How to pass the PSM Certification Exam

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Credit: | How to pass the PSM Certification Exam | Professional Scrum Master (PSM) is a certification for all professionals who want to work in an Agile environment and find solutions for their current process problems. It validates your in-depth knowledge of Scrum. For passing the PSM I exam, you must have a thorough understanding of the Scrum framework. Simply memorizing it is not enough. When you have a deep understanding of a concept, it helps you in answering questions that you have not seen before. However, it is important to note that you don’t have to become an expert in Scrum before taking the exam. Expertise in Scrum comes only after having years of practical experience. All you must do is study enough, pass the exam, get certified, and continue learning.  

Here are a few tips that will help you during the learning process: 

  • Taking the first step – If you have not used Scrum before, you can start off by reading the material available online. However, this can be a little tricky as there is a multitude of resources and not everything is usable. What you can do is enroll in an accredited PSM training institute. They will provide you with all the resources you need for studying for the exam.  
  • Refine your knowledge – Once you have completed the course, it’s time to refine the knowledge you have gained. Here is what you can use: 
  • Read the Scrum Guide that is available online for free. This book is very important as it is the standard book for nearly all the certification exams. Understand the meaning behind every sentence. If you are not able to understand something, you can ask about it in any Scrum forum. 
  • Prepare flashcards on the responsibilities of Scrum. Make sure that you don’t download it from anywhere but do it yourself. Use the Scrum guide for this. This is a very important step as more than 60% of the questions in exams are related to the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master. 
  • Review the cards a few times every day. As you learn more, keep adding new cards. Instead of memorizing, rationalize all the answers. There are several tools available online that can help you in managing flashcards on your mobile phones. 
  • Check this list of books for the PSM I exam recommended by the Not all of them are required for the exam. Pick a few that seem interesting to you. 
  • Evaluate your knowledge and fill in the gaps – This step should only be taken after you have refined your knowledge. When you feel that you are ready, you can take sample questions for evaluating yourself. 
  • provides the Scrum Open assessment for free. You can check the wrong answers on forums and Scrum Guide. Make sure that you learn from your mistakes. Continue doing the assessments until you are familiar with the existing questions. 
  • If you have completed the open assessments from, you can use third-party sample tests. However, make sure that they have been designed according to the PSM I exam. 

Once you have completed your preparation, you can give your tests. The following tips will help you pass the PSM I exam: 

  • Read the questions carefully – It is important to pay attention to what the question is. If you won’t do this, you might get even the simplest questions incorrectly. Read the questions word by word and go through all the answers before selecting the right one. Here are a few examples: 
  • You must be extra careful with the questions that have the word ‘NOT’. Many times, people ignore this and pick the wrong answer. It might seem uncommon but isn’t. Other such words to look out for are ‘ALWAYS’, ‘SHOULD’, ‘COULD’, ‘ATTEND’, ‘PARTICIPATE’, etc.  
  • Apart from the questions, you must read the answers correctly as well. Some questions might be multiple answer questions. If you pick just one answer, you won’t get any marks for it. One thing that you can do for checking these is to make sure if the questions have radio-buttons or checkboxes. At the end of the exam, you must double-check if you have selected multiple answers when you had to. 
  • Remember what you have learned – If you have used Scrum before, you might get confused about what you have learned and what you have seen in projects. There are several questions in the PSM I exam about the wrong Scrum behaviors. You must keep in mind that what you have studied is right and not the common practices used in organizations. Here are a few examples: 
  • Sprint zero doesn’t exist. Also, there is no release Sprint, hardening Sprint, planning Sprint, integration Sprint, etc. All these Sprints are the same. Here is what you should know about Scrum: 
  • Developers are the only ones who participate in the Daily Scrum. 
  • Baselines don’t exist in Scrum. 
  • There should be one Product Owner and one Product Backlog, irrespective of the number of teams working on the project. 
  • Apart from the three standard ones, there are no other roles. 
  • You must trust in yourself – Scrum is all about self-organizing teams. But to what extent? For example, who is the one to decide whom to exclude from the team? Should this be the team, the Scrum Master, Product Owner, hiring manager, or some other manager? You must trust what you have learned. The team has to be self-organized. This is only limited to the authorities given to the Scrum Master and Product Owner in the framework.
  • Don’t practice using miscellaneous sample question papers – Many of such papers are for other Scrum exams like CSM and PMI-ACP. These questions might not be compatible with PSM I. When you are using sample papers, make sure that you practice only ones that support the PSM I exam. 
  • Stay focused – Staying focused during the exam is as important as preparing for it. How you do this will depend on you. For example, if you are nervous after drinking coffee, you should not drink it. Also, take the exam during your prime time. So, if you are not a morning person, don’t take the exam in the morning. 
  • Manage your time properly – Some candidates think that the 60 minutes of the allotted time is enough while for some candidates, this is not enough. You must spend time appropriately. You should not stress yourself and waste time on hard questions. Mark them and spend your time on them in the end. 

Scrum is one of the most effective Agile frameworks. As more and more companies are adopting Scrum methodology, the demand for Scrum professionals is also increasing. With the PSM certification, you will be able to set yourself apart from the crowd. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself and you will be fine. 

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