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Preparing for the Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) Certificate

atom888 profile image Adam Dipinto ・3 min read

Introduction:

I'm excited to share a recent achievement of mine which was passing the Professional Scrum Master (PSM-I) exam and receiving the PSM-I Certificate from Scrum.org.

I wanted to create an article that would act as a summary of the experience, and the strategy and resources I used to help prepare for writing the PSM-I.

Background:

On paper, my title is a Software Developer. However, in reality, I am split between being a Software Developer, Business Analysis, and Project Manager - this is the opportunity that working at a startup can provide. The transition of having such a hybrid role has taken place over the last year and has been much of a "learn as you go" experience. Due to this, I did not feel that I had the strongest grasp when it came to certain aspects of my role(s) and I wanted to be prepared for any new surprises that could be coming my way.

I began doing some research into project management, product life-cycles, and available frameworks that could assist in applying structure. After a couple of months researching, taking courses, reading articles, and reaching out to my network, I found that I needed a better understanding of Scrum and how to operate under the principles of Agile.

To guarantee that I was fully comprehending the material, I set a challenge for myself - pass an exam. The PSM-I seemed like the perfect encapsulation of the new material I was learning and would provide me with a verdict of if I was retaining the material.

Preparation:

1) Pluralsight

Pluralsight offers a variety of course but I found the "Using the Scrum Framework" pathway the easiest to follow. This pathway contained nine different series and covered everything related to Scrum, such as the individuals and teams using it. If you are not practicing Scrum, this series showcases the necessary steps to apply Scrum into the workplace.

Note: Do not make this the only resource for PSM-I, stick to Step 2 & 4.

2) Scrum Guide by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland

Don't just read the material, but digest it and apply it. Think about every sentence laid out and look for conceptual gaps left deliberately by the author. Take the lessons and begin applying them in your position so you can start seeing what does and doesn't work best for you.

3) PSM 1 Exam Simulator by Mplaza

Start by taking small quizzes first so the thought of taking an 80 question exam doesn't seem as daunting. This bite-size quiz allows you to get some practice of testing your knowledge and see if you have been retaining any of the study material.

4) PSM 1 Preparation Quiz by Mikhail Lapshin

Hands down, this was the best mock exam I found online. I started with the "Learning Mode" where I would copy the questions and answers into a spreadsheet and study while in transit. Once I had a comfortable grasp of the concepts and different areas, I started taking the exam in "Real Mode" as frequently as possible until I was able to continually score above 90%.

5) Quizlet

I used Quizlet in tangent with the spreadsheet I compiled from Mikhail's PSM I Preparation Quiz. The flashcards provided a fresh take on the questions and I was able to find new questions regarding hypothetical scenarios that helped when taking the actual exam.

Exam Experience:

Before taking the exam, I went through two practice exams to get into the correct mindset and to mentally prepare myself for answering questions for the next hour.

Overall, the exam was exactly what I was expecting. Similar to Mikhail's PSM I Preparation Quiz, the exam was 80 questions varying from multiple-choice, true and false, and selecting multiple best options.

The only thing I was not prepared for was the coffee shop where I was writing the exam closing early... Yeah.

Results:

I passed!

Scrum.org was extremely quick in providing the results. They also provided a score break down which provides additional resources for the lower scoring areas of the exam.

Summary:

I hope this helps anyone that is looking into writing the PSM-I or who is curious about how to approach studying for one of the Scrum.org certifications.

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