There are many Scrum certifications available but the two most popular certifications are Scrum.org’s Professional Scrum Master (PSM) and Scrum Alliance’s Certified Scrum Master (CSM). Both organizations’ Scrum Master certification have 3 levels. Below are their differences.
|CSM I||PSM I|
|Course Cost||$500-1000 depending on provider||not required|
|Certification Cost||2 attempts included in course cost|
$25 for every additional attempt
|$150 per attempt|
|Exam style||multiple choice, 50 items||multiple choice, 80 items|
|Time limit||60 minutes||60 minutes|
|Validity||2 years, $100 to renew||Lifetime|
Based on these factors, I decided on PSM. I’ve been applying Agile and Scrum principles for years now so I don’t feel I need to go through a 2-day course. Plus PSM makes more sense from a long-term cost perspective. However, it is harder with a shorter time limit and a higher passing score.
With that difficulty level in mind, here’s what I did to prepare (and pass) the certification exam. Depending on how much time you have available, this should take a total of about a week or two:
- Read THE Scrum Guide. I did this [almost] every day. This is very important as Scrum in practice has quite a few variations but PSM I focuses on the official definition of Scrum as authored by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland. You may actually need to unlearn some things. I used the PDF version so I could highlight key terms and concepts. In addition, I wrote down the terms and concepts into a separate note.
- Read Scrum.org’s Scrum Glossary. To further familiarize with the terminology.
- Go through Scrum.org’s Scrum Master Learning Path resources. For PSM I, you only need to focus on the Understanding and Applying Scrum section.
- Go through Kelly O’Connell’s Scrum-related courses at LinkedIn Learning. These require a subscription but is optional as they cover basically the same stuff as above.
- Go through Scrum.org’s Scrum Tapas videos. The audio is awful but it does a good job of summarizing things. This is an alternative to Kelley O’Connell’s courses.
- Take Scrum.org’s Scrum Open assessment. I did this at the end of every day. Take note that the Scrum Open is a smaller subset of the topics and questions. It does not completely represent the certification exam. However, it is an adequate simulation of the exam experience. Once I consistently got 100% in the Scrum Open, I decided I was ready.