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PSM 1 vs PSM 2

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Scrum.org offers two Professional Scrum Master Certifications. One is the PSM I and the other one PSM II. Although there is another certification PSM III, but that is not our topic of discussion today so we’ll stick to the former two.

Now both the certifications appear to have not almost, but exactly the same syllabus. And both test your knowledge of the same course which is Professional Scrum Master. So where’s the difference? Well, it is in the level of difficulty.

When we talk about PSM I, it has rather straightforward questions having textbook answers. And if you go through the textbook material thoroughly, you should be able to give correct answers. But with PSM II, that is not the case as it is meant to be harder, much harder than PSM I. To pass the PSM II, you should develop an understanding of Scrum in a real-life setting. This means, instead of knowing just its principles, you should have experience in Scrum.

This article is all about understanding the differences between PSM I and PSM II.

PSM I and PSM II – The core difference

PSM I is believed to be perfect for all those who wish to only understand the basics of Scrum thoroughly. And to take the exam, you require training to make sure you have enough knowledge of Scrum and are comfortable using all the internationally recognized Scrum approaches.

Now as far as the assessment is concerned then it usually tests your ability to understand not only the Scrum Guide but the concepts that make up the Scrum. Completing this level gives you enough knowledge of the Scrum fundamentals which you can evidence and use.

PSM II on the other hand is the next step and is for those who have completed the PSM I assessment and now wish to take their understanding to the next level. Being a PSM II holder means you have deep knowledge and understanding of the Scrum principles and processes. PSM II holders have a clear mind on what sits behind the Scrum framework. And they become trained enough to apply the Scrum framework in a complex business context to help drive delivery.

Therefore, we can say both the certifications are industry-recognized and demonstrate one’s ability to act efficiently in the role of a Scrum Master.

Who should take PSM I

PSM I is suitable for those who wish to demonstrate a fundamental level of Scrum mastery. It is rather easy than PSM II.

Who should take PSM II

PSM II is for those who have earned PSM I and now wish to prove their underlying knowledge of Scrum principles in the real world. PSM II is quite difficult and requires a very clear mind to take the exam.

PSM I and PSM II – Exam format

As we have just mentioned earlier, both PSM I and PSM II appear to have exactly the same syllabus. The exam format for both the certification exam is also almost the same.

  • The duration of both exams is 60 minutes.
  • There are 80 questions each in both exams.
  • Similarly, the questions in both exams are in the form of multiple-choice, multiple answers, and true/false.
  • Passing score of both exams is 85% which is unusually high.
  • The difficulty level of both exams is intermediate.
  • According to Scrum.org, the fee for PSM I certification exam is $150 USD.
  • Whereas, the fee for PSM II certification is around $250 USD.

PSM I and PSM II – Requirements

If you are appearing for the PSM I there are no requirements. But yes it would make sense if you have done Scrum Master training to gain a solid understanding of the fundamentals and terminology used.

And as PSM II is concerned, if you want to appear for the PSM II exam then first you need to earn PSM I certification. Meaning, the second Professional Scrum Master level is built on the level I. And therefore you need to pass the PSM I assessment before taking the PSM II exam.

PSM I and PSM II – Difficulty level

As of this time, there are around 160,000 PSM I holders and this number only tends to grow. According to Scrum.org, only 1% of the PSM I holders further proceed to take the PSM II assessment. This shows how much difficult these certifications are to earn. And if you manage to earn the PSM II as well, then this can set you apart from the competition. Not only will you be able to further your career but also earn really well which is the end goal of almost all employees.

Final Thoughts:

We can conclude our discussion by saying both PSM I and PSM II build on each other. Yes, there are some differences between the two but only in regard to the knowledge and understanding which you have to have at each level. PSM II is solely built on what is assessed at the PSM I level. In other words, to be able to pass PSM II, you first need to earn PSM I certification. Both are highly recognized certifications in the IT industry and the area of software delivery. Having these certifications is proof to your employer that you are committed to your work and thrives to produce the best possible project results for your business. And thus both the certifications complement each other and earning them is a perfect and very effective way to advance your career as a Scrum Master.