July 24, 2021
When I first posted I had signed up to take classes for my APHR, I received questions from a couple of people who had been interested in obtaining the same certification. Well, I have officially passed my exam and received my certification! 🙂 So, I thought I would take some time to put together some notes about my experience.
What is APHR?
The Associate Professional in Human Resources is basically a certification to show you have successfully demonstrated foundational knowledge of Human Resources. This is a good starting point for those interested in getting into the HR field.
Why did I want it?
I originally signed up for the class with the hope I would learn more about HR to help me be a better leader. I have been in management for eight years and feel there is always room for improvement. I am a firm believer knowledge is power. Although, the class did not get into the details regarding things like handling difficult conversations with employees (i.e. suicide, sexual harassment complaints, etc.) – it did go through a lot of useful information.
What can you do with it?
The APHR is by no means equivalent to a college degree or HR experience. However, it is a great stepping stone to help you obtain the base knowledge to A.) Decide if you are interested in the field and B.) Get a jump start if this is the career path you want to take. I think this would be beneficial even for those who are strictly in recruiting positions as this course will go over a wide range of different discrimination laws, interview techniques, recruiting methods, and onboarding tips.
My review of the class –
So, first off – you are not required to take a class in order to take the exam. Keeping in mind – pricing can change – at the time I looked into this certification, I found you could find study documents as low as $50.00 – HRCI provides a practice exam for $50.00. Now, you do have to pay the application fee of $100 as well as the exam fee of $300 no matter how you decide to go about studying. I personally decided to spend the additional money to take a live class because that is typically my most effective learning style. I took classes through HR.com for roughly $800. The best part about the class was that if you scored at least 80% or better on each of their practice exams and then you were to fail the final HRCI exam – they would refund your full class amount. I had live instructions twice a week for roughly 12 weeks. They also had additional live classes you could log in for anywhere from 1-2 times a week as well.
To be completely honest, I did not end up finding the live class helpful. We were always behind where we needed to be and the items focused on during class typically were not the items I was struggling with. It was also frustrating for me when meeting one on one with the instructor with specific problems I was having with practice exams – she did not have an answer key and seemed to be guessing just as much as I was to figure out what I was missing with the situational questions and which answer would be considered the correct answer. However, despite this, I would still recommend the class. The reason being, the fee included a spiral-bound book with all topics covered, access to 15 practice exams (half of which do provide answers with feedback to help you understand where you might be going wrong), & forums to communicate with others going through the class. They also provide access to the classes and replay of classes for up to two years and send you sets of pre-printed flashcards for each unit. (To be clear, the instructor did not have an answer key because the classes are done through HR.COM but the practice exams are done by HRCP).
I would also recommend the live class for anyone who struggles to keep themselves on task. I think without a commitment like this, it may be easier for people to “get busy” and never get around to actually completing their certification. Knowing I had invested so much & attendance was part of the money-back guarantee, I made sure to attend the live classes (via Zoom) each time (I only missed one session while traveling for work). They also provide a calendar telling you which pages should be read by which dates and which practice exams should be taken for the first time, when – and then when you should have achieved 80% or better by.
You can read more about the class and exam practice options here.
My review on a study guide book –
In addition to the class and the book the class already provided, I also found a book on Amazon I used to prepare. I initially read the reviews on the book and saw many people say they were able to only use this book as their sole study guide and pass the exam. I was excited when I received it because it was much smaller than the book my class sent (less overwhelming haha), written in a nice font, and easy to read. No fluff, just to the point information. It also provided 3 practice exams in the back of the book which was great – but even more so – they also provided an answer key for each one with detailed feedback to explain why it was the correct answer. I did find this very useful. I would still recommend this book – but I would have to say I disagree with those who said you could use it as as your sole study guide. Unless you already have a background in this area, I think this book left out certain information that is on the exam that I wouldn’t have been aware of had I not already been through the class as well. I found using this along with the class turned out to work well for me.
Other Resources –
I did find Quizlet to be somewhat helpful throughout the beginning units for my class. However, I was also told by a representative from HR.COM that Quizlet is in some trouble right now for posting the practice exam questions with answers on their website so I am not sure if they may be taken down by the time you go looking for them. I also found a YouTube channel that is a bit older (2018) but still has some good information. Keep in mind – this is a good base, but things change every year so you will want to make sure you are dealing with current information before taking the exam.
Exam Day –
Although we sign a strict policy stating we will not share with others the exact questions/ exam content – I can tell you a bit about the experience. I chose to take the exam online (I did have an option for a testing center in my town but chose not to go that route). I signed up for my exam for a Saturday morning. They will provide the slots you can choose from and there are fees associated if you decide to reschedule. (There is also a fee to retake the exam if you do not pass, as of August 2021 – the fee is $250). My exam was scheduled for 745AM so I had to check in by 715AM. You are also required to do a systems check prior to the day of the exam to ensure your camera, audio, and internet will suffice. This is important – I missed this originally and did my system check while connected to my parent’s wifi which you cannot do. You have to do your system check using the same internet connection you are planning to use on the day of the test. Anyways, I logged in at 710AM and could not find the check-in button. Of course, I started to panic. However, by 716 the button popped up when I refreshed for probably the zillionth time. Patience I guess. 😉 Initially, I had to send photos of my workspace – from each side. When they finally check-in, they ask you to remove anything such as pens, calendars, calculators, anything hanging on your walls in front of your computer, etc. They have you carry your camera to show you are doing this and also show where you are moving the items. You cannot have any interruptions or sounds of another person, pet, etc. talking. No eating or drinking during the exam. Once I was done with check-in, I was able to log in to the exam. You cannot have any other programs opened and they do record you live on camera for the duration. The test has an electronic calculator built-in you can use as needed. Like most online tests, you can flag questions to go back to them as needed. You are timed but I was able to finish with plenty of time. I will say, the test was as hard as everyone says it is and I definitely would not have been able to pass had I not studied as much as I had. However, as long as you spend sufficient time studying, I truly believe you can pass the exam. They do not tell you your exact score when you are done or which exact questions you got wrong – but rather show you where you fell for each category compared to the highest possible result for each category.
My Flashcards –
I did not utilize the preprinted flashcards, I am someone who learns best by having to re-write the information myself to increase my chances of memorizing the data but I have created a free Google Sheet for you of my flashcards using Flippity. You can check them out here.
I hope they help you and if you are taking the exam, I wish you the best of luck! 🙂 You’ve got this!
P.S. If you ever need to create electronic flashcards or other games, you can easily create them using free Google doc templates on Flippity 🙂 Another tip – if you have a Windows computer and don’t want to type all of the info from your book into your flashcards – push the windows key + H and it will allow you to speak out loud and your computer will type for you. Super handy!