PHR & SPHR Exam Content Updates Summarized

The updated exam content changes to the PHR and SPHR exams, as announced by HRCI, are significant for candidates preparing to take these exams after March 1st. This post provides a concise overview of what to expect from the new exam outlines, emphasizing the key updates and how they may impact your exam preparation.
PHR Exam Content Updates
  • Business Management: Previously encompassing 20% of the exam, this section is now called “Business Management” and accounts for 14% of the exam content, reflecting a slight adjustment in focus.
  • Workforce Planning and Employment: Renamed to “Workforce Planning and Talent Acquisition,” this section remains relatively unchanged in emphasis, moving from 16% to 14%.
  • Employee and Labor Relations: This section has been redefined and now focuses solely on employee and labor relations, accounting for 20% of the exam. It has been separated from risk management and other previously associated topics.
  • Learning and Development: This category stays at 10%, with no significant changes to its composition.
  • Total Rewards: Remaining at 15%, this section continues to cover compensation and benefits under a new title.
  • Employee Engagement and HR Technology: Two new distinct areas have been added. Employee engagement now has its own category at 17%, and HR Technology is introduced as a functional area, accounting for 10% of the exam.
SPHR Exam Content Updates
  • Leadership and Strategy: Now called “Leadership and Strategy,” this section has been adjusted from 40% to 33% of the exam content.
  • Workforce Planning and Talent Acquisition: Slightly increased in focus, this section moves from 16% to 17%, with additional emphasis on HR service delivery and measurement analysis.
  • Talent Management and Risk Management: These new sections merge training and development with aspects of employee and labor relations, alongside risk management, into a comprehensive category accounting for 23% of the exam.
  • Total Rewards: Similar to the PHR, this remains at 17%, with no significant changes aside from the renaming.
Key Takeaways
  • DEIB Focus: Both exams will incorporate DEIB more prominently into task statements, reflecting the evolving priorities within HR practices.
  • Domestic vs. International Content: While the exams distinguish between domestic and international HR practices, all candidates should be prepared for questions that span global HR considerations.
  • Exam Structure: The exams’ structure and the weight of each section have been adjusted to align more closely with current HR practices and priorities.
Navigating Exam Prep with Updated PHR and SPHR Exam Content
As the PHR and SPHR exam content outlines have been updated effective March 1st of this year, candidates might wonder if their current exam preparation resources and study guides will suffice for successful preparation and passing. Understanding the impact of these changes on preparation materials is crucial for effective study planning.
Impact of Exam Content Updates on Preparation Materials
  • Content Alignment: The adjustments in exam content, especially the introduction of new sections such as HR Technology and a greater focus on DEIB, mean that some existing materials may not fully cover these new areas. However, foundational HR knowledge and principles remain consistent, and most current resources will continue to provide valuable information on core topics.
  • Exam Prep Providers’ Response: Leading exam preparation providers typically update their materials in response to changes in exam content outlines. This process, however, may not be instantaneous. It’s essential to check with your prep provider about the timeline for releasing updated materials that reflect the latest exam changes. Conquer HR‘s Boot Camps have been updated to reflect the new PHR & SPHR content and weighting.
  • Self-Assessment and Supplemental Learning: Given the updates, candidates should assess their current materials against the new exam outlines. For areas that may be newly emphasized or introduced, seeking supplemental resources—such as articles, HR journals, and webinars on specific topics like HR Technology and enhanced DEIB practices—can help fill any gaps.
  • Practice Exams and Questions: Updated practice exams and questions that reflect the new exam format and content areas are critical. They not only help you familiarize yourself with the type of questions to expect but also gauge your readiness for these new sections. Ensure any practice materials used are aligned with the latest exam outlines.
Strategies for Effective Preparation with Current Resources
  1. Leverage Current Materials for Core Topics: Continue using your current study guides and materials for studying foundational HR concepts and theories, which form the bulk of the exam content.
  2. Identify Gaps and Seek Supplemental Resources: Compare the new exam outlines with your study materials to identify any gaps. Use reputable HR sources, online courses, and professional HR communities to find updated information on new or expanded content areas.
  3. Engage with Online Forums and Study Groups: Online forums and study groups can provide insights into how other candidates are adapting to the changes. They can also be a source of recommendations for supplemental materials.
  4. Check for Updates and New Editions: If you’re using prep courses or materials from a provider, contact them and regularly check their website for announcements regarding updated editions or additional resources tailored to the new exam outlines.
While the PHR and SPHR exam updates necessitate a review and possible supplementation of your study materials, the core principles of effective exam preparation remain unchanged. Focus on understanding the fundamental HR practices while proactively seeking out resources that address the new content areas. With a strategic approach to your study plan, incorporating both current resources and supplemental learning, you can navigate the changes confidently and position yourself for success on the exam.