The 24 Hours Before, During, and After the PHR/SPHR Exams

By Sandra M. Reed

Regardless of how long you prepare for the PHR or SPHR exam, nothing is quite like the trio — the day before, the day of, and the day after the exam day.

  • Before the test: You’ll need to be make many decisions in advance of the 24 hours before test day. For example, some individuals prefer to book a hotel room near the exam facility, which minimizes the possibility of heavy traffic and allows for a quiet evening before to review. Regardless of your decision, in the 24 hours before your test, turn off the cell phone, TV, and other distractions, and concentrate on a relaxed state of mind. Make sure that you get a good night’s rest.

  • On exam day: Exam day basics should focus on stamina. Sitting in a small room for a few hours while your brain is drained isn’t an easy task. Distractors such as fatigue and hunger are real threats to success. For this reason having a plan of attack before you’re faced with the conditions is helpful.

  • After the test: I’m confident that you’ll feel a sense of relief as you answer the last question. In some cases, you may have marked questions for review and will need to go back and finish them before you cross the finish line. If you fail the exam, a more detailed score report will be mailed to you so you can see how close you were and in what functional areas you didn’t pass. Regardless of a pass or fail score, you have just spent several weeks immersing yourself in the world of HR.

At the end of the day, you are a unique individual with individual needs, and no one-size-fits-all solution exists to how well you manage before, during, and after the test. Some students swear by cramming the night before whereas others say doing so confused them. Eating a large meal before the test was impossible for some, whereas others knew that low blood sugar during the exam would sink them. Knowing your needs and extracting advice that meets those needs is the purpose of these discussions so that you can be at maximum performance level when it counts.

On exam day, you don’t need a calculator. Most math-related questions are written to be easily calculated. Don’t worry though. If you prefer a calculator, one is available on the desktop computer from which you take your exam.