How I passed PSM I, PSM II, SPS, PSU I, PAL I and PSK I - on my first attempt
I chose the heading “How I passed PSM I, PSM II...” over “How to pass PSM I, PSM II...” since trying to roll out a perfect strategy to be followed by anybody who wishes to pass the above-mentioned assessments is neither sound nor possible. Therefore I found it more appropriate to lay out the strategy by which I was able to pass the above-mentioned assessments. Although it worked for me it does not mean that it will work for anyone else. Hopefully though this post can shed light on some low-risk paths to passing the assessments.
I did not attend any course and only prepared for the exams through self-study and mock exams. In forum discussions I frequently come across questions such as “Is it worth it?” (i.e. “is it worth the effort reading through an entire book”) or “Is it necessary?” (i.e. “is it necessary to read a book to pass an exam”).
As for the first question my answer is: Yes. Acquiring new knowledge is always worth it. In my opinion achieving an industry-recognized certification is not just about receiving a sheet of colorful paper but about acquiring new knowledge of which the certificate is proof.
As for the second question my answer is: No. It is not necessary. But from experience I have learned that if you study thoroughly for an exam you reduce the risk of failing. As I stated in the heading I passed each assessment on my first attempt. Passing on the first attempt is obviously a good feeling. But it also saves you money, which is nice. :)
Because of these two obvious benefits I chose to study for each exam.
Last but not least I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the members of the Scrum.org community for sharing tips and tricks which helped me a lot on my journey.
Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I)
(Passed on March 23, 2021)
As preparation for the PSM I assessment I first read The Scrum Guide several times (it is very condensed so my advice is to read it more than just once).
To get some in-depth insights into the Scrum framework I read “Scrum Insights for Practitioners: The Scrum Guide Companion” by Hiren Doshi. I found it very useful as it elaborates on the basic information provided in The Scrum Guide. In my opinion it is ideally used as a companion along with The Scrum Guide to further internalize its teachings.
I also took the Scrum Open assessment and the Product Owner Open assessment several times until I consistently scored 100 %. The purpose is not to memorize every question but to understand the reason why one answer is correct and another one is false. Therefore I made an effort to understand the feedback to every question.
Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II)
(Passed on April 16, 2021)
As preparation for the PSM II assessment I first read The Nexus Guide several times (like The Scrum Guide it is also very condensed). There are some scenario questions in the PSM II assessment that involves multiple Scrum teams so one would have to prepare for that. I also went through The Scrum Guide once more to revise its main points.
Furthermore I read the following books:
- “Scrum: A Pocket Guide” by Gunther Verheyen
- “Mastering Professional Scrum: A Practitioner’s Guide to Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing the Benefits of Agility” by Stephanie Ockerman and Simon Reindl
“Scrum: A Pocket Guide” describes the framework as it was designed and intended, with a strong focus on the purpose of the rules. “Mastering Professional Scrum” gives practical advice for facing challenges with transparency and continually improving your Scrum practice.
I also went through Hiren Doshi’s “Scrum Insights for Practitioners” once more as it provides some practical information on how to implement the basic theory of The Scrum Guide.
All three of them are great books. However - since most of the questions in the PSM II assessment are scenario-based I preferred “Mastering Professional Scrum” and “Scrum Insights for Practitioners” when preparing for this exam as they provide some guidance on how to relate the basic theory of The Scrum Guide to real-life situations.
I also took the Nexus Open assessment several times until I consistently scored 100 %. Again - it is about understanding the context of the questions and not just memorizing every question. In addition to taking the Nexus Open assessment I also took the Scrum Open assessment and the Product Owner Open assessment a few times making sure I scored 100 % in every attempt.
Scaled Professional Scrum (SPS)
(Passed on April 23, 2021)
As preparation for the SPS assessment I first read The Nexus Guide once more to revise its main points (having read it already as preparation for the PSM II assessment).
I also read “Nexus Framework for Scaling Scrum, The: Continuously Delivering an Integrated Product with Multiple Scrum Teams” by Kurt Bittner, Patricia Kong and Dave West. In this book the authors describe how Nexus helps teams solve common scaling challenges like reducing cross-team dependencies, ensuring accountability and preserving team self-management and transparency. To illustrate this they make use of an extended case study that spans the entire book. Therefore I found this the perfect book to prepare for the many scenario questions you will come across in the SPS assessment.
I also took the Nexus Open assessment a few times again making sure I scored 100 % in every attempt.
Professional Scrum with User Experience I (PSU I)
(Passed on April 29, 2021)
As preparation for the PSU I assessment I read the “Lean UX: Designing Great Products with Agile Teams” by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden. In this book the authors describe how product teams can incorporate design, experimentation, iteration, and continuous learning from users into their Agile process. Furthermore it is explained how to make Scrum teams more productive by combining Lean UX with the Scrum framework. Therefore I found this an excellent book to prepare for the PSU I assessment.
Professional Agile Leadership (PAL I)
(Passed on May 7, 2021)
As preparation for the PAL I assessment I read the “Agile Leadership Toolkit: Learning to Thrive with Self-Managing Teams” by Peter Koning. This book is a very practical guide to agile leadership. It is a useful toolkit for continuously improving the environment, including governance, meeting techniques, metrics and structures for creating thriving teams. Thus it explains how to lead agile teams at the large scale. It includes some illustrative real-world examples. I found this a great book to prepare for the PAL I assessment,.especially the scenario questions.
I also took the Agile Leadership Open assessment several times until I consistently scored 100 %.
Professional Scrum with Kanban I (PSK I)
(Passed on May 12, 2021)
As preparation for the PSK I assessment I first read The Kanban Guide for Scrum Teams several times (like The Scrum Guide and The Nexus Guide it is also very condensed). I also went through The Scrum Guide once more to revise its main points.
I also read “Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction” by Daniel S. Vacanti. This book includes a definition of the basic metrics of flow and how to visualize those metrics in analytics like Cumulative Flow Diagrams and Scatterplots. Moreover it is explained why managing for flow is the best strategy for predictability and why process policies are potentially the biggest cause for unpredictability. It also includes an introduction to Little’s Law and its implications for flow. As preparation for the PSK I assessment I found this an excellent book.
I also took the Scrum with Kanban Open assessment several times until I consistently scored 100 %.
As I mentioned in the introduction I hope this post can serve to shed light on some low-risk paths to passing the above-mentioned assessments.
The strategy worked for me. If you think that it will work for you - then go ahead and follow it on your own journey.
Please feel free to share your comments below.
Scrum on. :)
Thanks a lot Peder, These valuable guidance are definitely going to help a lot the other aspirants. Do ypu have any opinion about the book "Essential Scrum" by "Kenneth S Rubin" in preparation of PSM II.
Thank you for your comment.
I have not read "Essential Scrum", so I can not give my opinion on it.
If you choose to take the PSM II assessment then I wish you good luck. Hope you pass :)