I recently passed the Scrum.org Professional Scrum Product Owner I certification, with a score of 95%. This was a six-week journey for me, during which I prepared slowly but steadily.
Below there is a list of all the resources I used to pass the exam on the first try.
1. Scrum Guide
This is the basis of everything. It contains the definition of Scrum, its roles, events, artifacts, and the rules that bind them together.
“Scrum is simple to understand, and difficult to master”
On the first read, this document will look very simple. But, as you read, again and again, you will discover all the little details that will make or break your exam score.
It is a short read, at only 19 pages long, so make sure to go through it several times before the exam.
2. EBM Guide
Some of the questions on the PSPO certification come from the Evidence-Based Management Guide (EBM Guide). This document focuses more on the business side of things, which are also relevant for a Product Owner but not for a Scrum Master, for example.
Make sure to read it at least 3 times and understand all the key concepts in it. It is also a short read, at only 11 pages.
Scrum.org offers training as preparation for the exam. However, this is not a good value for money. Priced at around $1000, it is not at all necessary to pass the exam. I opted for a much cheaper alternative: Udemy courses.
These are the courses I did to prepare:
Scrum Certification Prep, by Paul Ashun — the first course I took was a useful basis on which to build the rest. I made sure to take notes as the course progressed, as it made me remember contents better.
Agile Project Management, by Paul Ashun — I did it because I bought it in a bundle with the course above but, out of the three, it’s the least relevant one.
Scrum Product Owner Certification, by Valentin Despa — if you only do one course, this is the one I recommend. Valentin does a great job explaining all the details of Scrum and sharing important tips for taking the exam. Another great value from this course is the exams it includes. The questions on these exams are harder than on the real one, which makes them a great preparation for getting your certification.
4. Read the documents on the PO path on Scrum.org
You can find them here. I recommend doing this later on in the process. I didn’t find them particularly useful, but it is worth it going through them at least once.
5. Take the Open Assessments until you consistently get 100%
The Scrum.org page offers the possibility of taking free Open Assessments. While preparing for the exam, I used this tool but I didn’t realize how useful this truly was until I started the real exam.
The Open Assessment is an exact replication of the actual exam.
Only shorter. But the UI and UX are exactly the same and, more importantly, some of the questions are exactly the same too!
Don’t underestimate the value of the Open Assessments: do them over and over until you consistently get 100%. This way, you will know many of the answers by heart once you get to the real exam. Also, make sure to take not only the Product Owner Open Assessment but also the Scrum Master’s, as many of the questions are the same.
Tips for Taking the Exam
1. Don’t study on the day of the exam
Overwhelming your brain with more information will probably have the opposite of the desired outcome. The brain needs time to process information, so if you feel you still haven’t learned everything you need, do it first and take the exam some days later.
2. Get in the right state of mind
Before sitting down to take your exam, make sure you did everything in your power to feel good. For me it meant waking up early, going for a run, and having a coffee. You probably know what puts you in that productive, invincible state. Whether it is meditation, power posing, or a cold shower, do it!
3. Have drinks near you
Have enough water to get you through that one hour, because you do not want to waste time going to get some while the exam lasts. You might also want to have a coffee or anything else that you normally drink.
4. Have a pen and paper
Even though you will be taking the exam online, make sure to have a pen and paper on your desk. It’s useful to write down the questions you are unsure of, just so you can revisit them at the end.
Before taking the exam, I experienced some impostor syndrome. How could I expect to obtain a certification only by doing online courses and studying on my own for a few weeks?
But the truth is: it is not that hard. Make sure to go through all the preparation material listed above, and don’t ignore steps or cheat on them, it is for your own good. If you do this, you will, most likely, get your certification.
If you are preparing to take the exam and would like some help with it, don’t hesitate to write to me.
Also, if this article helped you in passing the exam, let me know in the comments below!