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Best Tips for Passing the HR Certification Exam

hr best practices hr certification Jun 26, 2023

Its already June!  The SHRM testing window starts soon, and HRCI is always open.  Summer seems to be a time for HR professionals to consider the next step in their HR career, which is HR Certification!

According to SHRM, the average person who successfully passes the HR certification exam spends 120 to 160 hours of time studying in preparation. You may spend more or less time than the average, but none of it matters if you don’t use that time wisely. It’s a lot of time (and money!) to invest, and it’s well worth it because passing the HR certification exam can push your career to the next level. You just need to know how to do it right.

5 of the Best Tips for Passing the HR Certification Exam

Don’t get overwhelmed! We’ve compiled five of the best tips for passing the HR certification exam to help you prepare.

There are many tools available to you - use them.

There are plenty of websites, apps, and other resources that provide practice questions and answers. Use these tools to test yourself along the way. This will gauge what you know as well as pinpoint where you need to review more.

Look for tools that provide explanations for why the right answer is right and the wrong answer is wrong. Many also find the use of flashcards to be a great way to study, particularly when you’ve only got a few minutes to sneak in some test prep.

Find others to study with and learn together.

Spending many hours hovering over books and laptops in preparation for passing the HR certification exam can get lonely. If working with others helps keep your spirits and motivation high, look for ways to connect with others.

SHRM has its own online community, SHRM Connect, where you can find or start a group that suits your needs. A simple Internet search may also yield some results. The bottom line is that you don’t have to go it alone unless you want to.

Find a way to run through a sample of the test.

As it gets closer to your testing day, consider familiarizing yourself with the testing platform. Learn how to use functions such as strikethrough (cross out the information you don’t need or you know to be the wrong answer), flag (mark a question to return to later), and highlight (mark important information you don’t want to lose track of).

There’s also a calculator to help you with some of the math questions. A word of caution, however, on the calculator - this is not an excuse to slack on learning the HR math processes. Make sure you understand them!

Understand the different types of questions and answer them all.

You’ll be presented with long questions and multi-part questions. There are sometimes questions that allow you to select more than one correct answer.  These can be complex, but use the tools you practiced like strikethrough and highlight to get to the heart of the most important information.

Be sure you understand exactly what the question is asking so that you don’t inadvertently give the wrong answer. Look out for absolutes in answers - words like “only,” “always,” and “never” - as these answers are less likely to be correct.

Situations are rarely black and white in real life, and they are rarely correct in test answers. Differentiator words such as “most,” “best,” “least,” and the like, on the other hand, can help you to determine which answer best fits a question as opposed to one that is simply close.

No matter what, don’t spend too much time on any one question. If you’re unsure, flag it so you can go back to it when you’ve gone through the rest of the exam. Answer them all, but don’t agonize over a few.

Remember what HR is all about.

Being an HR professional means being a proactive leader. Answers will likely lean toward some sort of action or doing something.

At the same time, keep in mind that there’s a lot of history when it comes to human resources. Court cases and employment law came from somewhere, and knowing these stories is important. You won’t be tested on specifics, but you may encounter similar scenarios that apply the same principles.

Not Enough? Here’s More.

How about five more tips for passing the HR certification exam? A test is a test, and at the end of the day, some strategies are just universal. Don’t forget these important tips:

  • Get a good night’s sleep. No one thinks straight after being up all night.
  • Eat a good meal before the test. You don’t want a growling stomach to distract you.
  • Hydrate, but don’t overdo it. Needing to use the restroom mid-exam isn’t ideal.
  • Dress in layers. Testing rooms can be cold and your nerves can leave you warm, so be prepared.
  • Trust yourself. You’ve studied, practiced, and reviewed. You can do this!

Mostly, trust your gut!  You are a skilled HR professional and can get this done.  And once you do, you’ll never have to do it again.  So put in the energy and effort and do it now!

Thanks for reading!

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