PSK I difficulty

Last post 02:55 pm June 18, 2018
by Leonard Ng
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07:23 am May 11, 2018

I didn't manage to pass the PSK I after trying twice (the second time was very close - 81.8%). I have PSM I, PSM II, SPS, PSD, PSPO - passed them all in high scores. I read all the recommanded material, a few times - both Guides, the blogs, watched the webinars, but still couldn't pass it. 

I'm practicing a mature Scrum in the past 4 years. I wander whether the fact that I'm not a native English speaker is an obstacle for me. I saw that only 7 people passed the PSK I so far - that doesn't seem reasonalbe to me. There is also no open assessment for this exam. 

If anyone passed it, do you have any tips for me on how to prepare for the next round? (this becoming very expensive for me...) 

08:46 am May 11, 2018

The only thing I can think of would be to go on the PSK course, checking to make sure that the PST has also passed the PSK exam.

That said, 81.8% is an excellent score. I only got 76.8%, and that’s as a native English speaker who did attend the course.

10:00 am May 11, 2018

Unfortunately  there is no PSK course in Israel. It seems the exam is really hard, or tricky... don't know. I studied really hard for the second attempt, even beyond the Scrum.org recommendations - browsing blogs in the internet about little law, CFD and so forth...

Based on what you say, doesn't it mean the difficulty level of the exam is too high? I'm not sure I would go for a third attempt, especially because I don't know how to improve my chances. 

10:36 am May 11, 2018

My strategy for re-take, as much as I have one, is to thoroughly digest the book "Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction" by Daniel Vacanti.

As you may know from the Scrum.org press releases, Vacanti has been heavily involved in the development of PSK. I've just ordered his book and so haven't read it yet. However, the outline and table of contents do seem aligned to the exam as I remember it, and more so than any other material I have found. It is on the PSK suggested material reading list.

12:28 pm May 11, 2018

I tried the PSK I once and did not pass it. I scored very well in the Kanban Practices and Scrum Framework portions, but did very poorly in the Agile Metrics portion. I find that somewhat strange, personally, considering my background. In school, my focus was on software development processes. I worked for 5 years in an organization that used Lean Software Development and Toyota Production System with the continuous improvement department and I've worked for the past 2 years in an organization using Scrum. I very easily passed my PSM I, PSM II, SPS, and PSPO I exams based only on my education, self-study, and experiences. I would think that someone with this background who then read and understood the Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams and the various Scrum.org blog posts about Scrum and Kanban would be able to pass the exam.

Unlike the other exams, I felt like most of the questions weren't addressed in the free Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams and could not be addressed with experience. This is particularly true of the metrics questions. A lot of the metrics questions weren't just about the metrics but an application of them. If you weren't in the head of the person creating the exam and how they think the metrics should be applied, then you wouldn't know. I don't believe that my answers were necessarily wrong or incorrect, but they weren't specified in the Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams and they didn't match up with what the authors had as the correct answer.

If Ian is right and many of the answers can be found only in Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction, I would consider this exam a money grab and not a valuable assessment. I didn't feel that way about the other Scrum.org certifications, which is why I took them - the resources to pass the entry level exams are all out there for free if you read them, everything else is optional (but probably a good idea to make sure you understand the topics). The resources to pass the next level of exams are also out there, but you need some level of experience.

05:30 pm May 11, 2018

I somewhat feels better with my score, seeing other experts in the field not managing to pass this exam :) 

I will consider buying Daniel's book, although I think the knowledge to pass the exam should be available for free. 

05:59 pm May 11, 2018

As a steward for the PSK class, hopefully, I can shed some perspective and maybe help a little. 

First of all - there's good feedback here and we're certainly in the process of inspecting and adapting the assessment. The goal is certainly NOT to be a money grab. The goal is to provide a similar approach as other Scrum.org assessments - you should be able to pass the assessment by either taking a class or having comparable field experience. 

We're aware that the metrics related questions are a bit challenging even for people with experience in agile and kanban. We expect a relatively deep knowledge of lean metrics for the PSK1. We're still tuning difficulty and clarity on some of the metrics questions. 

We're also working on providing more accessible reference materials around these metrics. For example, yesterday I published an article about the 4 key metrics and how to use them on the scrum.org blog https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/4-key-flow-metrics-and-how-use-them-scrums-events. It will be added to the recommended reading list. I also published https://www.agilesparks.com/blog/limiting-work-in-progress-wip-some-anecdotes-worth-thinking-about-when-using-kanban-with-scrum/ which is on its way to the scrum.org blog ...

Finally Erez one of our israeli PSTs is in the pipeline to add PSK to her license so I'm hoping we will have a PSK class in Israel soon! 

Oh - and Dan's book is really worth it! and regardless of the book I'd suggest playing around with http://www.actionableagile.com/analytics-demo/ to get a feeling for some of the metrics that you're not familiar with. 

HTH

06:25 pm May 11, 2018

First of all - there's good feedback here and we're certainly in the process of inspecting and adapting the assessment. The goal is certainly NOT to be a money grab. The goal is to provide a similar approach as other Scrum.org assessments - you should be able to pass the assessment by either taking a class or having comparable field experience.

I'm curious as to why this certification exam was released to the public for purchase, since it doesn't seem that it was ready. It's necessary to inspect and adapt the assessment, for sure - I would expect this with any kind of good certification exam on a regular basis. But it seems like this exam was not ready for prime time if you're still publishing material that helps with the exam and have found that some questions are a "bit challenging even for people with experience in agile and kanban". The difficulty is labeled as "Intermediate" - the same as the PSM I, SPS, and PSPO I exams. Personally, I would have called the current format "Advanced". I felt that the PSM II was significantly easier than this.

When I purchased the exam, it was not clear that there was still material to be published and that there was active efforts to refine an entire category of questions. If I had known that, I would have waited to purchase the exam and let more content be published. For me, $200 and an hour of my time isn't a huge burden, but it can be for some people. It's the first time I've been disappointed at Scrum.org content.

If this exam is overhauled (especially these metrics questions - 1/3 of the categories of questions), will people who attempted and failed previously be given a second chance, at least at a reduced rate?

09:45 pm May 11, 2018

Thanks for opening and contributing to this topic so far, I would also like to see the questions from Thomas answered.

11:56 pm May 11, 2018

Thank you for the feedback.  There certainly was no intent on our part to make a money grab and I apologize that it may have been received that way.  The decision to release the assessment, which followed shortly after the release of our new PSK course, was only made once we believed the course and materials recommended on our Suggested Reading page were sufficient to pass the assessment.  We tested the assessment questions over the course of a month and incorporated changes based on the feedback we received.  While the assessment may be proving to be a bit more challenging right now, this is not unusual for a brand-new assessment.  We do have successful attempts across all three categories of assessment takers:  Scrum.org Trainers, Professional Scrum with Kanban Students, and Individuals who have purchased an attempt directly via Scrum.org.

Scrum with Kanban is new territory and not entirely similar to our other assessments which focus on Scrum.  Scrum has a wide body of knowledge, experience, and published material available.  As noted in an earlier post we are continually adding more learning material to our Suggested Reading page and we are refining the courseware as we learn more and take into consideration more viewpoints on how to successfully implement Scrum with Kanban.  We released several additional blogs over the last couple of days that will help you prepare for the assessment.

We are constantly adding, changing, and refining questions for all of the assessments offered by Scrum.org.  The PSK I assessment is no exception, and we are refining the handful of questions that have proven more challenging than we anticipated.  We met our original definition of “Done” and felt the assessment was ready to release and now we are inspecting and adapting.  If we identify a question that we refine or correct, and determine that it caused the user to miss the 85% pass mark, then we reach out to the user individually to rectify that.

We appreciate your input.  Our commitment is that we will continue to improve this assessment, making it challenging - yet passable.  We will also continue to develop and post additional resources as the conversations and learning around Scrum with Kanban evolve.

11:06 am May 13, 2018

Hello

Like many, I did also try and fail on PSK1, even with a solid background in Scrum & Kanban.

I passed easily the new PAL1, I found it easier than PSM1 but very interesting. I expected about the same level of difficulty for PSK1 than PSM1, PSPO1, PSD1, SPS.

I'm very surprise to see that even PST failed this "Level 1" assessment. This should be an hint that the assessment needs some rework...

Like Thomas, I feel disappointed by the PSK1. Some couples of questions/answers are ambigus (like the ones on "urgente work item", has the team already a policy with an expedite lane ? is the expedite lane already full ?...). Shall we have a good knowledge of Scrum & Kanban or shall we read inside the mind of the test-writer ?

This ressource is ambigus also https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/limiting-work-progress-wip-scrum-k…. So finally, who should determine wether to visualize the Sprint Backlog with Kanban : Dev Team or Dev Team + PO ?

By the way, on this point, I disagree with having a state "owned" by the PO inside the Sprint Backlog. If the PO is having a critical impact on the Sprint Backlog (for functional testing for instance), then she should be part of the Dev Team.

I feel more like a beta-tester than a test-taker :-(

08:42 am May 20, 2018

Hello,

Thanks you all for your honest and straight feedbacks. Actually I wanted to start the assessment and thought I would have been fully prepared, but after reading the input from experienced Scrum folks here I got some doubts. 

I´d appreciate if you could share your experience on this assessment, like what kind of questions were confusing, how did you feel during the assessment, etc..?

 

02:45 pm May 23, 2018

I didn't manage to pass the PSK I after trying it after lot of study with all the resources provided.

I have PSM I, PSPO - passed them all in high scores. I read all the recommended material, a few times - both Guides, the blogs, watched the webinars, but still couldn't pass it. I'm practicing a Scrum in the past 3 years. There is also no open assessment for this exam as well.

I understand the certification is new and have different confusing questions, I felt like most of the questions weren't addressed in the free Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams and could not be addressed with experience. This is particularly true of the metrics questions.

 

02:00 am May 24, 2018

Are the questions more scenario based? I was thinking of taking it, maybe might hold this off till it matures a little more on the questions.

02:55 am May 24, 2018

Thanks for opening up this discussion.  My own assessment of the situation is: Daniel Vacanti's book 'Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability is a compulsory reading, specifically for the agile metrics assessment.  Yes, it is listed on the Suggested Reading page.

I'm familiar with David J Anderson's Kanban Method (not listed in suggested reading), and will attempt the PSK I after studying Daniel Vacanti's book.

09:26 am June 15, 2018

Well, thank you all for this very interesting and enlightening post. I was going to have a go at the test, but now I feel it’s premature and will concentrate on the others.

02:07 am June 16, 2018

SO even with 10 years using Kanban I don't feel comfy taking it either. I feel very good about my KANBAN knowledge but I will hold of. My next 2 were NEXUS and PSK think I'll hit the PSMII instead. 

 

Olivier Ledru - if this is a real question then it is a bad question. I'll tell you why. No two Kanban boards are alike.

That state of owned is misleading because to me as you stated once it hits the sprint backlog it should be owned by the DEV team. It should even be like in like a "ready state" or in the "to do state" that's just an example. I have had a Kanban board with 12 states. I argued against this many times , many cycles, and got it down to 8. 

By the way, on this point, I disagree with having a state "owned" by the PO inside the Sprint Backlog. If the PO is having a critical impact on the Sprint Backlog (for functional testing for instance), then she should be part of the Dev Team. 

 

 

01:06 am June 18, 2018

I passed my PSK last night (91.2%), after I passed my PSM II a bit earlier in the evening.  I did that because I want to carry my momentum of what I have captured fresh in my mind from the Scrum Guide.

This is my second attempted.  My first attempt was in mid May, and I only got 74.5%.  I agree that the questions related to the "why" of the 4 metrics assessment, as well as "when" (which Scrum events should use / change them) and the "who" are vital.  I read the book by Daniel, but I found that the recent 3 new blog posts by Yuval Yeret plus the Little's Law reading sum up the key points as well as the applications of them quite well (which I have to admit I missed this depth during my first attempt).

I found that having Scrum Guide in my mind is very important as well.  A few questions are actually trying to trick if we are solid enough with Scrum Guide or not, to see if Kanban new ideas will alter the Scrum framework or not.  I believe this is a core part as well.

Hope this helps.