The Journey to Certification


Flashback to late 2019 and I was preparing to facilitate my first ever certification study group with my local SHRM chapter. At the time, I was SHRM-CP certified and excited about the opportunity to do my part in helping others achieve this career milestone. Utilizing the SHRM Learning System as our guide, we began this 12-week journey together. While I never had officially facilitated a program like this, I was confident as SHRM provides the instructors an abundance of resources to help first-time facilitators achieve success. This leads me to my first tip.

Join a study group

Many chapters, local colleges, and virtual programs exist all over the country. While no two are the same, they all share one fundamental goal: create an environment of shared experiences where participants can learn from their peers. Of those testing in the upcoming Fall window, two were preparing for their SHRM-SCP and four for their SHRM-CP. I told myself that if I was going to spend nearly 3 months helping guide others through the materials, I certainly should give it a shot myself, so I signed up to test for the SHRM-SCP on February 3, 2020, a date that will later play much more significance to me. As I began those next 12 weeks, it became quickly apparent that I needed support from all around me, which leads to my second tip.

Lean on Your Family, Friends, and Coworkers

Preparing for this challenging exam required support from all of those around me. For me it was my spouse making a concentrated effort to keep our then two-year-old quiet enough to allow me to focus. With the recommended 200-hour study plan, this also meant late nights away from home and weekends spent at local coffee shops. I had also made the plan to use my lunch hour to study every day but that alone was certainly not enough.

Set Your Exam Date Early

Fast forward to February 3, 2020, and exam day was here. At this point, I had read all the readings in the SHRM Learning System, utilized all the quizzes in each module, and had several practice tests under my belt. Many of the participants in our study group started testing by now and were receiving passing scores. The test itself was as hard as any test I had ever taken and for me, part of that has to do with the need to focus on answering 160 questions in a 4-hour time frame. Once you do get through all the answers, you are prompted to participate in a survey while anxiously waiting for your result to appear on the screen with each click you made.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door

Failed. That was what I read on the screen after enduring 4 months of preparation and nearly 4 hours of testing that morning. I was defeated to say the least. I knew however, that I needed to leave all the negative feelings and emotions in the testing room, so I took a minute before I got up and did just that. Having friends, coworkers and family support me through this was huge. In the weeks following, I was happy to report out that 100% of those testing in our study group had went on to pass their exams and I was ecstatic for them. Knowing that I may have had a small part in helping them pushed me through my difficult time and I am forever thankful for that group and the bonds we made together.

Apply for a SHRM Foundation Scholarship

As 2020 began to unfold for all of us, I was determined to make the most of this never-ending year and decided to give testing another go of it. I was also encouraged by the fact that I received a SHRM Foundation scholarship for this exam and am appreciative for it as it most likely was the reason I made my final decision to test again. The SHRM Foundation is doing incredible work and I would encourage you to follow them if you are not already.

Seize the Moment

With COVID clearing the calendar for the remainder of 2020, I began to focus on preparing to test one more time. Again, thanks to the SHRM Foundation scholarship, I utilized the SHRM Learning System to prepare. I found that the 2020 learning system included a smart path for preparing and I found this upgrade very beneficial as there is a great deal of material to navigate. Coincidently, I set my test date exactly one year later February 3, 2021. This time as I clicked my way through those final survey questions, I was relieved to see the Pass appear on the screen.

Parting Thoughts

Preparing for both the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams requires a commitment both professionally and personally. Setting a detailed study plan early and sticking to it will help ensure all the materials are adequately covered. The SHRM Learning System is the only tool that I have used to prepare and with the continued improvements made each year, I would highly recommend it. On my second attempt, I used the following approach to pace myself through the 160 questions. Since the exam is divided in two parts, I went through the first 80 questions flagging the ones I was unsure of along the way. I then took a break to stretch and came back refreshed to tackle those flagged in the first set. Keep in mind that your time does not stop when taking breaks. I then began my second set of 80 in the same manner.  Looking back, I know that not everyone will pass on their first attempt and the average pass rate for the SHRM-SCP is currently between 53 percent and 55 percent, and the SHRM-CP pass rate currently hovers around 69 percent. With that being said, prepare with confidence and the mindset that you will pass!



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