Descriptions of Exams

The SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams contain two types of multiple choice questions: stand-alone knowledge-based items that assess a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of factual information, and scenario-based situational judgment items that assess a candidate’s judgment, application and decision-making skills. 

Knowledge Items
There are two categories of stand-alone knowledge-based items on the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams. Items in the first category, referred to as HR-specific knowledge Items (KIs), cover key concept topics associated with the 15 HR functional areas, while items in the second category, referred to as foundational knowledge items (FKIs), cover key concept topics considered foundational to the eight behavioral competencies. Examinees receive credit for selecting the correct answer to a given question; otherwise, no credit is awarded.

Situational Judgment Items
Situational judgment items (SJIs) assess candidates’ judgment and decision-making skills, which are not easily measured using traditional knowledge-based questions. Examinees are presented with realistic work-related scenarios and asked to choose the best of several possible strategies to resolve or address the issues described in each scenario. Although more than one strategy may be effective for addressing actual work-related scenarios, examinees only receive credit for choosing the best possible answer, as determined by a panel of experienced HR professionals. All other answers, which reflect either less effective or ineffective strategies, receive no credit. 

Field-Test Questions
Each exam contains 30 field-test items which are not counted as part of a candidate’s score. Field testing allows us to gather data on a question’s effectiveness before it is included on future exams as a scored item. Examinees’ answers to field-test items do not count toward any part of their exam scores, and are only used for item development purposes.

The field test items on the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams are randomly mixed with scored exam items so that candidates will not be able to distinguish them from scored items. The field-test process facilitates SHRM’s efforts to continuously assess all aspects of SHRM exams.

ACRONYM LIST
Download a list of common HR-related acronyms which may appear on the exam.

EXAM DURATION & FORMAT
Both exams will contain Knowledge- and Competency-based questions:

  • Candidates for the SHRM-CP exam will have 4 hours to answer a total of 160 questions (95 knowledge items/65 situational judgment items).
  • Candidates for the SHRM-SCP exam will have 4 hours to answer a total of 160 questions (95 knowledge items/65 situational judgment items).

Breakdown of Testing-Time:
Confidentiality Agreement: 2 minutes
Introduction and Tutorial: 8 minutes
Exam Questions: 4 hours (240 minutes)
Survey: 5 minutes

Each section shows a countdown timer on the screen, and each section is separate and time-independent. Minutes do not roll-over. For instance, if a candidate spends less time in the introduction, extra minutes are not rolled-over to the exam portion.

DISTRIBUTION OF ITEMS BY CONTENT AND ITEM TYPE 
The distribution of items with respect to content and item type is essentially the same for both the SHRM-CP and
SHRM-SCP exams. As shown below, approximately half of the items on each exam are allocated across the three
behavioral competency clusters, and the other half are allocated across the three HR knowledge domains. The table
below indicates that approximately 40 percent of the items on each exam are situational judgment items, with the
remainder being stand-alone items measuring either knowledge that is foundational to the behavioral competencies
(10%) or HR-specific knowledge (50%).

BEHAVIORAL COMPETENCY CLUSTERS

ITEM TYPE

  Leadership (13%)

Situational Judgment (40%)
Foundational Knowledge (10%)

  Business (18.5%) 
  Interpersonal (18.5%)

HR KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS

ITEM TYPE

  People (17%)

HR-Specific Knowledge (50%)

  Organization (17%) 
  Workplace (16%)


SAMPLE SHRM CERTIFICATION EXAM QUESTIONS