Book Image

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) Guide

By : Fred Heath
Book Image

The Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) Guide

By: Fred Heath

Overview of this book

Ever wondered why you’d use Scrum over other process frameworks? Or what makes Agile just so agile? Or why you should bother with the PSM certification? This book has you covered. The Professional Scrum Master (PSM I) Guide is a comprehensive tutorial that will not only introduce you to the basics of Scrum, but build you up to be ready to pass your PSM I exam first time round. Where other books avoid detail, this guide provides you with detailed practical examples to take you from being an apprentice to becoming a master. Assuming you’re a total beginner, this book will introduce you to Scrum methodologies with detailed use cases, teaching you the secrets of Scrum in such a way that you’ll be well-equipped for the PSM I exam. This book demonstrates the real-world applications of Scrum in a variety of scenarios, all with practical examples. You’ll understand why the structure of your Scrum team matters, what you can achieve with properly planned sprints, and how to create and manage sprint and product backlogs. The chapters are regularly concluded with quizzes relevant to the exam, reinforcing the values you learn on your journey. Finally, it concludes with some exam preparation and myth-dispelling to make sure you have an edge when it comes to earning your certificate. This is a guide that’ll ensure you won’t fall behind in an ever increasingly agile world.
Table of Contents (15 chapters)
Section 1: The Scrum Framework
Section 2: Scrum in Action
Section 3: The PSM Certification

Introducing PSM assessments

Professional Scrum Master (PSM) assessments are available to anyone who wishes to validate their depth of knowledge of the Scrum framework and its application. Those who pass the assessment will receive the industry-recognized PSM certification to demonstrate their level of Scrum mastery. To better understand how these assessments came about, let's take a look at how Scrum was organized and evolved.

Scrum organizations and their history

Back in the What is Scrum? section, we mentioned how Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland created Scrum back in the 1990s. To better support Scrum and encourage its adoption, Schwaber, Sutherland, and others created the Scrum Alliance in 2002 ( In 2009, Schwaber decided to go his own way and created These two still remain the only valid and authentic Scrum organizations. They both offer Scrum-related certifications. offers PSM certification at two levels: I and II for a fundamental and advanced understanding of Scrum, respectively.

To ensure that both Scrum Alliance and are aligned, that the Scrum content doesn't digress, and that Scrum remains independent of any organization, Schwaber and Sutherland created a public document called The Scrum Guide (Further reading). The Scrum Guide contains the definition of Scrum and its components and all the rules and responsibilities prescribed by the Scrum framework.

They occasionally revise this document, with the current version being November 2017. This book is based on and uses this version of the Scrum Guide. The Scrum Guide is essential reading for anyone wanting to take the PSM assessments, or indeed anyone practicing Scrum.

Now that we know how the PSM assessments came to be, let's get better acquainted with the PSM I assessment, which is what we'll be focusing on in this book.

The PSM I assessment

Unlike its Scrum Alliance counterpart, the PSM assessment requires passing an online exam. Here are some details on this:

  • The exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 60 minutes.
  • The pass mark is 85%.
  • The exam is only offered in the English language.
  • Some questions have only one correct answer. Some questions have multiple correct answers. Some questions have only a True/False answer. It is clearly indicated during the exam how many answers are correct for each question
  • Not every question has the same weight, so don't think that you need to answer 68 (that is, 85%) questions correctly in order to pass the exam; it could be fewer or more, we just don't know how the questions are weighed.
  • The exam costs 150 US dollars, which are payable online by credit card.

There are no official pre-requisites for taking the exam. In other words, does not require you to attend any of their courses, read any of their books, or even have real-life Scrum experience before sitting it. Having said that, allow me to offer you some tips:

  • As with any knowledge domain, real-life experience makes a difference when taking an assessment. I know PSM I holders who passed the exam without having worked with Scrum before. However, any experience you have working in an actual Scrum-based organization will increase your odds of passing.
  • Books by the Scrum creators, such as Software in 30 Days: How Agile Managers Beat the Odds, Delight Their Customers, and Leave Competitors in the Dust in the Further reading section, provide some valuable insights that can often prove useful during the exam.
  • The Scrum Open Assessment ( is an extremely valuable tool to prepare you for the exam. Some of the questions in it often appear during the actual exam. I strongly recommend taking the Open Assessment before taking the actual exam.

We will be covering the PSM I assessment in great detail in Chapter 9, Preparing for the PSM I Assessment.