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Newsletter Article [Certification] [08/01/11]
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Certification Study Group: Support Leads to Success

Anne Rollins, SPHR

While there were other test-takers in the room, it was just the test and me, alone.  But I was hardly alone.  I knew that there were nine people – 10, counting my husband – crossing their fingers and sending positive thoughts my way that afternoon in June.  I had come to know those nine people very well in the CFHRA Study Group.  We had laughed together, dined together and pulled out hair out together while preparing for the PHR/SPHR exams.

Over 13 weeks of study, we had bonded in pursuit of a common goal: to pass that test.  Though never spoken, we made a commitment to support each other.  If someone missed a class, he or she could count on an email from somebody in the group.  If someone missed a question read aloud in study group, someone was always there to whisper, “It’s ‘C.’”

Our enthusiasm waxed and waned as we plowed through the six SHRM Learning Modules.  A team of facilitators, assembled and lead by Sandra Green, CFHRA’s Director of Member Education, kept us focused and disciplined.  Each facilitator brought a unique perspective to our studies, sharing on-the-job experiences, as well as their favorite test-taking tips.  Since all had earned certification, they made sure to give us the support and encouragement they knew we needed.

As a member of the study group, we had access to a variety of study materials, including the SHRM Learning Modules at a significantly discounted price.  Coming from companies large and small, jobs specific and general, we shared our experiences to help everyone’s understanding of the subject matter.  We shared our opinions of study books, websites and LinkedIn groups.

So much to know and so many different sources of information!  It helped to have nine other people going through the various materials available.  We learned from each other’s mistakes and successes, and as a group we are better for it.

According to SHRM, the 2010 pass rate for the PHR exam was 56%.  Our Spring 2011 study group PHR pass rate is 100%.

Since the end of our study sessions, each member has reported in via email on test results.  Each time, my heart would leap upon seeing the words, “I passed!” -- followed by a barrage of comments like “Way to go!” and “I knew you would!” 

In our 13 weeks together, we had come to admire each other’s exceptional talents, winning drive and charming personalities.  As one after another reported in with a passing score, the idea began to grow among us to have a group “reunion.”  A party to celebrate our victories and hang out with a great group of people, away from the stress of studying for an exam, is in the works.

Four hours was up.  I was drained and holding my breath as the testing computer flickered and hummed.  Peeking through the fingers covering my eyes, I could see the word “Pass” appear on the screen.  After doing a silent “stir-the-pot” dance in my chair, I rushed to my car and immediately emailed one of my study group buddies.  It was my turn to say those two sweet words, “I passed!”

Contact your local chapter for information about certification groups in your area.  If your chapter is interested in starting a study group, contact Carolyn Moore at

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