How To Pass The Professional Scrum Master Level I (PSM I)

The Professional Scrum Master Level I (PSM I) assessment is the first level of Scrum Master assessments (and associated certifications) offered by Scrum.org.  The Professional Scrum Master Certification from Scrum.org and the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification from Scrum Alliance are the two most popular entry level Scrum certifications in the industry right now.  Having both of them myself, the PSM I is a far better assessment of knowledge than the CSM due to CSM requiring only class attendance for most of its history and then only adding a trivial test (30 questions, unlimited time, 68% to pass, and unlimited retakes for $25 if you manage to fail it twice) after facing challenge from the PSM I.  Neither assessment is sufficient to guarantee ability as a Scrum Master, but I believe having the knowledge level to be able to pass the PSM I is necessary to be successful.

PSM I Assessment Format:

  • 80 questions (multiple choice, multiple answer, or true/false).
  • 60 min timebox.
  • 85% score needed to pass.
  • 95% score needed to pass if you are interested in becoming a Professional Scrum Trainer (this test is one of the first steps in that process).
  • $150 an attempt or up to 2 free attempts if you take the PSM I class (second attempt is only free if you take the test within 14 days of the class and don’t pass).

How to prepare for the PSM I assessment:

  1. Read and Re-Read the Scrum Guide and the Glossary.  The test is based almost entirely on the Scrum Guide and your understanding of it.  Be able to clearly explain rules and purpose for the roles, artifacts, and events.
  1. If possible attend a professional scrum master I class which prepares you very well for this assessment.
  2. Be part of a Scrum team.
  3. Read the recommended blogs and books. If you have not attended a class and not been part of a well-functioning Scrum team, just reading the Scrum Guide itself will not likely give you the understanding you need to pass the PSM I assessment.  Focus on the 4 main subject areas for the test (Scrum Framework, Scrum Theory and Principles, Cross Functional and Self-Organizing Teams, and Coaching and Facilitation).
  4. Interact on the Scrum.org forum for things you are trying to understand.
  5. Be part of a local Scrum or Agile user group to increase your understanding. However be aware of miss understandings and people using incorrect terms (for example “Daily Standup” vs the correct “Daily Scrum”).
  6. Understand a few of the visualization techniques that are commonly used by Scrum Teams.
    1. Burn Down Chart
    2. Burn Up Chart
    3. Planning Poker
  7. Take the Scrum Open assessment, at least 5-10 times getting a 100% score each time (ideally in under 10 mins a try). If you can’t do this, you likely won’t be able to pass the real assessment which is much harder.  Being able to pass the open assessment is still not a guarantee of passing.  An additional bonus of doing this is that a handful of questions on the real test will be very similar to the open assessment and will buy you a couple of extra minutes.

Tips when you are taking the PSM I assessment:

  1. Plan time for the test when you are alert and won’t be distracted.
  2. Have the scrum guide and scrum glossary available.
  3. If you have been through a Professional Scrum Master training class have any of the class material and notes available as well.
  4. Watch for questions that are asking for you to pick more than one answer.
  5. Read questions carefully and watch for “Negatives”.
  6. If you aren’t sure on an answer, chose an answer anyway and bookmark the question to come back to later.
  7. Don’t spent more than 45 seconds on a question on the first pass as you might not finish the test if you do.
  8. Use remaining time at the end of the test to review bookmarked questions.

Hope these are helpful tips, and best of luck on the assessment if you choose to take it.  If you have passed the PSM I, consider preparing for the PSM II assessment to further your learning journey.  Feel free to check out our upcoming classes  or reach out to us through our contact us form if you are looking for training for yourself or for your team.  You can also reach out to any member of the Professional Scrum Trainer community.

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