Scrum Master certification (PSM I) cheatsheet

Recently I got the Professional Scrum Master certification (PSM I) with a score of 100%. Here I present the steps I followed to prepare for the exam and some tips that will help you pass it.

The Scrum Master Certification exam

The Professional Scrum Master certification (PSMI) exam consists of 80 questions that need to be answered in 60 minutes. All of those are multiple-choice questions, which have one or more correct answers. If a question has multiple correct answers you must select all of them to answer correctly. In order to pass the exam, you need a minimum score of 85% or 68 correct answers.

During the exam, it is possible to leave a question unanswered and then return back and answer it. Also, you are able to return to any question you want and review it or change your answer. You can submit the exam only if you have answered all the questions. This constraint ensures that you will not miss any question before submitting.

The difficulty of the questions varies. Some of them are really straightforward and easy. Other questions are harder and require a more profound understanding of the Scrum guide. On some of them, there is more than one answer that seems to be correct even though the question clarifies to select only one. Usually, in those cases, the best way to find the correct answer is to exclude the “more wrong” ones. Have in mind that the exam is based on the Scrum Guide and Scrum Guide only. It is really important to remember what is written in it and also what is NOT. On some of the tricky questions you need to exclude the answers that may seem correct, but they are not specified clearly into the Scrum Guide.


The duration of the exam preparation varies, depending on your knowledge on Scrum already. For those who don’t know Scrum at all, I would say that a minimum of 5 weeks is required. For those who have worked on Scrum teams, the duration could be shorter. However those people must be aware that many teams are working with hybrid Scrum models, and some of the things that they considered as known are actually wrong.

Scrum Guide

The Scrum Guide is the basic, if not the only, material that you should read for this certification. The exam is based on this guide and all the questions are derived from there. This means, that you cannot find a question that contains keywords that are not mentioned in the Scrum Guide.

Scrum Guide is small (about 15 pages), however, you should pay attention to EVERY word of it. Every paragraph, or even sentence, could produce one or more questions. One really helpful approach you could follow is trying to imagine what type of question could each sentence produce.

Scrum Guide covers about 90-95 % of the questions. However, I faced a few questions that their answer was not in the Scrum Guide. For example, there was a question about burn-down charts. Even though burn-down charts are mentioned in the Scrum Guide, no explanation or details is given about them. So there may be some questions about some things that are just mentioned in the Scrum Guide, but you will have to look to other resources for more details. I didn’t find any question that required extended knowledge on those, just a basic knowledge of what those are. If I had to collect them in a list I would say that those are:

  • Burn-down charts.
  • Burn-up charts.
  • Cumulative flows.
  • I.N.V.E.S.T.
  • Any other elements that are mentioned in the Scrum Guide, but their definitions are missing.

Scrum Training Series

In case you don’t have any experience with Scrum, the following page really helps: Scrum Training Series. It contains several videos explaining the basic concepts of Scrum with examples. You can watch those videos once, in order to get a basic understanding. If you have professional experience with Scrum you can skip this step.

Mock exams

When you have already read the Scrum Guide a couple of times you can take your first open assessment: PSM I open  assessment. It contains 30 questions and you can take it as many times as you want. You will find some of those questions on the actual exam. You should score 100% on this mock exam before taking the real one.

Another really good mock exam is the following: PSM Real mode. This is an exam simulation and contains 80 questions. It is harder than the open assessment and although it is not an official preparation resource, it really helps to understand the nature of the exam questions. You will probably not find any of those questions on the actual exam, however, you will find questions that require a similar way of thinking.

That was all my preparation. I don’t recommend reading any other books or articles for this exam. I think that they will do more harm than good, as they may state something slightly different than the Scrum Guide. Moreover, some people recommend some paid mock exams. I didn’t buy any of these so I don’t have an opinion, however, I now know that the preparation I made was more than enough.


Anyone can read the Scrum Guide, but how you will read it matters. You should really understand every paragraph and sentence of it. You should try to figure out what type of question may be produced from each paragraph.

I have taken some notes that really helped me to gain a deeper knowledge of Scrum and eventually pass the exam. Although I didn’t use them during the exam, as I had already memorized everything, they helped me see the big picture and understand Scrum better.


The first note was containing all the lists that could be derived from the Scrum Guide. All those could potentially become questions. Some of them are easy to find as they are presented as lists. Some others are not so visible. Here are some easy examples:

  • Pillars of empiricism
  • Scrum Values
  • Scrum Artifacts
  • Scrum Roles
  • Scrum Events

And here are some of the tricky ones:

  • Scrum meetings that people outside the Scrum team are allowed.
    • Spring Planning
    • Spring Review
  • Product backlog items attributes
    • order
    • description
    • estimate
    • value
    • (often) test descriptions
  • Responsibilities of Product Owner regarding Product Backlog
    • content
    • availability
    • ordering
  • Product Backlog contents
    • features
    • functions
    • requirements
    • enhancements
    • fixes
  • What Product Backlog refinement adds
    • details
    • estimates
    • order
  • Product Back keeps the product
    • appropriate
    • competitive
    • useful

Scrum events

The second note was containing all the details about the four official Scrum events. This side to side comparison helped me understand the similarities and the differences between those events, which are the subject of some questions. The fields of this comparison were the following:

  • Timebox
  • Who must participate
  • Who can attend
  • Goal/Outcome

Scrum Master

Finally, the last note was only about the Scrum Master. Since the certificate is about this specific role, you should expect that a big number of questions are about it. I collected in one note all the Scrum Master responsibilities. Most of them are declared in a bullet list on the Scrum Master chapter. However, there are some more responsibilities that are mentioned in other chapters. For example, in the Spring Planning chapter, it is mentioned that:

The Scrum Master ensures that the event takes place and
that attendants understand its purpose

Collecting all those helped me be sure of what is not a Scrum Master responsibility, which was actually the subject of some questions.


In conclusion, I would say that the Professional Scrum Master certification (PSMI) was a fairly easy certification to get. Remember that your score is not mentioned on the certification, so it does not make any difference if you get it with 80/80 or 68/80. If you follow the steps mentioned here you should not face any issues.

Good luck!