5 Tips for Studying in Preparation for the SHRM Certification Exam

shrm certification prepare, shrm-scp preparation, shrm-cp examination

When you’re preparing to study for both the SHRM Certification exams, it’s important to understand that it’s not the same as the LSATs or even a college exam. You can use the same methods that got most of us through college: repetition and memorization. However, most of us who are taking the SHRM Certification also have full-time jobs and busy lives. Additionally, there are situational knowledge questions that require you to really think through processes. Having a system is key to tackling your exam prep and using the SHRM Learning system and the SHRM prep classes can be an excellent foundation.

It’s important to create a great learning environment increasing your chances of not only passing the SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP exams. Most importantly, you want to be able to retain that information for later use and application in your role as an HR leader for your organization.


How to Study and Prepare for the SHRM Certification Exams, SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP


It’s one thing to prepare for the SHRM certification exam. However, there should be a larger strategy to retaining, absorbing, and applying all that information. Here are five things to consider that can help with study and preparation for the SHRM Certification exams for both the SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP:

#1 – Accountability and scheduling.

Having a program as opposed to a single deadline can help keep you on schedule, especially when your time to study is limited to nights, weekends, or your lunch hour. Programs like the SHRM Learning system break your studying down into manageable bites with multiple deadlines, setting you up with a series of accomplishment milestones as opposed to a singular finish date. This helps to ensure you have absorbed each section of exam prep as an item you can check off of a list, and holds you accountable for the deadline for each section.

#2 – Make time for your studying, as it should be a priority.

Your job, especially if you’re already working in human resources at any level, tends to consume a large percentage of your time. If you’re looking into SHRM Certification, it means you’re also looking for ways to be more efficient with your time and better at your job. Like any type of training, in order to accomplish the goal, sometimes you have to put some projects on hold or prioritize tasks differently so you have time to study. Setting aside blocks of time and treating them as appointments you must keep can help move you forward in the learning process.

#3 – Studying regularly and over time on a consistent basis.

Consistency is key to retaining the information you learn. By studying regularly and having a roadmap to follow, you can ensure you remember the information you studied in week one as well as you remember what you studied this week. A learning roadmap gives you a solid foundation to build on, and each block of new information builds on what you previously learned, with real-world examples and thoughtful solutions to situational questions.

#4 – A community of support is also critical.

Having a method of communicating with like-minded people who are at a similar stage in their human resources career and can commiserate or share information about their study process can help keep you motivated. You’re not out there on your own and you’re not the only person who is struggling to keep up with a study workload along with a full-time job and family. Like a virtual classroom, an online community of people who are also studying for their SHRM Certification can be the support you need to keep up with your study schedule and a cheering section when it comes time to take your exam.

#5 – Adapting study to your specific learning style.

There are seven types, and you may fall under more than one. It’s important to know how you learn in order to absorb information in the most efficient way. The seven types are:

– Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

– Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.

– Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

– Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

– Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

– Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

– Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.


Knowing how you learn best and adapting your study methods to your own learning style can both speed up the process and make it easier for you to retain the information you need to pass your exam. Different people absorb information in different ways, and having a system like LEARN by Workology allows you to choose how you approach your studying for the SHRM Certification exam. Flashcards are great if you’re a visual learner, but if you’re a kinesthetic learner, you need to do in order to learn, so situational questions and solutions help you develop a strategy as opposed to memorizing the information. If you are visual and aural, webcasts are a great way to retain information. For logical learners, practice tests can be exactly what you need to prepare.



What’s really important is to have a variety of learning methodologies that set you up for success, A learning roadmap, schedule, milestones, an online community, and different learning modalities are key to being able to tackle the study necessary to ace your exam. Your SHRM certification whatever your HR credentials – SHRM-SCP or SHRM-CP is an investment. It’s important to make the most of your HR certification for the long term. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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