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Professional Scrum Master Certification On Your Own

If you have a look at the current job descriptions for ScrumMasters they normally ask for a certification. This means you should have done a training offered by the ScrumAlliance and the certification proves this. It does not mean that you are experienced with what you may talk about.

When I started with Scrum I thought I do not need such a certificate. I followed the idea “I am proud not to be certified”. For all of us learning Scrum on their own the ScrumAlliance certificate is no real help. Important to us is to learn the basics and get experienced with the framework, with the social and organizational implications and then help to improve the companies’ results. For me this is similar to learn using the Spring framework on your own.

Scrum.org

I changed my mind when I heard of what Ken Schwaber started with Scrum.org. Now you have to prove your knowledge to get a certificate after a training. This really makes it worth to have a certificate. And my experience shows me that getting a Scrum.org certificate is a challenge. Even with the simplest multiple choice assessment you really have to understand what you are talking about to be successful.

What I really like about Scrum.org is the assessment offer without partcipating in their trainings. Besides this Ken, with the support of Jeff Sutherland and the Scrum community, did a good job on offering cost-free help to learn and understand the Scrum fundamentals:

  • Scrum Guide – An overview of the Scrum framework with a lot of hints you should have a look at when using Scrum in your project.
  • Open Scrum Assessment – 30 questions in 60 minutes to prove what you learned from the Scrum Guide. You have to reach 75% correct answers.

You may not manage to get a certificate only using these offerings. But, they help you to understand what Ken extracted as most important from the last 15 years he is using Scrum.

Professional Scrum Master I Certification

I did the Professional Scrum Master I assessment on a Friday and got my official certificate on Monday. Normally, you wait not more than a working day to get the certificate in PDF. You also get a logo that you can use in your blog, etc. (see footer of this blog). The result is shown immediately after the assessment. This allowed me to start the marketing even on that Friday ;-).

When I started the assessment I was a bit surprised. I had to answer 80 questions in 60 minutes and to reach 85% correct answers. So, you have to manage your time. In contrast to this the Open Assessment was pretty easy with 30 questions in 60 minutes. So, there’s no time left to search for an answer, even if you try this with the Scrum Guide PDF file.

You may try to guess the answer. Some answers do not really work for questions. So, the most logical one could be the answer. But, beware of using the first answer you may think that could work. Read every answer and keep in mind that Scrum is a framework with a minimal set of rules.

Although, we may talk a lot about certain numbers in using Scrum it does not necessarily asks for this. The numbers only give hints to become efficient. This is different to the rules Scrum defines. You have to follow all rules, else you have a ScrumBut.

Using the Open Assessment will show you why I am talking about all this. What is really nice with this assessment is that you get a hint for almost all wrong answers. Do not hessitate to repeat the Open Assessment until you reach 90% of correct answers. This helped me a lot. For statistical reasons and to help Ken, always use the same profile data.

For a better preparation I recommend the Mike Cohn series books, like:

Additionally, I studied online resources, like blogs, videos, slides and documents.

After this you can start the assessment. You have to pay $100 to get a password and start the assessment online. I had to wait a day to get the password (timezone difference US – Europe). If you are successful you can read your name in a list and get the certificate as PDF via email. It looks like this:

Professional Scrum Master I Certificate - Rainer Eschen

Some words from Ken why he offers a certification without a training:

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Discussion

  1. Ramesh Kesav  December 30, 2010

    Hi,
    I did take the exam once and Could get only 80%. Do you have pointers to some of the questions in this test? I am trying to get the incorrect questions correct in the second attempt and any help would be of highly appreciated.

    (reply)
    • Rainer Eschen  January 4, 2011

      I got hints on the most questions that I didn’t solve the first time. Did you get these, too? You may re-read the Scrum Guide to find the right answer. It may also helps to search for special blog posts (maybe Ken also wrote about those topics).

      (reply)
  2. Ashu C  June 19, 2011

    Hi,

    Can you please elaborate more on which resources to take into account while preparing for PSM I through self study.

    Thanks in anticipation.

    Regards,
    Ashu

    (reply)
    • Rainer Eschen  November 26, 2011

      Sorry, I miissed your comment. If still relevant to you: If you have a look at the Scrum page of this blog you’ll find some recommendations for books (Mike Cohn, Roman Pichler). There are also slides and videos you can have a look at.

      (reply)
  3. Derek Davidson  May 12, 2012

    Hi Rainer

    This is a great article and thanks for sharing. Like you, I took the PSM I assessment after self-study. I also wrote a blog about it which I hope other readers might find helpful:

    http://www.webgateinternational.com/2012/03/how-to-pass-the-professional-scrum-master-i-psm-i-assessment/

    I also believe that Scrum.org are getting it right with regard to assessments. They’re not requiring that you attend a course first and whether you attend a course not, you’re required to pass the assessment to get the certificate. That makes the certificate worth something.

    Recently, I also wrote an article comparing CSM with PSM. Interestingly, the Scrum Alliance are now conducting assessments as well. More info here:

    http://www.webgateinternational.com/2012/05/scrum-master-certificate/

    I hope it might prove useful reading.

    (reply)
  4. Vijay  August 24, 2012

    Hi Rainer,

    Thanks for the essential tips about clearing the PSM I Assessment on one’s own preparation. This article, along with Derek’s link below helped me immensely in my preparation and I successfully passed the test today with 96%.

    Again, thanks a bunch!

    Cheers
    Vijay

    (reply)
  5. Rainer Eschen  August 24, 2012

    Great. Thanks for your comment.

    (reply)
  6. Hans-Erik Stegeby  August 8, 2013

    Hello Rainer,

    I want to thank you for this information you provided. I took the PSM I assessment and passed it, having no previous experience with Scrum. I studied the Scrum Guide, watched the videos you pointed to, and read some books to help me understand how it all works. This is a great concept and am happy to have found your website and is excited to implement this in my future projects that I will be running.

    Cheers!

    (reply)
    • Claudia  May 9, 2014

      Hans, could you kindly share with us the books you had read before you took the exam ?

      (reply)

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