October 7, 2021

How to Pass the PSM I Assessment (Updated for Scrum Guide 2020)

In June 2012, I wrote the world's first ever article that advised readers on how to pass the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) assessment from Scrum.org.  It was hugely popular and I'm flattered that it's been copied so many times.

In the meantime, the world has changed, Scrum has evolved and the PSM I assessment has been changed. I reasoned that it was about time to update my first article. So, here it is. the updated guide to help you earn your PSM I certificate. From the original author of 'How to pass your PSM I assessment'.

A Turbo Scrum student prepares to pass the PSM I assessment online.

Photo by Kristin Wilson on Unsplash

One of the great things about the Professional Scrum Master I assessment is that it simply assesses your knowledge. You are not required to attend an official training course beforehand. (though it is recommended).

It costs $150 to sit the assessment so thorough preparation is recommended. You could follow the advice given by Scrum.org in the Scrum Master Learning Path. While I think there is value in doing that if you're interested in Scrum Mastery, it is probably overkill in terms of preparing for the assessment.

Here is the advice that I offer to students that attend my PSM I classes:

Study Tips to pass the PSM I assessment

Before the assessment:

  1. Read the Scrum Guide, once a day, every day, for seven days, prior to taking the assessment.
    Reason: This will cement your understanding of Scrum. You'll also discover something new on every read.
  2. Take the Scrum open assessment at Scrum.org repeatedly until you score 100% every time.
    Reason: Some of the Scrum open assessment questions appear in the real assessment so it's effectively 'answers for free'. Also, the Scrum open assessment is in the same format as the real assessment and you'll have a chance to get used to the format.
  3. Remember my definition of a burndown chart: 'A burndown chart shows the amount of work remaining at a given point in time'.
    Reason: If you get any questions on a burndown chart, the definition will help you.

During the assessment

4. RTFQ! Read the full question (and answers)!

Reason: Some of the questions (and answers) are long. Don't throw away points by neglecting to read the full text. Some of the questions require you select multiple answers. Make sure you select them all.

After the assessment

5. Even with the best preparation, it is still possible that you might fail the assessment. If that happens, give yourself time to reflect. Take at least one day, preferably three days. Then, review, revise and re-sit.

Reason: Rushing at another attempt at the assessment means you're likely to repeat the same errors. By reflecting, you will find areas that require extra study. You'll get a better understanding, and improve your chances at a pass.

Want to Improve Your Chances of Passing the PSM I assessment?

You have other options available if you'd like to earn your PSM I certificate:

  • Join one of our public Professional Scrum Master training courses. You will receive world-class training from Europe's first dual-licenced Scrum Trainer. You'll also get TWO attempts at the PSM I assessment (worth $300) as well as a discount on the PSM II course.
  • Watch the 'Introduction to Professional Scrum' video series at Pluralsight. This is a Scrum.org endorsed learning series created by our Scrum Trainer, Derek Davidson.