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Scrum Open vs. PSM I assessment

Last post 07:02 am November 19, 2015 by Namitha Naveen
15 replies
07:15 pm September 24, 2013

I tried to do the PSM I assessment today after studying 4 guides, reading the Agile Project Management WIth Scrum, attending a course, finishing the Scum Open a few times with 100%, doing some research and with some years of experience working on Dev Teams and with Scrum.

Unfortunately I failed to pass with a 82% final score.

I first realized that I could almost automatically reply questions that were similar on the Scrum Open, but I was surprised that if the Scrum Open difficulty is 2, then the exam has difficulty 5. It has nothing to do with it. While on the Scrum Open you have direct questions about selecting 2 possible answers, here you have a few questions asking to select whatever response you think it could be true.

Also that if you take longer in some response, you won't have any time to come back to review your doubts at the end (only 45 seconds / question).

What most concerns me, and I am wondering if I will repeat the exam, it's because I have to pay the tax again for this 3% without any discount :(

I believe the exam with the multiple choices and random questions is just a question of luck.

Do you think I should repeat it? How can I study harder? My time is getting limited and I don't think repeating the Scrum Open is a good thing, as the questions I get are always the same, only in diffrent random positions.


09:20 am September 25, 2013


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02:17 pm October 25, 2013

I'm in the same situation. I tried to do the PSM I assessment after read the Scrum Guide several times, finishing the Scum Open several times with 100% and attending a course. I failed, for the 2nd time, both finished with 84%.
I don't know where I can study anymore, because some situations of the test are not in Scrum Open, course or Scrum Guide. Where I can find these kind of information?


09:09 am October 28, 2013


I'm planning to do the PSM I assessment for the first time very soon and have similar worries, seeing that the open one isn't really exhaustive and there could be hidden pitfalls when trying to understand the Scrum Guide. I hope I can give some general advice about what I think is especially important when trying to answer (at first) unfamiliar questions:

Basically, you should keep in mind the key principles the Scrum Guide is built upon and try to discover them in the given questions together with their potential answers. These are the points I identified as especially important:
- The three pillars of empirical work (in the eyes of Scrum): transparency, inspection and adaption. Can you discover these principles in the potential answers of "what to do" questions?
- The self organizing principle: you can get help from outside but nobody from outside tells you what to do. Can be applied to the Scrum Team or to the Development Team. (in the line of: Dev.Team has problems, what should the SM do? correct: help them sort them out themselves; wrong: alert management / solve it for them)
- Scrum terminology: Sometimes possible answers seem ambiguous. When in doubt, use the one that uses the most fitting terminology e.g. "definition of done", "product increment". Such question are often stated as "what describes best..." or similar phrases.
- The concept of "value" represented in the product backlog and in the work done (see terminology). Get suspicious when non-Scrum terms like "cost" are dropped.
- When something can be done immediately, it should be done immediately (but only then). This is not stated explicitly but very important. It's part of the "inspection/adaption" pillars.

A last point, it hasn't anything to do with Scrum, but I sometimes made the mistake of choosing the opposite answers than those that would be correct simply because I've got its meaning wrong. Losing points because of this is extremely irritating and unnecessary so take a bit of extra time to make sure you've answered as intended. Watch out for words like "not" or a number of correct answers in the question.

Hope this helps and Good Luck!

09:21 am October 28, 2013

Sorry, I want to make a correction/clarification to a point I made above: In a self-organizing team, of course you're working on requirements from "outside", the self-organizing aspect refers to how to do it, the specific actions to reach the goal.

06:22 am November 1, 2013

Experience helps to a certain extent. In my case I had worked on Scrum for more than 2 years so it became easy for me to attempt the test. But this is not always necessary.

For total newbies to Scrum I would recommend going through the Scrum Master training before attempting the test. Also increase your knowledge of various Scrum concepts by reading articles and discussions on the forums on and other well known Scrum websites. Many of these discussions pertain to real life issues faced by engineers. also has several articles by Ken himself. You must most certainly cover all of Ken's videos and articles before the test.
Besides this Mike Cohn who is one of the leading authorities on Scrum maintains a huge repository of Scrum info on his website.

Depending on your level of Scrum knowledge your preparation time can vary between half a day and a month at the minimum.

At the end of the day more knowledge and exposure is going to arm you better to face the battle at hand.

To end on a philosophical note change your goal from passing the test to learning Scrum and you will most certainly reach greater heights.

Good Luck!!

04:55 pm October 27, 2014

If it's true I find this quite unfair that the Open assignment is a difficulty 2 whereas the PSM I would rather be 5. Kind of find that this is going against the non-profit purpose or

Btw, is it just me or you always end up having the same questions during the open assignment?
I've been doing it three times now over three days (avg 85%) and I've got the feeling I always have the same bunch of questions, the overall being not more than 35 so far I'd say. Any clue why?

01:43 pm October 28, 2014

Something I once heard about the difference between professional athletes and amateur athletes..... Amateurs practice until they get it right, Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.

When I did the 2 day course and studied for the exam, I lost count of how many times I did the open assessment, but it got to a point where I was getting 100% every time (maybe 15+) before I felt comfortable taking the PSM assessment.
What this did was allow me to pick up on how questions were worded and how some were setup to be confusing on purpose, so that you really have to be paying attention to the test.

For those of you consistently getting 85% in the open test, you're not ready to take the PSM 1 test. You need to be getting 100% consistently to consider taking the PSM 1 test. That is what one of the great instructors from Improving Enterprises told me and I found it to be true.
Also, if you are having the same questions over and over again and are still only getting 85%, learn from your mistakes. Read up on the areas you're getting wrong and try again.

04:22 pm October 28, 2014

Hi Tim,

I guess this message was addressed to me but I must say that it sounds a bit like a set of tautologies, yet well intended. :)

I've been improving and said this was on average, now reaching 96% at the third one my problem is rather to understand why I always have the same questions all the time.


01:21 am October 30, 2014

Bop,I agree with Tim here. avg 85% in open is not going to cut it. The questions are NOT exact same every time. If you look closely, you will notice that.

10:41 pm October 30, 2014

questions are exactly same except the order

12:30 am December 30, 2014

I agree. Questions are same just reordered. Also $100 for each attempt is steep.

12:05 pm December 30, 2014

Hello, I believe the PSM I exam is created quite well. The test questions are balanced to leave enough time for a "thinking" type of questions. What do I mean is, there are quite few questions that require no thinking/processing the question/answers. The answers should be found in your mind in few seconds. So, you safe time on such questions like "how long a daily stand-up should last" or "Which statement best describes Scrum?". So, if you found yourself "thinking/processing" this type of questions more then 30 seconds, this means "studied not enough".

The only what I wish is, I could access the questions I replied wrong to understand what exactly I still do not understand correctly.

07:40 am November 3, 2015

Actually the questions are 80% + the same. A new question is added once in a while. I have several printed out and verified this. (Just for the sake of accuracy).

I agree with Galina - (imho) you either know it when the question is asked or you don't. That has been my experience with any test.

01:28 am November 15, 2015

Unlike many other Scrum certificates, PSM is not a vanity means to claim Scrum knowledge, but a rigorous assessment of the intermediate knowledge in original Scrum.
So, one should appreciate the high standards maintained by

Some of observations on comments here:
- Be careful about the source of your Scrum Knowledge. While Mike Cohn is great, some techniques that he advocates are not mandatory in Scrum
- Self organizing - There are ofcourse impediments that is outside the team's influence where SM needs to help. Not that they always let the team to solve it themselves.
- Beware of word play in assessments. For example, Product Done Increment is same as
Done Working Increment that is same as Potentially releasable and usable software Increment

A book named Scrum Narrative and PSM Exam Guide will be out in next three weeks

07:02 am November 19, 2015

In my opinion, One has to hit 100% score every time you take the assessment.
Its also important to understand "WHY" for each questionnaire, and multiple choices.
As many have, already mentioned its good to read through Scrum guide as many time as possible.
Its okay to take other open assessments, before taking PSM1 to formalize your knowledge on Scrum.

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