Acing Your PSM 1 Assessment

A guideline on how to prepare & pass your professional scrum master I examination from scrum.org

Introduction & Motivation

Scrum is lightweight, simple to understand, and difficult to master

Taking a certification without knowing what you’re going to face is like going to a war without knowing what weapon should you bring. To make sure that you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, let’s read this and be well equipped to clear your PSM I assessment.

I don’t find many real life experiences here, mostly people just give you theory & the resources you need. This article will take you through my experience preparing & acing PSM I.

Estimating Your Current Knowledge

Well, you don’t really need to do t-shirt sizing or play planning poker here but knowing your current level of knowledge will give you an understanding of what your best next steps should be in order to prepare for this assessment.

For instance, if you already have practical experience working on scrum framework and applying it in your day-to-day project work then you already have a head start in this preparation. You can skip scrum training in this case and directly prepare for the examination.

If you’re new to scrum/agile or if you’re only familiar with the basics then I would suggest going through a comprehensive 2-day course from here. Alternatively you may also enroll in a Udemy course, I would suggest this one.

Read The Correct Reference Book

The analogy is like this.
If you want to learn about a religion, read the Big Book of that religion.
If you want to know about Christianity, read the Bible.
If you want to know about Hinduism, read the Bhagwad Gita.
If you want to know about Scrum, read the Scrum Guide.

As simple as that.

There are many references about scrum out in the internet, but trust me, what you need to do is read the official scrum guide from A to Z, read it word by word, let it sink in your brain, dream about it, trust every word of it, then you’re on the right track. You might think that you understand it completely, but you need at least two readings as every line is important and can be a question in your PSM I assessment.

Practice Resources

 Reading is not enough (at least for me), You need to know the exam sample, somewhere where you can test your understanding of the scrum guide.

Let me share the perfect resource to practice:

  • Scrum Open Assessment – It has 30 questions. Every time you give this sample test it has some different questions than the last time. They are also simpler than the actual exam and have lesser scenario based questions than what you might find in the real test. My suggestion is go through the scrum open again & again until you can score 100% marks in less than 8 minutes. Some questions are also repeated in the real test from this open assessment, so taking this will give you the edge.
  • There are few more open assessments. Find them here Professional Product Owner Open, Professional Scrum Developer Open & Nexus Open. Passing them are not necessary but if you want to make sure that you attempt all questions well from your real assessment then going through these open assessments will help to get the complete knowledge of question types.
  • You should understand how to scale Scrum. Check out the official Nexus guide. There are several related questions in the PSM exam.
  • Mockup Exams – Apart from the Scrum guide, open assessment tests, the Mikhail Lapshin quiz really helps. I would suggest everyone take a quiz from the Mikhail’s site before taking the PSM I exam. You have learning mode and real mode. Learning mode will give you instant feedback while you’re going through the questions. Real mode is exactly like the actual assessment having 80 questions to do in 60 minutes with a passing grade of 85% but it’s a simpler version of it. Go through this multiple times and make sure you get more than 95% in your last try.
  • Go through the whitepaper written by Barry Overeem – The 8 stances of a scrum master.

Exam Tips

Before you jump into the exam, let me give you a few assessment tips:

  • You might want to give examination after studying the resources for hours as the knowledge is fresh, but it’s generally a bad idea. Give the exam after a good night’s sleep when you’re well rested.
  • Make sure you keep an eye on the timer as it expires really quickly. Don’t waste any time because there’s none to waste.
  • Try to mark for review ONLY questions that you really want to revisit. Because of the time constraint, I do not think it is realistic to review more than 5–7 questions.
  • Read the questions loudly if needed and pay attention to the wording as small words like may/can/should/not can make all the difference.
  • Read all the answers. Even if you think you’ve got the right one, sometimes there are multiple right answers and sometimes there’s answers which look identical but only one is correct.
  • Majority of the questions where multiple answers are correct will explicitly have written how many answers to select. For example – “What are the two best ways”, “Select three things which” etc.
  • Make sure that you have a good internet connection, 60 minutes of peaceful time and a silent place from where you can take the assessment.

I scored 95% in the PSM I assessment, if you prepare using all these resources you can do the same or even better.

Good luck & Scrum On!

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