How do I Prepare for the PHR Exam?

D. Jeffress

Earning Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) can be extremely helpful in advancing within a human resources career. In fact, some employers require applicants have PHR certification before they can be considered for managerial positions. An individual who has completed the education and experience prerequisites can begin preparing for the written or computerized PHR exam. There are many different options available for PHR exam preparation, including practice tests, study guides, official test prep courses, and college classes dedicated to helping individuals earn certification.

The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) exam is administered in one sitting over a four-hour period.
The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) exam is administered in one sitting over a four-hour period.

The PHR exam is administered in official testing centers throughout the world at various times during the year. It consists of 225 questions that cover a range of topics, including strategic management, compensation and benefits, and labor relations. Earning a college degree and working in entry-level human resources positions can certainly help prepare a person for the PHR exam, but some questions require highly specialized knowledge of particular subjects. It is important to know what to expect on the test in order to provide the best chances of success.

Many people decide to purchase study guides to prepare for the exam. Study materials are available at most large bookstores, libraries, and online retailers. It is important to look for study material that is approved by the SHRM to ensure that information is accurate and up-to-date. Test prep materials provide not only a refresher of important topics and vocabulary, but also a concise overview of the structure of the PHR exam. Good study guides explain the types of questions to expect in each section of the test and suggest strategies for answering multiple-choice problems.

Most people find practice tests to be of great benefit before taking the official PHR exam. The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI), the branch of the SHRM that scores exams, offers online practice tests at the official website. Individuals are timed just like the real test, and scores are provided immediately for instant feedback.

A person who prefers lectures and study groups to written study guide material can enroll in a HRCI-accredited test prep program. Workshops are offered throughout the year at various locations, and most people living in large cities can find a program in the weeks leading up to a testing date. In addition, many community colleges and universities offer coursework that is specifically designed for PHR exam prep.

A final option in preparing for the exam is talking to people who have already earned certification. Previous test-takers are legally prohibited from divulging specific questions and answers to others, but they can talk about their experiences in general terms and explain what takes place in the testing center. People who work hard in preparing for the exam are often rewarded with certification after their first try.

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