First 2 attempts 82% and 84%. Please help with some guidlines.

Last post 07:07 pm December 1, 2016
by Craig Conrad
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05:34 am January 17, 2015

I need some guidelines about preparing for the PSM I certification. I studied the guide and a number of books and I do consistently score 100% on the open exam. However, I tried the test twice and failed. First attempt 82% and second one 84%. Needless to say this is very hard to accept, especially failing for just 1 point.

Is there a strategy I could use that will take my knowledge beyond this and closer to 100%? I really cannot afford to waste another $100. My first language is not English so I guess this does not help either, however, I am sure I can prepare more deeply in such a way to go closer to the 100% mark.

Is there an online test facility (even if a paid service) that provide question styles closer to the PSM I (the open test is a bit far in terms of difficulty) and provide feedback on how you answered?

The Scrum.org feedback provides only statistics and this is not helpful at all, especially since in my case there is no correlation between the 2 exams:

Exam 1:

Scrum Framework 85%
Scrum Theory & Principles 80%
Cross-functional, Self-organizing teams 71.4%
Coaching & Facilitation 100%

Exam 2:

Scrum Framework 92.5%
Scrum Theory & Principles 70%
Cross-functional, Self-organizing teams 78.6%
Coaching & Facilitation 83.3%

Any guidelines are highly appreciated. Thank you.

03:07 pm January 20, 2015

HI Saviour,

Are you currently a scrum master? Do you have real-world experience of serving a team in the role of scrum master? These will help more than anything.

One guideline that helps me - the scrum master doesn't make decisions for the team - he reminds them they can make the decision.

It looks like you could read up on the subject of cross-functional & self organizing teams - google is your friend, as well as reading the forum here, there are a wide variety of topics discussed, with great answers & insights often given.

Read the scrum guide over and over, until you pretty much know & understand it off the top of your head.

A scrum master doesn't have their own agenda for the team - he helps the team discover where they want/need to head and helps them get there.

My other recommendation is to ask any friends/mentors/this forum questions you are not sure about, for insight & understanding. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have. I'm sure others would be also.

01:28 am January 21, 2015

Try all 3 of the open assessments. They will exercise your knowledge from a different angle:

https://www.scrum.org/Assessments/Open-Assessments

12:57 pm January 23, 2015

Saviour

Don't give up hope; you are really close to passing! I haven't personally done it, but other people on the forum have mentioned reaching out to Scrum.org for more help on what to study (I think this can be accomplished with an email).

I know something that caught me off guard were the questions on burn up/down charts. These aren't mentioned in the Scrum Open or the Scrum Guide. They do show up in the previous guide (2009) though, so I would suggest just looking at that section. It might give you enough information to answer one more question right.

Good Luck!

02:55 am January 27, 2015

You are transparent in your problem statement. That is good! Now inspect and adapt! ;-)

===

Maybe you are not ready to pass the exam. I don’t know, you are the only one to decide. And if you pass, would you be happy to pass with just 85%? Or would you rather be closer to 100%?

Do you want to be certified to have better job opportunities? Or do you want to be a great Scrum Master and improve software and the way it is build?

If you land a job as a Scrum Master you will be responsible for the process of a Development Team and a Product Owner. And facing management that interrupts ‘your’ Development Team. Are you ready for that? And will you do so with confidence?

You can’t lose another $100. This means that you can’t afford a class.

Instead of learning from books only, you might consider watching presentations and videos readily available on YouTube. So you can establish better knowledge about Scrum in a way suited to your learning preferences. Some clips are good and some are rubbish. And be aware that Scrum has been changing in the last years, so some materials are outdated or even conflict with the Scrum Guide.

I think you can do it. But please aim for being a great Scrum Master, not just passing the assessment.

07:17 am February 9, 2015

The same happened to me, i failed with 80% and 82,5%. I'm very concerned about how to pass it successfully. I actually fell prepared and it's difficult to improve it without knowing where are my issues. Sometimes i'm confused about the meaning of the questions.

e.g. "Who owns the sprint backlog?"
I would say, it's the dev team, because they selected the items and they are the only one who are allowed to change it, because they are responsible to turn these items into a working increment. But if the sprint backlog is considered as a particular accumulation of the product backlog, the product owner would be the proper one in my point of view.

And there is one more question of my last trial. Unfortunately i don't properly remember the question, but something like. "The only meeting where the stakeholders are allowed to invite?" After the test i would say it's only for the sprint review, because the scrum team would like to get the feedback of the stakeholders. But during the test i was remembering, that i've read whenever it is necessary that someone wants to join a meeting, it is allowed. The main thing is they only should know about their role. For example, a stakeholder wants to join a daily scrum to see the progress, he is allowed to be present, but NOTHING else.

I would be very thankful, if you might help me out to improve my knowledge about scrum and fix my wrong optinion ;-)

My results:
Scrum Framework - 90% | 90%
Scrum Theory and Principles - 60% | 70%
Cross-functional, self-organizing Teams - 78,6% | 78,6%
Coaching & Facilitation - 83,3% | 83,3%

02:01 pm February 17, 2015

Hi Daniel,

"Who owns the sprint backlog?"
Yes, difficult question.

Now, consider again.

Who defines the Sprint Backlog? When? And who is communicating to who? And When? And from which certainties are they acting?

08:20 pm February 17, 2015

The Scrum Guide says:

"The Sprint Backlog is a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Development Team plans to accomplish during the Sprint, and it belongs solely to the Development Team".

Therefore it is best to consider the Sprint Backlog to be an artifact of planning which is wholly owned by the Development Team.

This planning is tightly coupled to items that are selected from the Product Backlog, which the Product Owner wholly owns, and to the Sprint Goal which is jointly agreed by the PO and the Development Team. This tight coupling should be seen as a necessary and valuable part of an agile way of working, as it requires that technical and end-user stakeholders work closely together.

08:53 pm February 17, 2015

""The only meeting where the stakeholders are allowed to invite?....For example, a stakeholder wants to join a daily scrum to see the progress, he is allowed to be present, but NOTHING else""

While stakeholders may attend the Daily Scrum as observers, they are not invited to the event. However, they are invited to the Sprint Review.

Scrum Guide (sprint review section)
"The Sprint Review includes the following elements:
 Attendees include the Scrum Team and key stakeholders invited by the Product Owner"

04:50 am February 18, 2015

Hola,

I did also recently exam and passed, besides regular topics, you should also expect questions about scaling and non functionals, I think I got about 5 a 6 questios about these topics.

Success

07:54 pm November 19, 2016

Hi Saviour,

I noticed that you scored 100% for "Coaching & Facilitation".
For my first SCM exam i got 82,5% average and only 50% for Coaching & Facilitation part.
=> What advice can you give me to improve the part on "coaching" ? Did you prepare in a special way or did you focus on a article/book/video ?

thank you,
Lars.

07:07 pm December 1, 2016

Lars,

I'm not sure if the breakdown of the number of questions in each topic area is formally identified anywhere (I couldn't find it), but I've calculated that the breakdown is:
40 Scrum Framework
20 Scrum Theory & Principles
14 Cross-functional, self-organizing teams
06 Coaching & Facilitation

With a passing requirement of 85%, you can miss 12 questions to still pass. You missed 14, but only 3 of those from the Coaching section, so don't let the 50% score on that section cause you to give more weight than it deserves for determining where you might study more. I didn't miss anything in that section for either PSM I or PSM II, and my advice is that when you see answer chooses that sound like you are dictating (like a manager would) to anyone, then that isn't the right answer. In those cases, look more carefully at the choices that cause you to teach the team and/or to empower them to make decisions (at least those decisions that still fit the Scrum framework).

Craig