How to Pass PSM – 1: Your Personal Study Plan
Recently, I passed my Professional Scrum Master (PSM-1) Certification, and I cleared the exam on my first attempt. Crazy right! In the exam, I answered all the 80 questions correctly and secured the perfect 100% score. Here I am sharing my study plan, and what a PSM aspirant should do to clear the assessment on the first attempt.
I am also sharing what I studied, where I got the study materials. Secret sauce of PSM success.
What is Scrum?
As the new Scrum Guide 2020 says – “Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.” Scrum is a wonderfully designed process framework that is commonly used to manage complex product development. What makes it unique is that Scrum has the ability to bring together a team in way they want to work. The system becomes easier and better as you learn and adjust to it, which is their whole goal, growing with experience.
Benefits of Getting PSM – 1 Certification
Scrum is now being used by a many small, medium, and even large enterprises. They are slowly adapting to common use of Scrum and are highly in need of professionals who can handle the framework in a clear and smooth way.
Now, a Professional Scrum Master is that member of the team who is responsible for creating a streamlined and smooth working system for the rest of the development team. With a smooth Scrum framework, organization can foster innovation and improve the way they manage and develop product.
There is not much competition in the Scrum industry, as not many people are involved in this field yet, which is one of the reasons why becoming a Professional Scrum Master is one of the most popular careers choices as of now. In any case, becoming a PSM certified person will not only benefit your organization, but will also improve your skill portfolio and expand your career options.
The Resources you will need to pass PSM certification exam!
The first thing you should do is get the “The Scrum Guide” by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, this document has been very highly recommended. This Guide contains the definition of Scrum. This definition consists of Scrum’s roles, events, artifacts, and the rules that bind them together. Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland developed Scrum; the Scrum Guide is written and provided by them. Together, they stand behind the Scrum Guide. This guide should become your partner and no matter what you do, never leave it alone. If you don’t have the Scrum Guide yet, and want to start reading immediately, then quickly read or download it from here.
While reading it, make sure to make notes, because it is important to understand each sentence clearly. Keep your notes at a handy place, and keep reviving them from time to time. Also make your own notes when you are doing an exercise or a quiz, making right notes is one of the key factors of passing this exam in one go.
The second thing to keep in mind is that you can find completely free open exercises that test your fundamentals well. Attempt these quizzes as repeatedly as you can, and this will greatly help you remember the fundamental logics of Scrum.
The next important and efficient trick is preparing your own question bank as soon as you are done with each exercise you attempt. This will help you separate those topics that you are strong with and those you still have to work on.
Also, remember that the scrum.org free Open Assessment exercise has 30 questions selected from a larger pool of questions (questions are often repeated within the Open Assessment tests), but you need to go more than that. You can easily find plenty of resources online that give you question banks and other important material that can help you prepare for the certification better. But don’t forget preparing your own question bank, its important.
You can check out the Open Assessments on Scrum.org from here.
Also, checkout Mikhail Lapshin’s wonderful quiz for PSM -1 Certification. Young aspirants will surely love it. There are two modes to it, learning mode and real mode.
The “learning mode” is designed to test your own mystery about Scrum and to evaluate how much you actually know about this framework. This is basically testing the waters. Once you are more confident about yourself, attempt the assessment on “real mode”. This will help you understand how much you have improved your knowledge since the beginning.
Check out the Mikhal Lapshin’s PSM – 1 quizzes here.
Other than this, there are few topics that are not covered in the Scum Guide but are also very important for the certification exam. Some of these topics are given below. Take a note of these topics and gather reading sources to learn them individually.
- Scalable Scrum, you can read it from the Nexus Guide
- Burn Down Charts
- Scrum Feedback Loop
- Cone of Uncertainty
- Sprint Zero
- Velocity and Technical Debt
If possible, also carry “Scum: A Pocket Guide”. Many online blogs refer this book and recommend it strongly. It is a short handbook and can be finished in a couple of hours. Make sure to read it at least once before you take the certification exam.
You can also find other PSM training sites offering mock tests on a subscription basis. These are also a good way to gain a quick insight about how tough the exam is going to be. Although, make sure the subscription you are willing to take has good reviews and have been recommended by someone who actually used it before.
First of all, treat the entire PSM -1 Preparation Schedule like a Scrum Project. Take about four weeks of continuous preparation, and if you think you need more, you can extend the plan accordingly. Take about two productive hours every day for four weeks, and you shall become the exam ready.
It’s handy to create a task-sheet for your preparation. This will always give you a quick insight on your exam schedule and an estimate of how good you compared to your own schedule.
For motivation, create a profile and complete your registration on Serum.org and also pay the examination fee for the PSM – 1 Certification exam. After that, you can schedule the exam at any later time. The best part is that it does not have an expiry date.
Preparation Time Line
You should spend your first weak reading and re-reading the scrum guide as many times as you can, preparing important notes. I guarantee you, each time you read it, you will discover something new.
Once you are confident with the Scrum Guide, evaluate your knowledge with an online exercise. Your aim should be to complete the quiz in as less time as possible, and without referring to any notes or reading material. Open Assessment test will become handy at this point.
While doing the exercise, notice things like approximately how long you take to answer a question, and how many of those questions are correct. Notice what topics you know about and what topics you don’t, and which type of questions or topics appear frequently. Your first exercise should give you a quick insight on the shortcomings of your preparation.
A neat trick is to save these free online exercises as a PDF and then later convert them into a Word Document. This way you will have a question bank ready, saving you the time to write them down personally. Decide on a limit and try to collect those many questions every day.
Please note that Scrum.org officially does not allow copying questions and answers from the site when you are taking an Open Assessment test due to copyright issue.
By this point, you should have prepared your own notes and would be scoring well in the open assessments. Spend this week reading more about Scrum topics and try to attempt an open assessment every day. By the end of this week, you will be able to clear all open assessments easily, scoring more or less than 100% in a very short time.
At this point, you should try to expand your knowledge base. Try looking for new sources to take assessments from and try to discover questions which are not sync with your preparations so far.
Make sure that you have read and understood the extra topics that are not mentioned in the Scrum Guide and attempt the Mikhail Laphsin’s quiz in “real mode”, until you score 100% in it. Also take a couple of hours to read “Scrum: A Pocket Guide”.
Check your Readiness with the Pointers Below
If you feel that your preparation is complete, check your readiness by following the simple tips given below.
- The notes you have prepared should have covered all the topics given in the Scum Guide, ensuring that you have read and re-read the guide.
- You should be confident that you have completed all the open assessment tests in as less time as possible.
- You should be scoring excellently in all open assessments, including Mikhail Laphshin’s quizzes and other online tests.
Top Tips to follow during the actual Exam
The PSM – 1 Certification is conducted online with only 60 minutes to attempt 80 questions total and one should at least get 68 correct answers to pass the exam. Make sure that you have following things in order to write your exam peacefully.
Stable Internet Connection: The exam is conducted online, so make sure that you have a strong and stable internet connection. Weak connection can chip away a considerable amount of your exam time, so pay attention to your network.
Choose a peaceful Time Slot: Any exam goes better in a peaceful and silent atmosphere. So choose a time slot that is peaceful and allows you to be fully concentrated during the exam.
Read every question carefully: Read every question fully and understand what the question is about. If you hurry too much, you might find a few questions to be similar, while they may actually be not.
Use a Timer: Keep a timer while writing your exam and note how long you are taking to answer each question. During the exam the time remaining is displayed in the exam page.
Keep an eye for the trick questions: Many times, the questions in the exam are put in a tricky way, so always keep an eye for similar words like should and could, and so on.
Skip the time taking questions: Now while writing the exam, if you get stuck at a question, don’t wander around it much and just skip it. Select any choice(s) in the answer, and Mark it for review, and attempt it as soon as you are done with other questions.
PSM – 1 Exam Certification Exam FAQs
Many people frequently ask common questions related to PSM – 1 Exam. These frequently asked questions are listed below.
How do I pass the PSM – 1 Exam?
Passing the PSM – 1 Certification is all about the amount of dedication and effort you put in your preparation. Enjoy your practice sessions and don’t stop your regular practice no matter what. Use mobile and computers to get maximum resources possible and compile a list of most handy resources you can find.
Where do I find the PSM – 1 Exam Questions?
There are so many online sources from where you can find PSM – 1 Questions. Start your collection with open assessments on Scrum.org and then work your way up with other resources. Always keep your question bank up to date and try to get as accurate questions and answers as possible.
Do I need to buy a book on the PSM – 1 Exam?
There are many books and resources suggested by the scrum.org itself. While you can buy books and read them, I feel the free resources mentioned here are enough to help you pass the exam. If you are a hard copy book lover you can definitely check out these books –
- The Scrum Guide Explained: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Scrum Guide by Moritz Knueppel
- A Scrum Book: The Spirit of the Game by Jeff Sutherland and others
- Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland
I have not used these books personally.
Also when you create a profile at scrum.org you will get a Learning Path where you can track your progress by making each suggested topic marked as completed.
Should I attend a training course for PSM-1 exam?
While it is not mandatory to attend a course to take the PSM-1 exam, if you do not have practical working experience in an agile scrum environment, taking a course may be helpful. But if you already have some experience with scrum framework, you will know most of the topics covered in the Scrum Guide. I haven’t taken any training from Scrum.org or any other training providers.
Where can I attempt PSM – 1 Mock Assessments?
The best place to start attempting PSM – 1 is from Scrum.org Open Assessment. Follow up with Mikhail Laphshin’s quizzes and then proceed with other assessments available online. We also have a set of mock tests to help you pass the PSM-1 exam with 100% pass guarantee. If you need the mock test please let us know here.
What’s next after your PSM – 1 Exam?
Once you are done with your exam and passed it, you can proceed to the next level. Look for advanced level PSM certifications that will teach you about handling complex situations that evolve as your experience grow with Scrum.
You can go ahead and prepare for PSM – 2 which enhances your knowledge on complicated problems of real-world. You also have PSM – 3 certifications that can help experienced Scrum Masters understand and handle complex teams and strategies effectively.
PSM – 1 Certification adds great value to your personal career. With a Scrum Master certification, you can improve the way your organization works and create streamlined framework to improve the overall efficiency.
Make sure you prepare for your exam well before you attempt your PSM – 1 Certification exam. Keep all the notes handy and highlight the important topics so that you can find them easily and keep revisioning them. Follow the study plan mentioned in this article to understand the whole Scrum concept better and score a high percentage in your certification exam.