Preparing for PSM I, PSPO I and PSD I

This guide is part of the follow-up to our PSFPSM, and PSPO courses and is designed to help you prepare for the corresponding assessment.

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The primary focus of all training we deliver is not just to obtain an agile certification, but to help you to be more effective in the real world.  This is a goal shared with our friends at who developed the professional series course material.  The PSM I, and PSPO I are not certificates of course attendance, but a means of demonstrating your understanding of the Scrum framework and its application on real projects.

The level of knowledge required to pass may be acquired through any combination of training, experience, and self-study.  Use this guide to help you assess your current level and plan the activities you need to allow you to begin the assessment with confidence.

Plan your first Sprint

Inspect the current increment.  That’s you.  What is your starting knowledge of Scrum?

  • Are you using Scrum now, and if so what is your role?
  • How much experience do you have of using Scrum in practice?
  • How many different teams and organisations have you used Scrum with?
  • Have you been on the PSF, PSM or PSPO courses?
  • Have you attended any other relevant training courses, conferences or meetups?
  • What books, blogs or guides have you read?

Review the subject areas for the track you are studying and assess your confidence in each subject:

Professional Scrum Master

Professional Scrum Product Owner

Prioritise the items in the backlog below based on their value to you, the effort required, and their relevance to the assessment you are taking (If you attended the PSF course, you are on the PSM assessment track).  Add your own items to this backlog if you have itentified another learning source.

Think about what you can do in the next seven days given your existing commitments and make a forecast for how much preparation you can do.

Review your progress

After one week, review what you have learned.  Did you complete the items you planned?  What is your level of confidence in your subject matter content areas now?

Decide whether you are ready to take the assessment or if you should plan an additional sprint.  These questions might help:

  • How confident do you feel about your subject areas?
  • Do you understand the meaning behind the terminology?
  • How important is gaining the certification to your plans?

Continue planning your learning activities until you decide that your chances of passing the assessment are acceptable.  This is a personal decision based on your situation, so if gaining certification is crucial to your plans, extra effort is advisable.

Learning Backlog

Study the Scrum Guide

Reading it will help.  Making notes from it will significantly increase your knowledge of the framework.  Some questions to answer:

  • What is empirical process control?
  • What are the responsibilities and accountabilities of the three roles?
  • What is inspected and what might be adapted at each of the events?
  • How are each of the artefacts designed to increase transparency?

Value: Gain a solid understanding of the framework and intentions behind it

Use the Open Assessments

The Scrum Open tests basic Scrum knowledge.  The Developer Open knowledge of modern techniques applicable for Scrum developers.  Both will help you iron out any early gaps in knowledge by using the feedback provided on incorrect answers.  It is advisable to be able to consistently score 100% on the Scrum Open for all three tracks.

By retaking these assessments until you acheive 100% five times in a row (at which point the test should take 5-10 minutes), you will have maximised the learning potential of this tool.

Value: Quickly identify gaps in basic understanding; gain familiarity with the exam format and style.

Use the Practitioner Open Assessment

The Practitioner Open Assessment was introduced by in 2015 to support new initiatives for scaling scrum.  It asks more advanced questions similar in style to those found in the PSM I and does not provide feedback on individual questions.  Try taking some of these questions offline and researching them thoroughly until you understand the theory behind the question, as a means of focusing your research.

Value: Focus for research into the principles behind Scrum, as well as the implications of Scaling.

Review Burndown charts

Ensure you understand the purpose of the burndown charts

Key points:

  • It is work remaining vs time
  • Can be by Sprint (hours) or Product (story points)
  • It is a guide not to be forced to match a profile

Questions you need to be able to answer:

  • Which Scrum role should use Sprint burndown chart?
  • Which Scrum role should use the Product or Release burndown chart?
  • What adaptations might be made by using these tools?

Value: Understand how to use these tools effectively

Engage with online communities

Online forums are a great way to get some quick guidence, both for preparing for the assessment and for applying Scrum in practice.  The Forum is very active, and many other forums exist in other specialised areas.  These forums can be used to clear up uncertainty arising from your revision, or when you know the “correct answer” but you are not sure why.

Value: Active discussion on the theory and underlying principles with experienced professionals.

Read a book

The subject area pages for each track (above) list the main reference texts that were used to prepare the course material and assessments.  There are many engaging and relevant books listed here, which may give you some new things to try as well as preparing you for the assessment.  They are listed by subject area, to help you to prioritise areas you are less confidend in.

Value: Gain new perspectives and engage with the field

Go to a meetup or conference

There are many groups that meet regularly to discuss topics on Scrum, Agile, and a wide range of development practices.  Search on meetup for relevant groups in your area and you are likely to find interesting talks, helpful people and good networking.  Best of all, they are usually very low cost or free to attend!  Conferences are less frequent but pack a lot of speakers in over a short space of time.

Value: Hearing new ideas, discussing issues with peers face to face, engaging with the community

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