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 Scrum.org site

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 Scrum.org. 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 Scrum.org 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!