Certified Scrum Master Exam

Certified Scrum Master ExamI’ve blogged before about Certified Scrum Master (CSM) status, and how I think Scrum Master Certification isn’t worth the paper it’s written on!

I’m not against CSM training. In fact I’d heartily recommend it to anyone. The Certified Scrum Trainer process is pretty rigourous, ensuring the quality of the trainers.

It’s the terms ‘Certified’ and ‘Master’ I have a problem with, when all that’s required to be labelled as a Certified Scrum Master is attendance on a 2 day course.

However, I’m really pleased to say that the Scrum Alliance has taken the first step towards putting that problem right, with the announcement of a Certified Scrum Master exam being introduced from 1st October 2009.

Credit to Scrum Alliance for listening and acting on feedback from the agile community. It’s definitely a step in the right direction…


Photo by superia85

4 Responses to “Certified Scrum Master Exam”

  1. Mike Cottmeyer says:

    Kelly… yes a step in the right direction… but how is this test any better than the test I took to get my PMP? I bet it's not any better. Do we think it will yield any better results? I doubt it.

    That is the whole rub here… we put in a test to establish credibility… but a test only demonstrates knowledge. We need competence and I am not sure a test based on two days of material will demonstrate competence.

    Now we have someone who is supposed to be competent because they took a test… but they are not any more competent that if they took the 2 day class. It is just more of the same…

  2. Scott Duncan says:

    Unfortunately, from a certification perspective, I believe you will not be able to just take and pass the test. I believe you will have to have been trained by a CST to be allowed to take the test.

    This, then, suggests the certification isn't really about using the test to demonstrate knowledge. Otherwise, it would not matter how you acquired the required knowledge to pass the test.

    If there is something about getting training from a CST to acquire the knowledge that is superior to getting that knowledge elsewhere, then the Alliance should make that clear. If the CST training contains more than the test can/does validate, then the test is actually missing that material. If the test is sufficiently comprehensive, then it should not matter how you know enough to pass the test.

    This is something "in-bred" about this approach that is not true with, say, PMI's PMP, the ASQ CSQE, or the IEEE CS's CSDP. Having a certification test that you cannot take unless you show training from a group of people who pay the certification body money to be allowed to do the training is a conflict of interest matter in my view.

  3. Stefan Höhn says:

    I agree to all you. However I think the exam is a good addition because many doubted that getting a certificate without any exam would make sense. This is how the whole school systems works and there still havebeen few examples that make it different (see montessori education for example that has a lot in common with the way we are doing agile).

    The important thing is that everyone knows that a CSM-certificate doesn't represent the experience of the ScrumMaster but that he/she at least took some time to prepare him/herself in a guided or coached way.

    Hence, everyone should pick his/her ScrumMaster based on the experience of the SM and not the certificate itself only but isn't that the same with all consulting or coaching people you chose for staffing?

  4. John Luce says:

    Unfortunately, the Alliance has taken a stand that only courses they teach count. I was to take a course taught by a cPrime instructor and was told that it would not allow me to sit for the exam.

    It seems quite self serving to take such a stance.

Leave a Reply

What is 8 + 9 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
Please do this simple sum so I know you are human:)

There are 101 ways to approach anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”