How to pass Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) Certification?

So, Finally, I am a Professional Scrum Master (PSM I). It was kind of overdue to have an attempt on Professional Scrum Master Certification conducted by Scrum.org. I have been using Agile (and Scrum) in my projects in various capacities for many years now. And to be honest, the simplicity of the framework and the empirical process behind the Scrum has fascinated me to pursue the subject further.

Scrum Master Badge

I registered for the exam last week. The process is relatively simple. Register on the Scrum.org and pay $100 for the PSM I exam. They would send your password to access the exam within a business day. And you have a period of 14 days to give the exam. I kind of used 7 days just to make sure I don’t waste my $100 as the score you need to get is fairly high (85%). That means from a set of 80 questions, you need to get at least 68 right.

PSM

I did not do excellent and just made sure to pass the exam on border by having 69 answers correct i.e. 86.6 % as score. Well, not really bad for first attempt. After the exam, you do not get report of the question which you did not answer correct but you do get a consolidated report on the areas with your scores. Mine looked something like this. This at least helps me to focus on specific areas for Scrum.

Scrum Score

Tips and tricks to pass Professional Scrum Master Certification

Let’s be honest, there is no ready-made formula for success in any field and same applies here while you try to attempt get the certificate for Professional Scrum Master. And in fact, the certificate value just drops to nothing if you have not learned anything during the process.

PSM-I-Exam-TopBanner-Text

Nevertheless, here are my two cents based on my own experience.

  1. Make sure you go through the official Scrum Guide written by Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland thoroughly. The guide is very concise, but covers the essence of Scrum.
  2. I would suggest you to go through the Scrum Open Assessments (both and Scrum Master and Scrum Developer) multiple times before you are scoring 95% or more consecutive time. The open assessment has a set of approximate 40 questions. Out of which 30 questions are presented in an assessment.The assessment will give you an idea of questions which would be asked in the actual assessment. Additionally, you would find some of the questions from open assessment repeated in the actual assessment. This gives you surplus time and confidence during the examination.Personally, I found 10-15 questions being repeated in the actual exam.
  3. Don’t look around on internet for dumps of questions. You are not going to find any. And even if you do, then what’s the point of giving exam and get credentials? You could better create a Photoshop version of certificate to boss around.
  4. PSM I Simulated Exams from Management Plaza is a good tool to evaluate your preparation and readiness for the PSM I Exam. The simulator not only contains a set of 250 practice questions but also explains each and every answer.

    Thanks to team at Management Plaza who have offered a discount coupon of up-to 20% on purchase of their learning courses. Don’t forget to use the coupon code “manas-agile” to get benefit from this offer.

  5. Everyone has their own preference over books, I went through the ‘A Guide to the SCRUM BODY OF KNOWLEDGE (SBOK™ GUIDE), 2013 Edition’. It’s to the point and gives you decent read before the exam.
  6. The Scrum Master Training Manual from Frank Turley and Nader K. Rad is another resource guide which compliments the original Scrum Guide. It has a lot of practical examples which are important from the exam point of view. One thing which I liked in the manual is the explanation of burn-down charts which is not explicit in the Scrum Guide. And ofcourse, it’s FREE!
  7. Go through the discussions on Scrum Forum. You would find a lot of people discussing their experience and queries on this forum. Group of folks here are willing to help you if have questions.  A great place to hang around for Scrum enthusiasts.
  8. During the exam, don’t try to Google (or Bing) around for the answers. First, you won’t find any. Second, there is no guarantee that the answer is right. Third, you would be wasting your time. Keep in mind that you need to complete 80 questions in 60 minutes. That gives you 45 seconds per question. Yes, you need to be fast.
  9. And yes, make sure you have an isolated place where you can concentrate while giving the examination. As the examination is online, you need to have a good and consistent internet connection in place. Have a glass (or two) of water with you. You would feel thirsty during the exam. Psychological? Not sure!

Good luck to those of you who are preparing and attempting for PSM!

And while you are here, you can read my earlier related posts on Scrum and Agile.

A beginner’s guide to Scrum

The curious case of Scrum Master’s role

An introduction to Agile Methodology

A beginner’s guide to various Software development methodologies

PSM Certification Guide

  • Derek Davidson

    Hello Manas

    Congratulations on passing your PSM I assessment. You provide some good advice in your article but there is one item that I’d ask you to re-consider.

    The Scrum BOK that you refer to is a poor reference for Scrum. It contains a number of significant errors that go against the definitive scrum guide provided by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland.

    I wrote an article on passing the PSM I myself. You can find more information here: http://webgate.ltd.uk/how-to-pass-the-professional-scrum-master-i-psm-i-assessment/

    • Hi Derek,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      By means of providing the Scrum BOK, I am
      not at all endorsing the book. The only reason I have mentioned it in my
      article is because I used it while preparing for my exam. And yes, it does not
      replace the original Scrum Guide written by Schwaber & Sutterland. This is another
      reason, I mentioned this book at number 4.

      Having said that if you can mention the specifics
      which are incorrect in this book, I will more than willing to make amendments
      to my post to reflect them.

  • Ahmed

    Hi Manas,

    I have a question please.

    I am studying for the PSM I certificate. I studied the Scrum Guide by Schaber/Sutherland, and passed in the Open Assessment on Scrum.Org.

    Am I ready for the certificate exam? or should I also read SCRUMstudy-SBOK-Guide-2013 ?

    Please advise.

    Regards,
    Ahmed

  • Ahmed

    Hi Manas,

    I have a question please.

    I am studying for the PSM I certificate. I studied the Scrum Guide by Schaber/Sutherland, and passed in the Open Assessment on Scrum.Org.

    Am I ready for the certificate exam? or should I also read SCRUMstudy-SBOK-Guide-2013 ?

    Please advise.

    Regards,
    Ahmed

    • Hi Ahmed,

      Scrum Study SBOK is not mandatory however if you have time then it does not really hurt to go through the book.

      The Scrum Guide Schaber & Sutherland does not cover all the topics which you might encounter in exam for e.g. the burn down charts etc. You would see some questions on burn-down charts and please make sure you read about them before going for the exam.

      Another thing I would suggest is to practice that Open Assessment at least 5 – 6 times and score 100%. This would also give you the benefit that the repeated questions in actual exam would be known to you and you won’t have to spend extra time on that.

      Please go through my post related to Scrum as well. They cover lot of topics in relation to the exam:

      http://manasbhardwaj.net/?s=scrum

      Good luck with your certification and let me know when you pass 🙂

      Regards, Manas

  • Richin

    where to find details related to burn down charts and all

  • priyanka goel

    Hi Manas,

    Do we need to go through scrum developer open assessment for PSM1 certification? That is for PSD1 certification right?

    Regards
    Priyanka

    • Hi Priyanka,

      Yes, you are absolutely right that PSD1 is for Developer Open Assessment and you need not go through this to get PSM1.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers, Manas

  • Veenu Chugh

    Hi Manas,

    I am at the very basic level can you please guide me which certification is benifical for my career I have a lots of certifications in Business Analyses role like CBAP/CCBA/CSM/PSM and very much interested in scrum certification please let me know where to initiate

    • Hi Veenu,

      The certification which you have are more competency based i.e. more in your
      day to day work and skills for Business Analysis.

      However, Scrum is a completely different
      ball game. It’s a framework to support the software development teams to
      increase their agility and have more transparency with in the organisation.

      I am not sure what you role is in such a team. However, basic introduction to
      Scrum in helpful for almost any role.

      Either way, I would recommed to go for Scrum Training First and the opt for a
      Scrum Master Certification. Although the same suggests “Master”, in my opinion
      it’s actually a “Introduction to Scrum” certification covering various blocks
      of the framework.

      If you want to go for Professional Scrum
      Master (PSM), then this blog post itself is a good place to start and just
      follow the pointers as suggested.

      Cheers, Manas

  • Mangalam Krish

    Hi Manas,

    Really your article is very helpful and inspiring.

    I would like to do the PSM certification. Do I need to attend any classroom training to appear the exam?

    • Chen Huang

      no paid training needed. Also, it does not need renewal. CSM needs both of this. Thats why i sent for PSM

  • Chen Huang

    Thanks for the detailed tips.
    I also cleared PSM.
    It is a tough exam but worth it.

    Now i have my team members preparing for it. Some guide book will really help.

    To some extant, the pocket version is good. But there are no sample questions

    I stumbled on a book named scrum narrative psm guide in smashwords, and the sample looks promising. I will have someone download and verify that