Answering HR Test Questions for the Certification Exams

You’ve spent hours (and days and weeks) studying test prep and the time has come to take the SHRM and HRCI certification exams for the PHR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP or SHRM-CP. The effort you’ve put in to prepare yourself will absolutely increase the chance of not only passing the certification exam, but also acing it. I could say “don’t sweat it,” but it’s important and you’re still going to sweat it a little. 

If you’ve used our Ace The HR Exam Course or the new HR Practice Test Product, you’ve followed the study guide and the resources that allowed you to increase your knowledge retention and maximize your study time. This audio course and digital HR glossary provides you a foundation that is buried deep within your subconscious mind. Reinforced learning is the cornerstone of test preparation for the SAT, ACT, GMAT, and the Bar Exam. The same should be true for HR certifications. 


How to Answer Your HR Test Questions for the PHR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP


When you’re ready to sit down in the exam room, you’ll want to be prepared with test-taking strategies. Here are some things to remember before you begin your HR certification test:

– Read the question fully. Take the time to understand what they’re really asking for. Look for differentiators like “best,” “least,” “quickest” and so on. These words can help you narrow down the response choices between a “might be correct” and the best response.

– Sometimes the answer choices will have absolute terms like “always” and “never.” These can be trick questions, as absolutes in HR are rare. Look for those terms to guide your response to the question.

– With multiple choice questions, the most effective way to choose the correct response is to first eliminate the answers that are definitely not correct. This allows you to reduce the responses from four to possibly two that could be correct (and in some cases, to eliminate three incorrect responses to reveal the correct one). If you eliminate two, it improves your chances by 50%. 

– More often than not, the positive answer is the right one. 

– Once you’ve selected your answer, if you’re still uncertain you can flag the question to return to it later. Sometimes the answer will come to you later in the quiz and you can go back once you’ve completed the test and review the flagged ones. There is a flagging option in SHRM test questions, PHR test questions, SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP test questions.

– Answer every question. Yes, you’re keeping an eye on the clock and you want as many correct responses as possible, but not answering questions can bring down your average. If you’re completely flummoxed by a question, use the flagging feature and return to it once you’ve answered the questions you’re confident about. Use the tactics I’ve mentioned above to narrow down the response choices as much as possible, and you still have a 50% chance of being correct, which can bring up your test average.

– Scratch paper is provided by the testing center. Use it to capture things that come up as you answer questions while they’re in your short-term memory and these notes can help you better respond to questions later in the exam.

– While the flagging option is good to have, don’t get hung up second-guessing yourself. Your first instinct is usually the correct one, especially if you’ve followed the study guides.

– Keep an eye on the clock, but don’t let it rush you. You have four hours to answer 160 questions, which is an average of one-and-a-half minutes (90 seconds) per question. You won’t need that much time for most of the questions.


Where to Find HR Practice Test Questions 


We have new quiz questions that have been added to the Ace the HR Exam course that you can find at (there are more than 180 study questions!) or you can purchase our new HR Practice Test with 200 verified practice test questions for you at If you haven’t signed up yet, we also have 25 free quiz questions that you can access at

Looking for more resources and a community to connect with as your prepare for your HR certification exams? Join our Facebook HR Certification Study Group.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

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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