I had considered the Professional Scrum Master exam for a while before finally taking it. When I did finally decide to go for it, it was 3 days of studying and then a test.
My job at the time opened up their own internal Scrum Master certification (for the Optum Scaled Agile Methodology). I was able to pass with no studying or preparation. This made me wonder if I could pass the PSM I and if I could do it fairly quickly. I almost took the test the evening I passed the company internal Scrum Master certification. I ended up deciding to at least spend a couple of days preparing.
*Update 10/1/18 – I have since created my own practice exam you are free to try here: Scrum Knowledge Test
I started testing the open assessments on Scrum.org. I gained an 80% on my first try. That gave me some motivation to go all out.
At the time I took the exam, I had just finished the AgilePM certification and was working on taking the 21 credits I needed to sit for the PMI-ACP exam. (*those who have read my PMI-ACP tips know that I took 5 certifications within a 3 month period of time, and I wasn’t counting the OSAM company internal certification). I let the PMI-ACP studies go for a weekend.
I bought a Udemy course available at https://www.udemy.com/scrum-certification/. It was fairly cheap and was about 3 hours long. I went through it twice.
I took the open assessments again, and again, and again. I took them until I could pass 100% over and over again. The open assessments are easier than the certification test. Despite that, I did notice a couple of questions come through that were almost identical to the open assessment questions.
I also read and re-read the Scrum Guide (https://www.scrum.org/resources/scrum-guide). I read it until I could understand it and relate it to my own experiences with Scrum and Agile.
I looked up more difficult practice questions, eventually finding this http://mlapshin.com/index.php/scrum-quizzes/psm-learning-mode/. That site also has PSPO exam preparation help which I used to help me pass my PSPO I exam.
Pay attention to the wording
Words sometimes have very specific meaning in the context of this exam and many others. Applying a generally accepted definition just won’t work. Accountable and Responsible mean two different things. Done and Ready are not the same thing. Read the questions carefully, thinking about each word in the context of Scrum.
Differentiate between the real world and ideal Scrum
You need to answer from the ideal Scrum perspective. I get it, in the real world, the CEO most certainly can overrule the product owner. That just isn’t ideal Scrum and it isn’t acceptable to allow it in Scrum. Real life, as in what actually can happen, may not totally line up with Scrum. Your answers should reflect ideal Scrum, not reality.
The biggest reason why I couldn’t pass with 100% on my first try on the open assessments was that I answered it from a reality perspective. You make a decision and then tell the CEO he cannot overrule you and see where that gets you. He/she can overrule you, he/she will if he/she wants to, and that’s the reality. But that isn’t how Scrum works and you will get that question wrong if you answer from a reality perspective.
Do more than just read the Scrum guide
Reading it and comprehending it is very important. You need to understand it. You need to be able to reword it and understand it when someone else rewords it.
Some experience is beneficial to understanding the Scrum guide. I am not saying you cannot pass with no experience, I am saying you will have an easier time of it and your chances of success are greatly improved.
This book from Amazon is one of the books I read beyond just reading the Scrum Guide (Affiliate Link): Scrum Narrative and PSM Exam Guide: All-in-one Guide for Professional Scrum Master (PSM 1) Certificate Assessment Preparation
Additional PSM Study Material
Two days after I started cramming for the PSM I exam, I took my test. I wouldn’t recommend this if you have no experience with Agile or Scrum, I probably wouldn’t recommend it even if you did. Take a little more time to understand the material. You don’t really have time to google the answers or dig through the Scrum guide to find the answers (unless you can answer most of the questions really fast), so if that is your plan, forget it. You have to know the stuff and have at least a basic understanding of how to apply it.
I missed two questions and my final score was 97.5%.