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Definition of "should" and "can"

Last post 08:34 am August 3, 2018 by Jennifer Stekkinger
10 replies
01:25 pm August 1, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As part of a preparation for PSM I and PSPO I exams I'm going through different practice exams (like Lapshin or Volkerdon) and most of the time I get an incorrect answer on questions where "should" or "can" are used (FYI I'm not a native speaker). Let have 2 examples:

1. Question: The Product Owner and Scrum Master should not be part of the Development Team. (Answers: True or False). Correct answer (according to Volkerdon) is False.

I do understand that there is an option in Scrum where Product Owner or Scrum Master can be also a developer but it's not recommended. So if it's not recommended - thinking logically, the correct answer should be "True, they shouldn't be part of Development Team", no?

2. Another question is better to show as a picture -

So I have 2 questions:

1. Is it me who doesn't understand the meaning of "should" and "can" or answers from Volkerdon are incorrect?

2. What is the correct way to address this type of questions during exam?

Thank you

01:53 pm August 1, 2018

Strange... why this topic didn't appear in the list of forum topics...

06:28 pm August 1, 2018

Hello Stanislav,

Thank you for your questions. All forum posts must be moderated. New users need to build up their trust rating before posts automatically go through.

12:40 pm August 2, 2018

I agree with the test author that the answer should be FALSE.

"should not be part of the" is kind of strong statement, and Scrum Guide "only" does not recommend... Which is not strong enough to justify "should not".


Therefore, your statement below is logically false:

"So if it's not recommended - thinking logically, the correct answer should be "True, they shouldn't be part of Development Team", no?"

01:36 pm August 2, 2018

That's quite a trap for people who do not speak english natively. They should simply use "must not" instead of "should not" in that question, so it's really clear. To me as a non-native english speaker "should not" totally sounds like a recommendation of what not to do.

02:07 pm August 2, 2018

“The Product Owner and Scrum Master should not be part of the Development Team”.

It’s best to be wary of third party questions which may not be well-formed. In this example, answering “false” may imply that the PO and SM should be part of the Dev Team, while answering “true” may imply that there is a prescription against this arrangement. Neither interpretation would be correct.


02:12 pm August 2, 2018

As part of a preparation for PSM I and PSPO I exams

@Stanislav : Don't panic, I'm far from beeing fluent in English, but I don't remember any assessment with this kind of "trap". You can have some questions with "should" or "can" but without such subtilities.


03:10 pm August 2, 2018

@Filip : ye you have a point. Should is still strong enough. Unfortunately, for non-native speakers it sounds just like @Steven wrote - recommendation.

@Ian : true. Good thing that exam is more clear with usage of "must" and "can" which are more or less straightforward

@Olivier : just wanted to be sure that I'm getting everything right :) As a result - got PSM I yesterday and PSPO I today :)

05:20 pm August 2, 2018

Like Ian said, this is the exact reason why I strongly suggest against using third party sources for studying. The Open Assessments available here gives you an idea of what the exam is like. Read the suggested reading materials, some more than once, and you'll find that you'll be able to pass the exam. More people fail because they put faith into third party sources like Volkerdon and others. They remember which answers are correct and incorrect while utilizing the practice exams but in the real exam; the content doesn't match up.

Have you read the suggested reading materials? If you've not, that needs to be your first priority; otherwise you're simply studying to pass a test and not to actually learn something.

07:28 am August 3, 2018


Thank you for your honest opinion and suggestions. Unfortunately, I had quite enough experience with certification exams where an understanding of wording used by examinators is one of the key factors (especially on exams where you have 85% as a pass rate). Not experience, not understanding and knowledge - pure wording of exam itself (not meaning) is crucial (people who went to get some SAP certifications will understand me).


08:34 am August 3, 2018

@Stanislav  I to have purchased the study exams from Volkerdon. I agree with you that the English is written poorly on several questions and I am a native English speaker. I wrote to them about several question I could not answer properly because the questions and some of the answers are poorly communicated which leaves me to believe that the persons creating the study guide are not native English speakers.

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