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PSM I - My preparation + tips

Last post 08:35 pm June 4, 2016 by Siddharth Nattanmai Balakumar
3 replies
03:27 pm January 21, 2016

Hi everyone,

Just passed the PSM I exam with a 97.5% result (78/80) and thought I'd provide some feedback like many of the very helpful people have done on this forum before me. FYI, your score is divided into 4 sections/subject matters when you get your result. I personally scored 95% in the "Scrum Framework" section and 100% in the other 3 sections.

Here's some context and info about the way I prepared, and this might surprise some people.

----- Background and preparation

I had some very basic knowledge of Agile and Scrum (Scrum Master, Product Owner, sprints, backlog and so on) before I started studying for the exam, but I've never have any experience working with either Agile or Scrum, or had any proper training over them (no virtual training and certainly no classrooms). I've been wanting to become certified in Scrum for a little while now and finally launched myself seriously 3-4 days ago.

I took a few Scrum Open assessments without studying anything just to assess my initial skills, and scored around 75% twice. I then read the Scrum Guide fully ONCE while taking notes as I went on. I started blasting the Open assessments - Scrum Open maybe 15 or 20 times, Product Owner Open nearly 10 times, until I could get 100% in just a few minutes everytime, knew all the answers to the questions before looking at the possible choices, and could tell why each answer was right and the others were wrong.

After landing 100% on all Open assessments with ease and 95-100% on Mikhail's, I did a simple brain dump of my Scrum knowledge over a white sheet to see what I had memorized, and read back my notes while looking at some precise extracts of the Scrum Guide over the items I was still a bit weak on (I also glanced at the Scrum Guide in my native language to make sure I wasn't getting confused but I didn't really rely on it since every proper resource and the actual exam is in English).

I also visited the forums and read some study tips that put me in the mood to attempt the exam, but also sometimes scared me as people described their tales of failing with 84% despite being experienced in Scrum, and that the exam was extremely difficult compared to their training. Then I decided that I reached my limit of studying and wasn't getting anymore additional info, so I just decided to go and pay for the exam and do it while my head was still full of artifacts and time-boxes.

----- Exam

A very significant part of the questions I had were present in the Scrum Open assessment. Another handful were probably in the Product Owner Open, I don't remember precisely, and I had maybe 1 or 2 questions that were related to Scrum Scaling or more Developer oriented.

I honestly think you can pass the exam by limiting your attempts to the Scrum Open assessment (and maybe the Product Owner Open if you're interested and since its content is aligned), but the Developer and Nexus Open might land you only a few additional points, which is always welcome if you can spare the time. I also had 1 or 2 questions on burndown charts so make sure you know what they're about.

Most questions are textbook Scrum Guide theory, no traps or misleading questions, but a handful of questions really need you to think in depth.

Also, I wondered about this myself and couldn't find an answer so I'll just say it in case someone else is confused. During the assessments I took here and there, I could see some multiple-answer questions with check boxes that sometimes only needed 1 answer and this had me confused. I kept wondering if the actual PSM I exam was the same, but don't worry, every question has either radio buttons for single-answer, and all the checkboxes multiple-answer questions tell you how many answers are expected.

I completed the test in about 45 minutes including 10-15 to review about 10 questions I bookmarked - If you're like me and don't think too much about a question, you should answer really quickly and save a lot of time on "simple questions" that you can use at the end to review your bookmarked, more "difficult" questions.

I passed some other entry-level certifications such as ITIL Foundation, and I'd say that although the density of questions for 1 hour exam is quite serious, and obviously the passing score is incredibly high by certification standards, this was still a very manageable exam.

----- Conclusion

So as you can see, you can perfectly pass the exam with an assessment based training over a few days without reading the Scrum Guide 10 times or knowing it by heart. I'm not a fan of reading guides and lose focus really quickly, so I much prefer practicing to understand what's going on and getting my memory prepared - I know that a lot of other people are also this way. It's all about understanding what it is about and how you can process it when you see the questions.

I was wondering if I should keep the momentum going by attempting the PSPO I depending on my results, and it has definitely given me great confidence to go on!

An enormous thanks to Mikhail for his amazing exam that took my preparation from "could be good enough to pass" to "the actual exam doesn't look that hard".

Good luck!

01:06 pm May 15, 2016


Thank you for those hints, just passed my exam!


12:20 pm May 17, 2016

+1 on that post. Doing all the open assessments till you can get 100% (and know why with reference to the scrum guide), Mikhail's excellent test and multiple reads of the scrum guide is exactly the way I did it too.


08:35 pm June 4, 2016

Hey I just gave my exam today but unfortunately got 83.5%.. Please give me some tips to improve my Score.. And i have a year experience will i able to get job without certifications.... Please do the needful ...

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