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Professional Scrum Master I — how to pass PSM I assessment

by | Kwi 4, 2013 | Blog, Scrum |

PSM I certificate badgeI just have passed my Professional Scrum Master I certification test again and I would like to share with you my fresh experience. I hope that you can learn from it and pass the test or score higher. I did the PSM I once more, because I need 95% or more to apply for Professional Scrum Trainer. My scores were 91%, 93% and now 96%, so I think I can give some advice to you. No worries, you don’t need to have such a high score.

The Rules

Let’s look at the details from the Official site

  • Fee: $150 per attempt
  • Passing score: 85%
  • Time limit: 60 minutes
  • Number of Questions: 80
  • Format: Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer and True/False
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Language: English only
  • PSM Subject Areas
  • Required course: None
  • Recommended courses:Professional Scrum Foundations or Professional Scrum Master
  • Practice Assessment: Scrum Open
  • Passwords have no expiration date, but are valid for one attempt only

The best thing about the PSM I exam is that finally you do not need to attend a training where somebody will pass you the secret wisdom like with the Certified Scrum Master training. You can test your knowledge if you feel that you know enough.

The next good thing is that it’s only 100 bucks for online exam and you will get the result right away.

Passing score of 85% might seem quite high, but if you understand the Scrum well, it shouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand Ken Schwaber said that the average score is between 70% and 75%. If you want to become a Professional Scrum Trainer, you need to pass the exam and PSM II on at least 95%. In case of PSM I assessment it means 77 out of 80 correct answers to have 96% score.

Let’s be honest 60 minutes is not plenty of time with 80 questions to answer. It is about 45 seconds per question. You won’t have the time to refer to books or other sources seeking the right answer.

Practice with the Scrum Open Assessment

But you can buy some time. How? Practice the Scrum Open Assessment. It is another test with 30 questions randomly chosen from a limited pool and this limited pool is subset of the actual pool from PSM I Assessment. You can do the Open Scrum Assessment for free as many times as you want. You just need to create an account on This way if you will practice 4–5 times, you will see the same questions on the PSM I exam and you answer them automatically. Don’t be too automatic though. The assessment mechanism randomizes the order of answers, so if the first time the correct one is c, next time the correct one might be a. That’s ok, you will see how it works practicing Open Scrum Assessment a few times.

Know Scrum

Read the Scrum Guide over and over again

What else can you do to prepare? Definitely read the Scrum guide. Even if you thing you know what is Scrum about, read it with a highlighter in your hand and mark all the keywords. The guide has changed significantly with version October 2011. Read the Scrum Guide at least 3 times before taking the exam. But do not expect to find all the answers in the Scrum Guide. Some won’t be there. There are questions about burndowns despite the fact that they are not part of the Scrum Guide anymore. I had a question about firing and hiring power. You won’t find the answer in the guide.

Read and watch even more

Do not limit yourself to Scrum Guide alone. Also practices from your current project can sometimes confuse you. Read books by Ken Schwaber, Mike Cohn, Jeff Sutherland and watch YouTube video with Ken, Mike and Jeff.

Few Examples:

Know how to pass tests

Having the knowledge and passing the exam are two different things. You need to have a little bit of strategy here. Don’t be fooled by “Multiple Choice and True/False “. There are ways to make it tricky. Be alert for “not”, “the best”, “all of above”, “which is false” types of questions. Read questions carefully and if you are not sure, skip the questions and come back later. Psychological research confirms that if you are not sure and change the original answer, you will change it to the wrong one. So stick to you first choice if you are not certain. Come back to questions left blank. If you still don’t know the answer, pick what makes most sense to you. There is not punishment to for wrong answers.

Use your time wisely

You can come back to questions, but the interface is quite clunky and it will take you a lot of time to click through to get to the questions you are looking for. Prepare pen and paper to write down questions you skip or want to review later.

Don’t play a hero and don’t go for race with time. Passing Open Scrum Assessment in 5 minutes doesn’t mean that you can click through the PSM I Assessment like through Windows installer. Again, take your time. You will see the timer running on the page itself.

After the exam

After the exam you will see your score. Also if you let the time run out, exam will end and you will see the result. It used to be the case that after exam, you would see a list with wrong answers and correct answers sometimes with explanation of reasoning behind it. Nowadays you won’t see that. And do not to raise this issue at the Forum. They will eat you alive with replies like “People would publish all the answers in the internet the next day”. PDF with the PSM I certificate will be emailed to you. Congratulations!