To become a Scrum Alliance Certified ScrumMaster®, you must first attend a two-day course from one of our Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs). After your CSM course, you take a 50-question scrum master exam or test, known as the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM®) test, you need a passing score of at least 74% or higher to earn your certification. Keep in mind, you can’t skip the training course requirement to gain access to the online CSM test.
The course material taught by any of our CSTs will prepare you to pass your scrum master test. If you are looking for more test preparation, Certified Agile Coach® Joel Bancroft-Connors created this scrum master test study guide to help you pass the exam with flying colors.
If you have not taken your Certified ScrumMaster course yet, you must do so before you have access to the scrum master test, you can find your course here. If you’ve just attended a Certified ScrumMaster® course, you might be wondering, how do I prepare for the CSM exam? Follow the steps in this CSM test study guide and you should easily pass the test.
What to Expect From the Scrum Master Test
So that you know what to expect from the scrum master test, start with a quick refresher by reviewing the Scrum Alliance Certification Question mini-articles. These mini-articles will cover basic questions such as:
- How many questions are there?
- What’s a passing score?
- How long do I have to complete the Certified ScrumMaster test?
- How long is my certification valid?
- Can I take the exam without attending a course?
- How do I access my certification?
Preparing for the Certified ScrumMaster or CSM Test
Once you have the basics down, it’s time to start preparing for the exam itself.
Take a deep breath, you’ve got this!
First off, the CSM test is what I like to think of as a “test of learning” not a “test for knowledge.”
- A test for knowledge is testing you against the entire body of knowledge related to what you are being certified for. Examples are Project Management Professional (PMP) and Professional Engineer (PE).
- A test of learning is testing you against what you have just been taught. I like to call it a “were you paying attention” test. Examples of this are the pop quizzes teachers gave us at the end of class to see if we had been paying attention.
As a “Test of Learning,” the CSM is only confirming what you learned from taking your CSM class and reading the Scrum Guide. In other words, if you paid attention during your two-day Certified ScrumMaster Course, you should have no problem passing the CSM test.
Looking for a quick scrum review? This resource explains what scrum is — and what it isn't. It also details how the most popular agile framework helps teams manage complex work.
Tips for Passing the CSM Exam
The following CSM study guide is a mix of practical tips for taking multiple choice tests and specific tips to pass the CSM test.
Tips Specific to the CSM Test
- Choose your scrum master course wisely. For those of you that are reading this before you attend a class, do your research and choose the instructor that is right for you. This article has tips on “How to Choose a Certified Scrum Trainer.”
- Review the Certified ScrumMaster Course Learning Objectives. There are many practice exams out there that are not based on Scrum Alliance learning objectives and they will not help you with the CSM test.
- Take a CSM practice exam. Only use one that was created by a Certified Scrum Trainer specifically for the Scrum Alliance CSM test.
- Remember, the test is open book. You're welcome to use any written or online resources as reference when taking the test. You can also use any notes or worksheets provided to you during your Certifed ScrumMaster Course. That said, I recommend only using the online version of “The Scrum Guide” and steering clear of outside resources, as scrum can be highly interpretable.
- Be mindful of specifics, implied and not. The Scrum Guide is a primary resource. However, at 13 pages long, there’s a lot that is not said. When researching a question, be very clear whether the Scrum Guide specifically mentions it (e.g. “There is only one Scrum Master on the team”), implies it (e.g. “Only the Scrum Team attends the Retrospective”), or outright does not mention it (e.g. “Use relative story points when sizing”).
- You do not need to pay any money for exam preparation. You attended a course and studied, you have what you need to succeed.
Basic Multiple Choice Tips for the Certified ScrumMaster® Exam
- Start at the end, read the last sentence of the question first. That way, even if the wording is tricky, you won't be confused because, you’ll know the most important information first.
- Think of the correct answer before you read the choices. You just took the class and studied. You probably know the answer already. Now look at the choices.
- Examine all of the possible options before selecting one. This keeps you from picking an answer that is close to the correct one.
- Read all of the options from the bottom up. Your brain tends to be biased towards the first reasonable answer. Read all of the answers to ensure there isn't one that is a better fit.
- If you are stuck, start eliminating what you know is wrong. Often times wrong answers will be obvious. For example, any answer in multiples of months is wrong for any time box-related scrum question.
- Watch out for words like all, always, none, and never. Choices with these words are often misleading. For example, if a choice uses the word always, that means there is not a singe possible instance where something wouldn't be true. This is unlikely.
- Don't forget to review your answers. Double-check everything before you submit your answers.
- Don't waste too much time on a tricky question, remember you can always come back. If a question has you stumped, flag it for review and come back to it later.
- Tip: A quick web search for “tips for multiple-choice tests” will give you even more helpful tips and tricks.
Relax, you’ve got this!
Remember, becoming a Certified ScrumMaster is the start of your agile journey. It’s meant to be the first step along a path of constant learning. The Certified Scrum Master Exam reflects this. It’s not scary and it’s not difficult.
If you paid attention in class, followed the tips in this CSM study guide, and keep a copy of the Scrum Guide handy, you’ll do just fine. Now go claim your CSM Certification!
Related Collection: Need a refresher on scrum master basics? Explore this Collection of Scrum Master Articles and Videos.