Advice for Taking the PSM-I Exam

One of the most common questions I see on scrum forums is people looking for advice before they take the PSM-I exam. Why not? It’s a widely respected Scrum Master exam at a very reasonable price! I’ve previously written about the format of the exam. In this post I’m going to give my advice on how to pass it.

How would I advise you practice for the PSM-I exam?

Your first resource should be The Scrum Guide 2020 (assuming you’re not reading this in the future after a new Scrum Guide has been produced, in which case use that one!

Second, consider going on a course. Personally I have not attended a PSM-I course however I have only heard excellent things about them. How better to prepare for an exam than to get formal trainer from one of their highly qualified trainers? I believe the courses also include the cost of an exam entry.

You should also take the Scrum Open Assesment. Lots! Take that practice exam over and over again until you can reliably get 90% (or ideally 100%). Seriously, these questions are some of the best resources you can get to practice real PSM-I questions. Scrum.org also provides some suggested reading and a learning path which has some great content in there if you’ve got any weaker areas you want to address.

Personally I wouldn’t purchase practice tests or courses from Udemy or other suppliers. I’ve used some of these in the past and have to admit, I don’t really believe they’re worth it as they’re not that representative and you don’t really very much about the person who created them. Also, why would you need them when scrum.org provide such good practice questions anyway?

I’d be amiss if I didn’t at least mention my book… although in more seriousness. Donuts and Dragons is designed to give a friendly introduction to scrum, and show the events and principles in actions. It is not designed as a study guide.

Preperation for the exam is key. You’ve got an hour to answer 80 questions and you need to get 85% of them right in order to pass. As with all exams try and be well rested, don’t go into it under time pressure or with something else on your mind. Take your time, read the questions carefully, and you should have plenty of time to check your answers before you submit.

I really hope this helps! Please let me know in the comments below if it does. If you’ve got any other suggestions then please feel free to add it below.

The PSM-I Exam and Certificate

I’ve spent the last few weeks writing about sections from The Scrum Guide, before continuing on with that I wanted to touch on some of the certifications out there. I discussed in a previous post the differences between Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org. Personally I have done most of my certification with Scrum.org. This is because you can attempt their exams without having to attend a training course (meaning you can self study which reduces cost), but also because there certificates don’t expire. However, several of my friends and colleagues have gone down the Scrum Alliance route and have found their approach very valuable too.

Over the next three weeks I’m going to talk about the PSM exams, what they entail and what to expect.

The Professional Scrum Master 1 (or PSM-I for short) is the intermediate level exam from Scrum.org (there isn’t a foundation one). You take it by buying a token through their website for $150 USD (or provided I believe if you attend one of their Training Courses).

If you pass the exam you are allowed to display the badge on your website

The exam consists of 80 True/False and Multiple Choice questions and you have an hour to complete it. You’ll probably use most of the time, especially if you check your answersbut shouldn’t feel the seconds ticking down on you.

In terms of content almost all of the questions are based on your knowledge and understanding of the scrum guide. Before you take the exam you should read it thoroughly (multiple times) and make sure you understand the concepts there.

I would also highly recommend looking at the Learning Path and Open Exam. Make sure you consistently get 100% on the open exam before you sit the test, it really is a very good resource.

The pass mark is 85% and you will almost always get your result immediately. You will also get a score breakdown which shows which areas you did very well in and which areas you may want to study further (guess what I revised before moving onto PSM-II).

The breakdown from my PSM-I

You also get the option to download badges (as above) and certificates (as below) and a link for anyone to validate your achievement.

Scrum.org keep a count of how many people have passed their certification and as you can see it’s a very popular exam. Definitely a nice one to have on your CV if you work with scrum teams.

I do hope this has been of some help, please do get in touch if you have any questions or leave a message below if you have any advice for anyone thinking of taking the exam.