PHR, SPHR, and GPHR Eligibility Requirements Changing

In April I wrote about proposed changes to the PHR and SPHR eligibility requirements. The HR Certification Institute announced today that those changes will take effect in 2011. Beginning with the May-June 2011 test window, the following eligibility requirements will apply:

For the PHR

  • 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree
  • 2 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree
  • 1 year of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher

For the SPHR

  • 7 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree
  • 5 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree
  • 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher

For the GPHR

  • 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience (with 2 of the 4 being global HR experience) with less than a Bachelor’s degree
  • 3 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience (with 2 of the 3 being global HR experience) with a Bachelor’s degree
  • 2 years of demonstrated global exempt-level HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher

64 Responses to “PHR, SPHR, and GPHR Eligibility Requirements Changing”

  1. Ben E. Says:

    Welcome back! :-) I just took the exam and passed, and Terri’s information from when she took the exam really helped me to develop a study plan.

    I have missed reading your posts!

  2. Laura Middleton Says:

    Congratulations, Ben!

    And thank you. My hiatus was longer than planned, but I’m glad the archives contained enough information to be helpful. I’ll be updating more frequently now…

  3. Terri Says:

    Ben, congratulations on passing the exam! I’m glad that the information I shared was helpful.

  4. Tim Says:

    I took and failed the PHR on Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 and feel the SHRM Prep Course DID NOT reflect the exam at all. In my opinion, SHRM misrepresents the course and how to study for the exam. The test questions from the study course did not come close to the exam questions. I am very disappointed in SHRM and how they present the material. I spent money, time and energy preparing for the exam and feel blind sided with the test. After about 15 min into the exam, I got up and asked the administrator to check and make sure I was given the correct test. As the test questions were not at all what SHRM had in the Modules or study guides.

  5. Laura Middleton Says:

    Tim, I’m sorry to hear about your PHR exam results. Many share your frustration. There is a persistent misconception that the SHRM Learning System is the official way to prepare for the PHR and SPHR exams. Truth is, there are not any study materials available that “teach to the test.” The HR Certification Institute does not share specific exam content with anyone, including their SHRM cousins over at the Learning System. Those who prepare study materials don’t have any inside information. They have access only to the information that is provided in the certification handbook–the Test Specifications.

  6. Ben E. Says:

    I used multiple study aids. I have heard of too many people relying on a single one and failing, and I didn’t want to join that crowd.

  7. Sophie L. Says:

    Well, Ben, could you suggest some materials? I try to participate in GPHR test in May, and I have not any relative materials besides SHRM issued :(

  8. Carrie Says:

    Laura, Terri, Ben. I invested in SHRM. Please give me some suggestions!!

  9. Terri Says:

    Carrie, here are my suggestions:

    - Create a study plan and stick to it.
    - Allow for “make-up” days in case something comes up and you get behind.
    - Assess how you are doing through practice exams. Review those questions you missed and figure out why you missed them.
    - Find someone who can quiz you on concepts. This forces you to explain in your own words (out loud), which will help you (1) remember the concept, and (2) evaluate how well you know it.
    - Don’t memorize! Internalize! You will have to apply these concepts not just regurgitate the information.
    - Be confident and don’t let the anxiety get the better of you!

    Good luck!

  10. Tracy Says:

    I took and failed the exam today. I spent an abudnance of time and money on the SHRM course and it was a complete waste of both. The actual test questions were nothing like the practice questions. SHRM Learning System is a misrepresentation of proper preparation for the exam. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  11. Cecilia Says:

    I’m taking the GPHR in about a week, wondering what I should read besides the 5 books from SHRM learning system.

  12. Judy Says:


    Any feedback to your earlier post? I too am preparing to sit for the GPHR in two weeks.

    I too am utilizing the revised SHRM Global Learning System.


  13. Shweta Anay Shukla Says:

    Hi :

    I took the GPHR exam today – 27th May 2009 & failed . Despite toiling for several weeks & test scores ranging between 80 – 90 % , the efforts have not translated into apositive outcome :(

    The exam had very difficult & complicated questions . Some concepts are not covered in the syllabus – checked upon return from the exam …

    Please suggest & recommend tips

  14. Cecilia Says:


    I took the GPHR exam on 18th and passed. Overall, I don’t feel the exam is well structured or designed to reflect your true knowledge, but a test of exam taking skills.

    I didn’t have the new SHRM learning system software but the new 5 books. That demonstrates that the test questions from the software would not be able to prepare you well for the exam. I read the books twice, which I think is really helpful at the second time. The point is to thoroughly understand and be able to apply the concepts, especially those concepts about the cultural differences.

    Last but most importantly, use your instinct for the questions you’re not sure. I marked all the questions I’m not sure during the exam and reviewed them at the end but didn’t change any of them unless I really feel I know the right answer.

  15. Shweta Anay Shukla Says:

    Hi Cecilia :

    You have summarized my dilemma in a succinct manner . I changed close to 15 responses which were marked for review . I guess I introspected too much & changed the responses towards the end – gut feel response is the secret .

    The only consolation is that I thoroughly enjoyed the course & have conviction in my preparation & efforts . I am dejected with the end result but that has paved way for a fresh start . Thanks for your insight .

  16. John Says:

    Took the PHR exam today 6/1/09 after teacher had encouraged me to take SPHR exam due to my excelling in the class and exams in the SHRM Prep Course. Quickly within the first bit of the exam, it was clear to me the question format was not simliar in any regard to the question format presented during the class.

    Regarding subject matter, I would estimate only 60% was covered in the prep material/class. The remaining 40% was material not covered during the prep course or in the SHRM material.

    Regarding question format, I often recognized the concept/application in the question, but when reviewing answer choices, I often felt I could only eliminate one or two max and words were used that are not commonly used to assist in choosing the correct answer.

    My only expectation is to be tested solely on the knowledge set and for the certification test not to use question format to thwart a successful pass. I do beleive a true partnership should exist with Prep classes and question formats should be similar. How else could I answer 1,240 multiple choice questions over 60 some odd practice exams and consistely score in the 80% range. I dont get it and strongly feel a misrepresentation exists.

  17. Michael Says:

    Took and passed the SPHR on Saturday. Like most others who have submitted comments, I studied the SHRM Learning Material that I borrowed from somone, although they were 4 years old. I also reviewed some other HR books/SPHR related books.

    While I ABSOLUTELY agree that the exam was nothing like the practice exams (of which I took 4 or 5), I can’t say that the Learning System didn’t help. I teaches you the concepts, whereas the Exam really wants you to apply the concepts. I think I memorized too much and didn’t spend enough time thinking about application. Although I passed (I’m still waiting for my actual results) I wasn’t sure how I did when I hit the “Submit” button. Longest 20 seconds of my life.

    For anyone considering taking the exam, make sure you spend some time on Mergers and Acquisitions and SOX. Try to think about how to apply the concepts that are reviewed in the Learning System to real life situations.

    Finally, don’t get flustered. When the first question came up, I had NO IDEA what they were talking about. Not the way I had hoped to start.

    Good Luck.

  18. Kia Says:

    Like Michael, the 20 seconds or so after hitting the End Exam button were the longest ever! But I passed ans was extremely relieved. I studied, but could have studied much more than I did.

    After reading everyone’s feedback about the SHRM learning system or SHRM courses, I can understand why some may feel a bit duped by the test format and/or content. I took an online PHR prep course offered by GMU which uses the SHRM Learning System and the learnHRM site. Most of the material on my exam was contained somewhere within the modules, but a few questions still seemed completely unfamiliar.

    Something that I strongly advise would be to google the internet for test taking tips. I did this and foung many helpful hints. It was extremely important to go in there and be relaxed. Second, you MUST read every word of every question very carefully because the questions seem to be worded to potentially confuse you or point to multiple correct answers. Remember that they are looking for the BEST possible answer though. Strike through any answers that are blatantly incorrect to eliminate them immediately. “Mark” any questions that are stumping you or taking too long. You can return to them later and don’t want to waste too much time or become frustrated. I found that a good portion of the answers involved applying your practical knowledge or good judgment. This was an easy test to overanalyze or overthink, so I made it a point to not second guess myself on most answers. Thank goodness it worked! Best of luck to everyone.

  19. Jay.lyn Says:

    I passed the SPHR exam today using the 2009 SHRM learing system. In my opinion, the question in the learing system were harder than the actual exam questions.

  20. PM Says:


    Can you pls help me in below doubts?
    - Is PHR, SPHR, GPHR world recognized certifications for a MBA HR personnel?

    - If i do an MBA in HR from a B grade B school and then do one of these certifictions will my industry value increase and fetch me a good job?

    - I’m an engineer with 2.8 years of technical exp in software/IT company, so am I eligible for these certifications?

    Pls advise.

  21. Wes Says:

    I took and passed (according to the preliminary results) on June 30th. Has anyone heard of a situation where someone’s preliminary results did NOT match their official results? I tend to worry about things and this got me thinking. Why have preliminary results when they could be wrong?

  22. Wes Says:

    For clarification, I passed the PHR. Sorry for the omission in my first post.

  23. Dee Says:

    I took the PHR on June 30th and passed. I used the SHRM Learning System and found it very helpful. I used only the books and that came with the system. The webcasts and supplemental materials were very helpful. I printed the flashcards but I didn’t get around to using them. No one should expect any of the study material to be “worded” like the actual exam. That would make the exam extremely easy to pass and the focus would be on memorization of material and not application of material. Like Jay.lyn said before, I thought the Learning system questions were harder than the actual exam questions. Read, re-read, and read the exam question again and again until the answer jumps off the computer screen. It may not be obvious at 1st but the answer is there.

  24. Rachel Says:

    With these changes could the work experience be exempt level, but one is not classified as an exempt employee due to part-time status and not meeting the salary requirements?

    Or even now, should someone in that situation still apply to take the exam if years of experience exceed minimum requirements?

  25. Will Says:

    Hi! I am now sitting at my son’s middle school homecoming dance, when I came across your blog. I thought I would try to surf the web for helpful hints while I am here and away from studying “those modules”for a night.

    Thank you all for your comments and insight. I am sitting for the SPHR in December and don’t know if I should be afraid or excited.

    If the SHRM system is not the way to go, which book(s) would you suggest I get to conquer this test? SHRM really pushes these modules as “the” key to passing this test.

  26. JS Says:

    I took and passed the SPHR. I took a prep class that used the SHRM materials. I didn’t take prep tests but read the materials and took lots of notes in class.

    The teacher’s memory tips and reminders of easily confused items were so helpful during the test. She constantly reiterated we had to be able to apply our knowledge and that we should study and set a study schedule.

    Really I credit the course and teacher more than the SHRM materials. The teacher was clear that the questions had to be read carefully and that they would be written in a manner to really test your ability to apply what you know.

    The test was harder then I expected but I had studied for content and application. I didn’t take any of the prep tests but the format of questions didn’t bother me. I assumed it would check my ability to apply my HR knowledge to questions-and it did

    My advice-
    Assess yourself and understand your weaker areas. For instance I hadn’t worked a lot with compensation/benefits so I concentrated on that area the most. It really helped with the test.
    Read anything you can get your hands on and start studying early.
    Take a deep breath and don’t panic on the test-its a marathon not a sprint; put off questions that you struggle with.

    I am preparing for the winter GPHR and I am concerned because the information is newer for me, but hopefully my studying will pay off.

    Good luck to everyone!!

  27. sanjay Says:

    I have completed MBA(HRD),m.PHIL last year of my Ph.D In HR.I have posted mumbai In Indian In ONGC as aSriner Marine Radio Officer Along with HR. Can I appear this Exm.Kindly Reply me

  28. Angel Child Says:

    I took the PHR this past Saturday and failed. Like the gentleman Tim posted, I too took a 14 week SHRM preparatory class at my own expense and felt totally blind sided by the test. Unfortunately, most of my experience in HR is related to recruitment, selection process and test administration. In effort to expand my knowledge and further myself professionally I wanted to obtain my PHR Certification. I’m just sadden to realize that the SHRM option available. As the another person posted, it would have been helpful to know that application was vital for passing the exam.

  29. Tim Adams Says:

    I took and passed the PHR earlier today. I did NOT waste money on any prep classes or “systems”. I used the study guide book by Anne M. Bogardus that I bought at a used book store for $ 40.00. The test is not difficult if you gain a working knowledge of all the concepts. Learn how to apply the concepts and you will pass the test. That simple.

  30. Rachel Says:

    Ditto to what Tracy says. The SHRM Learning System is a misrepresentation—nothing like the test, and all topics were NOT covered.

  31. Ken Says:

    I am preparing to take the exam and would love to speak with someone who has fecently taken it? Is anyone willing to speak with me

  32. Dmc Says:

    Failed the PHR exam for a second time on Saturday. I have been studying on average 4-6 hours a day for three months and took the college prep course that used SHRM. I even tested out on the SHRM assessment tests in the 80-90 percent range. WTH! I really, really studied and I even knew what to expect. I agree with some of the posts that a couple of the questions on the PHR exam appeared more appropriate on the SHRM exam. I just purchased the Anne Bogardus prep book on, and will combine resources. I hope to take the test a third time in the Spring.

  33. Terri Says:

    Ken, you are welcome to give me a call. Our number is 801-343-3699. I took the exam in January.

    Terri Zaugg
    HRCP, L.C.
    Business Manager

  34. Ryan L Says:

    I just took the SPHR exam today and passed! What a relief. Going into the exam, I was not real confident as I didn’t have much luck passing many of the practice exams, although I found that the “system” provided a wide range of terms and concepts to get me thinking about more than just the main topics of each module.

    I will share a couple of tips in case it helps someone to study a little differently. When taking the practice exams, I answered the “situational” questions how I would handle the situation, then what I thought the book answer was…neither worked. For the test, however, I answered the questions from the perspective of how the question was asked. (i.e. I knew the first thing to do in a merger was to prep, then do due diligence. So in the practice exams, my answer to the first thing to do or most important thing to do was prep. Well, the question might already be past that step. It would be like answering “put the keys in the ignition” when someone asks “now that you pulled up to the stop sign, what do you do?”) A very subtle difference, but I felt like it was the difference between recalling the steps and understanding the steps.

    Secondly, the night before, or in my case 30 minutes before the test, memorize some acronyms and other concepts that were tripping you up. As soon as you get into the exam room, use the tutorial time to write down as many concepts and acronyms that you can remember. This way the context of the question, won’t cloud your understanding of the material.

    Finally, the test is a marathon. I was ready to be finished at question 76 and still had well over 2.5 hours left. Preparing to pace yourself and know that you are going to be in there for the full hours. If you finish early, great, but don’t compromise your thought promise or you may have to do it all over again. Take the test in sections, 10 questions, 20 questions at a time. I went with 25 questions. Then I went back to any questions I marked and answered them. In some cases the answer was much more clear once I left it alone for awhile. Only in one or two cases did I move on before those 25 questions were answered. This helped me mentally when I went to review the questions knowing I had 25, 50,….200 questions down and I didn’t have to go back. Marking 75 and having to go back after question 225 would have been demoralizing.

    Extra tip. use the context of future questions to help you on previous questions where you were not as confident. for example, I couldn’t remember was the OFCCP was. I marked that as my answer to an ADA question. A later question referenced the OFCCP governing an AA plan. I went back and changed my answer on the previous question. Even if I hadn’t had to change my answer, I would felt more confident.

    This was the hardest test I have ever taken since the answers are not right out of the book. However, if you had the book or your notes next to you in the testing room, you would see how the question relates. Don’t get too frustrated. It will all be worth it when the four friendliest letters appear at the end of the exam P-A-S-S. Hope this helped.

  35. Susan Says:

    Took the PHR exam on Friday, the 30th and passed.

    The testing site had large ear phones which really helped with concentration, and allowed me to imagine the scenario questions rather than just try to answer based on memorization, so knowing how to make a decision using the HR BOK and also knowing the WRONG answer from studying really does help, but otherwise the test was completely foreign to everything I studied.

    Make sure you have enough time to check your answers. I changed many answers after reading the question again.

    Also, I spent a lot of time on each question, and then tried to make up time by flying through the ones I knew, rather than skipping a question I wasn’t sure about and going back, to me that was backwards.

    Hope that helps. Good Luck, if I could do it so can you regardless of your background. Most of my experience is in Recruiting and I studied on my own because my company didn’t pay for the class or the 2010 SHRM learning system (which I bought from an HR Director who sold it to me via Craigslist for $50).

  36. Yavette Everette Says:

    I took and passed the GPHR 12/31/2011. It was extremely challenging and I prepared for the exam for more than a year. I am not currently supporting international HR so I think that is what made it so difficult for me since it is not a part of my day to day. I used the SHRM GPHR Learning System along with Distinctive HR GPHR Study Manual along with the CD’s. I’m an audible learner so the CD’s helped me immensly during my 2 hr commute to and from work. If you have an opportunity I would strongly recommend the GPHR course even if it is the extensive 3 day course. The information that I gained from colleaques that actually were on international assignments and had cross country experience was second to none. I took the 3 Day Extensive Class at Duke University and the instructor Wendi, works in all of the countries that the exam focuses on. There were several individuals in that class that came to the states just to participate in the Extensive Review Course.

    My experience was that in the weeks leading up to the exam, I studied intensely making sure to take all online prep tests and case studies multiple times until I achieved 95-100% for each test. Additionally, I had re-read many of the salient sections of the textbooks. There are several versions of the exam so the chances of you taking the same exam that I took is slim. Here are my recommendations:

    Take as many practice test as you can. It’s not like the PHR more like the SPHR in that the questions are more strategic than actually recalling information.

    Know Cultures inside out and backwards:Trompennaar’s and Hampden-Turner’s Dilemmas
    Hofstede’s Dimesions and Global HR
    Mergers Acquisitions
    IA Process
    Componets of International Compensation

  37. Marilyne Says:

    This message is for DMC. I am in the same position as you and looking for a study partner. If you are interested please email me at

    Thank you

  38. Kelly Says:

    Hi All,

    I stumbled upon this blog and had to post a comment to say I feel your pain 100%. I took the SPHR 3 TIMES before finally passing the darn thing 4 weeks ago. What is posted on this blog couldn’t be more correct- the practice exams (which you have to pay for of corse) had absolutely nothing to do with the actual exam questions, its like night and day. The exam is all about application of concepts with barely (if any at all) straight forward questions where you can regurgitate information. While I completely understand that the exam should be hard to make the cerficiation worth something and to prove you have mastered concepts, its insanely frustrating to use materials created by SHRM intended to help you prepare and STILL not pass after taking it twice. There is always variations in how much people study, their overall capacity for learning, etc, but it seems like a confict of interest to me to have the entity who administers the exam also be the entity who creates the study materials. Just a thought.

    I know someone whose been in HR for 20 years who barely studied the Learning System materials at all and still passed the SPHR- conversely, I know people who studied like crazy with that much experience and didn’t pass. It’s a hit or miss. The most frustrating part was studying as much as I did, investing literally thousands of dollars (I attended a 3 day test prep course as well) in preparations and the cost of taking the test 3 times. Its very difficult to not pass twice and still have any confidence at all in your HR abilities.

    To those who are in a similar situation, and it sounds like a lot of us have been, try to stay focused and avoid the temptation to give up. If you can master the application aspect of what the real exam is like (as opposed to simple definition questions on the paid practice exams) then that’s half the battle. I can tell you that the moment “PASSED” came on the screen on try #3, I burst into tears and felt I had finally conquered the beast that this exam had become.

    If it helps, here are some suggestions coming from someone who failed twice before finally passing:

    1. Use the flash cards – at a bare minimum if you know the terms you can filter some of the answers in or out.

    2. Get your families/friends support – you won’t be successful if you don’t have support at home. Get your spouse/partner to help around the house and with meals so you can focus every night after work. Make sure friends know this is your priority so you don’t get pressured or guilt tripped when you can’t make it so a social event.

    3. When you’re testing, be your own cheerleader. I literally wrote “you can do it!”, “good job, keep it up” after every 25 questions. It was my own way to keep me motivated and going to get through 4 mind-numbing hours of testing.

    4. If you’re going to buy the Learning Sytem and/or go to a prep course, don’t expect that you can speed through it and be ready to test. The materials are detailed and dry, and you have to be able to apply information not just memorize it and spit it back out. Give yourself months to study and create a study plan – post your plan on the wall, mark your calendar for weeks you’ll work on which module.
    * Note – the exam doesn’t focus on specific dates, court cases, etc unless they are major. For example, there won’t be a random question about the year a random court case was passed. So don’t spend a lot of time memorizing that kind of stuff, its not worth it.

    Finally, I encourage anyone who has struggled like this to contact SHRM and make them aware of it. I did just that and went into detail about how different the practice exams were from the real test and how it was useless to me to rely on those exams to help me prepare. I was told they have gotten that feedback a lot and the only way to track those concerns and ultimately make any changes is to have the concerns documented. Ultimately, I was told to take a course to help prepare (obviously, as they would make more money if I did that), but at least I know my concerns were documented. Hopefully when enough people have the same feedback they will make some adjustments to ensure the practice exams and study materials are more in line with how the actual exam is created.

    Best of luck to future test takers and a huge congrats to those who’ve tested and passed. Take comfort in knowing your fellow HR peers know exactly what you’re going through!


    always remember to apply your justification for an answer based on general HR practices and not what your company would do – its hard to take that filter off but you have to in order to take the test from a general perspective.

  39. G Says:

    Hi guys,

    Congrats to all those who have cleared their exams and best of luck to everyone who is planning to give these exams. I am presently a practioner of global HR. I have planned to take the GPHR certification in May and wanted your help and suggestion on study materials. I see that there is a lot of material available for SPHR, but not much for GPHR. Any suggestion would be helpful.


  40. Carol Says:

    Hello, I am preparing to take the sphr/phr exam in the fall/winter. I have read that he HRCP program was the best, did anyone have experience using this?

  41. Anita Says:

    For those of you who have passed the exam, especially the PHR and whould like to get rid of your study guildes, I would be interested in nothing later that 2011. please respond to this blog if you are interested–with a price and how yuo will take oayment

  42. Anita Says:

    For those of you who have passed the exam, especially the PHR and whould like to get rid of your study guildes, I would be interested in nothing later that 2011. please respond to this blog if you are interested with a price and how yuo will take oayment

  43. Cheryl Says:

    I took the PHR yesterday and passed! I had taken the SHRM learning course at the end of 2010 but did not take the actual exam until yesterday. I actually found the Anne M. Bogardus book to be the most helpful in reveiwing for the exam. I would study a chapter in her book and then take the quizes at the end of her chapters and then take the related exams in from the SHRM learning system. Using the Anne M. Bogardus book I was able to “cram” for the weekend and pass the test. I do have good test taking instints, so to be truthful, that probably helped more than any studying I did.

  44. Ashok Kolla Says:


    I find this blog really helpful for those who are preparing HRCI exams. I scheduled my GPHR exam on 31st Dec 12.I have 2 months left to study.Pls suggest the best way preparation to crack the exam with 2 months duration.What materiaals to use?

    Ashok Kolla

  45. uttiv Says:

    I took the GPHR exam yesterday and failed. It was so disappointing to have not cleared the exam after having worked so hard and spending hours reading through the material provided by SHRM and doing exceptionally well with the practice tests. Like so many others who have commented here, barring a few questions on exam day, many of them did not even have a remote connection with the kind of questions that are featured on the Final Review and so on. Seldom have I felt so let down. I can’t do anything to reveerse what has happened and now that reality has firmly set in, I feel I wasn’t as well prepared as I should have been. Would appreciate if someone can share some tips on how to be better prepared for the GPHR test, especially in terms of reading material and places/sites where more information can be accessed. I do want to take the exam next spring.

  46. Ram Says:

    I took GPHR exam (for the first time) on 24th of Dec and passed. All my preparations were based on SHRM learning systems and it really helped. When I decided to go for GPHR, 6 months back, the first think I did was to get SHRM learning system. I spent 1 hr. a day for the preparation for 3 months and decided to take the exam in Dec.
    During the last 3 months I cut down my sleep by 1/2 and spent 4-5 hrs. in the night, after coming back from office @ 08.00 pm. I took the practice tests several times to ensure that I have the highest level of understanding combined with the required speed.
    This exam is basically not to test the level of knowledge alone, but the level of your comprehension of the subject coupled with its practical applications. It is important to check every word of the question, so as to ensure that you understood the question clearly and correctly. The tendency of marking the answer immediately after seeing the question should be completely avoided.
    I completed the first round within 1 ½ hours by marking all the answers which I was 100% sure. All others were kept for review (even where I had slightest doubts) for the second round. I used the deletion method (which is available in the system where you can cross the wrong answers from a question) in order to have a perspective of the right answer. I could complete all the questions 10 minutes before the stipulated time.
    The questions (especially on labor laws) were focusing on developing countries like China.

  47. Nia Says:

    Please does anyone know of a person who took the exam, failed, and when the final results came in they passed?

  48. Rich Says:

    I took the PHR exam in January and passed with a score of 511. I studied for 4 months solid. The questions on the exam were mostly unfamiliar scenarios and did not really match up to the SHRM Learning System. I found that I was striking through possible answers because I knew the concept behind them more than I knew the concept behind the question so it was easy to rule out possible answers and choose between what was left. I actually felt confident that I would pass but when I received my results in the mail I was shocked to see just how close I came to abject failure. No wonder the passing rates are so low. The exam should be reflective of a textbook, a given textbook, just like a college course. In college I averaged 87% across all exams. This exam just seems like a crapshoot. Maybe, just maybe, the learning system prepares you to think critically. But you must be prepared for that and it should be explained better. I was prepared to do all kinds of compa ratio work and percentage figuring but there was only one compa ration question and it did not require any math work. I would like to take the GPHR next year but after this experience I am scared. I think a Masters in HR would be much simpler to pass.

  49. Rich Says:

    I took the PHR exam in January and passed with a score of 511. I studied for 4 months solid. The questions on the exam were mostly unfamiliar scenarios and did not really match up to the SHRM Learning System. I found that I was striking through possible answers because I knew the concept behind them more than I knew the concept behind the question so it was easy to rule out possible answers and choose between what was left. I actually felt confident that I would pass but when I received my results in the mail I was shocked to see just how close I came to abject failure. No wonder the passing rates are so low. The exam should be reflective of a textbook, a given textbook, just like a college course. In college I averaged 87% across all exams. This exam just seems like a crapshoot. Maybe the learning system prepares you to think critically. But you must be prepared for that and it should be explained better. I was prepared to do all kinds of compa ratio work and percentage figuring but there was only one compa ration question and it did not require any math work. I would like to take the GPHR next year but after this experience I am scared. I think a Masters in HR would be much simpler to pass.

  50. Rich Says:

    P.S. I would really like a detailed explanation of my score results. I know that I answered 101 questions correctly and 49 were incorrect. When I try to do the math it seems that each question was worth 5.06 points. But that is not how they score the test as they explain on the HRCI webpage. Since I paid $750.00 for the SHRM Learning System and another $250.00 to take the exam I believe that I am entitled to a very transparent view of each question and how many points each was worth. Otherwise I remain ignorant of a very important facet of my chosen career.
    I am very happy to have passed. Please do not get me wrong on that. But the cryptic unknown of how I did it is annoying. I am sure my attitude would be very enraged if I had failed by only 11 points.

  51. Rach Says:

    I took the PHR exam twice Jan 2013 and June 2013 and FAILED! I only studied the Anne Bogardus book. I knew the material and felt the exam was easy but I did not pass. I am discouraged and feel like taking it a 3rd time would be a complete waste. As of right now, I have no plans to take it at least for another year but if I did, I don’t know what to do different. Any suggestions? I was considering a college prep course that inlcudes the SHRM materials for $1,000.00 for a 9 day course (36 hours).

  52. Radhika Says:

    I just took the PHR and passed(3rd attempt after a lot of practice test and anxiety), the first time and 2nd time I took it I had problems with “results” and found the questions tough. This time around i used the SHRM books and also HRCP books, the exam is knowledge based and a big component is how you take the test-how you read the questions, the answers are in the specific words that relate to the definition/understanding of the laws. I highly recommend taking alot of practice tests prior to the exam.

  53. ifb Says:

    I also just took the PHR exam in June and finally passed (after 4 atempts – ea time my percentage got further and further from a passing score). The 1st exam I didn’t study at all (oddly enough I came w/in 10pts of passing). The 2nd time I studied all the concepts I missed from the 1st exam (wrong move – there are over 4-6 sets of questions for ea module, so no way I’d have the same test twice). The 3rd time was last yr (the trouble is I was studying 2008 materials, almost a 5 yr gap of HR info). This time around I felt a little more confident but never felt the test was a cake walk. Another really challenging thing for me to face was the fact that HRCI had shortened the test from 4 hrs to 3 hrs with the same amount of questions and less time to complete the exam (in other words the exam is getting harder). I used 2011 SHRM materials and whatever free resources I could find online (flashcards, tests, related HR info, etc ). I also looked for universal test taking tips online to help prepare for the exam as well whatever I could find. Most standardize test are designed to make it difficult especially if you’re moving quickly & not reading carefully. Im awaiting my exam results so I can see just how well I scored. I’m planning to take the SPHR in Dec. So, here we go all over again.

  54. Chris Says:

    I just took the SPHR for the first time on June 29, 2013 and the preliminary result is a pass. I have about 5 years of experience in HR, 3 in staffing as a coordinator, and the recent 2 in HRIS as an analyst, so definitely not well-versed in all things HR. With that being said, I was pretty nervous going in, especially after reading how many study hard, yet fail multiple times. I took a 12 week preparation course through the NCHRA, which met once a week for 3 hours each night. I completed the assigned readings, did a little bit of the online quizzes, and also studied one night a week with a coworker from January – April going over concepts we had issues with. It was honestly an overwhelming time, trying to keep up with the monotonous reading and feeling confident enough that I was also absorbing the information. Anyway, I scheduled my exam for the very last day possible, knowing I would procrastinate after the intense 12 week course. Come June I really hunkered down. I stayed after work until about 9 or 10pm almost every night of the week to study, but took a break on weekends. The thing though is that I didn’t use the SHRM books that we had used in class. I mainly used Anne M. Bogardus’ PHR/SPHR Study Guide (the 2009 edition). Having read the SHRM books helped introduce me to certain concepts, but the way Anne wrote the book made it seem much easier to understand. It also didn’t seem as overwhelming as the SHRM books. Some concepts are not explained very well at all in the SHRM books. The final two weeks I studied by taking quizzes. I did the ones that came with Anne’s book (CD), as well as the HRCI practice assessments for $70. I scored a failing 62% on the first assessment, and the next week I scored an 88 %. I then went over each question and looked up anything I wasn’t familiar with and studied off of those notes. Trust me, practice quizzes are very useful. They not only help you go over concepts you need to be more familiar with, but they also get you accustomed to the format of the questions on the real exam. You really need to read, breathe, and reread the questions, because they are worded in ways to confuse you or catch you off guard, so you can’t skip even a single word. When it was test day, I found the actual exam to be very close to the ones on Anne’s CD as well as HRCI. I was surprised that there were so few situational questions. I was expecting more questions that were linked to a paragraph describing a situation, but only came across maybe 5? The rest were short one line questions. I can’t honestly say that I breezed through the test. Some questions were very straight forward. I marked at least 33% to go back to to review. Others I didn’t even recall ever reading anything about. Most I knew what the question was asking as well as all of the terms in the answer choices, but had no idea which the correct answer was, although I did start striking out certain choices that didn’t seem quite right. The one thing that I kept in mind though, was that you have to look at it all from a strategic viewpoint. Maybe that helped. Who knows. Anyway, I hope this helps anyone thinking of taking the exam or needing to retake it. Good luck!

  55. Patrick Says:

    Before I make a long posting on here, I would like to see if this thread is still active?


    Patrick :-)

  56. Shonet Says:


    I am taking the GPHR in Dec this year and am referencing the 2009 SHRM modules. All the tips mentioned in here are helpful in terms of what to anticipate and how to prepare.


  57. Gina Says:

    Hi All, I am scheduled to take the PHR on the 20th.
    Wondering if anyone has taken the exam this testing
    period and can give some pointers!?
    I’m studying my life away! Hoping someone can put my mind
    at ease! Thank you!

  58. Terri Says:

    Gina, I took the exam yesterday and passed. If you’ve been dedicated to your studies and know the material, then TRUST that! Read the questions carefully. If the question seems difficult, ask yourself what concept is being tested. The answer to that question will lead you in the right direction. Go follow HRCP on Facebook and interact with others preparing for the exam. If you don’t already, sign up to receive HRCP’s weekly tips email at Good luck!

  59. MK Says:

    I took the PHR this morning and did not pass, I am extremely frustrated because I passed all of the practice exams I took with a 611 as my highest score. I dont see the point in buying any study materials after I took this none of the preparation I did helped anyway. None of the study material questions or content was on the test I could of went and guessed and did the same so much for 60 hours of my life I will never get back not taking this test ever again.

  60. Patti Says:

    I took the test on December 5, 2013 after taking the 3 day prep course. I do feel that the test contained questions that were not discussed in the SHRM prep course, however, i don’t feel that studying from it is a waste of time. But as many stated (above) it is more important to internalize the information, rather than memorize it. You have got to be able to apply it to situations in real time, not just regurgitate a case from the past. Flash cards were a good tool. There are also many apps you can download on your phone or tablet, to keep drilling yourself. Go with your Gut. Mark an answer to come back to, but don’t change it unless you are confident of the correct answer. Good luck!

    ps. MK, Terri, and Gina, have you gotten your official documentation yet? i haven’t yet. Not sure if i should be worried. The letter said it could take up to 4 weeks, and we did take the test right at Holiday time…..just curious if you have gotten yours.

  61. waqas khan Says:

    I have a plan to appear in next PHR exam. I ll use the guidlines mentioned in the Blog but i want someone (who has taken exam recently) to narrate one or two question/concept that appeared in exam.

  62. Betty Says:

    I took the GPHR and failed . I want to write it again,does any one have any advice for me. Iam determined to pass this exam .i must pass it

  63. Betty Says:

    I’m writing it again in May. How do I get Anne’s CD

  64. Chris Says:

    Hi Betty. Are you referring to the Anne Bogardus CD I mentioned? That comes with her book/study guide, but it’s mainly for the PHR and SPHR. I’m not sure how relevant it is for the GPHR. I believe the newer editions have a link and login to an online version of what used to be on the CD. Anyway, best of luck!

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