During the past few years, I have worked in several scrum teams on different projects. Thinking the time was right to validate my knowledge of the Scrum framework, I set about researching what certifications were available and how you need to prepare.
The first certification I came across was the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) which is made available by the Scrum.org organization. Scrum.org was founded by Ken Schwaber, no one less than a co-creator of Scrum. A good place to start. Scrum Alliance is another well-known organization which offers professionals a way of getting certified. Which one you choose is up to you, but I chose the Scrum.org certification route.
But isn’t this blog about passing the Professional Scrum Developer (PSD I) exam, not the PSM? Yes, you are correct. However, my first tip for passing the PSD is: first pass the PSM I.
Before I took the PSD, I studied and passed the PSM I exam. When comparing the two exams nearly two-thirds of the questions asked during the PSD are copy-pasted from the PSM I. So, if you have already comfortably passed the PSM I, you have already mastered the majority of the knowledge needed to pass.
When studying for the PSM I exam I used the following resources:
The Scrum Guide. This document is the heart of Scrum. If you fully understand this document you will pass the exam, and more importantly you will understand Scrum. I recommend downloading this and reading it a few times. Then put it away for a week, and then read it again.
The guide contains a few learn by heart definitions. Make sure you memorize these definitions, or at least know where you can find this information quickly when taking the test. The first 75% of your exam grade will be made up of relatively simple questions related to the different definitions defined in the guide.
The final 25% of the questions will be related to the ‘spirit’ of Scrum. You will be given several scenario questions and you will have to determine which answer best fits within the Scrum framework. These are the hard questions. But don’t worry there are ample resources out there to help you.
Open Assessments. There is an open assessment (practice exam) for every entry-level certification. These are free of charge practice exams; whose questions closely mirror the real exam. The great thing is, that you can take them an unlimited number of times. Every time you start an assessment you will get 30 randomly selected questions from a larger pool.
After completing the assessment a few times, you will start recognizing questions. From experience I can tell you that the real exam will have several questions directly taken from this pool, and some more which are really only slightly different.
So, if you can consistently score 100% when taking the open assessments, you will be ready to take the exam.
Online courses. If you want, you can also follow an online course. Myself, I followed the ‘Scrum Certification Prep + Scrum Master + Agile Scrum Training' by Paul Ashun, course via Udemy. Would I be able to pass the exam after solely following this course? No, I don’t think so. But it did help me when doing the Open Assessments.
Third-party Practice Exams. The best way to practice for an exam is to practice with mock exams. After, you know all the Open Assessment question by heart, there is one more place where you can find plenty of mock exam questions: https://mlapshin.com/index.php/scrum-quizzes/.
Mikhail Lapshin is a developer who has been so kind enough to have created an online quiz tool and repository for practicing for a Scrum exam. This is a great place to practice and it helped me a lot.
So now you have studied for the PSM I and you have passed. Congratulations! Now you are ready for the next few steps. If you enjoyed studying for the PSM, then I will recommend quickly continuing with the preparations for the PSD.
Firstly, if you are fresh out of college and you majored in Software Engineering, most likely you will be able to pass the PSD straight after completing the PSM I. At most, I would recommend you practicing with the PSD Open Assessment questions, and after you feel confident go for it.
However, if you have a more practical and less theoretical programming background, or you are curious what kind of theoretical works are at the heart of the Scrum framework, then I can highly recommend the following three books:
Finally, you should visit the Agile Alliance website. On their website you can find the Agile Glossary. Here you will find the 75 must know terms and their definitions for Agile developers. This is a great resource for checking if you already have the theoretical background for the exam, or to use as a quick lookup, if you need to double-check certain terminology used during the exam.
After following these steps, you shouldn’t have any difficulty passing your Professional Scrum Developer Exam. Good luck!