PSM1 My First Certification Since University

At 5:30 AM December 13th, 2017 I decided to take the PSM1 exam. I passed with 95% corrected answers. Such a big moment! Thái Anh Đức at And there is a story behind my decision.

The Story

I was introduced to Agile/Scrum back in 2009. And I hated it, especially the Daily Scrum (sometimes called Daily Standup Meeting) with the 3 questions being asked every day. I even called them the three stupid questions. I still hold that opinion to now. Since then I read from here and there about Scrum. There are some notion of Scrum-Like in the organizations I’ve worked with. I also attended some Agile events. I still have not felt better about Scrum. I thought Scrum is just a theory and it does not work. I hold that bias for years and that bias blocks me from learning.

Recently, I realized that I had not studied enough into the subject. I was not serious about it. There are good reasons for Scrum to be popular as it is today. Why don’t I figure it out? Why do I block myself from that? Once I made that decision, the next challenge was how. How do I hold that idea seriously? I know the normal trap that people have when they need to do something. Usually, we tend to make a big promise to ourselves. However, just a few days later we come up with excuses for not doing it. That was when I decided to take the exam.

Taking exam is a way to ensure that I am not joking with myself, that I am serious.


Before taking the exam, I heard people saying that those exams have no value. They are just a matter of remembering questions, practicing the answers, … and you get the certification. Really? “Is that simple?” I thought. By now, I confirm that it is not easy. Here is my journey.

The Journey

I started with downloading the official Scrum Guide. I printed it and carefully studied it 3 times. I did not just read over it. I studied it with my pencil at hand, took notes, picked out the important information. Do not fall in the trap of skimming it and think you understand it. Some might be able to do that. Many of us do not. Be realistic! After studying the Scrum Guide, I read some books suggested by the Scrum Org. At the same time, I checked out some courses on the Pluralsight. Once I felt a bit confident with my knowledge, I went to the next step.

Then I have to find a way to test my knowledge and get feedbacks. I found these links

I took one and did the test. I failed miserably 🙁 That was the moment of truth. The test result put you exactly where you should be. Embrace it. I came back to the Scrum Guide and continued my study.

The nice thing about those tests are they give you answers with an explanation. Mostly they pick out the part in the Scrum Guide to backup the answer.

If you take the tests from all the above links, you will notice that they have different formats. Which means that you cannot remember the questions and answers. And the fact that there are too many to put into our short term brain memory.

After a few days of studying and practicing, I started to understand the Scrum. My testing scores were improving. And soon I completed 100% with half of the time. I kept studying and practicing for another week. I do not just want the certification. I want knowledge. And I was afraid of failing the test.

The Day

The day has come. I had to make a decision – Take the exam. PSM1 is about the basic knowledge of Scrum. I cannot keep learning the basic forever. The only way to verify my knowledge and get feedback is taking the exam. Either pass or fail, I will know where I am standing. Took a deep breath, I did 2 important steps

  1. Order the exam from
  2. Create an item in my TODO list to take the exam tomorrow at 5:30 AM.

They are very important. Otherwise, I will find a good excuse to delay. As planned, with a bit of nervous, a bit of thrill, I checked the network connection to make sure I had a good stable one, I started doing my test. Once I click the button, there is no way back. The clock starts counting.

Even I did well in my open tests, the real test was a challenge.

  1. Most of the questions are not the same as you did in the open tests. Some might have the same idea with different expressions. That requires you to read and understand the questions and answers carefully.
  2. Time moves so fast. Make sure to keep a good balance between the time left and the questions. You should soon hit the speed of 1 question per minute. When I finished all 80 questions, there was 7 minutes left. I had very little time to
  3. Review all bookmarked questions. If you are unsure about a question, you can bookmark it.
  4. The test takes 60 minutes. Focus is also a challenge. That’s why I chose to start at 5:30 AM.

Mission Accomplished! I finally got it done!

Oh Congratulations! where am I standing in the Agile/Scrum buzzword? Basic, sirs! I know the basic of Scrum and have a good starting point for the next level.

That’s it!

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