how to pass the PHR exam

How To Pass The PHR Exam? [2024 Comprehensive Guide]

How to pass the PHR exam? Right now let’s find out the most beneficial information about the PHR test in the article below with us!

Updated at May 16, 2022

The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) awards human resources professionals with a total of seven different credentials, one of which is the Professional in Human Resources certification (PHR). In addition to education and experience, passing the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certification Exam, which is a computer-based test (CBT) with approximately 200 questions and that takes several hours to complete, is the decisive factor in acquiring this credential.

So how to pass the PHR exam? The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) publishes study tools for each test, including the PHR, to help candidates in preparing for their upcoming evaluations.

In addition to the sample examinations, independent study courses, and even something called “Second Chance Test Insurance,” which gives students the opportunity to retake an examination at a significantly reduced cost in the event that they do not pass it on their initial try, preparation materials cover a vast array of subjects and include a variety of sources. A potential disadvantage of using HRCI materials is the price, which starts at $700 for their most basic kit. Therefore, in this article, we will provide you with step-by-step tips for passing the PHR exam.

PHR Exam Format

how to pass the PHR exam

The Professional in Human Resources examination was developed by the Human Resources Certification Institute, commonly abbreviated as HRCI for short. This organization is also in charge of providing the PHR credentials. This test is geared at HR professionals who are just starting out in their careers. The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) has broken the exam down into five different areas of study, with the Employee and Labor Relations portion accounting for 39% of the total score.

It’s possible that you won’t require as much time to prepare for the exam if you already have a lot of experience or previous knowledge of this topic. However, this does not mean that you may disregard the information presented in the remainder of the text. Because the Business Management component has a weighting of 20%, these two components together account for roughly 60% of the total focus of your exam. The majority of the test is dedicated to Talent Planning and Acquisition, but you will also be tested on your knowledge of:

  • Talent Planning and Acquisition (which accounts for 16% of the total number of questions)
  • Total Rewards (which accounts for 15% of the total number of questions)
  • Learning and Development (which accounts for 10% of the total number of questions)

The Professional in Human Resources exam is about three hours long, has 175 questions, and has a maximum score of 150 points. Aside from those 25, the other 25 questions are there for the purpose of testing, and they will appear on exams in the future. In order to gauge the level of difficulty and overall quality of the questions that will be used during testing, HRCI uses pre-test questions.

Due to the fact that the questions on the exam are presented in a randomized sequence, you will be unable to determine which of the questions on the exam are part of the pre-test. Questions of an alternate item type, abbreviated as AIT and added to the PHR exam in 2018, contained the following types of inquiries:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Drag and Drop

It’s possible that this kind of question is more challenging than the standard multiple-choice questions. A question with blanks to be filled in can only have one of two outcomes: either you know the answer, or you do not. Questions involving dragging and dropping or multiple-choice require you to get all of the components of the answer correct since there is no provision for partial credit in these types of questions. No matter the subject, HRCI organizes the questions into several categories according to the level of difficulty they provide.

The ability of an idea to be defined is the quickest and easiest method to evaluate how well you grasp that concept. The ability to apply industry standards to a problem of moderate difficulty is being examined. If you want to achieve the highest level of achievement, you need to be able to combine information from a variety of different sources into a coherent whole so that you can find a solution. When the test is assessed, the more challenging questions will be awarded a higher point total.

After you have completed the test, your unscaled result will be transformed into a scaled score. A scaled score is required in order to facilitate the comparison of raw results given that each individual who sits for the PHR exam completes their own unique version of the exam. Your results need to be normalized in comparison to those of a person who achieved an 80% on an easier version of the examination.

If you want to pass an HRCI exam, you need to get at least a score of 500 out of 700 on the scaled component of the examination. Because this exam is administered through the computer, you will be able to monitor your progress at any time. You will get a preliminary score report before you leave the testing center, and then you will receive an official score report via email within 24 to 48 hours following the day you took the exam.

According to the most recent data provided by HRCI, 59% of those who take the PHR exam get a passing score. You will need to put in the time and effort to study the material and practice taking tests in order to be successful on this examination; but, it is not impossible to do so. You should give yourself as many practice tests as you can and carefully go over each question in order to guarantee that you won’t miss any of the subtle subtleties that the people who created the test are going to throw at you in order to make you fail.

Why Should You Study for the PHR Exam?

Studying for the PHR test is critical since it may boost your self-esteem and preparation while also raising your final score. It’s important to prepare for an exam by re-reading books that are related to the questions you’ll be asked. The more you study and take PHR practice test, the better you will become at the subject matter. It is possible to feel less anxious or stressed about the test-taking procedure because of your self-confidence in your expertise.

At least 500 out of 700 possible points on the PHR exam is a passing result for the test-takers. The PHR certification earned by these individuals might have a number of advantages. Having a certification in HR may demonstrate that a person is knowledgeable about the field’s practices, processes, and laws, for example. Because of these qualifications, individuals may be able to get a promotion at work or get a raise in pay.

Is the PHR Exam Hard to Pass? 

Is it difficult to pass the PHR exam? Yes, it is correct. The PHR is quite difficult. The pass rate in 2019 was just 69 percent. The rigor is a characteristic of the test since it confirms the proficiency of a current practitioner of human resources, which is a difficult profession. Since this is a difficult exam to pass, it’s important for you to have a specific and effective study plan. In addition, keeping the study principle throughout the review process will also show amazing results.

How to Pass the PHR Exam?

how to pass the PHR exam

When studying for the PHR test, you may find it beneficial to discover some of the most effective methods for doing so. How to pass PHR exam? To prepare for the PHR test, follow these steps:

Study a Lot

Your understanding of the technical and operational aspects of human resources management will be tested during the PHR. These are the aspects of HRM that are best learned via actual work experience. Despite the requirement that test takers have a bachelor’s degree and years of professional experience, only around 55 percent of those who attempt the PHR exam are successful in passing it. If you don’t put in the effort to study and try out different approaches, you won’t be successful in getting good scores.

There are several different places to get study materials for the PHR certification exam, one of which is the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). In’s PHR guide, you’ll find more than 130 courses on important exam topics like labor relations, organizational development theories, and workplace safety and risk management.

In addition, if you live in California and are interested in taking the PHR-CA exam, you may be able to discover a study guide that is specific to the PHR-CA and SPHR-CA exams given in that state. Utilizing a range of study aids that come from a number of different places is a smart approach. Anne Bogardus’ PHR/SPHR: Professional in Human Resources Certification Study Reference is another often suggested guide.

You may brush up on more challenging areas by using these HR organizational theories and employee benefits & compensation flashcards. If you prefer unstructured study or the test is getting near, use these flashcards. These flashcards on the foundations of HR management may also help you ensure that you have a solid knowledge of the principles by providing you with additional support.

If your test is still many weeks or months away, you may want to consider purchasing index cards and creating your own flashcards based on the areas in which you struggle the most.

Make Use of Modern Resources

Students may get themselves ready for the PHR by utilizing a number of different mobile applications in addition to comprehensive study resources.

  • Evernote: A note-taking application, Evernote allows you to store web pages and photographs of study material so that you may retrieve them at any time from any location. This enables you to study wherever you are, making it simpler to prepare for exams.
  • Apple Exclusive: Pocket Prep Inc: This produces mobile study aids for several examinations, including the PHR, which can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store. Candidates may make use of a study tool that focuses on PHR exam subjects and is fully customizable.
  • Quizlet: Quizlet allows you to generate on-the-fly review sessions from your notes by converting them into flashcards. It also allows users to make their flashcard sets public, allowing them to study materials from former PHR candidates.

Ask Your Colleagues

The size of your department will decide whether or not you have access to someone who is PHR certified and can give advice on how to prepare for the exam. If you do have access to anybody, you should take advantage of that opportunity.

If you want to gain the most out of the information that your coworkers have to offer, it’s analogous to going on a school tour rather than looking at images online. It is reasonable to think that these individuals have some knowledge that will be helpful to you since they have already attempted the exam, studied for it, and been successful.

Even if they are unable to tell you precisely what will be on the test, they may still be able to supply you with helpful study tips that you will not be able to get from any other source. It’s possible that an experienced mentor will be available to provide even more in-depth help and guidance.

Take a Course

Studying for the PHR exam may be done in a classroom environment at a variety of accredited educational institutions and universities located all over the United States. There have been reports of graduate test pass percentages ranging from eighty to one hundred percent for seminars provided by Colorado State University, for example.

Through either the on-campus or online version of DePaul University’s preparation program, students have the opportunity to earn continuing education credits as well as a certificate. It is possible to significantly improve one’s chances of passing the examination by enrolling in an approved preparation program, provided that the associated costs are not prohibitive.

Participate in a Study Group

Study partners should be friends or coworkers who are also preparing for the exam and should be studying together. If this is not the case, you can consider joining a professional association in order to locate local individuals who are interested in taking the examination. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) comprises related organizations that are home to 285,000 members located all over the globe. One of the certifications, the PHR exam, is one of the ones that local chapters often promote on their websites in order to seek out professionals to participate in study groups.

Consider Your Budget

Examine your finances while you prepare for the PHR exam. The exam preparation programs and materials themselves are an extra cost to consider. Making a personal budget will help you look through all of your options and choose the ones that are most useful to you.

You might also seek ways to reduce these costs. A corporation that reimburses employees’ education expenses or sponsors employees by paying for all or part of their test and study material fees and supplies is an excellent example of this. If at all possible, discuss your options with your employer. Scholarships may be available from professional organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). If you’re on a limited budget, you’ll probably be able to find a few low- or no-cost options.

Pay Attention to and Learn from HR Leaders

If you are aware of current HR leadership and business trends, you will be more prepared for the HR certification exam. Do as much research as you can on human resources, and then don’t be hesitant to put what you’ve learned into action in your career. The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) recommends a number of authors and speakers, who are Warren G. Bennis, Kenichi Ohmae, and Peter M. Senge.

Conduct Mock Examinations

Taking practice tests after you’ve studied for some time and are confident in your skills is the best way to determine how well prepared you are for an exam since there is no other approach that comes close.

These tests are available for free online, and you may use them to evaluate how far you have come by using the test yourself. Taking practice tests is a great method to become used to the format and material of the real exam. Reviewing your performance on the practice tests will help you identify the aspects of your performance that might want some work.

In spite of the fact that practice examinations may be downloaded for free, it is highly recommended that you sign up for one of the paid HRCI practice tests that are made available on their website. In the same way that you would with study guides, you should ensure that you provide a range of practice exams that come from a number of publishers.

Recognize Your Weaknesses and Address Them

The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) examination consists of 25 practice tests and 150 multiple-choice questions, each of which is divided into one of six distinct categories. Due to the fact that some of the sections carry more weight than others, the test does not divide its questions across these categories in an equal manner. There are six different parts, and the following is the proportion of the total test that each one accounts for:

  • Business Management & Strategy (accounts for 11% of the number of questions)
  • Workforce Planning & Employment (accounts for 24% of the number of questions)
  • Human Resource Development (accounts for 18% of the number of questions)
  • Compensation & Benefits (accounts for 19% of the number of questions)
  • Employee & Labor Relations (accounts for 20% of the number of questions)
  • Risk Management (accounts for 8% of the number of questions)

After you have completed a sample test, it is important to review the findings and make any required adjustments to your approach to studying. If managing employees and labor relations is not one of your strong suits, you should work to improve such abilities. When you are studying, you should focus more on the areas in which you struggle and less on the areas in which you excel.

Because there are so many different types of questions, having just one area of expertise that is really strong is not enough to pass. As an example, you shouldn’t bank on a good performance to save you from trouble since just 8 percent (or around 12 questions) of the test questions will be on risk management.

It’s Time to Ace The PHR Exam

how to pass the PHR exam

At least a few months should be spent preparing for the PHR exam. Even more critical is mastering the test-taking strategies.

Prepare for the Big Day

Anxiety over tests is something that many students experience at some point or another. Your anxiety or uneasiness before the test could decrease if you have a good feeling about how you will do on it. Before you take the exam, double-check that you have all of the required forms of identification in your possession.

In the event that this applies to you, it is imperative that you inform the testing facility or provider as soon as possible if you anticipate needing any special accommodations on account of a disability or any other conditions. In addition to studying, you could find it helpful to plan yourself for the exam by drawing up a timetable for the day before it is scheduled to take place.

When you are traveling to a testing location, it is beneficial to have an idea of how long it will take you to get there as well as the most efficient route to take. This information will help reduce any worry you may be experiencing and enable you to spend some additional time studying for the test in the event that you are unable to go on time or even early.

In the event that you are unable to attend on time or even early. It’s possible that sticking to your usual routines, like having a cup of coffee before your exercise and a healthy meal, could help you feel more at ease and give you little respites from the pressures of the day.

Manage Your Time Effectively

It is possible that passing the PHR certification examinations may take a number of hours. It is very necessary to maintain effective time management in order to answer all of the questions that are required. It is essential to practice effective time management in order to reduce feelings of stress and avoid acting hastily. If you think that you will have sufficient time to answer the questions in-depth in the exam, you will likely have a greater sense of confidence when it comes time to turn in the test and wait for the results.

It’s possible that if you give yourself a goal, you’ll be able to better manage your time. You have a lot of options available to you if you want to keep track of the amount of time that is still available to you as well as the number of questions that need to be answered. Taking care of this one easy step will allow you to adjust how you approach taking the exam depending on how much time is still available. As the due date draws closer, it is a good idea to set time limits for yourself on each question so that you can complete them in a timely manner.

Prepare Your ID

Proof of identification is required of all PHR and other certification candidates by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), in accordance with the organization’s zero-tolerance stance against fraudulent examinations. The most common forms of identification that are granted by the government are driver’s licenses and passports; both of these forms of identification must be up to date and cannot be expired. Additionally, you will need to sign your name, and the signature that appears on your identification must be identical to the one you provide.

Consider Your First Test as a Practice One

As was said before, the proportion of people who pass the examination is just 55%. To put things into perspective, around the same proportion of individuals pass this exam as failing it, and the percentage of people that succeed on this test is roughly the same as well. You may consume it as often as you want since doing so is not considered a sin.

Make yourself believe that you are taking a practice test if you are feeling anxious about taking the PHR for the first time. You may minimize unnecessary strain throughout the test by being aware of your circumstances, which will also allow you to pass the test without worrying about failing to get the certification if you do so. You will be able to focus better and do better on the exam if you maintain a good mood and a calm temperament, which will increase your chances of passing the test the first time you take it.

Don’t Ignore the Clock

On each and every exam, you need to be aware of the amount of time that is still available to you in order to guarantee that you finish answering each question and do not run out of time. When you’re trying to beat the clock to complete an exam, three hours may seem like a long time; but, the minutes pass quickly when you’re under pressure.

Checking the time might be considered a double-edged sword since it could lead to feelings of anxiety and concern as the exam is nearing its end. In order to locate areas of agreement, you should make it a point to double-check your answers after every 10 questions. By using this strategy, it will be easier for you to achieve your objective of maintaining your concentration on the task at hand.

Answer Questions Strategically

Determine the words and phrases that are used in the questions the most often. This may provide you with a hint as to the kind of answer that is desired in response to the inquiry. In most cases, you have access to four strong responses, but only one of them is both better in terms of strategy and effectiveness.

Do not stress about providing a response to a question right now if you are unable to do so; instead, just make a note of it and come back to it at a later time. Even if you make an informed guess, there is still a possibility that it will be accurate, and that probability is 25 percent. To begin, eliminate any potential outcomes for which you have prior knowledge that they are incorrect.

Even if it does nothing else, it will at the very least improve your chances of coming out on top. When making a forecast, you should put your faith in your gut instinct. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you shouldn’t spend time trying to figure it out by overthinking it. Do not spend an excessive amount of time attempting to answer a single challenging issue in order to prevent making the same mistake again.

How to pass the PHR exam is specifically mentioned above. No matter how well you study for the PHR test before the big day, if you put in the time and effort to complete it the proper way, you will have a far greater chance of passing and receiving your certification.