Prep Now for Your Certification Prep Course

It’s never too early to make strides toward your goal

By Paul Young, SHRM-SCP August 22, 2019
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As one SHRM certification testing window closes, another testing window fast approaches. The 2019 winter exam window is open from Dec. 1, 2019, to Feb. 15, 2020. December seems so far away, and test prep courses for this testing window won't even begin until September at the earliest. So if you're taking a SHRM certification exam this winter, you have plenty of time before you have to begin studying, right?

Wrong. You should begin preparing today.

There's no doubt that a test prep course is a valuable tool to help prepare you for the exam and the exam experience. Many students, though, wait for class to start before they begin studying for their exam. They miss out on valuable study time by doing so.

I recommend to my students that they commit to at least 80 to 100 hours of study time outside of the prep course. Start your preparation now, and you'll get some study hours under your belt; delay until September, and you'll have to commit 10 to 20 hours weekly to studying, plus class time.

If your prep class is this fall and your test is this winter, ask yourself what you could do over the next couple months to "prepare to prepare" for the exam. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Ask for advice. Now's the perfect time to seek out colleagues who are already SHRM-certified and learn what you can from them. How did they study? What advice do they have for someone seeking a certification? What do they wish they had known beforehand? If you don't have certified colleagues, search LinkedIn or your SHRM chapter member ranks.
     
  • Review the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge™ (SHRM BoCK™). The SHRM certification exam is based on the content of the SHRM BoCK. Download and review it now to identify those topics in which you have no experience or expertise and that will therefore require more study.
     
  • Start studying your weak subjects. In a recent class, a couple students said they had no real knowledge or experience with U.S. employment law, were unfamiliar with such statutes as the Fair Labor Standards Act and Title VII, and were looking forward to learning all about them in the course. I couldn't help cringing—they had missed a golden opportunity to become versed in this basic subject before their prep course even started.

  • Create your study plan. Plot your study plan on your calendar. When will you read? When will you review? When will you practice with flashcards or take a mock exam? Tell your family and friends of your pursuit. Make sure your study plan and personal and work calendars are all aligned. Are there any personal commitments you can set aside to make sure your study plan works?
     
  • Discuss with your employer. If your employer isn't already aware of your pursuit of professional HR certification, share why you're doing so and how it will benefit the organization. Will your employer contribute to your costs for the prep course? Exam fee? Application fee?

  • Apply for a SHRM Foundation scholarship. The SHRM Foundation offers 220 scholarships annually to help cover the costs of the SHRM certification exam and prep courses. Applications are now open and will close Sept. 1, 2019. For more information, visit the SHRM Foundation's scholarships page.

I hope these ideas help get you started. Whatever you do, start today!

Paul Young, SHRM-SCP, is HR manager for the American Association of Endodontists, an adjunct instructor at Northwestern University, and certification committee chair for Chicago SHRM. This article originally appeared as a post on the Chicago SHRM Blog.

For more information on SHRM Certification, and to register for the exam, please visit our website.

Already SHRM-certified? Be sure to maintain your credential by recertifying. Learn more about recertification activities here.

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