14 Truths to Help You Understand the PHR Exam or SPHR Exam

If there are truths, there are also lies. But not in the case of PHR SPHR Certification Exams. Yes, there are no lies in the exams.

I received a number of inquiries recently about the exams and I am wondering what to say or tell about. Most of the questions are straightforward asking for tips, exam contents and coverage, the type of questions, how the questions are made and scored, etc. Not having a ready response, common sense, which is not so common this time around, came to a rescue –might as well refer them to the HRCI Certification website for verification and reference. And it didn’t end there. My Zen master in a Herculean voice commanded, “refer or write or refer and write?” I said with conviction in a snappy soldier tone, “either or, I’ll do it!” Okay, okay, but what to write about? My mind is still floating and drifting.

In the middle of the night while de-stressing (yeah, you are right, my life is full of stress due to this gloomy economy –blame the economy, huh!!!) listening to my favorite song Riveder Le Stelle (in English translation, We Beheld Once Again The Stars sang by the European Grand Prix Winner, the Philippine Madrigal Singers), an idea pops out of the blue– Why not write something like, truths (as if there are lies?) about the PHR SPHR Certification exams for easy reference? Boring as it may seem to be, but it is the most important ingredients or spice in a candidate’s exam preparation. Knowing the truth, at least, will make him/her worry free in taking the exam.

So I did refer. And now I write the 14 truths about the exams. My Zen master would be happy for this. Here it is:

1. The PHR SPHR certification exams are administered twice a year by the HRCI. The Spring testing period (May 1 – June 30), and the Winter testing period (December 1 – January 31).

2. To be eligible to take or sit for the PHR or SPHR exams, applicants must have at least two (2) years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience.

3. For PHR exam, the payment is US$300 for HR professional and not a member of SHRM. If the applicant is a SHRM member, the payment is US$250. On the other hand, SPHR exam payment is US$425 for non-SHRM member and US$375 for SHRM member. A non-refundable US$75 application fee is already inclusive in the said charge. A US$50 late fee will be applied on applications received after the regular deadline.

4. HRCI uses a computer-based testing (CBT) process by PROMETRIC during two time periods each year thus examinees know before they leave the testing center whether they are certified.

5. The PHR and SPHR exams are based on U.S. federal laws, regulations and practices. And it is experiential meaning examinees must have the knowledge and the ability to apply it.

6. The PHR and SPHR exams are generalist in nature. The PHR exam is focus on the “tactical” and the day-to-day implementation of HR practices, rules and regulations, while SPHR exam is focus on the “creation” or the big picture, and is more strategic.

7. There are six functional areas or body of knowledge covered in the exams. These are: Strategic Management, Workforce Planning and Employment, Human Resource Development, Total Rewards, Employee and Labor Relations, Risk Management.

8. The exams are multiple choice and consist of 225 questions (200 scored questions and 25 pretest questions randomly distributed throughout the exam). The exams are four (4) hours long and can be taken in the morning or in the afternoon. It means that examinees will have 1.07 minutes to answer each question.

9. Twenty-five (25) pretest questions are not counted in scoring, however, it may be included in the future exams.

10. The multiple choice question or item is consists of four (4) choices and only one of which is the best answer.

11. The passing score for each exam based on a scaled score is 500. The lowest is 100 and the highest is 700. To translate this scale in a layman’s figure, examinees need to get at least 150 or more correct answers out of the 200 scored questions in order to pass. It’s a rough estimate only based on the set scale.

12. Examinee can get the result of his/her exam (unofficial) just after he/she finished it. I mean on the same day at the Prometric Testing Center where he/she has taken the exam. Official results (with breakdown of scores) will be sent to him/her via postal mail 2-3 weeks after the exam date. According to the HRCI 2010 Certification Handbook, under no circumstances will scores or pass/fail information be released over the phone, via e-mail or Internet, or by fax.

13. Starting May-June 2011 exam window and onward, the requirements will be more stringent. In order to be eligible to take the PHR exam, the applicant must meet the following requirements: 1 year of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a master’s degree or higher, 2 years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a bachelor’s degree, 4 years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with less than a bachelor’s degree; and for SPHR applicant, following requirements must be met: 4 years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a master’s degree or higher, 5 years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with a bachelor’s degree, 7 years of demonstrated professional (exempt-level) HR experience with less than a bachelor’s degree

14. Fees and application procedures for those retaking the exam remain the same as those for first-time applicants.

And the list may go on, and on. I suggest that candidate must visit HRCI.org for the most updated information about the PHR SPHR Certification Exams. Cheers!

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4 Responses to “14 Truths to Help You Understand the PHR Exam or SPHR Exam”

  1. well written blog. Im glad that I could find more info on this. thanks

  2. Nice design, what is the name of template ?

  3. I’m set to take the SPHR test on June 29th at noon. I have a couple of suggestions for future test takers. I purchased the SHRM Learning System. I feel it has been extremely helpful. I would suggest reading each book from cover to cover. All the exam questions are based on what you will find in those books. I also attended a certification prep class through SHRM. That too was worth the expense. I got the learning system when I paid for the class. All of these things were definitely worth the money. If your company will pay all the better. I paid myself. Another tip is practice testing. Practice, practice, practice. It teaches you how to read the questions and what the format for questions are in relation to the answers. Last tip…Take all the tests PHR and SPHR no matter which test you will be taking and take them over and over again. Do the case studies. You won’t be sorry and you’ll learn things even from getting the wrong answers. Don’t go by your experience alone. The SHRM Learning System contains the info the test is based upon. Good luck HR Sisters and Brother!

  4. Thanks for this concise, relevant information. I was curious (by curious, I mean obsessed) about whether the ‘preliminary’ results should be trusted. I’m going with it.

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