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!

53 Comments

  1. thisisalexis

    Hi, Mikhail!

    A couple of weeks ago I took the PSM I test for the first time and I got a 96.3% (77 out of 80 well answered questions); now I’m a Professional Scrum Master Level 1. I followed the suggestions listed in this article and, of course, I took your free exams at least twice per week during three months, which was a fundamental part of my preparation, so, as many others, I wanted to thank you for such an important help.

    Best regards!

    Alexis Bravo

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Alexis,

      Thanks for using my quizzes and your words.

      –Mikhail

  2. Jose

    Hi Mikhail,

    I cracked PSM I with a score of 92.5% in my first attempt, thanks to your free exams, I would highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to do PSM I . The free questions in Real mode and learning mode helps to understand the content of scrum guide better.

    Regards,
    Jose

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Jose,

      I am glad I helped you. Thanks for sharing your success!

      –Mikhail

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  4. rcunha

    I just passed my PSM-I with 95%. You’re absolutely the man! I’m definitely donating.

    The exam is a little harder than your mock exam as you have to think thru some of the questions and there’s a bunch of gotchas. But if a candidate is solid enough to ace 95-100% of the questions in your mock exams he has quite a good chance to pass.

    I also did mplaza and whizlabs but definitely thought yours is better and closer to the scrum guide. Congrats on that!!

  5. nomadis

    Hello Mikhail

    I want to get the PSM I certificate as well. What do you think: Is it possible to succeed at the exam with no practical use of scrum?

  6. partha947

    Hi Mikhail,

    Greetings from India!

    Yesterday I cracked PSM I with a score of 93.8% on my first attempt, thanks to your advice, scrum questions and most importantly your free exams, I would highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to do PSM I.

    Really appreciate your efforts and thoughts you put in maintaining this site.

    Regards,
    Partha

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi Partha,

      Congrats with cracking the exam!
      Thanks for your words.

      Best Regards,
      –Mikhhail

      1. Jigs

        Hi Mlapshin,

        I wanted to know as of today that which of these open assessments I should practise to appear for PSM I certification?
        https://www.scrum.org/open-assessments

        1. paradoxon

          Hey. I passed it yesterday with 90% and can tell you that you should DEFINITELY do these assessments:

          Scrum Assessment (Mike’s and the scrum one)
          Product Owner Assessment (Mike’s and the scrum one)
          Nexus Assessment (Mike’s and the scrum one)

          also read the scrum guide and the nexus guide pretty often until you understand it. there were 10-12 Questions from the Nexus Guide in my case and some were really weirdly asked. You still have plenty of time to correct many questions (I rushed through the questions in 25 minutes) . After that i corrected the questions where i was insecure.

          Good luck!

    2. sueletting

      Hey Partha,

      Did you just practice on the scrum questions and passed the exam or you read other materials?
      Thanks and congrats on your certification.

  7. mgrossi83

    Just passed on 1st attempt w/ 95%! Thank you so much for all the work you put into this site! I was nervous at first because I don’t have any scrum experience, but after some weeks of studying & going over exams & the Scrum Guide, here we are. I really can’t thank you enough. If you can help with any insight on how to get some work, it would be really helpful. In going through some job posts, I see people looking for Kanban or other project management knowledge. Again, any insight you can offer is greatly appreciated. Definitely going to donate to keep this going!

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi,

      I am glad I helped you!
      Such messages is the best part of my work. Thanks!

      I am a software engineer. So, for me the natural way to a Scrum Master career is just start doing Scrum in your own team. After a while, you will get some real life experience with Scrum and could apply for a Scrum Master position.

      Another path I see is from a Project Manager position. The same idea. Start using Scrum in your team, when you have experience you could apply for a Scrum Master position.

      You are right. I’ve rarely seen open Scrum Master positions. Usually, it is some kind of a Manager position with Scrum knowledge (and whole bunch of other requirements).

      –Mikhail

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  9. jfar

    Hello, today I present my PSM I certification exam, pass with 91.3% on the first attempt (73 – 80). The material they have is very helpful, the test exam, as the additional questions were very helpful for the presentation of the real exam, I must even say that some questions are very similar. Of course, it is necessary to study and understand the Scrum Guide very well (I read it at least 5 times), as a main resource I studied the Scrum Master Learning Path, (https://www.scrum.org/pathway/scrum-master). As an additional comment, I am not a native English speaker so the test exams helped me a lot to practice and understand each of the questions more precisely. Thanks again.

    1. mlapshin (Post author)

      Hi,

      Congrats with passing the exam!

      Thanks for the useful feedback.

      Best Regards,
      –Mikhail

  10. paradoxon

    Thank you for your information and work (especially your test exams). I passed the assessment with 90% recently and it was pretty hard but your tests helped out A LOT. You’ll get a donation from me.

    Sincerely

    paradoxon

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