SPHR Practice Test

The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) exam is administered by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) for those pursuing certification as a senior HR professional.

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SPHR Exam Eligibility

To be eligible for the SPHR exam, you must meet at least ONE of the following requirements:

  • You must have at least a master’s degree and a minimum of four years of professional HR experience.
  • You must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of professional HR experience.
  • You must have at least seven years of professional HR experience.

SPHR Exam Outline

The SPHR exam contains 140 questions, 25 of which are unscored, and you will have a time limit of 2.5 hours. The 25 unscored questions, known as “pretest” questions, are used to evaluate questions for future versions of the exam.

The questions on the exam are mostly multiple-choice, but there are a few other question types that may be used:

  • Multiple-select: Select two or more correct answers from four answer options.
  • Fill-in-the-blank: Complete a given sentence using a word, phrase, or numeral to fill in the blank.
  • Drag-and-drop: Drag specific pieces of information from their initial position to their intended position.
  • Scenarios: Read through the presented HR scenario and answer the related question(s).

The exam is split into five functional areas, each of which assesses you via a set of responsibilities and a set of knowledge points:

exam outline for the SPHR exam, which contains 140 questions and has a time limit of 2.5 hours

1. Leadership and Strategy (40%)

The questions in this area assess your ability to develop HR strategy, monitor risk, contribute to organizational strategy, and influence people-management practices.

  • Contribute to the development of organizational planning and strategy
  • Establish and manage effective relationships with key stakeholders
  • Evaluate the applicability of federal laws and regulations to organizational strategy
  • Evaluate the credibility and relevance of external information
  • Develop and execute HR plans that are aligned with the organization’s strategic plan
  • Interpret and use business metrics to achieve strategic goals
  • Design and manage effective change strategies to align performance with goals
  • Analyze and assess organizational practices that impact operations and people management
  • Contribute to organizational planning and strategy
  • Design and evaluate HR data indicators
  • Corporate governance procedures and compliance
  • Risk management
  • Change management techniques and processes
  • Strategic planning process
  • Methods for handling uncertain, unclear, or chaotic situations
  • Technology that supports HR activities
  • Vision, values, and mission of an organization
  • Budgeting
  • Accounting
  • Business elements of an organization
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis and interpretation
  • Third-party or vendor selection, contract negotiation, and management
  • Management functions
  • Methods and techniques for organizational design
  • Forecasting, planning, and predicting the impact of HR activities and programs
  • Project management

2. Talent Planning and Acquisition (16%)

The questions in this area assess your ability to develop strategies to attract and engage new talent and to forecast talent needs within an organization.

  • Develop and monitor talent recruitment strategies
  • Evaluate and predict organizational needs throughout the business cycle
  • Develop and evaluate strategies for engaging new employees and managing cultural integrations
  • Negotiation techniques
  • Planning techniques
  • Methods of assessing staffing effectiveness
  • Recruitment strategies
  • Termination strategies
  • Employee engagement strategies
  • Interviewing and selection techniques
  • Transition techniques
  • Staffing alternatives
  • Impact of total rewards on retention
  • Due diligence processes

3. Learning and Development (12%)

The questions in this area assess your ability to develop employee training and retention strategies.

  • Develop a succession plan for key roles
  • Develop employee retention strategies
  • Develop employee training strategies
  • Coaching and mentoring techniques
  • Adult learning processes
  • Employee retention strategies
  • Training program design
  • Instructional design principles
  • Methods of encouraging creativity and innovation
  • Techniques to assess training program effectiveness
  • Communication skills

4. Total Rewards (12%)

The questions in this area assess your ability to monitor the effectiveness of benefit and compensation strategies for rewarding and retaining talent.

  • Evaluate compensation strategies that attract, reward, and retain talent
  • Evaluate benefit strategies that attract, reward, and retain talent
  • Job pricing and pay structures
  • Fiduciary responsibilities
  • Executive and non-cash compensation methods
  • Compensation strategies
  • Compensation philosophy
  • Benefits program strategies
  • Benchmarking techniques
  • External labor markets
  • Job analysis and evaluation methods

5. Employee Relations and Engagement (20%)

The questions in this area assess your ability to develop strategies that impact employee satisfaction and performance.

  • Evaluate diversity and inclusion promotion strategies
  • Develop labor strategies
  • Design employee satisfaction strategies
  • Evaluate strategies for safety and security
  • Data security and privacy
  • Performance management strategies
  • Emergency response
  • Internal investigation and surveillance techniques
  • Methods for assessing employee attitudes and opinions
  • Workplace safety and security risks
  • Facilitation of positive employee relations
  • Collective bargaining
  • HR concepts and applications
  • Occupational injury and illness prevention
  • Ethical and professional standards

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SPHR Exam Registration

To register for the exam, you must first create an online HRCI account and submit an application. Your application will include a $100 application fee.

Once your application is approved, you will receive an email confirming your approval and instructions on how to schedule your exam date with Pearson VUE. During this registration and scheduling period, you will need to pay the $495 examination fee.


If you decide to cancel your exam and not reschedule it for another day, you will not receive a refund of your examination fee.

If you need to reschedule your exam appointment, you can do so at least 48 hours before and within your original 180-day eligibility period for a rescheduling fee of $150.

When you successfully reschedule your exam, you will receive an email notification confirming your new appointment date, time, and location (if applicable).

Test Day

On exam day, you must have one piece of government-issued, valid ID with a signature and a recent photograph. Resource materials, calculators, food and drink, and cell phones are not permitted in the testing center or at your desk if testing from home.

In-person Testing

You should arrive at the testing center at least 15 minutes before your exam is scheduled to begin. After storing all personal items (cell phone, bag, books, etc.) in a locker, your ID will be checked and take your photo and digital signature.

Before the exam begins, you will be given the option to take a quick tutorial to become familiar with the testing system.

You can take breaks throughout the exam as needed, but your time on break counts against your allotted testing time. Additionally, you must refrain from speaking to other test-takers or asking questions about the exam to the test facilitator. Deviation from the rules could result in your exam being canceled.

Remote Testing

You should begin running the exam software 15-30 minutes early by signing in to your HRCI account, which will then sign you on to the Pearson VUE system. From this point, you will be prompted to conduct a system test, after which you will connect with your assigned online proctor. The proctor will verify your identity using your government-issued ID.

The proctor will then ask you to scan your surroundings using your webcam and to turn off any additional monitors.

Once your exam begins, you cannot leave the webcam view, take breaks, talk to yourself, or look around the room. Your focus must be on the computer monitor, and other people must be out of your testing space while you take the exam.

How the SPHR Exam is Scored

The SPHR exam is scored using the modified-Angoff method, which takes your raw score (the number of questions you answered correctly) and converts it to a scaled score on a scale of 100-700. The passing score for this exam is 500.

You will receive your preliminary score report before you leave the testing center, and your official score report will be emailed to you within 24 to 48 hours. If you took the exam through the remote proctor option, you will receive your official score report in an email within 24 to 48 hours.

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How many questions are on the SPHR exam?

There are 140 questions on the exam.

How long is the SPHR exam?

The time limit for this exam is 2.5 hours.

What does SPHR stand for?

SPHR stands for Senior Professional in Human Resources.

What is the passing score for the SPHR exam?

To pass the exam, you must achieve a scaled score of at least 500.

How much does the SPHR exam cost?

The application fee is $100, and the examination fee is $495.

By Peter Rench

Peter Rench joined Mometrix in 2009 and serves as Vice President of Product Development, responsible for overseeing all new product development and quality improvements. Mr. Rench, a National Merit Scholar, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in mathematics from Texas A&M University.


by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: September 22, 2023

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