InfoQ has a great article on questioning whether or not there should be some type of exam to achieve CSM status. Since that article was posted, the Scrum Alliance will be phasing in an exam by April 2009 and I think that is a great idea, if done correctly.
I would defintely prefer to see some type of scenario based exam so students can prove they can apply the knowledge gained in the course instead of a multiple choice exam. It’s pretty simple to memorize a few facts and pass and exam however that is better than being given a certification based on the instructors assertion you deserve it. Having said that, I’ve worked with some MCSE’s who passed the Microsoft exams but didn’t understand basic file sharing principles in Windows NT4.
This is a step in the right direction in making the certification more meaningful and difficult to obtain and it’ll be interesting to see what type of exam the Scrum Alliance can come up with.