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Monday, July 24, 2017


2:42:00 AM Posted by Prashant Hegde 31 comments
Certifications help us expand our knowledge base beyond that of our everyday tasks. I take online certifications, tests, and courses when I get spare time. I do not consider getting certified as an achievement but it is a great aid for learning and self-assessment. While many jobs might require one or more certifications, lots of tech pros have forged perfectly fine careers without them. Though some companies prefer certified candidates, a certificate can never replace actual knowledge but that doesn't mean they're worthless, either.

In this blog post, I am sharing few tips and techniques to clear PSM-I by self-study.

Ken Schwaber, the co-creator of Scrum, founded in 2009 as a global organization. To be effective, Scrum Masters need to have a rock-solid understanding of the practices and values of Scrum. The Professional Scrum Master (PSM) assessments allow people to validate and certify their understanding of those practices and values, and how they would respond to situations that challenge them.

I cleared PSM-I  with 94% within 2 weeks by self-study. I did not spend a single penny on classroom courses or question paper dumps. Passing the Professional Scrum Master-I assessment is not easy even with many years of experience in agile and Scrum.

I opted for because I did not have to attend any classroom session in order to take the assessment. PSM-I is comparatively cheaper than other scrum master certifications. It is an online test that you can take any time. Several agile enthusiasts feel that passing assessments to be a much better indicator of scrum knowledge than the CSM or CSPO courses.

Enrolling for PSM is quite simple - 

1. Register on the and create a profile.
2. Pay $150 for the PSM-I Assessment.
3. They will send your password to access the exam within one business day.
4. Passwords have no expiration date but are valid for one attempt only.
5. If you pass the PSM-I assessment you will receive the industry-recognized "PSM I" certification, along with a PSM-I logo that you can use to identify your achievement.

In addition, your name will be posted publicly for colleagues, managers, and potential employers to see.

Below are 8 tips to clear your  PSM-I  certification: 

1. Scrum Guide is your Bible - Read the Scrum guide. Again and again! 

The only resource that you should trust is the scrum guide which is authored by the creators of the scrum Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland. Read Scrum guide multiple times to absorb the content completely. It’s a 16-page document which is densely written. Read and absorb each and every line of the scrum guide. Every time you read the scrum guide you gain new insights and also keeps the scrum framework fresh in your mind.The questions in the PSM-I revolves around scrum guide and how you can apply the concepts you learn in a real life situation.

Download the scrum guide here -

2. Complete the 'Open assessment' consistently with 100% - 3 times in a row within 5 minutes before you attempt the real exam. 

The Scrum Open assessment is the best tool for validating your basic knowledge of the Scrum framework. Taking the Scrum Open will allow you to create a baseline of your current Scrum knowledge, from which you can start improving immediately. The assessment consists of 30 questions randomly selected from a pool of questions. Take the scrum open assessment multiple times to unlock all the questions in the pool.

Several questions(around 10-15) in PSM 1 exam are the same that you get in open assessment. So by practicing the open assessments, it will be an advantage for you in the real exam.  You can quickly answer the straight forward questions in open assessments and concentrate on more tougher ones in the real exam.This gives you surplus time and confidence during the examination.

Link to Scrum open assessments -

3. Complete all the open assessments - 'Product owner open', 'Nexus open' and 'Developer open'

Expect questions from adjacent areas. Although the exam is about Scrum, you can expect few questions about Scaled Scrum. I suggest you read the Nexus Guide before attempting the real exam.  I ensured that I scored 100% in Product owner open and Nexus open before attempting the real exam. I solved the Scrum developer open couple of times(Scored around 80%).

4. Understand the structure of the PSM I exam

In PSM I test you will face 80 question with a 60-minute time box. The questions are a mix of multiple choice, multiple answer and true/false. To pass you must score at minimum an 85%, which means you need to get 68 questions right to clear the certification.

Remember - The scrum guide is available in several languages. However, the test is in English only.

5. Be prepared to face questions beyond Scrum Guide.

Below are a few concepts that are not part of scrum guide, however, the final exam may feature a fair number of questions about them:

1. Burn down/Burn up charts
2. Cone of uncertainty
3. Planning Poker
4. Agile Manifesto
5. Scrum of Scrums
6. Nexus framework
7. TDD - Test driven development

6. Join the scrum forum.

Go through the discussions on Scrum Forum. You would find a lot of candidates discussing their experiences and queries on this forum. If you have any questions you can always find a group of agile enthusiasts answering your questions.

7. Note, Revise, Teach

Write notes and record important ideas from your textbook. Writing will not only help you learn more effectively, it will also help you revise all the concepts. Your brain has three kinds of memory cells: sound, sight, and feel. The best kind of learning occurs when you use all three at the same time. When writing notes you see the words, you say them in your mind and you are using your movement senses as you write them down on the paper.

People only remember about 20% of the information they read after 24 hours. So revision is the key to make sure that what you read does not slip away. Instead of highlighting or underlining the scrum guide you can:

· Produce mind maps
· Recall what you have just read and test yourself.

Form a study group and practice teaching your learning with your group. Roman philosopher Seneca said, “While we teach, we learn”. Teaching others is a good way to understand and therefore you remember your notes. You learn better, recall better when you teach someone whatever you have learned. 

8. During the exam...

  • You need to complete 80 questions in 60 minutes (If you divide your time - you have 45 seconds per question). You need to manage time effectively, keep checking the time left on your exam wizard.
  • Remember that every question carries only 1 mark. If you are unable to solve any particular question don't waste too much time. You can Bookmark difficult question and try to answer it after completing more straight forward and easy questions. There is absolutely no reason to answer the questions in the order they appear in the exam. I would recommend answering the easiest ones first.
  • Read the question twice before you mark the answers. Keep your eyes open for the words like NOT, NEVER. Some questions specify you to select multiple answers like - Select 2, Select 3 etc so be observant.

Technical considerations

  • Use the latest version of either chrome or firefox to take the exam.
  • When you reach the last question, the Submit & Forward button will be replaced by a Save and Finish button. Your assessment session will immediately be submitted and graded once you click the Save and Finish button. Be careful not to click Save and finish if you have bookmarked questions that you need to review before submitting.

  • Ensure you take the test in good internet connection.
  • If you find that the timer continues to count down but the page is not properly loading during your assessment session, users have found that reloading/refreshing the page can help to resolve this issue.


Management Plaza's Scrum master training manual.

The 'scrum masters training manual' is less technical than the official scrum guide and provides a good insight into the framework of the scrum. It is easier to understand and more practical than the scrum guide. It is recommended that you glance through this resource if you have limited practical knowledge on scrum.

Beware - This manual is not accurate on some concepts. During the exam, you have to be very accurate.

Link to Scrum master training manual

Mikhail Laphsin’s test.

Do not try to take some random quiz and questions available on the internet, it will only confuse you. M. Lapshin has done a wonderful job of creating a mock test. The quiz has 2 modes called Learning and Real. Use these tests to maximize your chances of clearing PSM I exam.

Link to Mikhail Lapshin test -

Read the Scrum Glossary

Scrum glossary is meant to represent an overview of Scrum-related terms. There is a probability that you get few questions regarding these terms.

Link -

Scrum: A Pocket Guide.

If you are new to scrum and have no prior experience of working in an agile environment then I strongly recommend reading Scrum: A Pocket Guide by Gunther Verheyen.

Buy on Amazon

Share your PSM certification experiences with me! Good Luck! 
Feel free to comment.

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