The Difference Between the PSM and the CSM Certifications

*The following was written by guest blogger Tammy Ziemba

Knowledge of Scrum is one of the most highly sought-after skills in recent years. Scrum is characterized as a spry structure which is utilized to finish complex tasks. It was imagined for programming projects and now it is used for other complex tasks.

With the rise of Scrum,  there comes an interest in certified Scrum professionals. The top two most respected certifications for the Scrum Master are the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and Professional Scrum Master (PSM).

PSM Vs. CSM Certification

Both the CSM and PSM certifications center around programming advancement but are not quite the same as one another. They both draw from the same body of knowledge, the Scrum Guide, but is one better than the other? Which will prove your value to employers more? – The PSM or the CSM?

  1. How to Get the Certification

CSM certification by Scrum Alliance is easy to get, but fairly expensive, by going to a two-day class and passing a test with a score of 74% or higher. You can pick your training organization as all the certified training instructors that work with Scrum Alliance are required to pass rigorous courses and tests on Scrum. Another hindrance to obtaining the CSM certification is that there may be no available trainers in your area and training online isn’t allowed.

PSM certification exam by Scrum.org isn’t so easy. There are three levels of PSM certification – PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III. The training in each level is optional, but the testing can be more difficult. Where the CSM seems more aimed at beginners in Scrum, the knowledge needed to pass the PSM level one almost certainly requires some experience in Scrum. You must pass the test with at least 85%.

  1. Number of Questions/ Number Correct Needed

This is a critical difference to consider when talking about PSM Vs. CSM. For passing CSM certification exams, you need to score 74% or 37 right answers out of 50 questions. The number of questions and the passing score have been raised in recent years.

The PSM I has many more questions compared to the CSM. There is a total of 80 questions, and you need to get 68 of them correct in order to pass.


Study Material for the PSM and CSM Exams


  1. Exam Format

The exam pattern between the PSM and CSM are different as well. While CSM contains multiple choice questions, The PSM certifications may involve multiple choice questions, multiple answer questions, and some true/false questions. The PSM I will carry questions about the facts of Scrum as well as some scenario-based questions.

  1. Test-Taking Environment

In the past, the CSM didn’t require a test, but only that one take a course in Scrum from a certified trainer. It now requires an exam with a proctor present. This is where the PSM lacks some integrity. The PSM requires no proctor attending the exam and one can take the test from their home with no one to verify their identity.

  1. Side by Side Comparison

Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I)

Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

Number of Questions 80 50
Number Correct Required 68 37
Percentage Correct 85% 74%
Allowed Timeframe 60 minutes 60 minutes
Training Optional Required
Test Type Not Proctored Proctored
Certificate Duration No Expiration 2 years
Difficulty Level Intermediate Beginner
Continuing Education None 20 hours every 2 years
Certificate Renewal Fee None $100

PSM Practice Exam: Scrum Master – PSM I and PSPO I Exam Sample Questions


Scrum Alliance: https://www.scrumalliance.org/get-certified/scrum-master-track/certified-scrummaster

Scrum.org: https://www.scrum.org/professional-scrum-master-i-certification

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