Benefits of exam preparation for you and your organization


Obtaining SHRM certification is a major career milestone for many HR professionals and business leaders in HR roles. During the certification process to earn your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP, you undoubtedly envision the day when you will pass the exam, celebrate your achievement, and add a new abbreviation after your name.

However, this process can be lengthy. Candidates must do important work before the day of the exam. Everyone starts from different points in terms of knowledge and experience, so some require more preparation before they can take the exam and others less.

What is often overlooked is that preparing for the exam can lead to unique benefits, regardless of the final exam result. As a candidate for SHRM certification, you and your organization can potentially benefit from the whole process itself.

How candidates prepare for exams

SHRM certification exams are based on the SHRM Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge (SHRM BASK), which is the result of a careful analysis of the HR profession and what all HR professionals need to know to be competent in the field . Since the SHRM BASK ensures that the exam is based on current and accurate information, study and preparation for the exam should be directed towards the most relevant aspects of HR today.

SHRM research shows that most candidates spend a significant amount of time (41-120 hours) preparing for their exams. Time spent preparing is linked to increased success rates, but only up to a point.

Another SHRM study shows that, of the many study and preparation resource options available, candidates who prepare using a combination of the SHRM BASK and the SHRM learning system achieve the best results on their exams. This combination is most useful as it ensures that candidates focus on the main HR areas included in the SHRM exams.

Improved performance and connection

In addition to improving your performance on the certification exam, proper study and preparation also has the potential to improve your job performance as an HR professional. Additionally, the process can give you greater familiarity with the field, making you feel more connected to your chosen profession.

To illuminate these potential benefits, we conducted a survey in May 2022 of 1,844 people who took the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exams in the past three years. We wanted to know if their exam preparation experience increased their HR knowledge, if they used this knowledge to improve their job performance and if they felt more involved in HR.

As shown in the table below, the vast majority of candidates agreed with the statements presented, whether they passed or failed the exam for which they had prepared.

These results show that exam preparation does indeed provide useful benefits to HR professionals beyond improving their exam performance.

Benefits for the organization

Obviously, you want to pass the exam and get your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certification. But even if you don’t pass, there are positive results to be gained from the time and effort you put into preparing for the exam.

These positive results can extend to your employer. Organizations that support the pursuit of SHRM certification by their employees, especially in terms of funding (for candidate exam fees, study materials, prep courses, etc.), are likely to derive great benefit. , even if those team members do not pass the exam.

When you focus on employee development and knowledge enhancement, everyone wins.

Mark Smith, Ph.D., is director of HR Thought Leadership for the SHRM Research Institute.


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