Professional Scrum Master – how to prepare?
At the end of September I started to prepare for the Professional Scrum Master I. Passing this exam results in receiving a commonly used PSM I certificate. As there are a lot of information in the Internet on how to prepare to this exam, I will present only the most useful ones, which helped me to get 94% and receive the certificate.
To start with, you need to make yourself familiar with the information published on the website of Scrum.org, which conducts trainings, exams and issues Scrum certificates. There are a few types of exams available:
- PSM – Fundamental and intermediate assessments of Scrum knowledge for Scrum Masters.
- PSD – For developers to test their knowledge of practices and techniques that support building complex software in Scrum Teams.
- PSPO – Two levels of assessment for Product Owners who wish to validate their knowledge of Scrum Product Ownership.
Focusing on the PSM, it is worth visiting Ways to learn about Scrum website, where we automatically get a few pieces of advice.
- Scrum Guide. We should absolutely read it at least few times. I recommend reading Polish version to dispel all doubts which may arise after reading English one. Perception of this document after and before learning is completely different, that is why I recommend studying it repeatedly. Remember that in 2013 Scrum Guide was updated, which was also mentioned by Paweł Pustelnik.
- Scrum Open Assessment. Scrum.org allows us to participate in a 30-question mock test which should be completed within 30 minutes. It is worth trying, because the questions from Scrum Open are repeated in the official exam. There is no point in taking the PMS I without having passed Scrum Open in 100%, at least few times in a row (the pool of questions is approx. 40). The official exam looks exactly the same except that PSM I lasts 60 minutes and has 80 questions, which gives approx. 45 sec. per question. Fortunately, few questions from Scrum Open are repeated and thanks to that we gain some time.
- Forum Scrum.org. I recommend going through all the topics concerning the PSM exam. You can find there a lot of questions about scope and even detailed ones from the official exam. Additionally, there are a lot of interesting discussions and links to helpful articles.
- Book: “Software in 30 days” with practical examples of implementing Scrum in other companies and organisations. It also includes a dictionary of notions and Scrum Guide.
Generally, it is enough to pass PSM I, however without practical knowledge from project it can be hard to acquire some notions and rules. Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure to participate in two projects developed with the use of Scrum methodology: the one was completely at FP’s side, whereas the other in cooperation with the UK. This kind of experience really helps even just to see mistakes we make. However, if you don’t have this kind of opportunity or still don’t feel up to the task, I would like to show you a few helpful materials:
- E-book: „A Lightweight Guide to the Theory and Practice of Scrum” In my opinion great interpretation of Scrum Guide with examples. I do recommend it!
- A series of articles by Ian Mitchell about Scrum and Agile. I’ve read the following articles and I think they are really useful:
- Cheat Sheet: „Scrum Aide Memoire” an A4 card with the essence concepts of Scrum. Prepared on the basis of the previous version of Scrum Guide.
- Product Owner Checklist. An A4 card with Product Owner’s duties.
- Burndown charts. I read through those tips to be aware of them, but didn’t get any questions concerning this domain. However, I recommend e.g.http://www.webgateinternational.com/2012/05/burndown-chart/
- Other books: Agile Project Management, Successful Agile Software Development using Scrum and Essential Scrum.
- Mind map SCRUM: http://kaczor.info/sites/default/files/Scrum%20on%20Mind%20Map.pdf
It is worth it to mention that there is another competitive organization offering Scrum Master certificates: http://www.scrumalliance.org/. They have similar exams: CSM, CSPO, CSD i CSP. From what I know, it isn’t possible to take the exam without any training. Also, watch out for the tutorial „Do Better Scrum„, which presents a little contradictory assumptions to those presented on Scrum.org. For peace of mind, you can read it, but the Scrum Guide should be your oracle 🙂
In the end a few remarks concerning the very exam. Submit a voucher request to Training department and set your preferred exam date. After purchasing, the voucher is valid for two weeks. With the password obtained in the voucher you enter the PSM I Assessment website and begin a 60 minute test. There are 80 questions so you need to hurry a little. I would recommend copying a question to which you want to come back, because even though the questions are numbered, it isn’t easy to quickly jump to the previous ones (try it with Scrum Open). As the exam is taken via Internet I recommend making sure that the connection is stable. After successfully completing the test (min. 85%, it means 68 correct answers) you will receive a certificate in a tab of your account at Scrum.org.