Tips for the PSM I, PSPO I, and PSK Exams

by Nader K. Rad, 2018-10-18

It’s a good idea to review the following tips before practicing with the PSM I, PSPO I, or PSK exam simulators.

Don’t Forget about Learning!

Remember that the exam simulators are designed to help you in the last stage of your preparation, when you’re done with your studies. These simulators are not substitutes for learning the subject.

If you take the first simulated exam and your score is lower than 60%, you’re not prepared yet. Stop using the exam simulator for now, complete your studies, and then come back. Otherwise, if you don’t learn more and just keep taking more simulated exams, your scores will improve, but your performance in the real exam may not match that.

We offer the following eLearning courses that support these exams:

Be Careful with Compatibility

There are many resources for Scrum and Kanban, but not all of them are compatible with these exams — even some of them that come from reputable authors. So, be careful with that.

How Many Choices?

The PSM, PSPO, and PSK exams are not normal multiple‑choice exams. You may have questions that ask you to select more than one choice (e.g., Which two of the following are…). You wouldn’t believe how many people miss that and just pick one choice!

So, read the question carefully to understand when more than one choice is required. Sometimes, the question specifies the number of choices, and sometimes it just tells you to pick multiple choices. The choices in these questions have check-boxes (small squares) instead of radio buttons (small circles); so, make sure you get used to noticing that as well.


“Which of the following is NOT a responsibility of…”

“All of the following are responsibilities of… EXCEPT for…”

Sadly, many people miss these capitalized negative words and pick the wrong answer. This is more common when the question is more complicated and you become so engaged in assessing the correctness of the statements that you forget the question was asking for the wrong statement instead of the right one.

Be very careful with this type of question, and pay serious heed to it if you make this mistake in your simulated exams.

Damned Details!

You know that the Daily Scrum meetings are for the Development Team members, and only they are required to attend the meeting. Others can still go there and observe them — even people from other projects (to learn something new from them) — but they only observe, and they shouldn’t talk.

Take these statements:

  1. The Product Owner can attend the Daily Scrum meetings.
  2. The Product Owner can participate in the Daily Scrum meetings.

Are these statements true or false?

The first one is simple: It’s true. The second one, however, is false because “participate” implies engagement, whereas everyone except the Development Team members is only supposed to be observing.

There are many questions like this, where a single word changes everything. You need to be careful with it.

Modal Verbs

Let’s continue the example from the previous tip. What do you think about the following statements?

  1. The Product Owner can attend the Daily Scrum meetings.
  2. The Product Owner should attend the Daily Scrum meetings.

While the first statement is true, the second one is false, and it’s all because of the modal verbs. It’s correct that the Product Owner is allowed to attend the meeting, but it doesn’t mean that it’s necessary for them to be there.

In case you’re wondering, in the exam, “can” means “may”, and “should” means “ought to”/“required to”, similarly to the way English is used by most people nowadays.

Look It Up!

The PSM, PSPO, and PSK exams are in open-book format, so, you should make sure you take advantage of that. Have a copy of the Scrum Guide (and also the Kanban for Scrum Teams Guide for the PSK exam) open and ready for reference. As well as this, while you’re practicing with the sample questions, write down all the points that are troubling you, organize them, and have them ready to use during your exam. It’s better to write your notes in a file rather than on paper, so that you can search them easily.

Note that the amount of time you have for each question is less than what you have in most other exams, and you can only look up the concepts when you’ve had enough practice, you manage your time perfectly, and you’re completely familiar with the resources you’re using. So, again, remember to practice this in your simulated exams.

The Scrum Guide

Things would have been much easier if the Scrum Guide could be used to answer every question, but that’s not the case. Most questions in the exam cannot be answered based solely on the Scrum Guide, so, don’t expect otherwise.

Besides the above, some questions in the exam are based on certain interpretations of the Scrum Guide (the way sees it). For example, how many Product Owners do we have in scaled Scrum? One of the co-authors of the Scrum Guide believes that there must be one and only one Product Owner, no matter how many teams you have, while the other co-author believes that it’s a good idea to have multiple Product Owners, and a Chief Product Owner. Which one do you think is supported in the Scrum Guide? Both!

Finally, some points in the Scrum Guide are not clear enough; for example, the number of Definitions of Done for multiple teams, and what most people understand based on the guide, which is different from what they are expected to answer in the exam.

We’ve tried to cover all of these difficulties in the exam simulators. Please note that those special perspectives in the exam simulator are not our personal opinions, but they are what we interpret as being the opinions of


Our exam simulator is relatively fast and responsive. We’ve had many reports from candidates that the engine for the real exam is a little slow (especially for those with slower Internet connections), and it loads a new page for each question, which results in some loss of time. As a result, we’ve added an artificial lag to our exam engine to better simulate the real exam. You can turn it on or off before starting each new exam, but I recommend keeping it on, so that you get used to it.

General Exam Tips

Besides the specific tips in this articles, there are a few general ones that you may find helpful as well. This article contains all of them: Tips and Tricks for Certification Exams.