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 and decision-making skills.
Half of the items on each exam are allocated across the three behavioral competency clusters (Leadership, Interpersonal, and Business), and the other half are allocated across the three HR knowledge domains (People, Organization, and Workplace). Forty percent of the items on each exam are situational judgment items, 10% are foundational knowledge items that test the key concepts of the nine behavioral competencies, and 50% are knowledge items that test the 14 HR-specific HR functional areas.
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 14 HR functional areas. Items in the second category, which are referred to as foundational knowledge items (FKIs), cover key concept topics that are considered foundational to the eight behavioral competencies. Examinees receive credit for selecting the single correct answer to a given question.
Situational Judgment Items: Situational judgment items (SJIs) assess candidates’ judgment and decision-making skills. 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, examinees only receive credit for choosing the one best answer, as determined by a panel of experienced HR professionals.
Field-Test Questions: Each exam contains 24 field-test items that are not counted as part of a candidate’s score. Field test items are used to gather data on a question’s effectiveness. Examinees’ answers to field-test items do not count toward any part of their exam scores and are only used for item development purposes. Field test items on the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams are randomly mixed with scored exam items.
Taking the Exam
The SHRM Certification exams are delivered by computer, and candidates for both exams have 3 hours and 40 minutes divided into two 110-minute sections to answer a total of 134 multiple-choice questions. There are 80 stand-alone knowledge-based questions, and 54 are scenario-based situational judgment items. The testing schedule is as follows:
- Confidentiality Reminder – 2 minutes
- Introduction and tutorial – 8 minutes
- Exam Section 1 – Up to 1 hour and 50 minutes *
- Exam Section 2 – Up to 1 hour and 50 minutes
- Survey – 5 minutes
* Candidates may take one optional 15-minute break. SHRM recommends the candidate take a break only if needed and before ending Section 1 if time remains in Section 1. Otherwise, take a break after Section 2 starts. The clock will not stop during the optional break.
Each section shows a countdown timer on the screen, and each section is separate and time-independent. Minutes do not roll over. If a candidate spends less time in the introduction, extra minutes are not rolled over to the exam portion.