Thursday, 5 November 2015

PSM1 Self Study Guide

So you want to become a Scrum Master but you don't have the money to spend on a course?
I can help you. I've been there.
I can show you:

  • What to read
  • How to read it and 
  • How to plan for the Scrum Master exam

As you probably already know, this qualification can cost you or your company many hundreds if not thousands of pounds/dollars in training and exam fees. My company refused to pay for the training and exam so I opted for the Self Study route.

There are two main bodies that offer this qualification:

  • Scrum Alliamce offer a certified scrum master certificate
  • offer a professional scrum master certificate

I opted for because at Scrum Alliance, you have to attend (pay for) one of their licensed training courses before you can sit their exam. offers an exam only option. A no-brainer for me. This post swung the argument for me. And you get to do it anywhere

How to prepare... What you need and what you need to do.

  • Get over to and sign up. They have a great forum with some great posts. Join the community. Ask and it shall be answered... You will discover, on your scrum journey that anyone involved with scrum or agile is passionate about the subject matter and will be passionate for you to pass the exam and join them.  

  • Book the exam. There is no expiry and this will focus your mind (you are now down 100 bucks) and set a date in your mind. I gave myself 3 weeks.

  • Print off the Scrum Guide here.  and read it. This is your bible for the next few weeks. It's a 'goldilocks' document. Only 16 pages long but my, what a document. It has everything you need to know. No-one else can explain Scrum in less than 100 pages. You may think 'only 16 pages...this can't be too hard'. Make no mistake, this a piece of super-condensed prose where every word has its place and meaning. Don't look for ambiguities - there is none. And don't over-think what you are reading. Take it at face value and after a few reads it should become clear.

  • You can search for 'how I passed PSM1' on Google and you'll get some really good information and a lot of it. It will be impossible to read it all given the time frame so I'll save you some time and give you the one's I read and valued most.  They all have valuable information and excellent links to help you on your way.

A must read (for me at any rate) was:
The Scrum Master Training Manual
A Guide to Passing the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) Exam
Version 1.2
By Nader K. Rad, Frank Turley

You can get it here for free. Frank and Nader really simplify Scrum so that the information sticks. You might think that there is a lot to read, but trust me, it's easy reading after a while. You'll get the agile bug.

And not forgetting Mike Cohn at MountainGoat.He has some superb information.

You can also go on Youtube for some Scrum channels and see Scrum in action.

What I did:

  • I read The Scrum Master Training Manual
  • I read the Scrum Guide twice
  • I did the open assessment 3 times
  • Repeat all of the above until you are consistently getting 100% in the assessment and....
  • You guessed it.... repeat again.
  • As Landwart states in his blog,, it's worth doing the product owner assessment as well.

When you are hitting 100% consistently you should be ready.

The Exam... 1 hour for 80 multiple choice questions... 85% to pass

Was it easy?
Some questions from the assessments came up which was great and time saving.

Was it difficult?
Yes. Some questions are not straightforward. You have to think hard and eliminate answers to get the correct answer(s).

Final tips:
Be aware that some questions might require more than one of the multiple choice answers.
And also... Don't waste your time looking for dumps of answers on the net. It will confuse you and waste your time.

I hope this helps you on your Scrum journey. Good luck! Leave a comment and let me know how you get on. Or you can connect to me on Linkedin and recommend this blog.



  1. Thanks for summary. It was useful in preparing for the PSM test. I scored 92% today. Some comments:
    1. Scrum Guide alone is not enough. I used additional sources you and what the forums advised.
    2. Many of the books recommended in PSM Subject Areas are not needed. In fact the most useful book for me was Scrum Narrative and PSM Exam Guide that was not listed there.
    3. Scrum Master Manual (free) was useful.
    4. Don't miss the Scrum Open. Some questions are direct repeat from open.

    1. Congratulations Rabi. What a great result. Now, with all that fresh in your mind, I urge you, if you can afford it, to go to the next level, as I have here(, and do the PSP01, PSMll and SPS nexus using the same method. The PSMll is a bit harder and I did prepare using 'Scrum: A Pocket Guide' by Gunter Verheyen. Go for it and be Agile

  2. Hi John,
    Thank you very much. Super helpful

    Do you mind sharing how it helped you at work?
    I did the PMP and felt it was so far off from day to day business reality.

    I'll post when I get the certification


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