Tips for PSM 1 Assessment (passed - 97.5%)

Last post 03:05 pm August 9, 2021
by Don Balbieran
31 replies
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07:35 pm July 8, 2018

I took the Assessment yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to get such a high grade! It wasn't easy...I made educated guesses on 15-25% of the questions, which required applying Scrum to the real-life scenarios the Assessment presented. All that studying obviously paid off, because I was able to do that!

To give you some context, I'm a Six Sigma Black Belt consultant with little-to-no exposure to software development projects. I only have several months of real-world Scrum experience gained through helping a manufacturer develop a Scrum process for hard goods. I did a crash course in learning Scrum before the project, how to apply Scrum to manufactured goods, and learned about Scrum on the fly while helping them.

Here is what worked for me:

Tips

Scrum Guide/Other Sources

  • Studied the Scrum Guide with the attitude of how to apply what I was learning, oftentimes reading it out loud and putting it in my own words.
  • Semi-memorized what appeared to be really important lists and key word groupings.
  • Became very familiar with everything in the Guide, in general. I found this really helped me, because during the Assessment, I didn't have time to refer back to the Guide.
  • If I didn't understand what something meant in the Guide, I looked it up.
  • Devoted five days straight to studying, and then took the test the next day.
  • I never read any of the books Scrum.org suggested.
  • As some mentioned on these Forums, understand burndown charts. Sprint 0 doesn't exist as well.
  • If you've learned Scrum from other sources, you may have to unlearn some aspects if they don't coincide with the Guide (which happened to me).

Free Online Assessments

The key here is to take these assessments multiple times so that you can very quickly answer easy questions automatically. This ability is very important to do on the test. You'll need that extra time to review the questions you're not sure of.

  • I didn't need to pay for access to any practice tests.
  • I took the Scrum.org Online Assessments many times until I consistently got 100%: Scrum Open and Product Owner Open. I tried the Software Developer Open once and got a 40% and didn't take it again. I didn't find it that useful.
  • Mikhail Lapshin's practice exams were invaluable, learning and real-mode. I took these until I consistently got 100% and was able to run through them quickly.
  • I took other free-trial online assessments that were recommended in these forums (Volkerdon, etc.), keeping in mind that there might be some answers in them that don't align to the Scrum Guide. Some of these helped, because they showed more scenarios of applying Scrum.

Prep the Day of PSM 1 Assessment

  • Skimmed through the Scrum Guide
  • Quickly ran through the two Open Assessments and the Mikhail assessment, real-mode before the test

The PSM 1 Assessment

  • If I was spending too much time on questions that weren't automatic answers, I moved on.
  • Bookmarked anything that I wasn't sure of the answer.
  • Wrote down on a separate sheet of paper the questions that I really didn't know the answer to.
  • When I finished the 80 questions, with 20 minutes to spare, I first ran through the ones I'd written down.
  • Then I reviewed the bookmarked questions that weren't written down.

 

This is what worked for me, and I hope this helps some of you!

07:13 am July 10, 2018

My congratulations, Kathy!

Very great review! I had always the same way to pass PSM 1 (as PSPO 1 too) but I bought exam simulators (on Volkerdon) instead of using their free materials. 

06:22 pm July 10, 2018

Thank you Orkhan...I appreciate it! I wanted to make my tips detailed enough for anyone else studying for the exam to help them out. All the advice others had posted was really beneficial to me, and I wanted to do the same for others.

07:55 pm July 13, 2018

Hi Kathy! Congratulations!! Thanks for posting your your tips. Very practical! They were accurate and very helpful too. With a few months of focused preparation following your and a few others' suggestions in this forum, I passed the PSPO I yesterday with 97.5% (78 out of 80 points). 

Also Thanks to Orkhan! Your comments in this forum were also super helpful and valuable.

05:44 pm July 14, 2018

I am trying the Volkerdon tests listed above as I failed with 80% score. 

I can't help notice that the English is sloppy in the questions. Its a shame they couldn't find the time to proofread the questions before charging money for them, this is a wording based exam after all. 

Example: This is the reason why is Daily Scrum held at the same time and same place

 

 

07:06 pm July 27, 2018

Sreevatsan,

I'm glad the tips were helpful! I know other's tips really helped me and I wanted to return the favor.

Richard,

I noticed the bad grammar with the Volkerdon tests, which made me think twice about purchasing them. I'm glad I didn't now, because I really didn't need to.

I wish you luck the next time you take the test!

Kathy

11:21 pm July 27, 2018

Hi Kathy,

I am prepering to take PSM-I. From your perspective:

1) where PSM-I questions significantly more difficult than these from Volkerdon ?

2) where PSM-I questions significantly more difficult than these from  Mikhail ?

Thanks

Adam

01:53 pm July 30, 2018

Hi Kathy

Thanks so much for your tips - really appreciate them! Can I ask you a question related to : "I took other free-trial online assessments that were recommended in these forums (Volkerdon, etc.),"

What were the other free-trial online assessments, other than Volkerdon & the Mikhail assessment?

thanks!

07:48 pm July 30, 2018

Wanda,

I took the free PSM I Practice Assessment on www.thescrummaster.co.uk multiple times and the other was a free assessment on Scrum Star Academy. The later one only gives you 20 questions, but I still found it helpful. I took some other free ones as well, but they didn't add much value in the end. 

Hope that helps!

Kathy

 

04:10 am July 31, 2018

Kathy - Congratulations on your achievement. Cheers !

04:34 pm July 31, 2018

Rami,

Thank you...I appreciate it!

Adam,

Sorry for the late response. I don't get on these forums as frequently as I used. I see now that you passed the PSM 1. Congratulations!

Now that you've taken the test, did you find the actual exam questions were more difficult for both practice assessments? If I recall correctly, I did find the actual assessment more challenging, and Volkerdon's questions were more difficult than Mikhail's. However, what I liked about repeatedly taking Mikhail's practice tests was that I automatically knew the answers, which helped me speed through a lot of the easier questions on the actual exam. So in a nutshell, both were valuable in helping me pass.

Kathy

10:57 pm July 31, 2018

Congrats Kathy,

 

PS to Richard:

Richard despite the sloppiness of the questions and poor grammar which I told Volkerdon about it does give you a better chance of passing ScrumMaster UK. Volkerdon's test are pretty realistic and you get to the these answers.

I took a couple of Scrum master UK's  SPS pretest and honestly his interpretation is very confusing. I don’t know if it is an EU Agile Scrum thing or what, but I do terrible on his test.

I don’t even bother with his site anymore because I don’t think they do Agile the same way over there. I am being rude I know but I don’t suggest his site to anyone.

05:43 pm August 1, 2018

Some of the best Scrum thought leaders and authors I know and follow actually come from the UK and Europe.

12:04 am August 2, 2018

I'll qualify. I once had just about every Scrum Alliance Cert you can have before heading over here to scrum.org.  I am a pretty experienced guy with 11 years under my belt. When I go the Scrum Master UK’s site and read his material it’s apparent he and I are polar opposites in how we implement Agile and our views. That’s ok we don’t have to all do it the same way.

I take his pre-test to and I have never passed one. Mainly because his “correct” answers make no sense to me. So, in my defense I am not suggesting everyone across the pond is bad agile whatever. I just don’t like the Scrum Master UK site.

10:25 pm August 3, 2018

I found that there were several free assessments that had answers not inline with the Scrum Guide. it was beneficial to still take some of them, because it caused me to dig deeper into what the correct answer was, which increased my learning. The Scrum UK site is a good example of this.

04:44 pm August 10, 2018

Dear Kathy,

I would like to thank you for your fantastic tips and input. Passed PSM I today with 95%. 

I can fully support your statement that 15-25% of the questions are related to real-life scenarios and it is necessary to fully understand the Scrum Guide.

Mikhails free assessment (learning & real mode) and the open assessment of scrum.org was a good basis to start with but you really need to understand the meaning behind the different roles, events and artifacts to be able to get over the barrier of 70%.

Hope you all have great weekend!

12:29 pm August 11, 2018

Congratulations!!!! Since i am new to this , my only question would be do we need to appear in the one of the prometric centers for the assessment?

02:50 pm August 13, 2018

Nope.

02:40 pm August 14, 2018

Congratulations Kathy, really an excellent result.

Your experience proofs once more that Scrum is not limited to software development, but applies to all sort of product development. Do not underestimate how valuable your experience as Six Sigma Black Belt is to the Scrum Master role. Scrum is sort of applied Lean focusing on product development. The Developer exam, I fully agree, is very specific to software development and not very helpful in your case. It covers aspects of software development that are not contained in the Scrum Guide. 

I also appreciate the positive discussion of alternative learning sources. That often seems to be a hot topic leading to emotional statements that in some cases even seem to violate Scrum's value respect, even in this very good and usually pretty well balanced Forum. I have never used any of the alternate sources, but I think we should be open to them and use any material with care and question if we agree to the answer proposed. That helps your learning. None of the sources, independent of its origin, should be used to learn questions and answers by heart. Even if that might help you pass an exam, it will fail you to do a good job as Scrum Master, Product Owner etc. in the real world later.

So, Kathy, it seems you have chosen the right mix of Scrum Guide, scrum.org and other sources!

08:14 pm August 22, 2018

Florian,

I'm glad my tips helped! That was the whole purpose of me posting them. Other posts helped me, and I wanted to return the favor.

Stefan,

Thanks for your positive comments! Scrum really does work for manufactured goods. My client is experiencing a 75% increase in product speed-to-market over their new last product development effort. It was an incredible experience to lead this project and have it be so successful in the end.

It's interesting that you mention how valuable my Black Belt is for me in my Scrum Master role. I couldn't have done this recent engagement with my client without my process experience. I relied heavily on my experience since I was new to Scrum and had to learn as I went along. Also, Scrum does involve applying Lean to product development. That's exactly how I describe it to people who are familiar with Lean, but not Scrum.

08:13 am August 24, 2018

Thank you Kathy for your tips.

I took the Assessment yesterday and was very surprised to get 100% pass ......wow could not believe it! Ok, I have to admit that it was my second attempt but nevertheless the feeling was marvellous!

My tips would be similar to yours but I have also taken some practice tests and mock exams (for which I had to pay) from Volkerdon and MP Management Plaza.

I have practiced my tests (1 or 2 per day) for almost two weeks and continued until I got continuously over 90%...and then I knew I was ready.

So my advice is, never give up! You can do it! Good luck.

Mariola

05:25 pm August 24, 2018

Congratulations Mariola! That's great that you got 100%. It really is a relief after all the studying to pass. I know I felt that way, and all the effort was definitely worth it.

I love your advice, too..."never give up!"

I wish you best, and good luck as well.

Kathy

10:12 am August 25, 2018

Passed with 98.8%. Still thinking which one I missed.

04:54 pm August 28, 2018

Pradip,

Congratulations! I wonder, too, which ones I missed. I guess we'll never know!

Good luck in all your endeavors,

Kathy

03:15 am September 24, 2018

Thank for sharing Kathy, and everybody else that made suggestions.

I found all the material useful and helpful. Using other sites and docs does reinforce the learning. I found myself reviewing the Scrum Guide with a more focused mindset.

On to next one.

Cheers!

02:38 pm October 3, 2018

Federico,

I agree! What others had shared on this Forum really helped me. I wanted to return the favor to others.

Cheers to you as well!

Kathy

05:31 am January 8, 2020

I cleared the PSM 1 recently. Referred to the following :

Scrum practice tests on scrum.org,  Mlapshin tests, volkerdon tests (free mode) & read scrum guide twice. 

06:24 pm May 5, 2020

Just scored 95% on my PSM I let me share some hints:

- Heard many of you saying keep reading the Scrum Guide 4 or 5 times, well I think two times (good reading)is enough for an english speaker.

- Did dummy tests in Volkedron.com, questions were similar but more complicated than the exam

My only recommandation is not to use many dummy test websites (Use eithen Voldkedron or Mlapshin)  you will get twisted, and take the open assessments as much as you can

05:11 am April 15, 2021

This thread now running 3+ years still helped me score 96.3% on the PSM-1 after my first attempt! I devoted 5 consecutive days of studying much of the same material presented above. But above all, I would highly suggest to read the most updated Scrum Guide many times through and to focus greatly on the wording.

Both the Mikhail Lapshin and Volkerdon assessments as of today's writing still present answers and explanations that slightly conflict with the recent 2020 guide. And realizing this actually served as a great way for me to confirm if I really understood the 2020 Guide, or if I was just memorizing answers for these specific online assessments. 

Hope this helps those studying next! Thanks everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

11:41 am April 18, 2021

I have just passed my Professional Scrum Master I with a score: 97.5%. I only used the materials and resources that were provided in this thread and it worked out for me! 

The Scrum Guide was really helpful, but there were many questions based on the information, which is not in the Scrum Guide. 
I highly suggest taking Open assessments, Mikhail Lapshin and Volkerdon to learn more and get used to answering fast. 

Great thank you for the tips and materials, Kathy! 

08:01 pm June 2, 2021

I just passed my PSM 1 with a score of 96.3% This post helped me so I'm paying it forward by sharing some tips that helped me prepare.

Like everyone else said: read and re-read the Scrum guide! I found that this order worked for me: read it the first time, read it again and took notes/highlighted, took many assessments and quizzes, read it again, and then read it one more time the day I took the test. 

Take the open assessments for Scrum Open and Product Owner until you get 100% under 5 minutes 5 times in a row. Also take the Mikhail Lapshin and Simon Kneafsey free assessments until you get 100%, but be warned that a few of their answers are outdated. Make sure you have a good understanding of Scrum before taking these so you can easily identify what is outdated.  

Review the Scrum Learning Path and The Scrum Resource Page in the Scrum.org site. There will be questions about coaching and working with multiple scrum teams that will surprise you if you don't (also, read the Nexus guide!)

Bottom line: there is a lot more preparation to do than just reading the scrum guide and attending a Scrum Master course, but if you plan accordingly you will feel very confident when you see the test questions.

Best of luck!

 

03:43 am August 9, 2021

Well done Cathy!

I looked through all the things you did and we have pretty much did the same things! I passed my yesterday on my first take and did pretty good sans the paid courses, just making use of all the resources you mentioned. Thanks for sharing, this is good information for those who will take it!

Scrum on!