A few months ago, I got the Professional Scrum Master Certification (PSM I).
This is a trending certification nowadays, because most companies operate with some sort of agile methodology. So I wanted to share some tips that helped me get 98% on the first try.
In this article, will discuss both the fast and slow track. And I would urge you to lean more towards the slow track.
This is because the fast track, most of the time, will give you just enough knowledge to pass the certification. But this info is totally not enough to solve business day to day team problems with scrum. And that's a big part of what a scrum master does.
Still, some people just care about having the certificate itself, for their own reasons (for example, company KPIs). So let's get started with the fast track.
The fast track should take at most 25-30 hours of preparation.
Read the scrum guide at least five times and internalize the concepts
Almost all of the questions in the PSM I exam are derived from details of the scrum guide text. Most of the time there are nexus questions too, but it is not that hard if you have conquered the scrum guide.
Learning the guide by heart is not the solution here. But you might need to memorize it to remember minor details you will never encounter again in your scrum master journey (which I believe is the case with most certifications) :-)
While doing this step, you should totally understand a) the processes of scrum methodology b) the why behind the processes.
- Why the daily scrum (or standup as most people know it) lasts for 15 minutes and not 20
- Why it's a bad idea for the CEO to join the sprint retro
- Why sprint ceremonies are not a chance to micromanage people
I believe if you read it thoroughly and mindfully 5-6 times, you are good to go.
Embrace the scrum.org fora
In there you will "meet" people from the scrum trenches. People who have made a living, maybe many years in a row, from scrum oriented activities and who know what works and what does not.
Reading the scrum.org fora helped me understand a lot "the why" behind the scrum guide.
Do the official open assessments
The official open assessments will test your understanding of the scrum guide and make you familiar with the actual exam environment. They are great practice for PSM I.
I think a good portion of the questions that you will encounter in the open assessment will be similar to the ones in the exam.
I recommend that you take the open assessments many times. The more the merrier.
A popular stop criterion is when you have achieved a 100% score five or six consecutive times.
Do the mock tests from Mikhail Lapshin
Mikhail Laphsin is a software architect and he's very passionate about scrum as well.
Because of that, he had created one of the best simulation tests out there, which 100% follows the scrum guide.
There are not multiple versions of the test (at least that was the case when I was taking it). But taking it and checking the explanation of your wrong answers will supercharge your ability to tackle the actual exam.
The slow track
This track will keep you busy for about 3 months. You can stretch it as much or little you want. I assume you have gone through the fast track as well, before starting the slow.
Don't forget to check the official reading guide too, when on the slow track, and add any resources you find interesting in my suggestions.
Reflect on your current scrum experience
You can get the scrum master certification even if you've had no experience with scrum before. But it will make your life way easier if you do have some experience.
So if you are one of the lucky (experienced) ones, think what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong in the scrum team you are part of.
Just keep in mind - there are some opinionated people who don't know what scrum is all about. They think it's a web development framework or a book of pasta recipes. It's ok - let them do their thing, and stick to your plan to become a great scrum master.
When you do, you can be opinionated as you want. Until then, I suggest you focus on the collective experience of the community.
If you don't have experience with scrum, a great free resource for a pretty good and interesting introduction is this Scrum Training Series.
Similar to the scrum.org fora, blogs can give you a great perspective from a working scrum master / agile coach.
Some articles might be overkill for a new scrum master, so don't get discouraged if you don't get some of those.
My other favorite one is Serious Scrum.
Did you think you would escape? :) Here are some of the best scrum books I have found out there and I would suggest that you read.
- Software in 30 Days
- Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process
- The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Coaches, and Trainers
- The Professional ScrumMaster’s Handbook - Break the Chains of Traditional Organization and Management
- Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production
- The Serving Leader: Five Powerful Actions to Transform Your Team, Business, and Community
- Scrum and XP from the Trenches
Of course, you don't need to get consistently perfect scores. A couple of runs with a "pass" is more than sufficient in my opinion.
Book a class
This is a bit overkill if you ask me, and I would never take a class for PSM I (PSM II or III are more eligible for that kind of training). But I don't want to influence your personal style of learning.
You can find all the trainers here. If there is no one in your country or you don't want physical presence due to the pandemic, maybe you could request Skype/Hangouts courses.
I don't know anyone who has done it, so if you have any interesting feedback to share, please do, I would be glad to hear it!
Thank you for reading this article. If you are new to the field, I wish you all the best in your journey as a scrum master. If you are more seasoned I would appreciate any feedback on the resources. Enjoy your study in any case!