You Should Not!

A best practice in designing questions is to avoid negation (the previous point), which is unfortunately not considered in the PSM/PSPO/PSK exam. The worst case is when negation is used with modal verbs (must, should, could, may) because it’s very confusing. There’s even a field called modal logic, with expert logicians trying to see how to handle such a thing!

Take this statement: The Product Owner should not attend Daily Scrums.

Is this statement true or false?

Some people wonder “Well, if I say it’s false, it means that the Product Owner should attend the Daily Scrum, which is not correct, therefore, ‘false’ is not the right answer”. This reasoning is not correct because “should” is not the opposite of “should not”! The opposite of “should not” is “may”. This becomes even more difficult for people who are not native speakers of English and have a mother tongue in which the opposite of their “should” is something like “should not”. By the way, the word “should” is usually used as a synonym of “must” in the exam and is not about advice or suggestion.

But don’t worry, and don’t be confused; all you have to do is think like this: is it correct to say that the Product Owner should not attend the Daily Scrum? No, it’s not correct to say so because there’s nothing to prohibit others from attending the Daily Scrum (in silent mode)… therefore, the statement is “false”.

It’s amazing how many people answer this type of question incorrectly!



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