I took the PSM I Practice Assessment here, and came across two questions that appear to be incorrect, or at least trick questions.

Question 1:



Optimal Development Team size is. . . Fewer than three Development Team members decrease interaction and results in smaller productivity gains... Having more than nine members requires too much coordination.

Perhaps this is a trick question regarding "must" vs. "optimal".

Question 2:



The first day: Sprint Planning. . . Next plan how the work will be done. . . The Product Owner does not need to be present for this part of Sprint Planning, as it is up to the team to plan this forecast at a technical level.

Perhaps this is a trick question regarding "not needed" vs. "does not need to be present".

My questions are:

  • Are these answers wrong, or are these trick questions?
  • If these are trick questions, are they typical on the official PSM I Exam?
  • I think you make a very valid point here and it would be worth providing your feedback to scrum.org Dec 15, 2019 at 11:05
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    Thanks Barnaby. @jessehouwing said that he is talking to the Scrum.org steward community to have the "blog post updated to correct some of the (pre 2011) wording". I understand my error on the first question, and I think the blog update will fix the second issue. I do wish there there was a more flexible way to assess Scrum knowledge since the framework itself is so flexible, but MC tests are easiest to scale. Regardless, I passed the first exam and am looking forward to learning and applying more.
    – sean
    Dec 16, 2019 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


Development team size

For the first question, you've already figured it out. In this case the 3-9 is a recommendation or guideline, but no strict requirement. More important than size is this element:

Development Teams are cross-functional, with all the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment;

If you need specific skills to get work done, you may need to start out with more than 9 members. Hopefully, over time, you will be able to work on skills-transfer, learning and training to reduce the need for a big team. Until then, you are still doing scrum, just a little handicapped.

The Sprint Planning

The 2011 Scrum guide was the last guide from the top of my mind that still had an explicit part 1 and part 2. Later versions changed that to topic 1 and topic 2. This is to indicate that there is no strict time-based relationship.

Sprint Planning answers the following:

  • What can be delivered in the Increment resulting from the upcoming Sprint?
  • How will the work needed to deliver the Increment be achieved?

Topic One: What can be done this Sprint?

The Development Team works to forecast the functionality that will be developed during the Sprint...


Topic Two: how will the chosen work get done?

Having set the Sprint Goal and selected the Product Backlog items for the Sprint, the Development Team decides how it will build this functionality into a "Done" product Increment during the Sprint...


Instead of strictly having a 2 part planning event, you could take smaller iterations, picking one PBI from the backlog, working it into the plan before taking the next. In that setup the PO would likely be present the whole Planning Event.

In general

If you'd compare older and newer versions of the Scrum Guide, you'll see that overall Scrum is moving away from strict prescriptions. The Daily Scrum no longer prescribes the 3 questions. Sprint planning doesn't require part 1 and part 2. etc.

Similar questions can be found in the true PSM1 assessment. They can be tricky to answer, not because scrum.org wants to trick you, but because there are a lot of misconceptions about scrum. Barry and Christiaan collected many of these myths in a great blog series.

If I can give you one tip to pass the PSM1 assessment, it's to use these items in order:

Be careful with blogs, opinions, recommendations etc. The Sprint Planning blog you quoted is a great blog for teams starting out and needing some guidance to plan their first sprints. But it's not a strict explanation of all options. It's titled "a typical sprint", not the "the official guide to sprint planning". Also remember that the Scrum Guide has changed over the years, sources older than 2017 can hold inconsistencies.

Note: I'm a Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainer.

This comment from below the Typical Sprint Planning captures it well:

Alan Larimer • 3 years ago

I had written a more detailed post, but it didn't survive. It is interesting how many "Learn Scrum in X Minutes" and "Scrum Quick Start" and "Scrum Walk Through" articles and videos there are. At seventeen pages The Scrum Guide is hardly an overwhelming read. Counterpoint: it is considered to be written at the Ri (expert) level. For those accustomed to learning processes via step-by-step manuals, a framework can seem to be lacking. With so many "why" and "how" questions left unanswered, a plethora of such instructional material makes the work of understanding a simpler path. Several problems arise as a result.

One of the most common aspects of these attempts is "filling the gaps" for easier understanding. The result being that many take the examples as THE WAY. Thus the flexibility of the framework is lost. Even if it is considered a "best practice" today that my not be the case tomorrow, or that technique might not work for one's own Scrum Team or organization.

Another problem is in poor rephrasing, or even incorrect representation, of the material. Statements such as "the Product Backlog has ... detail, with estimates and acceptance criteria" versus "Product Backlog items have the attributes of a description, order, estimate and value" results in assumptions and inaccuracies.

Take the time to read and apply critical thinking to The Scrum Guide. Go to the sources of the source, read other writings by and watch interviews with its authors. Use other resources with caution and always compare and contrast them to The Scrum Guide. Through individual effort the true understanding of the beautiful power of the framework becomes clear. Then we can have a better tomorrow.

  • Thanks so much for the detailed answer. However, I am disappointed. As someone who has taken many MC tests before & wants to master Scrum, I have spent 20+ hours reading extra material recommended by Scrum.org only to now find some of it is misleading. That blog is no random blog. It is hosted on Scrum.org and is part of the official "Learning Path" material. Do I continue to read the "Learning Path"? Apparently it includes "wrong" info. If Scrum is supposed to be flexible, it shouldn't test such specific info. Perhaps I should consider Scrum certification alternatives.
    – sean
    Dec 14, 2019 at 20:07
  • If Scrum is supposed to be flexible, it shouldn't test such specific info. Many people have been taught Scrum is prescriptive in many things. These questions aren't to test what is in the framework. It's to make sure you understand what isn't. Especially the elements that have changed over time. I do personally find many of those questions frustrating, but they are unfortunately needed for many. Dec 14, 2019 at 20:20
  • Scrum is ambiguous in many ways. It's leaning to navigate these ambiguities which is part of becoming a Master. You'll encounter many people in the field with many misconceptions. Even in the many books from recognized authors. We DO test these ambiguities, because that's often much more important than knowing "recommended 3-9" as a fact. Why 3-9? Hard rule? When not? That's where you'll be able to show mastery. Dec 14, 2019 at 20:28
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    These statements give me no reassurance to know what to do or to know when I'm ready for an exam. Experienced students of academics know the feeling of being ready or not ready for a test of knowledge or skill. I thought Scrum.org gave a pathway to that goal. Now I do not know where that pathway is, or if it exists. What you have said makes this entire topic seem very subjective.
    – sean
    Dec 14, 2019 at 20:37
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    Personally I've sat a PSM class and read the Scrum Guide, taken the Scrum Open Assessment 6x in a row and aced the exam. I recommend my PSM1 students to do the same and read Gunther Verheyen's Scrum Pocker Guide (amzn.to/35qGl2M) to prepare. Do the learning path after to deepen the knowledge. Dec 14, 2019 at 20:59

As I see the included 2 questions have not yet been directly answered.

Are these answers wrong, or are these trick questions?

These questions are valid and the answers provided are correct. I do not even think that these are trick questions, rather 'tailored' questions to test if you know the relevant statements of the Scrum Guide. If you have a comprehensive but superficial knowledge of the team size and Sprint Planning chapters, you will probably fail. People tend to remember the 3-9 but not the word 'ideally'. The '1 session with 2 topics' Sprint Planning is relatively new, and unless you are a Scrum beginner, you may inconsiderately give credit to the old format. However, if you have attentively read these chapters multiple times, you will probably know the right answers.

If these are trick questions, are they typical on the official PSM I Exam?

Yes, these are typical on the official PSM I exam. Similar questions are included among the https://www.scrum.org/open-assessments tests where taking not only the SM but the PO, the dev, the nexus, the metrics and the manager assessments is highly recommended. There are third-party mock exams at https://mlapshin.com/index.php/scrum-quizzes/ and at https://solution-delivery.org/practice-tests/ which are also good to check if you have blind-spots (like the 2 above).

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