Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) Exam Study Tips

You may notice that steps 1-10 are a re-hash of suggestions for studying for the PSM I exam. If you took PSM I recently, then just quickly re-do these steps again (or skim instead of read, etc). If you didn’t take PSM I recently, then you probably need to do all of steps 1-10 again to help get you ready for this exam. Regardless, we highly recommend you don’t skip steps 1-10 below under any circumstances.

  1. Read and thoroughly understand/internalize the Scrum Guide. Read it several times in different sittings. We recommend that you download the PDF and read it like you would a book. Over, and over again!
  2. Take the Scrum Open assessment numerous times. Get to where you can take it 5 times in a row and score 100% each time, in about 10 minutes or less each time. VERY IMPORTANT – DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
    • Yes, we know there are a lot of repeat questions, but you will need to be able to quickly answer these questions when time is short on the real assessment
    • For each question that you miss, read the feedback given by the assessment on that question. Then, look in the Scrum Guide for specific language OR just Scrum principles and concepts that support the correct answer. Analyze what makes all of the other (wrong)answers seem inferior.
    • In between “5 times in a row sessions”, read the Scrum Guide again.
    • Do not assume that the real assessment is of the same difficulty level as the practice assessment. The real assessment is definitely much much harder.
    • If you find you are completely stumped, post a question on the forums.
      • Note that posting Scrum Open questions is fine, but do NOT post real assessment questions on the forum — that is against forum rules.
  3. Read about Burndown Charts here and here.
  4. Read the Scrum Glossary, and refer back to it when necessary.
  5. If you took a class (which is quite helpful, but not required), review the course materials and your notes from that course. If you need a class or an Agile/Scrum class of any kind, contact us!
  6. Warning: There are 3rd party companies (i.e. outside of that provide practice tests and test preparations for this assessment. In our experience, while they are mildly helpful, they will steer you so wrong on the understanding of Scrum sometimes that we recommend against even considering them. We recommend you definitely don’t use them to prepare.
  7. Experience is one of the best ways to be prepared for this exam.  We can’t give you that here, but just wanted to note that.
  8. When taking the test, scribble a few notes about questions that took you a long time to answer or you felt like were very challenging. This will help you to study in case you need to re-take the assessment later. Remember that, if you don’t have a free extra attempt(you get up to 2 attempts if you attend the PSM II class) you can re-take the assessment for $250 more. Go here to purchase another attempt if you like.
  9. Assume that there are no “perfect” answers… Only “best” answers — when wearing your “Scrum Principles Wizard” hat. Answer as if you were the author of the Scrum Guide yourself.
  10. If you haven’t already as part of the PSM I prep, purchase and read Hiren Doshi’s Scrum Insights for Practitioners Book. (Like all books on Scrum, this book is not perfect, but there is a ton of awesome info in it and it is far better than any other book on the market to help you learn Scrum tactics and prepare for this test.)
  11. Read my article on Emergent Architecture
  12. Read my article on the The New New Product Owner
  13. Follow step 2 above, except using the Product Owner Open assessment.
  14. It’s important to note that it will be very difficult to pass this exam without a year or more of good Scrum experience. It’s even more helpful if you have worked in multi-team/scaling scenarios or have even more experience. Of course, if you don’t pass the first time, you can always re-take the exam for $250. Just go here and purchase another attempt
  15. Be prepared for long questions and answers: Many of the questions have several sentences of scenario set up — be ready to absorb that context and use it when answering the questions. In addition, many of the answers to questions are long as well — make sure you are in a very quiet environment so that you can think deeply about those questions and answers.
  16. Several questions may have multi-team and scaling aspects to them. You do not need to know any specific scaling framework, but you will need to know how to apply the Scrum Guide and its principles to those multi team scenarios. Hint: there are some multi-team principles/rules in the Scrum Guide. Hint 2: Many Scrum principles are easily applied to multiple teams. See my article on the Scrum of Scrums for one example of that concept.  You might also take a look at the Nexus Guide and Nexus Open.
  17. Time management: Ideally you will have finished all of the questions and have some time left over to re-check them. Re-visit as many questions as possible, looking for things you missed in the question or making sure your answer corresponds to the question or scenario being presented. Utilize every minute you have in the time-box to ensure your answers are the best ones.
  18. If you have some months before you plan to take this test,we suggest attending and engaging in Scrum user groups and conferences- go there, listen to people describing their challenges, and then think of how empiricism and self-organization, as described in the Scrum Guide, would suggest approaching the challenge. If the answer is not clear, post the scenario and the options you can think of, on the forums and take a look at the responses you get.
  19. If you have not attended a “Professional Scrum Master I” course, then this step is required. If you have attended that course, then find and study the course materials and consider that these two suggestions below as being recommended.
    1. Purchase and read the Scrum Pocket Guide
    2. Read and follow the forums. Pay close attention to those posters who seem very knowledgeable or have a high number of posts shown under their user name on the forum.
  20. If you have attended a “Professional Scrum Master II” course, study the course materials and your notes.  If you have not attended PSM II, then be sure you do the vast majority of this list!
  21. Make judicious use of “the process of elimination” of answers.  Many incorrect answers will display one or more Scrum dysfunctions or just be totally incorrect Scrum, which might help you narrow down the remaining list of best choices to choose from.


When You’re Ready…

When you’re ready to take on the assessment, use the discounted attempt you were emailed by as a result of your attendance in the class. Or, if you didn’t attend a class, go here and purchase an attempt. It’s that easy!

Other Useful Links

2 Responses

  1. I’m planning to take the PSM II assessment soon. This article is very helpful. With respect to #8, states that “All participants completing the Professional Scrum Master II course will receive a password to attempt the Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) assessment. PSM II class participants who attempt the PSM II assessment within 14 days of receiving their free password and do not score at least 85% will be granted a 2nd attempt at no additional cost.”

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