Skip to main content

New to Scrum, how realistic is the exam?

Last post 08:12 am January 16, 2019 by Athanasios Kataras
7 replies
01:55 am January 13, 2019


I am an ITIL (Info Tech service management) certified professional with 20 years in managing higher ed tech services. I do not manage software teams but would like to take advantage of the benefits scrum would bring in managing IT services and in some of my teaching. I am using Atlassian Jira for project management which follows some scrum framework, but it is all exploration/trial and error.

 I'm studying the Guide, taking some courses through udemy (meh), and have read Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. I'm scoring in the high 90s on the open asssessments, but some of the practice exam questions use terms and concepts I've not been exposed to.

Is certification realistic for someone who has not had formal training or experience? I would like to do this without costing my institution $1K in training.

Any audiobooks out there you'd recommend?

Thanks all.


06:44 am January 15, 2019

In my view, most of the questions in the (PSM I) open assessment are not as difficult as those in the (PSM I) exam. Also, imo, you do not need to have prior expertise with Scrum (it surely help a lot if you have, and have been practising it correctly - but if your practice deviated from the guide, you'd have a tough time passing the exam cause your foundation would be wrong).

Finally, I'm of opinion formal training is not required. It is of course very useful, but it's definitely not a prerequisite.

All said, do know the certifications are tough/rigurous ones. Which will make your satisfaction even higher once you pass one or more exams. Good luck

07:55 am January 15, 2019

Read and really own the Scrum Guide, read Gunther Verheyen's Scrum - A Pocket Guide a couple of times, Scrum Mastery and I think you're good to go. Thoroughly read the questions on the exam. Good luck!

11:41 am January 15, 2019

Many pass the PSM I without a course.  In addition to Gunther's book (there is a new version coming out), try Scrum Insights for Practitioners by Hiren Doshi.

Did you know about the Scrum Master Learning Path found right here on this site?  Going through all of that material will help you prepare.

I'l say one thing about the formal training though, I wish I had taken it 10 years ago.  It goes well beyond the exams, and the return on investment will be worth it and get you started on the right path.  I don't think I would  have passed the PSM III without taking the PSM I course.  There isn't one book out there that can replace the experience.

12:33 pm January 15, 2019

Hi Stacey,

I have recently cleared PSM-1 certification(94 %) without any training. I read scrum guide religiously(3-4 times) ,read multiple blogs and articles on this website( They are very helpful and provide guidance for real time scenarios. I also read the book mentioned in your post and that also proved very helpful

You will find all the terms and concepts in scrum guide and articles written on this website.


04:41 pm January 15, 2019

I passed the PSM I and PSM II exams without taking any classes or actually reading any supplemental books.  I read a lot of blogs and forums to get a better understanding of actual Scrum implementations.  But you have to be very careful in those readings because at times they stray from the Scrum Guide narrative and empirical practices.  I have worked with a couple of our less experienced Scrum Masters and helped them pass the PSM I. They read every web link provided in the recommended reading and studied the Scrum Guide. I also had them read on empiricism in order to really understand how that applies.  The PSM exams are based on the Scrum Guide and how to apply them based on empiricism.  The upper exams also cover a lot about self-organizing teams and organizational behavior related to Scrum practice. 

The higher you get in the certifications here, the more you will truly understand and appreciate Scrum and the foundations on which it was created. The more can know about how people implement Scrum will help you with the upper certifications.  You should learn what worked and what did not work for organizations.  And it also helps to learn about Scrumbut implementations as well but be able to understand the "but" part and separate it from the Scrum Guide's intentions. 

I will also say that I have the CSM but I really value the PSM certifications more because they are testing what you learned in a class.  They are testing your real knowledge about the subject. 

07:13 am January 16, 2019

Hi Stacey,

Go through Scrum Guide multiple times and take scrum open assessment test until you score 100% consistently.

Read blogs and articles available on for your better understanding.

Below link will help you for your preparation:…


08:12 am January 16, 2019

Hi Stacey,

In my experience the open assessments are as difficult as the exam itself. They don't not cover all the angles though so be prepared for questions outside the scope of the assessment.

Questions are mostly from the scrum guide and maybe an occasional question about multiple teams in the same product (do you need common DoD and maybe sprint lengths) but nothing much more than that.

You can get the 85% easily enough by reading through the scrum guide, but beware that some of the questions require you to have a good knowledge of the phrasing in the Scrum guide from multiple parts of it (so going through it during the exam might not help you that much if you haven't mastered it already).

One more piece of advise: Don't trust internet answers to the questions. More often than not your own understanding will be more than adequate to answer the questions.

You can certainly get certified without formal training, but I would recommend it all the same - especially as you have no hands on experience. Certification is one thing but the training will expose you to much more information and tools of the trade + some real world examples.

Best Regards,


By posting on our forums you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.

Please note that the first and last name from your member profile will be displayed next to any topic or comment you post on the forums. For privacy concerns, we cannot allow you to post email addresses. All user-submitted content on our Forums may be subject to deletion if it is found to be in violation of our Terms of Use. does not endorse user-submitted content or the content of links to any third-party websites.

Terms of Use may, at its discretion, remove any post that it deems unsuitable for these forums. Unsuitable post content includes, but is not limited to, Professional-level assessment questions and answers, profanity, insults, racism or sexually explicit content. Using our forum as a platform for the marketing and solicitation of products or services is also prohibited. Forum members who post content deemed unsuitable by may have their access revoked at any time, without warning. may, but is not obliged to, monitor submissions.