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Study Tips for the PSM I
Last Post 30 Sep 2016 12:42 AM by Arjun Kumar Dwaraka. 130 Replies.
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Andrew Poltii
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Andrew Poltii

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13 Aug 2016 07:05 PM
Hello All,

In my first Scrum.org post, I thought I'd share my PSM I experience. I have no professional experience with Scrum (though obviously excited to start its application!), and did not take a Scrum Master course. After going back and forth between CSM vs PSM, I settled on the latter because it was harder.

I passed my exam on the first try with an overall score of 96.3% [Framework: 97.5%; Theory/Principles: 90%; Cross-functional/Self-organizing: 100%; Coaching/Facilitation: 100%]. I finished in 35 minutes, rechecked my bookmarks, changed 0-1 answers, and submitted with ~15 minutes to spare.

Overall, I spent about 2 weeks preparing, so what was my study process? Here are the roughly ordered steps (as I recall), interspersed with a lot of Googling PSM-specific exam prep, and synthesizing knowledge from other people’s similar looking lists. I also referred back to the Scrum Guide for every question that I had with 3rd party material (not all of the answers are there, but the vast majority are.)
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1) About 2 months ago I read the very short book “Scrum Basics: A very quick guide to Agile project management” published by Tycho press. I never opened it after that first read, but it started the Agile principles & Scrum framework percolating in my mind. Life got in the way for awhile, and I didn’t think about Agile/Scrum for 2 months other than the occasional Google search to weight CSM/PSM. [Study value: moderate]

2) Took the open exam cold to establish a baseline. Result: 63.3%. [Study value: low]

3) Reviewed my incorrect answers & immediately took it again. Result: 76.7%. [Study value: moderate]

4) Read the Scrum Guide. Some people say it’s a quick read. If it is, I humbly submit you’re reading it wrong. My first read of those 16 pages took me 2+ hours because I took the time to understand the value behind: Every. Single. Sentence. [Study value: highest]

5) Took the open exam again the next day. Result: 96.7%

6) A week before the exam I took a CSPO course from Scrum Alliance. While fantastic for learning about the role of actually being a Product Owner, especially for a beginner like me, it had little practical exam benefit. [Study value: low]

7) Read the Scrum Guide. Faster read this time, but I definitely picked up more.

8) Took the open developer, scaled and PO exams. Realized my developer knowledge (I’m not a dev guy!) and found my scaled Scrum experience was seriously lacking.

9) Read the Nexus Guide. Read a lot of forum chat about scaling scrum in the real world, and also how it’s tested on the exam. Topic for another thread, but I don’t like the Nexus Guide. You still need to read it. I read it through once (with difficulty), and later used it for reference to check exam practice questions, and validate (or invalidate) what was said on forums. That was helpful. [Study value: begrudgingly, moderately high]

10) Started nailing the all of the open exams on Scrum.org with consistent 100%. Great confidence booster. Note that if I had stopped here, I believe I would have scored in the low 80s & failed. [Study value: high].

11) Re-read the second half of the Scrum Guide, on the belief I likely suffered from fatigue by that point in my first two readings. [Study value: moderate].

12) Sought out other open assessments listed on these forums/3rd party material and tests. A couple of Mike Cohen’s videos provided good tidbits for the exam. [I’d also add that ALL of his material that I reviewed has extremely high real-world application!] [Study value: moderate].

13) Read Rad & Turley’s/ Management Plaza’s “The Scrum Master Training Manual”. Found myself quibbling with some of their material. Also used/disagreed with some other googled 3rd party material. Sought clarification from The Scrum Guide/the forums. [Study value: low].

14) Obsessed over the open questions from the Classmarker links on these forums, using process of elimination to get 100% on every exam where they don’t provide you with results beyond your score. This also really helped me get in the mindset of ‘don’t miss-click, don’t screw up is/is NOT etc., choose THREE’. It also helped with scaled scrum, probably more than the Nexus guide. [Study value: extremely high]

15) Reviewed & mined everyone else’s exam prep lists for the ‘5% items’ (e.g. burndown charts, Scrum.org’s view of ‘scrum of scrums’), and various misc. exam rules/rules of thumb (e.g. ‘Sprint 0 is always wrong’, default to ‘whichever path leads to a "done", releasable, increment’). [Study value: moderate]

16) Did another round of the open exams on Scrum.org ensuring I hadn't 'unlearned' anything.

17) An hour before the exam I watched Ken & Jeff’s 2016 video about recent additions to the Scrum guide. For people new to Scrum, I recommend doing this last. If you find yourself nodding and laughing with them, you’re in good shape. It’s also a nice way to get in the exam mindset.

18) Relaxed for a few minutes, drank some water, had a snack, checked for threats to stable internet (e.g. serious summer thunderstorms!) sat for the exam.
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DID NOT USE: paid scrum master courses, paid assessments, paid Management Plaza material, SBOK, Scrum Alliance focused material.
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How did I know I was ready to take the exam?

--> I could confidently pick out the ‘errors’, in third-party material with respect to answering Scrum.org’s core-scrum exam approach.
--> I was confident I understood the difference between what’s required by Scrum, permissible by Scrum, and prohibited by Scrum. Having no prior background with Scrum was a huge advantage here.
--> Consistently getting 100% on every open practice exam, including those for scaled scrum, product owner, and developer. I advise using the various links in these forums to find practice questions. Be warned, some third party material is wrong. A number of the open exams will not tell you which questions you’re getting wrong, so I used process of elimination & trial/error to identify the 1-2 I was getting wrong. 1-2 questions isn’t much, but it made me MUCH more confident in all of my other answers. That positive reinforcement was one of the most valuable things; I never second guessed myself on the exam.
--> My mindset actually changed to WWKD [What Would Ken Do?] for every Scrum discussion/debate/question I came across.

I read someone else on a forum say ‘the difference between amateurs and professionals is that amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong. Take this to heart.
Deborah Crawford
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Deborah Crawford

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24 Aug 2016 04:21 AM
Thank you Andrew for taking the time to put this information together. This is a wonderfully detailed and helpful reply!
MARYAM KHODADADEI
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Posts:2
MARYAM KHODADADEI

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18 Sep 2016 01:58 AM
Hi Charles,
Thanks for nice recommendation.
Do you know the PSM I exam tests are same in all exams, or not.
I know in some some other exam the questions are same but it's order is different. I would like to know how is it in PSM I.
Thanks
Navdeep Virk
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Posts:2
Navdeep Virk

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27 Sep 2016 01:08 PM
I passed the PSM 1 today.

Thanks to this group from providing links to resources, I had to work extra hard as I have been out of doing rigorous study for the a while now.

Here was my process.

1. Read the Scrum guide maybe 12 times.
2. All Open assessments from Scrum.org till I scored 100% (PSPO/SM/Developer)
3. Went over these test http://mlapshin.com/index.php/psm-q...ning-mode/ (You are great Mikhail)
4. Bought Mplaza mocks tests, which were great and very useful. Their Scrum Master Training manual is good too.
5. Two books Scrum A pocket guide by Gunther Verhayen (Great Book), Scrum narrative and PSM Exam Guide ( has good material too) - this book needs polishing though.
6. Material from the internet for a deeper dive into some question which I answered wrong in mock tests.
7. There are questions on multiples scrum teams so do prepare by reading Nexus Guide etc..

The test was truly challenging and I feel a sense of accomplishment after passing this rigorous test. It was not easy at all and I would not have passed but for a continuous hard study of the materials. I feel energized.

Navdeep
Navdeep Virk
New Member
New Member
Posts:2
Navdeep Virk

--
27 Sep 2016 01:23 PM
I passed the PSM 1 today.

Thanks to this group from providing links to resources, I had to work extra hard as I have been out of doing rigorous study for the a while now.

Here was my process.

1. Read the Scrum guide maybe 12 times.
2. All Open assessments from Scrum.org till I scored 100% (PSPO/SM/Developer)
3. Went over these test http://mlapshin.com/index.php/psm-q...ning-mode/ (You are great Mikhail)
4. Bought Mplaza mocks tests, which were great and very useful. Their Scrum Master Training manual is good too.
5. Two books Scrum A pocket guide by Gunther Verhayen (Great Book), Scrum narrative and PSM Exam Guide ( has good material too) - this book needs polishing though.
6. Material from the internet for a deeper dive into some question which I answered wrong in mock tests.
7. There are questions on multiples scrum teams so do prepare by reading Nexus Guide etc..

The test was truly challenging and I feel a sense of accomplishment after passing this rigorous test. It was not easy at all and I would not have passed but for a continuous hard study of the materials. I feel energized.

Navdeep
Arjun Kumar Dwaraka
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New Member
Posts:1
Arjun Kumar Dwaraka

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30 Sep 2016 12:42 AM
Thank you all for sharing your experiences. It really helped me in clearing PSM I exam yesterday. Special thanks to Mikhail.

Here is how i prepared for PSM I:

1. Scrum Guide. & Nexus Guide (Don't remember how many times i read this but made conscious effort to understand every line of it)

2. Scrum narrative and PSM Exam Guide (I found this book useful. Easy to understand and there are many questions at the end to practice)

3. Open Assessments (Took many times. This is really helpful as i got at least 15 questions)

4. Took assessments from http://mlapshin.com . This is really helpful and again thanks to Mikhail. What it does is it reinforces what you learnt from Scrum Guide.

5. Know about Burn Down chart,Burn Up Chart, Cone of Uncertainty

Just before taking the exam, i have took the open assessments again. It helped me in the main exam as i got nearly 15 questions and i could answer them quickly.

I am very happy and thanks to all for sharing experiences.

SCRUM ON!
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