Finding Low-Cost or Free Assessment Resources When Studying for the PHR/SPHR Exam - dummies

Finding Low-Cost or Free Assessment Resources When Studying for the PHR/SPHR Exam

By Sandra M. Reed

The lure of “free” is everywhere — free shipping, free samples, free resources. The PHR and SPHR exams are no exception. Here are a few ways to access free and low-cost assessments to supplement your primary study materials as you prepare for these exams.

Using your existing resources

The best place to start is to ensure the exam prep materials you select come with free assessment exams. For example, PHR/SPHR Exam For Dummies comes with more than 700 questions for both the PHR and SPHR, including four total exams — two PHR exams and two SPHR exams. No matter what assessment guides you use, make sure that they mirror the content of the exam, which means that the question content should be approximately as follows:

Functional Area Number of Questions SPHR Number of Questions PHR
Business Management and Strategy 53 19
Workforce Planning & Employment 30 42
Human Resource Development 33 32
Compensation & Benefits 23 33
Employee and Labor Relations 25 35
Risk Management 12 14

Be aware that all assessment tests aren’t created equally. It’s no big deal if you spend time on tests that review key concepts, but make sure that isn’t your only source. As a general rule, chapter review questions review chapter content. They’re usually formatted in equal parts, such as 20 or 25 questions per chapter. The logical conclusion then is that the review questions aren’t exam simulators and may leave you underprepared if you rely solely upon them for practice.

Maximizing HRCI resources

The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) as the exam administrator is the most reliable place to start when seeking exam simulation. For less than $100, students may purchase two practice exams that use retired exam questions for content, which is a realistic preview of what to expect when facing exam day format. Take one before you begin to study to identify areas of weakness and take the second one about two weeks before your exam to see where you still need support. Don’t underestimate these exams. They are difficult, and being overprepared is better than being underprepared. Check out for more information.

For less than $30, you may want to consider purchasing HRCI’s Certification Study Guide. You can find sample questions in all functional areas along with answer explanations. It’s a bonus because you’re taking an exam simulation while also learning content all at the same time.

Tapping into free sources

Other exam preparers offer free or low-cost assessments and worksheets. You can find free worksheets for each functional area available at also offer a bank of test questions.

Consider joining HR forums such as at to tap into other exam-taker recommendations. and have past student materials such as flashcards that you can study in quiz mode. Tapping into the experiences of others is an excellent way to get out of the textbook and round out your studying efforts.