PSM-I stands for Professional Scrum Master-I. Scrum is mostly used in software development. If you are in the software development industry, you probably have heard of Scrum at least once. In this article, I will lay down tips how to pass the industry-wide recognized PSM-I certification without paying additional costs aside from the Scrum certification fee itself.

PSM-I Scrum Badge

So what is Scrum? 

Scrum is “A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value”.  Read more about it here.

Now that you know what Scrum is, how do you prepare for the certification exam?

There is no definitive way of preparing for an exam. Everyone has their own preference on how to prepare, however, during my course of preparation for the PSM-I exam, I have found a couple of ways that I’m positive can help anyone who aspires to be a Professional Scrum Master certified.

The exam costs $150 and this gets you 1 attempt for the PSM-I exam certification. Sure enough, $150 isn’t that much for some but it’s not just the money. It’s also the achievement and your own pride that you got certified on your first try.

Scrum Guide

The Scrum Guide is where all the answer lies. All the questions in the exam would be based on this guide. So read the Scrum Guide at least twice a day every day for at least 2 weeks. Why 2 weeks? This is to ensure that you do not force yourself to digest too much information. You can download the Scrum Guide here.

Don’t Just Read, Understand

The Scrum Guide is more than just for reading. Knowing it word for word is great but you have to understand what is being said in the Guide. Line per line. After all, you don’t want to just pass the certification, you would want to practice it as well. I suggest read and focus on 1 part of the guide per day and move on to the next the next day.

In Order To Teach, You Must Master it First

When you read the Scrum Guide, pause every now and then and try to explain it in different words. Try role-playing in which you have someone listening to you as you explain what you just read. Do this out loud so you’ll hear and know whether you really understand the concept of what you just read from the guide or not.

Take Open and Free Assessments Everyday

Once you’ve read the whole Scrum Guide, take the open assessment in Scrum.org.

Test your understanding of the Scrum Guide thru this. You may or may not ace it right away and that’s fine. The Open-Assessment gives a feedback after taking it. This gives you a detailed information about the answer per question. It has 30 questions and until you perfect the Open Assessment consistently. I would suggest at least 10 times without thinking hard what the answer is.

Mikhail Lapshin

No, it’s not a code. It’s the name of the person who took great efforts in helping people who want to be Scrum Certified. 

Mikhail has prepared a set of 80 questions for Scrum Certification takers (Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Scaled Scrum). Take the Scrum Master Quiz. He designed it into two modes Learning and Real Mode. The learning gives you a feedback after answering a question while Real Mode is like taking the real assessment and the feedback comes after completely answering all the 80 questions.

Mikhail is responsive to anyone who communicates with him. He invites anyone to let him know how to make his quizzes better. Mikhail’s Quizzes.

Read The Scrum.Org Forums

You can read other forums about Scrum as well but I suggest to stick in Scrum forums . You can get a lot of useful information here.  There are a lot of people giving advice on how they cleared the exam and discussion of the Scrum Guide concept.

Product Owner Assessments

It would be best as well to include in your preparation to take the Product Owner assessments from both Scrum.org and Mikhail’s website. It would you a better understanding of how Scrum really works.

What Not To Do

It is understandable that you would want to get all the information you can get to get certified but in some cases it can do more harm than good. In some forums, some suggests that you also read the Nexus Guide and take the PSD (Professional Scrum Developer) open assessment. DO NOT DO THIS. You don’t need it.  I have read the Nexus Guide and PSD Open Assessment and both were irrelevant in the exam. Focus only on the subject areas that the PSM-I covers.

The tips above if followed religiously would be enough to pass the PSM-I exam although the best way to understand Scrum is by starting to practice and implementing Scrum. You don’t have to be Scrum certified to implement it. The more experience you have, the better your chances are for clearing the exam. 

Until you are consistently hitting Scrum.org and Mikhail’s assessment with 100% only then I suggest that you take the certification exam. Why? Because you wouldn’t want to waste your $150 for taking the exam and fail it. If you can’t ace a free and open assessment, how do you think you’d do on the real one?

During The Exam

The exam is composed of 80 questions of multiple choice format in which you are given 60 minutes. There would be a timer on the screen that lets you know how much time you have left.

The exam gives you an option to bookmark a question so you can go back to it later. Answer quickly the questions that you know the answer of. If you’re unsure, bookmark it and move on to the next one. This helps in not wasting time thinking hard of the questions you haven’t made up your mind yet on which answer to choose.

About The Exam

Some of the questions in the assessment would be from the Scrum.org Open Assessment, so since you’ve aced the Open Assessment, this saves you a lot of time already since you should know the answer by heart. Some questions would be situational and no definitive wordings from the Scrum Guide (hence, you must understand the concept). Choose the answer that makes sense in conformance to the Scrum Guide. If you find yourself not really knowing what the correct answer is, another way of isolating the correct answer is eliminating the choices that do not make sense in the Scrum Guide. Trust your gut when you’re taking the exam. You have prepared for it and this is the last leg.

Go and get the PSM-I certification!

Are you already certified or want to ask clarifications about the PSM-I exam? Let me know in the comments section below.

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