Master the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Certification Exam

  • Scaling Agile
Created on :
September 19, 2023
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
October 13, 2023

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is making waves in the industry as a growing number of organizations embrace its principles. This surge in SAFe adoption is amplifying the demand for SAFe roles in recruitment. Consequently, Scrum Masters are increasingly operating within SAFe environments, and many are keen to transition to SAFe Framework. This heightened interest has spotlighted the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) certification.

Are you gearing up for the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) exam? In search of valuable tips to ensure a successful first try? Look no further. Our blog brims with insights designed to bolster your confidence and prep you for success. It’s crucial to note that one cannot take the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Exam without attending the official certification class. So, if you haven’t enrolled yet, consider that your first step.

Overview of SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) 6.0 Exam

  • SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) moderate complexity, mainly knowledge-based questions.
  • Official Leading SAFe Training course: mandatory for taking the exam.
  • Exam preparation: 10-20 hours post-training, typically within one week.
  • SAFe vocabulary: crucial, understanding concepts alone insufficient.
  • Exam format: browser-based, non proctored, no application download needed.
  • First attempt: included in training fee, valid for 30 days; additional or late attempts: $50 each.
  • Exam details: 45 questions, 73% pass mark, 90 minutes, no negative marking.
  • SAFe Scrum Master Student Workbook: primary resource for exam preparation.
  • Take Mock test before taking the final exam.
  • SAFe information: SAFe 6.0 Framework .

Exam Content Outline

Based on Scaled Agile’s official content, the following is the Exam Content Outline for the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Exam:

Introducing Scrum in SAFe® (22-28%)Basic Agile development concepts Basic Scrum concepts Agile Teams in a SAFe Enterprise High-performing team characteristics Team events overview DevOps and Release on DemandLesson 1, 2 and 4
Defining the Scrum Master / Team Coach role (26-30%)Scrum Master / Team Coach characteristicsScrum Master / Team Coach responsibilitiesAgile team coachingLesson 2
Supporting Team Events (17-21%)Iteration planningTeam syncBacklog refinementIteration reviewIteration retrospectiveLesson 4
Supporting ART Events (25-29%)PI PlanningIP IterationInspect and Adapt eventLesson 3 and 5

Exam Pointers / Tips:

Below are some pointers, presented as questions, to illustrate the type of content you can expect from each lesson in the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Exam. Review these questions alongside your SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) Digital Workbook to ensure a comprehensive understanding and increase your chances of passing the exam.

Lesson 1: Introducing Scrum in SAFe

  • Describe the difference between the terms “Scrum Master” and “Scrum Master/Team Coach.”
  • List down negative impacts of “Too much work in process (WIP)
  • Can you recite the Agile Manifesto’s introduction statement?
  • List down the main principles of the Agile Manifesto
  • List down the the four values of Agile Manifesto
  • Which Agile principle or practice do you find the most challenging when compared to traditional development methods?
  • Elaborate on the three pillars of Scrum.
  • List down the Scrum values.
  • Define “Iteration” in the context of Scrum and SAFe.
  • How is the Team Backlog crucial for incremental development?
  • Describe the core values of SAFe.
  • What constitutes a cross-functional Agile Team in a SAFe Enterprise?
  • Differentiate between the roles of Scrum Master and Product Owner within an Agile Team.
  • What is the function of an Agile Release Train (ART) in a SAFe environment?

Lesson 2: Characterizing the Role of the Scrum Master

  • What are the primary responsibilities of a Scrum Master within a SAFe Enterprise?
  • How does a Scrum Master work in tandem with the RTE to meet PI Objectives?
  • What role does the Scrum Master play during PI Planning?
  • 4. How would you define servant leadership in the context of a Scrum Master?
  • What are the main attributes of a servant leader?
  • Why is empathizing with team members important for a Scrum Master?
  • 7. List five common attributes of high-performing teams.
  • How can a Scrum Master foster a safe atmosphere for taking risks within a team?
  • What stages do high-performing teams typically go through?
  • 10. Why can meetings be challenging and what are the common pitfalls to avoid?
  • List three best practices for running successful meetings.
  • 12. Why are powerful questions essential in coaching?
  • Provide an example of a powerful question a Scrum Master might ask during a team retrospective.
  • 14. Why is it essential for a team to integrate their work often with other teams on the ART?
  • Discuss the role of a Coach Sync in a SAFe enterprise.
  • 16. Why are teams more productive than the same number of individuals?
  • List three of the five dysfunctions of a team.
  • How does SAFe help address these dysfunctions?
  • What are the key steps to take when resolving a conflict between team members?
  • 20. What is the purpose of a working agreement in a team setting?
  • Describe the process to achieve consensus within a team when faced with disagreement.

Lesson 3: Experiencing PI Planning

  • How would you define PI Planning?
  • What is the significance of PI Planning within the ART framework?
  • How often does PI Planning typically occur?
  • Why is it important for everyone to plan together during PI Planning?
  • Who is responsible for setting Feature priorities in PI Planning?
  • How do Development teams contribute to PI Planning?
  • What roles do the Architect and UX play in PI Planning?
  • List some benefits of PI Planning.
  • How does PI Planning enhance personal communication across teams and stakeholders?
  • How does PI Planning align the development with business goals and vision?
  • Why is identifying dependencies crucial in PI Planning?
  • How does PI Planning match demand to capacity?
  • Explain the concept of PI Objectives.
  • What are some examples of PI Objectives?
  • What is the purpose of uncommitted objectives in PI Planning?
  • How do spikes differ from regular Stories?
  • What should teams aim to achieve in the PI Planning simulation?
  • Define a Feature in the context of Agile Release Train.
  • How do teams break down Features into smaller components?
  • Why are personas important in understanding user needs?
  • How can a team ensure they are investing in a good story?
  • What are the 3Cs of writing good stories?
  • How do acceptance criteria help in story development?
  • What is the role of Enabler Stories in Agile development?
  • Differentiate between Refactors and Spikes.
  • Explain the significance of using Fibonacci for estimation.
  • How does estimating poker aid in fast and reliable estimates?
  • What role does the Scrum Master play in facilitating estimations?
  • Describe the process of drafting PI plans.
  • How do teams identify roles and responsibilities during PI Planning?
  • Why is it crucial to use historical data to calculate velocity?
  • How is capacity calculated in a PI Planning simulation?
  • Explain the concept of ART planning board.
  • What is the final plan review and how does it differ from the draft plan review?
  • Describe the concept of ROAMing risks in PI Planning.
  • Why is a confidence vote taken by each team and the ART?
  • What is the purpose of the PI Planning Retrospective?
  • How can distributed teams effectively conduct PI Planning?

Lesson 4: Facilitating Iteration Execution

  • What is the purpose of establishing capacity during iteration planning?
  • How does defining capacity allocation benefit the Product Owner and the team?
  • What are the key steps involved in the story analysis and estimating process?
  • Why is it important to set iteration goals, and how do they benefit the team?
  • In the given activity for Iteration Planning, what is the role of the Scrum Master?
  • Describe the Scrum Master’s role in Iteration Planning.
  • 9. What are the potential root causes of poor Team Syncs?
  • How does visualizing work increase understanding and clarity about team progress?
  • Explain the difference between burn-down and burn-up charts. Why does SAFe recommend the latter?
  • How is the Scrum Master involved in tracking the iteration progress?
  • What is the split in responsibility for backlog refinement between the Product Owner and the Scrum Master?
  • How would you address a situation where a Story does not have acceptance criteria?
  • Describe the Scrum Master’s role in backlog refinement.
  • 16. What is the primary purpose of the Iteration Review?
  • What are the essential components of the Iteration Review agenda?
  • Explain the two main views provided by the Iteration Review.
  • How does the Scrum Master contribute to the Iteration Review?
  • 20. Why is fostering a culture of improvement important in Agile Teams?
  • How can retrospectives be used for continuous improvement?
  • What is flow velocity and how is it relevant to Iteration Metrics?
  • Describe the Scrum Master’s role in facilitating relentless improvement.
  • Define the CALMR approach to DevOps.
  • How can a Scrum Master support the elements of the CALMR approach in their team?

Lesson 5: Finishing the PI

  • What does coaching the IP Iteration entail?
  • How is the “Inspect & Adapt” event significant in SAFe®?
  • Can you outline the six steps of the problem-solving workshop?
  • How would you prepare a team for the Inspect & Adapt event?
  • How does the IP Iteration foster innovation and planning in SAFe®?
  • What are the consequences of excluding the IP Iteration in the SAFe process?
  • Describe the three parts of the Inspect & Adapt event.
  • Who are the typical attendees of this event?
  • What is the importance of the PI System Demo?
  • How is the team performance assessed post a PI?
  • What is the primary goal of the problem-solving workshop?
  • How does root cause analysis play a role in this workshop?
  • What is the role of the Scrum Master during the Inspect & Adapt process?
  • Why is reflecting on the importance of the IP Iteration necessary for the Scrum Master’s Action Plan?

Utilize the following pointers to gauge your preparedness for the exam. It is advisable to first study the exam pointers and seek out the answers, then proceed to take mock tests. Aim for a 90% score in the mock tests, as this indicates you are well-prepared for the final exam. If you have any questions about the pointers provided, feel free to post your queries in the comment section below.

If you haven’t attended the SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) certification class yet, consider enrolling in one of our upcoming SAFe Scrum Master (SSM) courses to enhance your knowledge and skills further. We also conduct sessions in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad.

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