicated the test is really easy and more of a formality.  I agree that it is easy if you paid attention in class.  It is a good way to reinforce what you learned though.  “Certification” is probably too strong a word here.

My background

I’ve been doing parts of Scrum for about 2 years.  (The product owner isn’t as involved as he should be to actually call it Scrum.)  The point is that the material isn’t new to me.

Registering for the test on an iPad and popups

After the course, you get a link to the Scrum Alliance. At this point, you can take the test. It is offered in a number of different languages and run by mytestcom.net. I started the test on my iPad and quickly learned it requires you to allow pop ups. Went into ipad settings > safari and turned off block pop ups. It wasn’t immedidately obvious how to retry the pop up. But going back to the testcom homepage gave a clear link saying I was in the middle of a test. Then the iPad prompted me for whether to allow the pop up. I said yes, and was in.

Resuming the test on a ChromeBook and popups

WARNING: Don’t switch computers for the test.  Your bookmarks (questions to go back to) are stored in a cookie and not available on the second device.

I did half the test on my iPad and finished it up on a ChromeBook computer.  When I logged into Scrum Alliance with the ChromeBook, the button says “take CSM test in English”.  Which is fine.  But then the JavaScript says “are you sure you want to start the CSM test.”  Which I didn’t.  I wanted to resume.  Turns out that link is misleading and it does take you to resume your test.   And guess what?  The ChromeBook is set to not allow pop-ups either.  Ok.  Clicked the little window in the location bar to allow for this site and tried again.  Sadly, I spent about 10 minutes resuming the test.

Difficulty and time
I like to note how long each pass took and how it went. That gives a good sense of what to expect. Note that I think and test take a lot faster than average.

  • Pass 1 – 12 minutes – there were 17 questions that were so obvious, that I was comfortable answering them without more than 15 seconds of thought. And since the working of each was concise (no long scenario type things to read), this phase went rather quickly. The remaining 18 I was pretty sure of. I bookmarked them because i want to spend a little longer thinking about them or want to confirm in the Scrum book. Largely for learning purposes as I know that I already have enough right to get a passing score. Since I did phase 1 on my iPad, I also wanted to wait to be at a real computer to review and submit. Easier to look at the Scrum manual and test together on a real computer. Plus, i only had 10 minutes until my flight boarded
  • Pass 2 –  15 minutes – I had to go thru them all again because the bookmarks of which questions to go back to aren’t available on the ChromeBook.  I only looked up a few.  And even that was mostly to read more about the topic.  During this pass, I changed 1 answer.   There were 4 questions that I wasn’t 100% sure of.  I was able to narrow down to 2 choices and picked the one I thought best.  (Which worked out nicely)


  • Read carefully
  • Process of elimination is helpful
  • Don’t overthink it – they aren’t trying to trick you

Free Resources I used 

I actually looked at these between day 1 and day 2 to get a feel for what was going on.  After day 2, I didn’t do anything.  Then the morning following day 2, I did pass 1 of the test.

Resource My comments
Learning objectives and outline Good overview of what the course covers. Many parts will only make sense if you know the material though.
10 sample questions Easy if you know the material, but a good review.  I got one wrong, because I had never heard of the Product Backlog being referred to as the “Scrum Backlog”.
Scrum alliance open assessment This is more challenging than the official test and I learned more from it.

30 minutes, 30 questions, pass 85%.  Meant to evaluate your knowledge.  You can take it multiple times and get a few different questions each time. It requires 3rd party cookies which is annoying.  I took this three times after day 1 of the class and got 67%, 83% and 93% in that order.  The first two times, I did it from memory.  The third time, I used the actual Scrum guide as a reference.  (I’m not so good at remembering how long meeting X should be.  I know how long it is on our team, not the maximum.) It tells you what the correct answer is for the ones you got wrong.  Plus many have a paragraph explaining the rationale.  Making the by far the most valuable practice and reinforcement.  Both for the class and to learn more about Scrum.  This is definitely harder than the real exam as there can be multiple correct answers.

Resources I did not try

I don’t think you need them since the real test is open book and you can do research.

Resource My comments
Scrum Study Guide  This book is $50 for 50 pages.  It allegedly prepares you for the exam.  But the course does that.  I can’t imagine a book that short being worth the cost of $50 given this.  (I didn’t ask for a review copy because I suspect my review would be negative and I don’t want to approach a self-published author knowing that.)
Scrum Practice Test This is $7.  I looked at the preview on Amazon.  It seems harder than the exam, but interesting questions.
ScrumMaster Exam Questions E-book $20 book.  It’s 44 pages and you can preview the first four (along with the answers for free).  While some questions seem off topic (XP), the answer explanations are good.


3 thoughts on “certified scrum master

  1. Could you please advice on how visible the Certified Scrum Master Exam Score is? Who can see my exam score?

    Thank you.

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