How to become a certified Scrum Master

Scrum.org PSM I certification

Hi guys!

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it would be good to confirm my knowledge of the Scrum framework with a certification. I found out there are two main Scrum certification organizations established by the Scrum creators: Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org.

Scrum.org logo

The first one requires to attend a special course and then pass an online exam where answer at least 24 of 35 questions. The second one does not require any courses, but the online quiz is m
uch harder. It contains 80 questions which should be answered in 60 minutes and 85% is the pass rate.

 

At Informatica we have been using Scrum since 2010 in every project. We even had a couple of Scrum trainings during this time. So, I decided I need
no any courses and a hard exam it is exactly what I want. So, I chose the Scrum.org and its PSM I exam.

Scrum Alliance Logo

Fortunately, there is an open assessment which allows to get the taste of the real exam. It contains just 30 simplest questions and 30 minutes to answer them. Despite my solid Scrum experience I could not reach 85% at the first try and understood that I need some additional preparation.

How to prepare for PSM I Assessment

I spent a couple of weeks reading different Scrum sources and passed the exam with 77 of 80 points. I’d like to share my experience. I hope you will find it useful.

  1. The main piece of advice is to learn by heart the official Scrum Guide. You definitely should be able to explain in your own words every its topic and do not miss anything. Every single word in the guide has important meaning and it could be asked in the test. So, you need to read it at least 5 times thinking over each sentence. Try to understand in detail what a sentence is about. If something is not clear, try to google the answer. Compose a list of unanswered questions to answer them later.
  2. Read the Scrum Glossary. It is short and it will give some additional knowledge that is not directly explained in the guide.
  3. Other important source of knowledge is the open assessments. They are simpler than the actual exam, but they contain some actual questions that could be asked in the real test. To feel confidently at the exam, you should be able to pass the open assessment in about 5 minutes with 100%. Note, the question pool of the open exam is wider than it is included into one quiz session. So, passing the open exam again and again will allow you to see the whole pool of open questions.
  4. Note, there are 4 open assessments: PSM, PSPO, PSD and Scrum Practitioner. You should easily pass the first two assessments. PSD is also useful, but it contains a bit of programmer questions which are not asked in the real PSM exam. Certainly try the Scrum Practitioner Open to get feeling of more complex questions. A couple of similar questions will definitely appear in the PSM exam.
  5. If you are reading some other book or an article about Scrum, be sure it is in accordance with Scrum.org and the latest Scrum version (it turned out the Scrum rules are changing from time to time).
  6. You should understand how to scale Scrum. I mean the official Nexus guide. There are several related questions in the PSM exam.
  7. There will be a couple of questions about charts: burn-down chart, cone of uncertainty and maybe some others. So, at least know about these two.
  8. Read Scrum Pocket Guide by Gunter Verheyen. Everyone advises to read it, but, unfortunately, I did not find the book to evaluate.
  9. If some topics are not clear, do not hesitate and ask at Scrum.org forums. There are lot of people who passed the exam and you can get a lot of helpful feedback.
  10. Read other PSM preparation tips like: by Charles Bradleyby Nader K. Rad or by Manas Bhardwaj.
  11. Remember, Scrum is just a framework for adoption of real development processes. Sometimes quiz questions asking for an experience of applying Scrum rules to the real life. If you do not have such experience, try to think how to answer having the Scrum spirit in mind.
  12. If you are preparing to pass PSPO exam, you need to learn more about product owner role responsibilities. The Scrum Guide does not contain all the details how to maximize the product value. So, some additional reading is necessary. I found very useful the following article: The New New Product Owner and Evidence-Based Management Guide brochure. Some related questions could be asked in the PSM exam, so this is a useful reading.
  13. As an option you could try some paid preparation courses or mock exams like PSM I Simulated Exams by Management Plaza.
  14. And the last advice – you can try my own PSM I mock quiz at this website. I read the Scrum Guide several times and created own questions for each topic. I recommend passing it exactly as the open assessments – many times until reaching 100% in each attempt!

Good luck in becoming a Scrum Master!

24 Comments

  1. Pingback: PSM I Mock Quiz is Ready | Mikhail Lapshin

  2. Pingback: Nexus Quiz is Ready | Mikhail Lapshin

  3. Murali

    Hi Mikhail,

    Recently I cleared PSM-I certification from scrum.org with 92% score in first attempt. Your blog and quiz helped me a lot to pass the exam. I briefed my PSM exam preparation experience in my blog.

    http://www.murali.site/2016/07/13/how-to-pass-professional-scrum-master-certification-psm-i/

    Thanks,
    Murali

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Murali,

      Congratulations on passing the exam!
      I am glad my quiz helps people around the world becoming better.

      Thanks for mentioning me in your post.

      Cheers!

  4. Schmoselhund

    Hi Mikhail,

    I’m going to to certification for product owner. Can you recommend me some tests for it? I use roght now your quiz and think it will help me a lot, but I know that in the exam there are a lot of tricky questions specific for product owner.

    thanks a lot
    Schmoselhund

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Schmoselhund,

      I’ d recommend the Scrum.org open PSPO assessment: https://www.scrum.org/Assessments/Open-Assessments
      Actually, the PSPO exam is quite similar to the PSM exam. Just read the article and brochure I suggested in my blog post. It will give you a clue about Product Owner responsibilities.
      It was enough for me to pass the PSPO exam with just 1 mistake.

  5. Vahan

    thanks for the assessment quizzes and info.

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      You are welcome!

  6. JobyManu

    Hi Mikhail,

    I am preparing for the PSM1 exam and your Quiz is really helping to prepare for it. I have a quick suggestion- can you please display the question /answers which are went wrong during the real time mode ?

    Thanks & Regards,
    Joby

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Joby,

      Thanks for using my quiz and trying to make it better.

      What you are asking for already exists. It is the learning quiz mode. It gives you all the correct/wrong answers.

      Maybe it would be useful to get the list of incorrectly answered questions after finishing the quiz in the real mode, but the quiz engine I am using does not have such option. Anyway, after a real PSM exam you also won’t know which your answers were incorrect.

      –Mikhail

  7. braver

    Hi Mikhail -I just to say THANK YOU! With your quiz I was able to pass my PSM 1 exam with 95%.

    Your blog, quiz and tips were really helpful and give me the right orientation to be ready. Thanks for share your knowledge.

    Regards,
    Carlos Gomez

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Carlos,

      Thank you for your words.
      I am really glad that I can help people to learn Scrum.

      –Mikhail

  8. clint

    Hi Mikhail,

    Just wanted to send some positive thoughts your way! The Scrum Guide / Open Assessments / Your Quiz are the only resources I used to clear my PSM I assessment with 92.5%!

    Do you have any tips with regard to PSM II?

    Kind regards and best wishes,
    Clint

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Clint,

      Thank you for using my quiz. Your result proves that it actually helps.

      The certifications at Scrum.org are changing. The new PSM III is the former PSM II (essay questions + multiple choice) and the new PSM II is the former PSP (only multiple choice questions).

      So, now PSM II is simpler than it was before. No more essay questions. The number of questions is just 30, but the questions are tough (think about the hardest questions in PSM I).
      PSM II covers wider subject areas: additional questions from PSPO subject area and from Nexus.

      I did not try to pass PSM II exam. Now for me it looks like a good idea to pass it, share my experience and create a PSM II mock quiz.

  9. christ_ar

    Hi Mikhail

    I write to inform you that you did a great contribution on my PSM 1 certification.
    One of the reason I passed PSM1 with 91% score was because I use your quiz to study.
    You are so blessed 🙂

    I also want to inform you that I shared a blogpost about my PSM 1 certification and put a link of your quiz there.
    I hope that’s OK.
    Here is the link: http://bit.ly/psm1_ru-rocker
    You are welcome to visit and leave comment there 🙂

    I’m planing to take PSM II or PSPO1 too this year, it will be great if you have similar mock quiz
    Wish you all the best for your PSM II certification

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Christine,

      I am glad I helped you to pass the exam.
      I like your article with all the advice and emotions.

      Many people are asking about a PSPO or PSM II mock exam. Probably I need to create one.

      Good luck in Scrum learning and earning new certifications!

      –Mikhail

  10. medin r

    I absolutely loved your free quiz for the psm 1 test.

    Now I recommend only the following for anyone preparing to pass the psm 1
    1. Book – Scrum Narrative and PSM Exam Guide by Mohammed Musthafa Soukath Ali
    2. Practice Quiz – Michael Lapshin online psm 1 quiz.

    Looking forward for similar quiz on other psm tests.

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Medin,

      Thanks for using my quiz and your words.
      I looked through the book. It looks very good because it gives a lot of advice on PSM 1 exam. Thanks for sharing it.

      –Mikhail

  11. Chris

    I have been a scrum master for 2 years. I went through agile bootcamp training and scrum master training 2 years ago. I took several practice tests online and knew that I was not ready to pass the PSM 1 exam. I read and re-read the scrum guide 5 times. I took your practice tests until I got a 100 every time on both learning mode and real mode. I then bought a practice exam from agileprojectmanagementtraining (im not advertising, feel free to remove if inappropriate) and I found their exam to almost cross check the knowledge in your exams. I then passed the scrum open exams with 100 multiple times. I knew I was ready at that point. Then I took the actual exam. WOW it was tougher than I thought! I found many questions to be quite subjective with the answers that were provided. The exam had a general feel to it like it’s purpose is to make you fail. I however, ended up passing with a 95%!! Many thanks to you! I am not sure if you need to extra test that I purchased or not, but it seemed to help reinforce my readiness. Thank you so much for putting this site together. I am going to work on my PPO certification now. Do you have any insight as to where I should begin studying for that exam?

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for sharing your success and your feedback.

      For preparing to PSPO exam for me it was enough to read a bit more about product owner role responsibilities. I found very useful the following article: The New New Product Owner and Evidence-Based Management Guide brochure.

      Actually, PSM I and PSPO I have about 80% of questions in common. So, it is necessary to learn the remaining 20% to pass it.

      Regards,
      –Mikhail Lapshin

  12. aeysiam

    Hi, Mikhail

    I read your advice and exercising on your quiz several time, and I got my PSM I certificate!!

    Thank you for your help. Your quiz helps a lot. One suggestion for english as a second language people, the assessment quite hard to understand if you are an english as a second language person, read it carefully, bookmark and comeback later as you wish. I passed with 86% score one most difficulty for me is the language itself.

    Thanks again.

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Thanks for using my quiz and the feedback!

  13. anjali18

    Thanks Mikhail, your quiz helped me get thru PSM1 in first attempt. Thanks again.

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Anjali,

      Thanks for using my quiz and sharing your success.

      –Mikhail

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