Thursday, November 10, 2016

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) training and certification exam

Some notes about the SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) training and certification exam.

Recently I took the 'Leading SAFe 4.0 for SAFe Agilists' training class. It is a 2-day training course for managers, project / program managers who want to learn about the SAFe methodology and start using it in their organization.

Training is pretty standard. However, if you want certification you have to pass an exam.

A few things about the certification exam and pointers to pass it successfully.

- First attempt exam fee is included in your course fee. As long as you take the exam within 30 days after taking the class, you don't have to pay anything extra. After that time period, you need to pay $50.
- The exam does require a fair amount of knowledge about SAFe, Agile, Software development, Project Management etc. If you have not paid attention during the 2-day course, you may not be able to pass it. There is a lot of material to cover and questions can come from anywhere.
- All questions are multiple choice questions. No negative marking.
- Pay attention during the 2-day course. Take notes. Some instructors provide useful hints. Note them down and revise those concepts before the exam.
- Plenty of study material is available at SAFe website.
- There are no sample tests available. That's a big disadvantage. You can't practice and get ready for the exam.
- Don't know what the passing percentage is. I scored 62% and passed.
- Close to 60 questions in the exam.
- Takes 2 to 3 hours at the minimum to complete the exam.
- The Exam is open book. It's an online exam. Pass / fail is declared at the end of the exam.
- You can take the exam in chunks. You can start, stop in between and come back to resume where you left.
- I suggest you take the exam soon after the training class when the material still fresh in your mind.
- Take the exam in one sitting (i.e 2-3 hours) and be done with it.
- Don't randomly guess the answers based on your commonsense. It may not be correct. Some concepts and terminology are unique to SAFe.
- Just because it is an open-book exam does not mean you can take it without any preparation. As said before, even with decent preparation it takes 2-3 hours to complete. If you plan to refer to the course material for every question, it is going to take hours and hours.
- Course material and information available at SAFe website is dense. You won't find answers directly to question asked in the exam. So learn the concepts well in the class and revise the material before the exam.
- Of the four choices given, for most questions, you can eliminate one or two choices right away. The challenge will be to choose the most appropriate answer among the two or 3 choices which all look correct. This is whee your preparation comes into the picture.
- If you don't pass the exam in the first attempt, you can take again. But, after the first attempt, which is included in the course fee, you need to pay $50 for every attempt. That's expensive. So, prep well and pass in the first try itself.

This is one among the four SAFe training courses available. Good course. Well worth the $1,000 course fee and two days. SAFe methodology is gaining traction in the market and appear to be useful for companies trying to scale Agile.

Although I passed in the first attempt I feel I could have scored more if I was more focused during two days and revised the course material very thoroughly (6-8 hours of prep over 2-3 days). But, I just wanted to be done with it and glad it worked out. I took the test 2 days after taking the course. Strongly recommend not delaying more than a week. Beyond that you will forget even the little of what you may have learned in the course.

Glad that SAFe organization has implemented some rigor in their certification process. Some certifications are too simple. Anybody who takes the exam ends up passing thus diluting its value. But SAFe exams are not like that. As long as they stay like that, SAFe certifications will carry some weight and value.

Good luck! Contact me if I can answer any questions.

SAFe Agilist Certification logo


kushi N said...

MAHESH Sir....America hegide?hosa aadalitadalli?

Mahesh Hegade said...

Hi Kushi, America is as usual. No change yet. New government start next year on Jan/20.

Thanks for the comment.

sunaath said...

Hi Mahesh,
You are Safe & Agile!

Mahesh Hegade said...

Thanks Sunaath Sir.

Shailesh Hegde said...

Very nice - Congratulations!

Kaustubh said...

Hi Mahesh,

Thnx for the heads-up on the SAFe certification. I will be attending the 2-day classroom session this weekend (27/28 May) in Pune.
I also plan to appear for the exam soon after the classroom session.
The information you have given, is very helpful and also a guide for preparation.

Thnx once again


Mahesh Hegade said...

Thanks Kaustubh. Good luck with your training and subsequent certification exam. Best regards. Mahesh.