Source: Pixabay

A Guide to the PSM II Certification

Those who know me well recognize my belief is that knowledge is only worth if shared. So, during my career as a scrum master, I’ve been writing articles that are based on actual situations I’ve experienced myself, and this time it was no different.

In addition to other certifications from the acclaimed Agile institution “Scrum.Org”, I obtained the Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) certification and as I had difficulty finding materials that talked about how to get there, I decided to write an article that I consider a guide to get to know the process towards this certification.

In order to do that, I talked to people who had an interest in taking PSM II, asking them what kind of information they would like to have access to and the result you see next!

I hope you enjoy it and good luck!

What PSM II stands for

Scrum.Org is an institution that, based on the principles of Scrum and the Agile Manifesto, provides training, assessments and certifications — among them the Professional Scrum Master level II (PSM II) — in order to improve the delivery profession of software.

Although on the Scrum.Org site it is mentioned that “PSM II evaluation is available to anyone who has passed the PSM I assessment and wants to demonstrate their ability to apply the Scrum framework to solve advanced and complex problems in the real world “, PSM I certification is not a mandatory requirement, but only recommended for PSM II.

Prerequisites

Anyone who tries PSM II needs to have advanced Scrum knowledge as well as an in-depth experience in this framework and / or have taken the Scrum Master Professional course before taking this exam.

However, attending a course is neither compulsory nor necessarily enough for certification.

My opinion: Although I do not need a PSM II certification course, I believe that all knowledge is worth it, especially if you are an apprentice of the type who can absorb better content during interactions with people.

A course gives you the opportunity to recycle your knowledge, get rid of some vices that you acquire in not-so-agile environments, and always think about looking at scenarios rather than “by the book”, allowing you to move away from the Mechanical Scrum.

How to Practice the Assessment Content

Recommended courses: Scrum.Org recommends the Professional Scrum Master and Professional Scrum Master II courses, which are in person.

Open assessments to practice the content: the institution suggests that the assessments PSM I, PSPO I, PSD I, Scrum Open, which are on its site are practiced.

Recommended certification: PSM I is the recommended, non-mandatory certification to be made before the professional goes to the PSM II one.

My opinion: I, like other people in the Agile Community, have the same question: why does Scrum.Org not have an official simulation for the PSM II certification, just like it has for the PSM I one? So, I decided to write a message to the institution to clarify the reason and the answer was as follows:

André Brait da Silva, Scrum.Org Professional Scrum Trainer, went beyond the suggestions of Scrum.Org and presented more suggestions of study materials that, in my opinion, were very useful and contributed to my approval in the PSM II assessment. Here they are:

Videos:

THE 3 FEATURES OF PROFESSIONAL SCRUM (in Portuguese)

WHAT PRODUCT BACKLOG REFINING IS FOR? (in Portuguese)

JUNIOR X SENIOR SCRUM MASTER — PART 1 (in Portuguese)

JUNIOR X SENIOR SCRUM MASTER — PART 2 (in Portuguese)

JUNIOR X SENIOR SCRUM MASTER — PART 3 (in Portuguese)

HOW TO PRIORITIZE TECHNICAL BACKLOG? (in Portuguese)

AGILE MANIFESTO PLAYLIST (in Portuguese)

HOW TO OBTAIN SOMEONE TO JOIN DAILY SCRUM (in Portuguese)

5 AGILITY MYTHS (in Portuguese)

Books:

Scrum: A Pocket Guide (A Smart Travel Companion) (in English)

The Great ScrumMaster: #ScrumMasterWay (in English)

Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness (in English)

The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash A Culture of Innovation (in English)

The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations (in English)

Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition (in English)

The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage (in English)

Product Mastery: From Good to Great Product Ownership (in English)

The Product Samurai (in English)

Lean Change Management: Innovative Practices For Managing Organizational Change (in English)

Reinventing Organizations (in English)

Nexus Framework for Scaling Scrum, The: Continuously Delivering an Integrated Product with Multiple Scrum Teams (in English)

Blog posts:

Agile Manifesto — Agile School (in Portuguese)

A day in the life of a Scrum Master (in Portuguese)

Making your team deliver more. How to increase speed (in Portuguese)

The 8 Stances of a Scrum Master (in English)

Scrum Myth Busters (in English)

There’s value in the Scrum Values (in English)

Getting to Done: Creating Good Sprint Goals (in English)

Scrum from the trenches — the Sprint Goal (in English)

Liberating Structures (in English)

Evolution of the Product Owner (in English)

14 Stances of Highly Effective Product Owners (in English)

Evolution of the Agile Manager (in English)

The Scrum Master as the Change Leader (in English)

Myth 8: The Scrum Master is a Junior Agile Coach (in English)

Difficulty Level

According to Scrum.Org, the level of this assessment is advanced.

Many issues require you to think about or interpret the meaning of the Scrum Guide, apply the content of the PSM II subject areas, and in some cases apply your own experience. The 2-day Scrum Master II professional course is highly recommended and seeking additional information helps the applicant prepare for the PSM assessment.

My opinion: The assessment questions really require a deep understanding of Scrum, exploring scenarios that closely resemble real life that go well beyond the content of the Scrum Guide; so, I think that if you limit yourself to reading the guide it is quite risky. There are no basic questions and immediate answers; usually the questions are longer than those from the PSM I assessment, and each one presents a situation on which to reflect and opt for one or more of a correct answer.

Because they are situational issues, you will not find examples of them on the Internet, on search tools.

Number of Questions

The PSM II evaluation consists of 30 questions.

Questions Format

The assessment is composed of multiple choice, multiple response and true / false questions.

My opinion: there are no simple or immediate questions; it is advisable to read and understand well the scenario presented in the questions. It is important to say that you can not go to the next question if you do not choose a response first and that you can go back to the question you want to review before you finish the assessment.

Language of Questions

The assessment is performed in English only.

My opinion: Although I did not use the browser translator, since the proof does not allow you to use the Google translator — by copying and pasting issues out of the current tab — you can use the Chrome browser translator plug-in .

Assessment Duration

Scrum.Org says the maximum time to complete the assessment is 90 minutes.

My opinion: the time to take the assessment is more than enough if you have studied enough *; if you plan well, you have plenty of time to review some questions.

Assessment Price

What Scrum.Org says:

USD 250

Minimum Approval Score

What Scrum.Org says:

85%

About Password Purchase for the Assessment

In order to evaluate PSM II, you buy a password, it is configured in the Scrum.Org system and emailed to you within one business day.

My opinion: Passwords have no expiration date, but are valid only for one try, unless you get the Professional Scrum Master course by Scrum.Org; in which case you are entitled to 2 free attempts.

Importance of PSM II

Unlike other Scrum certifications, which require only class attendance, PSM II certification requires a minimum score in an online assessment. This strengthens Scrum.Org certification and ensures that it has real value in the marketplace.

Difficulty Level

Scrum.Org states that PSM II evaluation is very difficult and consists of multiple-choice questions based on your knowledge of Scrum and how you would deal with real-world situations.

My opinion: in fact the assessment is difficult and I believe that without a preparatory course I would not have been able to pass. The course helped me focus, because I get a little lost when I have a lot of material to study; the training allows you to focus on what is most important, both for day to day and for the assessment.

Where to Take the Assessment

Scrum.Org does not mention, on its website, the proper location to take the assessment, only that it is online.

My opinion: the assessment can be performed anywhere you have access to the Internet, but I recommend that it be performed in a quiet and interruption-free environment.

What Happens After I Pass the Assessment?

Those who pass the assessment are awarded the PSM II certification, recognized by the industry as an indication of their advanced knowledge and skills regarding the role of Scrum Master and Scrum. They will also receive a PSM II logo, which can be used to identify their achievement. In addition, their names will be listed on the Scrum.Org website.

PSM II Certification Expiration

The Support area of Scrum.Org’s website says, “Unlike Scrum Alliance certifications, Scrum.org certificates are lifelong and do not require additional payments or renewals.”

My opinion: it is a good advantage not to have to invest money and time in renewing certifications; with this money you can, for example, get other certifications from Scrum.Org. However, it is important to highlight that keeping up to date, always studying and applying the knowledge obtained in everyday life, is essential for a good performance as Scrum Master.

How Many People Have PSM II Certification?

According to the Scrum.Org website (data of March 26, 2019), there are currently 3,002 PSM II certification holders, while there are 197,953 PSM I holders, for example.

Advantages of Getting the PSM II Certification

As I did not find enough information on the advantages of obtaining this certification, I decided to run an online survey, nationally and internationally, in order to better understand what these benefits would be, from the point of view of the certification holders.

In a sample of 20 people, where 9 (45%) are holders of PSM II, they mention as advantages of obtaining the following certification:

  • 77.8% of the certification holders said that greater learning about the Scrum framework is the main benefit that PSM II offers;
  • 66.7% recognized a greater learning about the role of the Scrum Master as being the greatest benefit;
  • 55.6% cited a greater learning to deal with day-to-day situations as the main advantage;
  • 44.4% mentioned that improving Scrum’s application from a mechanical Scrum to a “Scrum 2.0” was the biggest advantage of this certification.

General Tips on the Assessment:

  • Make a study plan *;
  • Define how many hours per week you want to devote to your studies and try to be concentrated in those times, uninterrupted, in a quiet, comfortable and airy place;
  • Usually each person has a period of the day when he/she feels more or less productive, more or less tired. Try to do the open assessments at different times and write them down; on the day you decide to take the official assessment, consider taking it at one of the times when you are at your peak of productivity and cool-headed;
  • Study the Scrum Guide, the materials suggested on the Scrum.Org website, and others from a trusted source, such as those recommended by André Brait PST;
  • ● Take a “Professional Scrum Master” preparatory course, providing content that makes you think “outside of the box,” taking you out of your comfort zone, as well as reinforced learning through group dynamics that fosters interactions among participants;
  • Review the preparatory course material and make sure you clear up all your doubts up with the course trainer before you leave for the assessment;
  • Read the question and ensure to choose the answer options carefully before deciding;
  • When reading each question, try to remember which subject areas of the Scrum Guide it refers to;
  • Practice the Scrum.Org open assessments several times, preferably by displaying the questions in a random format — to avoid memorizing them — and pay attention to the issues you missed, not memorizing the correct answers (s), but analyzing carefully and based on the Scrum Guide, the reason for the errors, trying to hit them the next time;
  • If you do not achieve a minimum percentage of 95% in all open assessments, do not take the assessment; study more;
  • Read materials other than the Scrum Guide suggested by Scrum.Org. Also read the Scrum Guide critically and participate in the Scrum.Org discussion forums to get your questions answered and exchange knowledge, read books and articles about Scrum, introduce as much as possible the framework to your day to day, write articles;
  • Preferably have some experience in the role of Scrum Master before trying the assessment;
  • Identify and be aware of non-Scrum concepts and terms (complementary techniques to Scrum) such as Definition of Ready (DoR) and story points, and remember that in the assessment, you only need to consider what really belongs to Scrum.

Table of differences between PSM I and PSM II assessments

Some people have asked me to make a comparison between the PSM I and PSM II certifications and I have decided to put it on a table in order to make the information more transparent, as below:

**data of 03/26/2019

Source: Scrum.Org´s website

That’s all, folks! Who wants to chat with me about my journey, just contact me. Count on me!

A truly Agile enthusiast! Brazilian Agile Leader, working at Invillia, a Global Growth Framework connected by developers, engineers, makers, and dreamers.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store