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Advice for passing PSM 1 exam

Last post 10:51 am April 12, 2021 by Garrie Irons
10 replies
10:43 pm January 10, 2018

Hello everyone.

I wanted to get some assistance on maybe where I should focus my studies for the PSM 1 Exam.  I attempted today and failed at 65/80 or 81.3%.

Here are the percentages on each field:

Scrum Framework - 75%
Scrum Theory and Principles - 85%
Cross-functional - 85.7%
Coaching & Facilitation - 100%

It seems like I have pretty much everything down but the framework.  Any advice?  Already tried the open assessment several times and Mikhail's quiz to 100% quite a few times.

Also, simply out of curiosity, I was wondering if anyone knew why the pass % is 85%.  For someone entering the field of Scrum, would there be much of a difference between someone knowing 80% and 85% of Scrum?  I felt some of the questions were more aligned to an advanced scaling Scrum perspective and not someone that was entry-level into it or practicing it for a few years.  Hope I'm not alone in that.

Thank you.

06:37 am January 11, 2018

Did you spend time in understanding Scrum in depth beyond just the Scrum Guide and the assessments? Like for example, a relevant book on the subject ?

03:31 pm January 11, 2018

Just passed PSM 1 with 91%. My advice to read Scrum guide as many times as possible and understand each and every word of it. If possible make notes and keep revising it. 

04:27 pm January 11, 2018

That book looks great.  Downloading it right now to further understand Scrum.

10:56 pm January 11, 2018

This book was written by a professional trainer (PST), and may help you.  It is free to download on amazon if you sign up for a free month of kindle.…

06:48 am January 12, 2018

I appreciate your help everyone.   I will attempt again tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

10:27 am January 12, 2018

I passed the exam at 96.3%.  Remily, thank you very much for that book.  It has helped me understand those few little things I needed to understand better, even with experience.  


Thanks everyone!  Your advice was sage.  I'm glad to be a part of this community.

08:07 pm March 2, 2020

Hello- Here is what I did to pass the PSM test on my first attempt.

I took a two-day scrum course BUT leading up to the class I became very familiar with the framework. Going into the class I had read, took mock exams and purchased a $20 course on Udemy. I suggest staying away from the questions on the Udemy course but the instructor laid it out very well.  My intention was to have a strong understanding so that when I had the professor in front of me I could ask pointed questions. Secondly, the classroom time served as reinforcement.

I made sure I could get all the questions done within 45 minutes. I never ran into issues where I ran out of time, but I did need to practice slowing down and reading thoroughly. After class let out I studied the next day and the day after. I did a combination of taking mock exams and reading. I tried scoring 100% but became frustrated because the highest I could attain was 96% or 93%

2 days after the course I decided to take the exam and see how I did. I passed with 90%. Below is the mock exam I took. My teacher mentioned this one in class.

Udemy course by Valetin Despa. Again, my suggestion and my instructor suggested  NOT to use the questions as a way to study. The videos were very well done! They are short and effective.

07:07 am April 11, 2021

I cleared PSM-I today with 90% Percentage.

I Read the Scrum  Guide repeatedly and practiced the Questions from Scrum Open Assessments till I scored 100% consistently in them. Additionally, I bought the Question papers from Mplaza and attempted the questions till I scored above 96% on each attempt.

My observation is that the actual questions and the way they are phrased are much tougher than what is shown in open assessment or what is available in Mplaza questionnaires.  Repeated reading and forming questions ourselves on Scrum Guide really helps in crossing the passing score.


02:43 pm April 11, 2021

Unless there were significant changes in the new version of the exam in January 2021, PSM 1 is ultimately about reading and understanding the Scrum Guide (understanding is about just the guide, not Scrum or Agile in general). 

I coached quite a few people to various Agile exams, including PSM 1. From my personal experience, the most typical mistake is that people tend to skip, ignore, or misinterpret the part of the Scrum guide that looks unfamiliar or contradictory from their previous experience. I always suggest newbies approach the Scrum guide with the attitude that every word in Scrum Guide is meaningful and written for the purpose. 

The minimum "check" I suggest is:

  • Explain why Scrum is empirical.
  • Explain why Scrum is a framework.
  • Name and explain 3 pillars of Scrum.
  • Name and explain 5 values of Scrum.
  • Provide a couple of examples of supporting and not supporting of for each value.
  • Name artifacts of Scrum.
  • Explain their purpose. 
  • Name roles of Scrum.
  • Explain their responsibilities.
  • Name events of Scrum in the proper sequence.
  • Describe their goal/purpose, participants, length, expected outcome. 

If you can answer these questions without looking into the Scrum guide, you should easily pass the exam. 

Another common problem that I spot is typical for the people who learned in the education system, which is not heavily relied on formal testing and didn't have a "being tested" experience during other certifications. 

Trying various practice tests would help here. I typically suggest trying out:

I hope this helps. 


10:51 am April 12, 2021

My observation is that the actual questions and the way they are phrased are much tougher than what is shown in open assessment or what is available in Mplaza questionnaires.  Repeated reading and forming questions ourselves on Scrum Guide really helps in crossing the passing score.

I honestly think there is a translation issue at play here. Most of the questions in the Scrum Master 1, Product Owner 1, and Professional Agile Leader 1, want very literal reading of the questions and the alternative answers, and a "best match" against the Scrum Guide.

By the same token the objective should be to pass. Perfect is the enemy of done. Congratulations for passing. If you got 90%, you perhaps could have sat the exam earlier and moved onto the next goal.

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