Solid Study Plan and Positive Thinking Helped Me Pass Exam

Activities section of SHRM Learning System and a great instructor aided success

By Jamie Seavello, SHRM-CP March 12, 2020
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Jamie Seavello, SHRM-CP

​Jamie Seavello, SHRM-CP

​Last fall, I set a goal and made a commitment to myself to become SHRM-certified by the end of the year. My roles in HR for the past six years have included hiring, recruiting, employment policy, performance evaluation, project management and change management. I was excited to take on the challenge of preparing for the SHRM-CP exam. I was willing to put in the effort to improve my HR knowledge and skills.

I made a study plan to use the SHRM Learning System and exam preparation courses that covered this information. The content of the Learning System is built around the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (SHRM BoCK). I read each section online, took all the quizzes and used flashcards to remember terms. I signed up for a three-day in-person class and a one-hour online class.

Appreciation for an Amazing Instructor

The instructor for the three-day course was extremely knowledgeable. He kept up a good pace so we could cover all the content and facilitated discussion that made the content memorable. This class was instrumental in helping me break down complex ideas so I could understand all the material and its practical applications.

He also offered some advice to alleviate test-taking stress. One of the tips I put to use was to drive to the testing location before the test date so that I could become familiar with the location, the parking situation and the time it would take to get there. Another tip I used was to become familiar with technical aspects of the testing system, including how to access and use the calculator, navigate through the questions, and submit the completed exam. This helped in lowering my stress on the day of the exam because I knew what to expect.

Essential Activities: Quickstart Videos, Competencies in Action Scenarios

After many hours of preparation, I was still struggling to get a passing score on the pretests. I wasn't applying my knowledge effectively on two specific competencies. To improve my knowledge, I went back to the Learning System's online content for those competencies and came across the "Activities" section, which I hadn't noticed before.

The Activities are located on the "Competency Connection" page inside each competency cluster or knowledge domain, in the right column, just below the Progress Tracker and Navigation. They include Competency Quickstart Videos and Competencies in Action scenarios.

Each Quickstart Video presents an overview of an area of Learning System content. They are well done, effective introductions or refreshers to each section of the SHRM BoCK. Each of the Competencies in Action walks you through a simulated scenario, for which you must determine the strongest answers to the questions posed. Feedback is given for each answer, along with explanations of why the responses may lead to both positive and negative outcomes.

My biggest challenges had been reading the questions thoroughly enough to understand what they were asking for and thinking through the outcome of my response to each to ensure that it was the best possible outcome. Completing the Activities was valuable in helping me understand how to apply the knowledge and skills I had gained in my studies. It also helped me recognize where I was having difficulties and how to overcome them.

New Year's Eve: Examination, Celebration, New Resolution

I took the SHRM-CP exam on New Year's Eve 2019. I sat down and used the scratch paper to write myself a few reminders: "Read the question." "What are they asking for?" "You can do this!"

Once the exam was over and I was waiting for the results, I visualized "PASS" popping up on the last screen. It did! It was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of one year and a positive start to the next.

The power of positive thinking is real.

Here is my advice to those preparing to take the SHRM certification exam: Allow yourself time to study the material, practice using the flashcards and quizzes, and take a class led by a SHRM-approved instructor.

As a result of taking and passing the SHRM-CP exam, my confidence in my HR knowledge and abilities has changed. Knowing the terminology and definitions has taught me to think and speak the language of HR more effectively. I now participate in conversations and activities in ways I couldn't before.

I have a new resolution for 2020. I want to share my SHRM certification experience with other HR professionals in my organization so that they, too, can have the deep and broad understanding of HR topics, tools and access to SHRM resources that I gained—and also become stronger and more skilled in the craft of HR.

Jamie Seavello, SHRM-CP, is a safety awareness specialist for the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C. She has an associate degree in integrated studies and is Prosci Change Management Certified.

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