Exam Development Process

HR Certification Institute follows certification-industry best practices to create and update all  exams. HR subject-matter experts are involved in every step of the exam development process which is overseen by a professional testing organization.

The following steps are taken to develop the exams:

Step 1 - Each exam is based on an Exam Content Outline, which is drafted by a small group of HR subject matter experts and then validated through a formal practice analysis study.

Step 2 - Certified HR practitioners write the exam items based on the Exam Content Outline.

Step 3 - Every exam item is peer reviewed multiple times by other HR subject matter experts who verify that each item is accurate, current and appropriate for the exam.

Step 4 - Approved questions are then “pre-tested” for reliability in a live testing situation. Pre-test items do not count against a candidate's score but look just like scored items.

Step 5 - Exam forms are created and reviewed by another panel of subject matter experts.

Step 6 - A passing score for each exam form is determined.

Practice Analysis Study

Our Exam Content Outlines are developed through a systematic, practice analysis study. The methodology used for this study involves a variety of actions including: 

  • Review of journal articles, job descriptions and other materials to determine current HR job responsibilities and expected future changes
  • One-on-one interviews with HR practitioners, educators and hiring managers
  • Collaborative work by HR subject-matter experts to draft an Exam Content Outline based on current research and information
  • Validation survey of HR professionals to rate the frequency and importance of each job responsibility
  • Review of survey findings by HR subject matter experts to further refine the draft outline and finalize percentage weightings for each exam section

Our Certification Council must review and approve every new or revised certification exam content outline before it can take effect. We provide several months of advance notice of changes to exam content outlines.

Although practice analysis studies are conducted every few years, new exam items are constantly being introduced into exam forms to be sure our exams reflect current HR practices.