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Failed PSM I twice by 1 Question

Last post 11:30 am January 17, 2023 by Sambit Bhattacharya
28 replies
05:47 am February 9, 2018

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1 Week of Prep - Read the Scrum guide religiously atleast 5 times, solved the open assessment multiple times to get 100% within 3 mins. Took any free mock tests like to get 100% multiple times and yet failed twice on the real deal, both the times by 1 question , got 67 questions right in both of my attempts and 68 is the passing, so i'm 300$ down and a bit disappointed. 

What i'm i doing wrong? any suggestions that would help me conquer this not so difficult mountain to climb. 

1 question that too twice!!! why god why :)




10:24 pm February 9, 2018

Nikhil - Sorry to hear about this.  My suggestion is to review the exam feedback and focus on improving in those areas.  Take some time to slowly read each sentence of the Scrum Guide, and think about what each sentence is telling you.  

Michael Jordan, one of the best professional basketball players is quoted as saying:

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Don't give up, and Scrum on!


04:15 am February 10, 2018

Hey Nikhil , Sorry mate to hear that , i'm preparing myself for PSM1 exam too , my i've failed in my firs attempt , 

Don't give it up , and look for the reasons ( as Chris said focus on the review from the exam & improve these areas ) , 

Keep read and read the scrum guide and go deep , you may share your thoughts here , Scrum Community very helpful and full people who have experience and they start from the same place we are ; ) 

don't give up & Scrum on 

01:03 pm February 10, 2018

Hi Nikhil,

Having studied the Scrum Guide and Mlapshin and Open Assessments help, but before that if you have worked in a scrum team, you should see scrum as told in the guide, as in few situation based questions we tend to think along with our experience rather than using the framework.

Exam Tip:

"Try doing the exam in two rounds"

When you do the exam next time, answer the questions and move forward, i a question takes more time than normal, bookmark it and move forward and you can look them in the end.

Test Prep

I have just  taken the exam and cleared with 94%. I used     --- Mplaza simulated exams with feedback, which really helped me in understanding the feedback when something I did went wrong in mock tests.

Srum Open Assessments


03:58 pm February 10, 2018

Did you read the Nexus guide? If not maybe give that a shot there might be a few questions that you'd never know if you didn't read it.

Really focus on the meaning behind what you're reading.


Don't give up 

05:18 pm February 10, 2018

What I found myself doing when I was studying was that I would get to a section that I know very well and I would skim past it, rather than read it thoroughly. This was especially bad when taking the open assessments. I would see the first few words of a question and knowing I already had that question and know what the correct answer was I would select and move on. The problem is that made it so that I would not pay as close attention to the questions during the exam. I passed on my first go but had I taken the time to fully read all of the questions instead of skimming through some of them, I would have had a higher score. I missed a couple answers based off very basic words that I didn't pay attention to. 

My biggest piece of advise is read the scrum guide more and read it slowly, make sure you're committing the words to memory. When you take the open assessments, don't worry about getting it done at 100% in 3 minutes; focus on getting 100% and reading the entire question and all of the answers. The exam gets very tricky and skipping a few basic words here and there will really cause you to get the wrong answer. 

Second, take a little break for a week or at least a weekend of studying. Let your brain rest and then come back to it. You'll find you know it better because you're relying on your learned knowledge, not just something you remember reading; if that makes sense. 

Lastly, depending on if you have any experience as a Scrum Master or not, you will likely need more than 1 week of prep. I had exposure to scrum but not as a Scrum Master prior to taking the PSM course. After the course I waited 2 weeks so I could continue to prep and read through the Scrum Guide as well as my notes from the course. When I sat down to take the exam, I made sure the house was quiet and the lighting was low and calming; it really helps reduce the stress of taking such an important exam. 

Don't give up, but take a little more time to make sure you have committed the knowledge and not just memorized the words. 

06:44 pm February 10, 2018

Agreeing with Curtis, 3 minutes seems too fast for the open assessment.  I received some high scores on PSM I and II, but, the fastest I can do the assessment is just under 6 minutes if I want to get 100% correct.

08:29 pm February 10, 2018

Try doing all four of the available open assessments and gaining 100% consistently. This should make you consider Scrum from new and different angles, and that improved understanding might be all you need to tip the balance.

03:29 pm February 11, 2018

I agree with the suggestions above, specifically that getting near 100% on the sample exams including Lapshin was good preparation for me. However, my experience prepping had me really resonate with Curtis (above) about a form of downside to taking the mocks so many times that you always get 100%.

It became easy to think I understood the concepts/answer but what I really did was get a memory queue on the specific question. Some things to try:

*Get a fresh look by consciously figuring out why each sample answer is the wrong one, or isn't consistant with Scrum.

*Locate the section of the Scrum guide where the correct answer was grounded and re-read it. This can help connect the questions to the concepts in the sections.

*I liked Ian's specific suggestion to take all open assessments. For example, if you have real command of the PSM material you should do reasonably well on PSPO and get a slightly different perspective...its a useful and free feedback loop in any case.

As a child of two teachers I know that some people also learn in different ways and perhaps a class where you could interact with content in a different way would be valuable? I know that $ doesn't grow on trees!

Bottom line is you are almost there and you will get over the finish line...I loved the quote from 'His Airness' Michael Jordan as well!


02:46 am February 12, 2018

I'm going to suggest something really crazy that I did to really slow things down and increase your understanding.

Hand write out the Scrum Guide. I'm serious. It slows down your reading speed and helps you absorb.

Not only that, every paragraph or so, summarize and re-phrase what you have just written. 

I didn't quite get through the Scrum Guide completely, Only up to Sprint Review, and it wasn't the only way I studied,

but I learned more through this process than just simply reading the Scrum Guide and doing a course, although I did those too.

Good Luck for Next time.

08:13 am February 12, 2018

May I suggest that when you take the Open Assessment, you try to find why the "wrong" answers are actually "wrong" and not only focus on the "correct" one.

02:35 pm February 12, 2018

That's a really good suggestion Olivier. 

06:19 pm February 12, 2018

Wow i'm so overwhelmed with all the sincere responses i got from each and everyone of you.

Saleh: Sorry to hear you failed on your too, hope you get through yours soon!

Curtis:  i do realize that instead of really trying to understand why some of the answers were incorrect on the open assessment i kind subconsciously memorized them as my entire focus was to do answer them as fast as possible, so after the first few times where i was slow reading them and trying to decipher them i was more into trying to break hussain bolts world record. i now realize that approach was incorrect.I do have hands on Scrum experience but i guess i was over confident.

Chris Belknap: I really liked the Michael Jordan quote , it made me smile and did give me a boost to try harder.

Ian: i'm going to do all the 4 open assessment, i do plan to give my PSPO eventually do that would help as well.

Chris Field: Thanks for all the valuable suggestions, i had read a few of your posts before, where you gave tips on passing the PSM , i know you passed it on your first attempt. Thanks again.

Olivier: yes i realize my focus was more on speed than really getting into the weeds of it, i'm going to change my approach.


Also for anyone who did not believe that i could not do the open assessment within 3 mins.But like i said its nothing to brag about its pretty pointless if i'm not passing the real deal.


Scrum Open


30 out of 30





Date started:

Mon 12th Feb 2018 1:14pm

Date finished:

Mon 12th Feb 2018 1:17pm

11:24 pm February 12, 2018


Don't give up hope! Missing by one questions does tell that you understand the concepts well. Maybe before the next time you give this test you might want to plan a few things beforehand. Maybe try and jot down your learning from the previous tests. I did use mplaza site for sample tests and it did seem to help quite a bit. 

One other thing, don't spend time giving the open assessment as it is surely not reflecting the complexity of the real exam. I guess it reflect 50-70% of the real test. The real test will put forth complex scenarios with real-time situation that will make you ponder the combination of values, pillars, fundamentals and more. Which means you really need to know the nitty-gritty of the scrum guide. While reading the guide again, try and think of combinations with real-time scenarios. 

I also found a few questions which had the right answer in choice B but answer D was precise, considering the answer in B along with other considerations. It is important to be patient and read through. I had bookmarked over 12 questions and submitted in the last 2 minutes, ensuring I'm not going by "gut feel" but aligning my thoughts with the framework! Maybe this helped me get 90%!

Good luck and be thoughtful!


01:02 pm February 14, 2018


I would suggest thinking about the words in the questions really carefully. You may think you understand the question but you may get the answer wrong! Take time to comprehend the words in the question before 'assuming' an answer. This is largely exam technique but also demonstrates that you have a clarity of understanding.


Hope this helps!

05:27 pm February 15, 2018





Took a break over the weekend, studied a bit more with a different approach and attitude and 5 days after my first attempt passed the PSM I with 93.8 percent.

I still didn't have a clear answer on about 6 to 7 questions, would love to put the questions here but i think that i against the forum policy so dont really know how i can get or know the correct answers to those.


04:36 pm February 16, 2018

Nikhil - Nice; congrats!

Something that hasn't been mentioned, but which I can certainly see being a factor, is for those for whom English is not their primary language.  There are nuances in the Scrum Guide which I'd have a really hard time picking up on if I were reading it in my second language.  So I feel for those who have English as a second (or 3rd, 4th, etc) language; and they should be all the more proud when they get their certification(s)!

08:15 pm February 16, 2018

Contrat' Nikhil for your PSM 1 and your perseverance !

@Kenneth, So true ! Having the assessment in English only is a big hurdle for several of my colleagues.

01:54 pm February 17, 2018

Thanks Olivier, my next target is PSPO but before that i'm looking at PMI-ACP.

05:49 pm February 17, 2018

Thats awesome Nikhil, much respect for staying with it and clearing the language hurdle as well! I moved on to the PSPO after a couple more weeks of preparation, which was also really rewarding, and look forward to hearing your experience with PMI-ACP if you care to share!

05:50 am February 21, 2018



Hopefully, my experience of attempting the test may help you.

  • I passed PSM1 with 93.8% at first attempt.
  • I passed SPS with 95% at first attempt.

Here is my take :

  • I have extensive background in agile delivery for several years. The practical implementation, challenges and continuous improvement has helped understanding and learning faster and clearer.
  • Prior experience in agile practice comes with certain baggage,with a mindset that ' I know the concept already', which is a major blocker to learn with open and flexible mindset. There has be bit of 'unlearning' the 'short cuts' or 'perceptions of scrum' we tend to follow in our day to today implementations, prior to learning from scrum and NEXUS guides from the experts.
  • Read 'EACH STATEMENT' from scrum guide, understand and process those in mind fully. One focused reading is more effective than several.
  • Also, while trying out sample test, TRY analyzing failed questions as to why your answers were not RIGHT in the first place. That should give clarity to your understanding. Finishing retest in 3 or 5min indicates that the likelihood of memorizing the answers is more than the understanding of question itself.
  • Many questions are scenario based, taking NOTE of each word in the question is very IMPORTANT to help clearing confusion in mind , prior to ticking against multiple choices.The questions are quite trick in both the tests.
  • Finally, lets VALUE  the money spent on the exam fee ($150/250) bit more :-),  attempt only when you are READY with your studies and practice.



12:41 am February 23, 2018

Chris:Thanks once again! Like i said i'm currently preparing for the PMI-ACP , in the past few days i have accumulated all the necessary study material that i'm going to be needing. Still not sure if i have the correct resources and material to pass the exam so i will wait to update my experience for a couple of weeks more or when i actually pass the cert.


Rajashree: Thanks for all your input, really appreciate it, i think you must have read my very first post, i added a few more post's later and on 15th of feb, i passed the PSM1 with 93.8% Thanks for taking the efforts to share your experience, it is definitely going to come in handy for future certs.

After my PMI-ACP im going for PSPO that would be end of march. will keep everyone updated.



08:36 pm May 18, 2020

Hi, Nikhil. Were the questions all the same ones just in different orders for your two attempts? 

12:47 pm February 15, 2022

I didn’t pass the 1st try with an 83% with 85% being the passing score. I’m super bummed and the questions that I don’t know, I really don’t know. I’m trying not to get discouraged so that I can take it again 

06:58 pm February 20, 2022

Your exam score will include the areas where you were weak, so concentrate on those.  Run through the SM learning path once more before retaking the exam. 

09:22 pm October 6, 2022

I failed the exam today with 80%. Feeling so disgust right now. Don't know how to get back and learn again!!!!!

04:43 am October 10, 2022

Hi Aditi, cheer up there is always a next time. I had failed the SPS by 1 question some months back. I know it took me some time to get back to normal because had I failed by a bigger margin it would have been easy to digest. 

08:08 am October 10, 2022

Looks like I'm not the first one who failed with one question.

Again - trying to figure out how to increase the chance:

- all open assessments 100%

- all online tests like lapshin, udemy and others 100%

- work in Scrum environment for several years

- scrum guide learned by heart and read several times to understand every word

- and last but not least - the areas from exam than need to be improved are my key strengths at work .......   ridiculous.  


I'm wondering if it's possible that those online assessments could contain incorrect answers and then, during the exam you look at the question and answer subconsciously automatically. 

I do not suspect that Scrum intentionally rearranges the comma to change the meaning of the sentence - it's an exam for Scrum Practitioners, not language teachers :)

11:30 am January 17, 2023

It's painful to fail by a mark, but this happens to many people. This means that you are really very proficient in scrum though need to work further to be best-of-the-breed. I think the below LinkedIn article (I'm the author of the article) might help you.…

Trust me I’ve no course/dumps to sell, and most of the online articles talks about their course/dump as a holy grail to pass PSM/PSPO. And, that doesn't work for sure. I’ve written real experience of failing or afraid of failing just by one mark in PSM/PSPO exams. If you take 15 minutes of your time reading this article, you will surely know the popular “hacks” to avoid and get an honest advice on how to learn, build confidence and consequently pass PSM/PSPO exams.

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