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How To Become A Certified Scrum Master- Exam Preparation And Guidance

Introduction to Certified Scrum MasterWho is the Scrum Master?In one of our previous blog posts, Rumesh Wijetunge shared some relevant insights on the role of Scrum Master. Wearing different hats, coach, enabler, facilitator, team leader, problem-solver, s/he is in charge of giving right directions to team members so that they reach objectives. First promoter of Agile mindset, values and principles, the Scrum Master uses the Scrum framework to help a team in understanding, working on, and achieving a common goal.Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum MasterIt is expected from the Certified Scrum Master to promote an Agile way of working and to lead Scrum implementation in order to improve the team's overall performance. It implies these activities:Teaching Agile values and principles and ensuring they have been understood and adopted by the Scrum Team, and even by the whole organization if possible (and relevant)Implementing the Scrum framework so that it fits  the needs expressed by the Scrum TeamListening, observing and reflecting on how the Scrum Team is reacting to first changes, then selecting and adapting Scrum elements accordingly.Protecting Team Members from any interference or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary workAnticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn to solve these situations by themselvesHelping the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog so that time-to-market is reduced and every increment brings value to end customersActing as a Servant LeaderRequirements to become a Certified Scrum MasterGetting some basic knowledge about the Scrum framework is a nice-to-have prerequisite. However, the first mandatory step is to attend a two-day CSM course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). This course will prepare you well for the CSM exam by delivering insights about how to organize and support a Scrum Team. The final step is easy: you need to accept the License Agreement and update your Scrum Alliance membership profile. Why you should be a Certified Scrum Master? Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is one way to expand your career opportunities. Indeed, Agile is spreading everywhere in organisations, in all industries. Strongly correlated, software and digitalization are eating the world, so the need for Scrum Masters in software development is increasing. It is also the beginning of a long journey: it enables you to engage with other Scrum practitioners all over the world, to share best practices, to solve common issues and to promote Agile values and continuous improvement.Besides, this certification offers you to learn foundation of Scrum and scope of the role of Scrum Master. And because it is delivered by Scrum Alliance , this is a very valid proof of your Scrum knowledge.What do I need to do to become a CSM? A true belief and strong interest in Agile philosophy will help for sure to get knowledge, to practice efficiently and to stand out among Agile practitioners. Nonetheless, passing the Scrum Alliance certification for Scrum Master lies mainly in learning Scrum fundamentals and attending to the two-day training (see above paragraph c.)a. Why CSM over PSM: Best Scrum Master certification1. Scrum.org courses- Price, Renewal, Pros, and ConsPrice: It includes exam fees but depends on content, duration, trainer and location:US: $1500Europe: 1500 eurosIndia: INR 26,000Renewal: No expiration (lifetime certification)Pros:Course content is officially designed by Scrum.org so all teachers deliver same content. It implies that Scrum.org selects qualified instructors and ensures students learn the same core content.Exam can be taken without attending course - Exam fees are $150There is an online free assessment exam for practisingCons: Exam is much harder than CSM. It requires experience, and deep theoretical knowledge2. Difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org coursesThe main difference lies in the fact that Scrum.org provides standard curriculum and course content, while training conducted to become CSM depends on individual trainers experience, opinion and knowledge.CSM Certification TrainingSyllabus of Scrum Master certification Scrum Alliance provides a list of selected resources to learn the Scrum framework. People who want to become Certified Scrum Master are invited to read articles from experts like Mike Cohn or Steve Denning, or from other members. One specific advantage with Scrum Alliance lies in their elearning series: a dozen short videos introduce Scrum Theory and Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts. Besides, it is strongly recommended to read those references:the Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherlandthe Scrum Primer by Pete Deemer, Gabrielle Benefield, Craig Larman and Bas Voddethe Do Better Scrum by Peter Hundermark Not mandatory but relevant to go further, Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyenand Software in 30 days by Ken Schwaber.Exam and Certification InformationScrum Alliance courses- Price, Renewal, Pros and Cons The CSM course is a two-day (16 hours) course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).There is no standard fee, so the price can vary depending on the context: trainer, content, location, date ; the usual range is from 1000 to 1500 euros (or from 1150 to 1750 dollars).It includes two attempts to take the CSM exam and a two-year membership to the new Scrum Alliance® community. Those two attempts have to be used in the next 90 days after attendees receive the welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid for two years, then it requires to be renewed after that.Besides, attendees to the CSM course will be granted with 14 PDUs credits: 10 PDUs in Technical Project Management and 4 PDUs in Leadership. What can be considered as a drawback is that there is no standard content course. Course materials are made by individual trainers, which implies it can be limited by their experience and opinion.Cost of the Scrum Master CertificationThere is no specific cost for the Certification: fee is included into the CSM two-day course. The structure of the examThe exam is composed of 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to pass the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions. Topics covered in the CSM exam As this exam requires to demonstrate an understanding of the key Scrum elements, it covers general Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings and Scrum artifacts.Here are the Sample questions of CSM exam 1) What does NOT belong to the agile manifesto's main pillars?Individuals and interactions over processes and toolsWorking software over comprehensive documentationProcesses over peopleCustomer collaboration over contract negotiationAnswer: Processes over people2) How should work be allocated to the team in an Agile project?The Team Leader (ScrumMaster) should allocate specific tasks to individualsTasks should be randomly allocated to team members, using Planning PokerTeam members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skillsThe most complex tasks should be allocated by the Team Leader (ScrumMaster)Answer: Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills3) What are the disadvantages of the classical waterfall model? (Select the best alternative)A)  End-Product has to be fully anticipated beforehandB)  Some requirements are implemented as defined in the beginning of the project, and yet they are not really needed by the customerC)  Each phase is strictly separated- A- A, B- C, B- A, B, CAnswer: A, B, C4) Who is responsible for prioritizing the product backlog?- Product Owner- Project Manager- Lead Developer- Business AnalystAnswer: Product Owner5) What kind of software development projects can be executed by Scrum Project Management Framework?- Complete software packages- Customer projects- Sub-systems, components or parts of bigger systems- All kinds of software development projects- None of the given answersAnswer: All kinds of software development projectsSalary of the Certified Scrum MasterSalary per year Junior Senior US$82,000 - 105,000$105,000 - 120,000Europe38,000 - 55,000 €55,000 - 75,000 €DubaiAED 25,000AED 35,000IndiaRs. 731,983Rs. 1,424,186
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How To Become A Certified Scrum Master- Exam Preparation And Guidance

4904
 How To Become A Certified Scrum Master- Exam Preparation And Guidance

Introduction to Certified Scrum Master

Who is the Scrum Master?


In one of our previous blog posts, Rumesh Wijetunge shared some relevant insights on the role of Scrum Master. Wearing different hats, coach, enabler, facilitator, team leader, problem-solver, s/he is in charge of giving right directions to team members so that they reach objectives. First promoter of Agile mindset, values and principles, the Scrum Master uses the Scrum framework to help a team in understanding, working on, and achieving a common goal.

Responsibilities of the Certified Scrum Master

It is expected from the Certified Scrum Master to promote an Agile way of working and to lead Scrum implementation in order to improve the team's overall performance. It implies these activities:

  • Teaching Agile values and principles and ensuring they have been understood and adopted by the Scrum Team, and even by the whole organization if possible (and relevant)
  • Implementing the Scrum framework so that it fits  the needs expressed by the Scrum Team
  • Listening, observing and reflecting on how the Scrum Team is reacting to first changes, then selecting and adapting Scrum elements accordingly.
  • Protecting Team Members from any interference or troubles that make them losing focus on their primary work
  • Anticipating, identifying and removing any impediments, and coaching Team Members to learn to solve these situations by themselves
  • Helping the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog so that time-to-market is reduced and every increment brings value to end customers
  • Acting as a Servant Leader

Requirements to become a Certified Scrum Master

Getting some basic knowledge about the Scrum framework is a nice-to-have prerequisite. However, the first mandatory step is to attend a two-day CSM course conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®). This course will prepare you well for the CSM exam by delivering insights about how to organize and support a Scrum Team. The final step is easy: you need to accept the License Agreement and update your Scrum Alliance membership profile.

 Why you should be a Certified Scrum Master?

 Becoming a Certified Scrum Master is one way to expand your career opportunities. Indeed, Agile is spreading everywhere in organisations, in all industries. Strongly correlated, software and digitalization are eating the world, so the need for Scrum Masters in software development is increasing. It is also the beginning of a long journey: it enables you to engage with other Scrum practitioners all over the world, to share best practices, to solve common issues and to promote Agile values and continuous improvement.

Besides, this certification offers you to learn foundation of Scrum and scope of the role of Scrum Master. And because it is delivered by Scrum Alliance , this is a very valid proof of your Scrum knowledge.

What do I need to do to become a CSM? 

A true belief and strong interest in Agile philosophy will help for sure to get knowledge, to practice efficiently and to stand out among Agile practitioners. Nonetheless, passing the Scrum Alliance certification for Scrum Master lies mainly in learning Scrum fundamentals and attending to the two-day training (see above paragraph c.)

a. Why CSM over PSM: Best Scrum Master certification

1. Scrum.org courses- Price, Renewal, Pros, and Cons

  • Price: It includes exam fees but depends on content, duration, trainer and location:
    • US: $1500
    • Europe: 1500 euros
    • India: INR 26,000
  • Renewal: No expiration (lifetime certification)
  • Pros:
    • Course content is officially designed by Scrum.org so all teachers deliver same content. It implies that Scrum.org selects qualified instructors and ensures students learn the same core content.
    • Exam can be taken without attending course - Exam fees are $150
    • There is an online free assessment exam for practising
  • Cons: 
    • Exam is much harder than CSM. It requires experience, and deep theoretical knowledge

2. Difference between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org courses

The main difference lies in the fact that Scrum.org provides standard curriculum and course content, while training conducted to become CSM depends on individual trainers experience, opinion and knowledge.

CSM Certification Training

Syllabus of Scrum Master certification 

Syllabus of Scrum Master certification


Scrum Alliance provides a list of selected resources to learn the Scrum framework. People who want to become Certified Scrum Master are invited to read articles from experts like Mike Cohn or Steve Denning, or from other members. One specific advantage with Scrum Alliance lies in their elearning series: a dozen short videos introduce Scrum Theory and Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events and Scrum Artifacts.

 Besides, it is strongly recommended to read those references:

 Not mandatory but relevant to go further, Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen

and Software in 30 days by Ken Schwaber.

Exam and Certification Information

Scrum Alliance courses- Price, Renewal, Pros and Cons 

  • The CSM course is a two-day (16 hours) course delivered by a Certified Scrum Trainer® (CST®).
  • There is no standard fee, so the price can vary depending on the context: trainer, content, location, date ; the usual range is from 1000 to 1500 euros (or from 1150 to 1750 dollars).
  • It includes two attempts to take the CSM exam and a two-year membership to the new Scrum Alliance® community. Those two attempts have to be used in the next 90 days after attendees receive the welcome email to pass the test. Beyond this duration, they will be prompted to pay $25 to take the exam. Certification is valid for two years, then it requires to be renewed after that.

Besides, attendees to the CSM course will be granted with 14 PDUs credits: 10 PDUs in Technical Project Management and 4 PDUs in Leadership.

 What can be considered as a drawback is that there is no standard content course. Course materials are made by individual trainers, which implies it can be limited by their experience and opinion.

Cost of the Scrum Master Certification

There is no specific cost for the Certification: fee is included into the CSM two-day course.

 The structure of the exam

The exam is composed of 35 multiple-choice and true/false questions. At least 24 correct answers are required to pass the exam, and there is no time limit to answer those questions.

 Topics covered in the CSM exam

 As this exam requires to demonstrate an understanding of the key Scrum elements, it covers general Scrum knowledge, Scrum roles, Scrum meetings and Scrum artifacts.

Here are the Sample questions of CSM exam 

1) What does NOT belong to the agile manifesto's main pillars?

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Processes over people
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Answer: Processes over people

2) How should work be allocated to the team in an Agile project?

  • The Team Leader (ScrumMaster) should allocate specific tasks to individuals
  • Tasks should be randomly allocated to team members, using Planning Poker
  • Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills
  • The most complex tasks should be allocated by the Team Leader (ScrumMaster)

Answer: Team members should self-select tasks appropriate to their skills

3) What are the disadvantages of the classical waterfall model? (Select the best alternative)

A)  End-Product has to be fully anticipated beforehand
B)  Some requirements are implemented as defined in the beginning of the project, and yet they are not really needed by the customer
C)  Each phase is strictly separated

- A

- A, B

- C, B

- A, B, C

Answer: A, B, C

4) Who is responsible for prioritizing the product backlog?

- Product Owner
- Project Manager
- Lead Developer
- Business Analyst

Answer: Product Owner

5) What kind of software development projects can be executed by Scrum Project Management Framework?

- Complete software packages
- Customer projects
- Sub-systems, components or parts of bigger systems
- All kinds of software development projects
- None of the given answers

Answer: All kinds of software development projects

Salary of the Certified Scrum Master

Salary per year Junior Senior 
US$82,000 - 105,000$105,000 - 120,000
Europe38,000 - 55,000 €55,000 - 75,000 €
DubaiAED 25,000AED 35,000
IndiaRs. 731,983Rs. 1,424,186


Nicolas

Nicolas Casel

Blog Author

Scrum Master / Agile Consultant with passion for fostering Agile mindset and improving User Experience.
Other skills: web development, CMS, usability, e-learning

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2 comments

Jahnavi jonnavithula 16 Nov 2018

i think this is the 2nd article iam reading in ur blog . this is quite impressive thank you for the info

Krishna 19 Nov 2018

This article is really useful.

Jack W. 20 Jan 2019

Getting the PSM Certification is much more valuable and costs less money. But it is of course a bit harder to get. (need 85% to pass)

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But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® Agilist (SA) exam-5+ years’ experience in software development, testing, business analysis, product, or project managementExperience in ScrumExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), commencement of the examNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 34 out of 45 (76% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Agilist certificate1-year membership with the SAFe® Community Platform, which includes access to the SA Community of PracticeA variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey2. SAFe 4.5 for teams (SP)Today, SAFe® 4.5 certified practitioners are in huge demand for their ability to scale the Agile methodology within the enterprise. This course makes the team aware of the Scrum principles, Lean thinking tools, roles, and processes. New teams or Scrum teams seeking for the Agile adoption and scaling within the organization, will find this course much helpful. Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® Practitioner (SP), you should be able to-Demonstrate SAFe® Agile principles to the teamManage Agile teams on Agile Release TrainPlan sprint iterationsImplement iterations and deliver valueDevelop your teamCoordinate with other teams on the trainWhat will attendees get?16 PDUs and 16 SEUsFreely downloadable e-book100 Days’ Free Access to Agile and Scrum e-training The course is for:Team members who want to apply Lean and Agile principlesAll team members of an Agile Release Train (ART) preparing for the launchPrerequisites:The course is free for all attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® Practitioner (SP) exam-Familiar with Agile principlesAware of Scrum, Kanban, and XPExperience in software and hardware development processesExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 35 out of 45 (78% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Practitioner (SP) certificate3. SAFe 4.5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM)The SAFe® 4.5 POPM certification is intended to make Product Owners/Product Managers aware of the SAFe® principles, Lean-Agile tools, Agile development practices and SAFe® framework. Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® 4.5 (POPM), you should be able to-Implement SAFe® practices in the Lean enterpriseAttach SAFe® Lean-Agile principles and values to the PO/PM rolesCombine with Lean Portfolio ManagementImplement the Program Increment and deliver continuous valueCreate a PM/PM’s role action planWhat will attendees get? Training from a certified industry expertDownloadable courseware16 PDUs from PMI ® (PMI-ACP® / PMP® recertification)15 SEUs for CSPAttendee workbookMake you ready to attend the SAFe® 4 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) examOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformCourse completion certificateThe course is for:Product Managers, Product Line Managers, Product Owners, Business Owners, and Business AnalystsSolution Managers, Portfolio Managers, Program Managers, PMO personnel, and Process LeadsEnterprise, Solution, and System ArchitectsPrerequisites:The course is free to the desired attendees. But, following prerequisites are needed to attend the SAFe® 4.5 POPM exam.Leading SAFe® course attendeesWorking experience in the SAFe® environmentExperience with Lean, Agile, or other relevant methodsExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 35 out of 45 (78% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM) certificate4. SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) courseThe SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certification equips the candidates with the skills that can be applied to lead high-performance Agile teams. Also, candidates will learn to apply DevOps practices and Kanban techniques and managing the interactions between the teams, stakeholders, and the Product Managers.Learning Objectives: As an SASM certified professional, you should be able to-Apply SAFe® principles in a multi-team environmentBuild a high-performing team and enable continuous improvementUnderstand Agile and Scrum anti-patternsFacilitate program planning, implementation, and value deliverySupport learning through participation in Communities of Practice and innovation cyclesWhat will attendees get? 16 PDUs and 16 SEUsFreely downloadable e-bookCourse completion certificateAttendee workbookOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformThe course is for:Existing Scrum MastersTeam leaders, project managers, and an Agile Team facilitator in a SAFe®Agile coachesEngineering and development managers executing AgileAgile Program ManagersProspective SAFe® Release Train EngineersPrerequisites:The course is free for the attendees. But, having at least one or more of the following certifications is recommended to attend the SAFe® 4.5 ASM exam-SAFe® 4 Scrum Master (SSM) certificationCertified Scrum Master (CSM) certificationProfessional Scrum Master (PSM) certificationExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 120 minutes, once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 60Passing Score: 42 out of 60 (70% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Advanced Scrum Master (SASM) certificate5. SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification trainingSAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master(SSM) certification will make you well-versed with the main components of the Scaled Agile Framework and allow you to lead high-performing Agile teams. This course will help you to improve quality of the products reducing time-to-market.Learning Objectives:As a SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification training, you should be able to-Discuss Scrum practices in a SAFe® implementing enterpriseFacilitate Scrum eventsFacilitate effective Iteration executionAssist DevOps implementationSupport effective Program Increment executionSupport continuous improvementTrain Agile teams to maximize business resultsAssist DevOps implementationWhat will attendees get?Prepare and support to clear the exam16 PDUs and 16 SEUs (under the category C)Course completion certificateThe course is for:New Scrum MastersPresent Scrum Masters, who wish to assume new roles in the SAFe® enterpriseTeam Leads who want to understand the Scrum Master roleSAFe® Release Train Engineers (RTEs) who want to coach for the role of the Scrum MastersPrerequisites:The course is free for the attendees. But, following prerequisites are a must to take the SAFe® 4.5 SSM exam-Familiarity with Agile principlesShould be aware of Scrum, Kanban, and eXtreme Programming (XP)Work experience in software and hardware development processesExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 90 minutes (1.5 hours), once the exam has commencedNumber of Questions: 45Passing Score: 33 out of 45 (73% passing score)Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master (SSM) certificate6. SAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (RTE) certification courseSAFe® 4.5 RTE course will educate you on building the high-performing ART and understanding the role of  the RTE in a Lean-Agile transformation. Also, the attendees will learn to mentor the Agile leaders, teams and the Scrum Masters and how to prepare, plan and execute a Program Increment (PI).Learning Objectives: As a SAFe® 4.5 Scrum Master with SSM certification training, you should be able to-Apply Lean-Agile principles and tools to execute and deliver valueFostering continuous improvementConstruct a high-performing ART as a servant leader and coachPreparing an action plan to continue the learning journeyWhat will attendees get? Preparation and support for the SAFe® 4.5 Release Train Engineer (RTE) examCourse completion certificateOne-year membership to the SAFe® Community PlatformThe course is for:RTEs and Solution Train Engineers (STEs)Program and project managersScrum MastersLeaders and managersAgile coachesSAFe® Program Consultants (SPCs)Prerequisites:Following are the prerequisites required to attend the exam-Should have at least one current SAFe® certificationHave launched or participated in at least one ART and one PIExam Details:Time-span: Candidates have 120 minutes to complete the examNumber of Questions: 60Passing Score: 40 out of 45 (67% passing score)Each retake attempt costs $250Certification:On clearing the certification exam, the candidates will receive-SAFe® 4.5 RTE certificateNote:For all the courses, the registration fee includes the first exam attempt if the exam is taken within 30 days of course completion. Each retake attempt costs $50.After any of these SAFe® 4.5 certifications, you will get a Digital badge to promote your accomplishment online.Summing It UpToday, the SAFe® 4.5 certification is considered as a standard for Lean-Agile endeavours. Over 70% of the US Fortune 100 companies are utilising SAFe and the call for the SAFe® certified experts is rising at an exponential rate. The competitors that are searching for the more prominent vocation ahead, can go for the Leading SAFe® 4.5 certifications, as many employers seek candidates with credentials that convey their capability to work inside a SAFe® environment (verified through a SAFe® certification).
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Is SAFe® 4.5 Certification Worth The Price?

In this decade where traditional methods for Proje... Read More