How to study for the PSM I (professional scrum master) certification
Some weeks ago I got the Scrum certification PSM I (Professional Scrum Master) on scrum.org and I want to share with you some suggestions and point of views about how to study for the certification exam using only online resources.
Studying is for knowledge
I read some blogs online about how (relatively) easy is to pass the the PSM I certification and that you can do it just reading the Scrum Guide and practicing online.
Let me say that yes, maybe you can pass the exam studying in that way, but I think is wrong. The goal of studying for an exam is not just to pass it, but to build and improve a knowledge on something you don’t know. The exam then is just a way to assess it.
So you can try to learn by memory the Scrum guide and all questions you can find online, but does it help you in knowing more about Scrum and understanding it?
In the Scrum guide is said that Scrum is easy to learn but difficult to master, and there is a reason for that. So that’s why you need to build your knowledge bit by bit to master it.
How to study
There are many good resources out there about Scrum and Agile like books, video, courses just to mention a few. But in this article I’m going to tell you what is the minimum set of resources to help you passing the exam that you can find online, aka you don’t need a course. Anyway if you can afford a course is always a good idea to attend: you can learn from a professional and speed up the process.
The main resource is, obviously, the Scrum Guide which, by the way, has been updated some weeks ago to the 2020 version and you can find it here.
The second resource is the learning path you can find on scrum.org. And third there is the free assessment on scrum.org.
Let me also add a fourth one, maybe the most important: time.
The Scrum Guide
The first source of truth is the Scrum guide: per se the guide is not difficult to master: it’s 18 pages long [actually 14 for the new version] and explains and defines the framework and all the elements that are part of Scrum. You can learn it quite quickly, but usually behaving in an Scrum way involve a shift of mentality and culture, so the guide alone is not enough.
I believe the most important thing is not to memorize the whole guide, but trying to work out the underlying culture and learning the guide is trying to teach you.
The Learning Path
The learning path is a series of blog articles, videos and white papers curated by the scrum.org website. It’s divided into sections, The Professional Scrum Competencies, which are areas of knowledge covered in the Scrum exam.
The Scrum guide describes rules and sets boundaries, but actually gives a lot of freedom to people on how to apply Scrum. And when you start using it you realize that most questions are not fully answered in the guide (it’s a framework, not a methodology!!). This is why it’s not easy to think in a Scrum way at first: the learning path helps you build the knowledge and understand some key aspects of Scrum which are not stated in the guide. There are also some argument not even mentioned like Nexus.
The Open Assessment
Once you have finished to study and feel ready to take the exam is always good to understand and familiarize how the exam is taken, how questions are written, to get acquainted with the platform.
The scrum.org website offers a way to try a test exam before you take the real one. You can find it here and the definition from the website is super clear:
The Scrum Open assessment is a tool for validating your basic knowledge of the Scrum framework. Taking the Scrum Open will allow you to create a baseline of your current Scrum knowledge, from which you can start improving immediately. It is free of charge and does not include any certification.
[take your] Time
So you have got resources, now you need time. Time is by far the most important piece in the puzzle. Time gives you a chance to let the knowledge grows in yourself, to digest and absorb all the learnings, readings and other materials you can study. The learning paths helps in taking your time, espcially if you can plan it to do in a relative long time to let informations grow inside you.
I suggest a couple of months to get ready for the exam, study every day some new topics from the learning path and integrate with readings on books or video.
One Last Thing
The very first article you should read is the article where everything started in 1986: The New New Product Development Game
So seems you have everything you need now. Take your time and good luck for your exam :)