I am a recertification specialist for the HR Certification Institute with more than 11 years of HR generalist experience. I first attempted to earn my Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) in 2007, but received the dreaded “Failed” report from the Institute when I fell short of the 500 needed to pass. I had earned a 484.
My initial response was “That can’t be; I’m a seasoned HR professional and I know my stuff. How could I have failed?” After the shock wore off, I purposely avoided people I knew were testing within the same window or thinking of taking the exam. I felt ashamed and embarrassed by my results. With time, I realized that I was the only one to blame; not the test creators, nor the testing facility. “Tally” was the only one responsible for the lack of dedication to preparation.
Why am I telling you this? I want to share what it took for me to muster up the courage to tackle the PHR exam again. In 2010, I decided to give the exam another try. When I found and dusted off my 2007 prep materials, I realized how new and untouched they appeared. I flipped through the material and all of the modules were blank...meaning no notes, highlights or completed test questions. That is when I realized how big a role my “ego” had played in testing. I was overly confident in my knowledge and did not dedicate the amount of time needed to properly prepare for this exam the first time I attempted it.
This time, I committed to setting my ego aside and dedicating my time to this endeavor, knowing it would improve me as a professional and give me the personal satisfaction of seeing PHR by my name. Before I started, I took the Institute’s online assessment. This was instrumental for me, as it allowed me the opportunity to gauge my progress as well as identify areas that needed more attention and time. I purchased two retired test question assessments and took the first before I touched the prep materials…boy, was that scary. My scores were very low in all the categories.
I then enrolled in a preparation workshop and studied the material in a self-paced manner. I created a timeline for each module and dedicated myself to sticking to it. A few weeks prior to my testing window, I took the second assessment. Results? I had improved across the board, and only one module was lower than 75 percent. I dedicated additional study time to that material.
I sat for the exam on January 22, 2011, and remember covering my eyes like a child when I hit the final “Submit” button to see the results. Needless to say I passed and felt an extreme sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with obtaining my PHR credentials.
Key tips to remember that worked for me-
- Leave your EGO at the door. We are all HR professionals; however the content needs to be viewed with non-prejudiced eyes of the HR professional’s personal experiences.
- If your books look new you are not studying enough! They should be taken with you everywhere.. to football practice, the grocery store, in the car (but only read during stop lights). You should find ways to make the time needed to dedicate to the material.
- Enlist your family to help you study.. I paid my son a quarter for every time he asked me a vocabulary word or flash card definition. His pockets were always loaded.
- Find or create a study group… make it clear that this is study time only, and you are dedicated to covering the HR content only. My group knew we could catch up on life’s happening after we all passed the exam!
- MOST Importantly- Use the available tools. Take as many tests as you can get your hands on. The assessment quizzes on www.hrci.org were a highly beneficial study tool for me. I also used the Official PHR and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) Certification Study Guide, which includes retired test questions with commentary.
Tally Ann Bringas, PHR