How to Be the Master of Your HR Certification Exam Day

We already talked about avoiding stress while you’re studying for your HR Certification exam,and especially on exam day, but to add to that, we’d like to give you a few more exam taking tips to help you perform at your best on your HR Certification Exam.

By now you’ve studied enough, and you probably don’t want to see another practice question in your life, so these are tips to help your prepare your body and your mind for the trials it is about to undergo when you take your exam.

Your physiological state can mean the difference between success and failure, so take these tips very seriously. Whether you’re taking the PHR, SPHR, or GPHR, these tips will help you to perform at your best.

Don’t Forget to Sleep – Unless you practice being superhuman, cognitive abilities start to diminish when the body gets less than 7 hours of sleep per night on average. This means your ability to store and recall memories decreases as sleep decreases.

Many candidates think the more time they study the better they will be able to do on their exam. So what do they do?

They get up early and stay up late trying to get in extra study time. Makes sense, right? Well this can often backfire. Lack of sleep leads to the inability to store and recall memories. This means that extra hour you spent studying is wasted because your cognitive abilities are not at optimal levels.

Sleep is not only important on the night before your exam, but throughout your studying. If you’re tired, get some rest.

Eat a Good Breakfast – On exam day you’ll want to be sure your body is fueled to perform for a long period of time. This means you want to eat foods that are high in protein and complex carbs that will take your body longer to metabolize. This will give your body long-lasting energy.

Foods like bananas, oranges, yogurt, oatmeal, raisin bran, eggs, granola, etc. will provide your body with these much-needed nutrients.

Take a Snack of Your Own– Your HR Certification Exam is going to be lengthy and strenuous. You’ll burn through energy quickly and may risk crashing if you don’t get enough nutrients to fuel your body.

Check with your exam facility to see if they’ll allow you to bring a healthy snack such as an apple or granola bar. If not, just have your snack 30 minutes or so before your exam to ensure you are fueled.

This way you won’t be dependent on vending machines that often house sugary foods that promote hyperactivity and nerves.

Stay Confident – You’ve studied. You’ve pre-tested. You’ve prepared very thoroughly. Be confident and tell yourself that you’ll do great. If you question yourself, you’ll fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy of doubt.

Stay confident to ensure your best performance.

Skip a Question If You Get Stumped – This is an obvious tip, but too many people don’t take it to heart and end up rushing to finish because they spend too much time stewing over a few questions.

If you’re one of those meticulous people who has to figure something out before moving on, well, check that habit at the door. It’ll do more harm than good here.

You may get stumped on a few questions. If you do, skip them and come back. Odds are a refreshed mind when revisiting the question will bring the answer to you much easier than if you were to continue to stew. You’ll also increase your stress levels of you continue to fret.

Dress Comfortably (and remember to layer) – You’re not going to work. You’re taking a difficult exam. Wear something that is going to allow you to move and stretch if you need to. Think roomy, soft, comfortable clothes.

Additionally, be sure to wear a few layers. It’s no secret that testing centers are often kept a bit chilly. But if you wear one huge layer that you can’t remove you’ll be in a tough position if the room is warm for some reason.

Allow yourself room to keep your layers to stay warm, or shed some if you need to cool down.

Be sure to choose and lay out your clothes the night before so you won’t have to worry about it on your exam day. This is a great stress reducing practice.

Scout Your Exam Facility – There’s nothing worse than getting lost on exam day. It adds to your already skyrocketing stress levels.

To avoid a situation where you’re scurrying to find where you’re supposed to go, scout your testing center a few days in advance.

Find the easiest route and nail down your parking spot. Find the exact door you’re supposed to go into and ask an attendant how long the check-in process takes. Also have them show you where the nearest restroom facilities are so you won’t have to worry about that either.

The less you can worry about on exam day, the better.

Remember to Breathe and Relax – I always find it interesting to go into a testing center and look around to see who were the most relaxed people there. And by relaxed I don’t mean sleepy. I mean calm of mind and body.

It almost never fails that these people are some of the first ones finished with their exams.

Could it be that these people have prepared better? Probably. But that means they’re much more relaxed because they have less to worry about.

Are you starting to see a trend here? Relaxation and reduction of stress is a huge key to settling in and performing well.

If you find yourself starting to panic or get stressed out, just give yourself a quick timeout. Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will slow your heartrate and allow you to relax.

What Did You Learn?

Preparing your brain for your HR Certification Exam is not only a matter of studying the right material properly. It’s also a matter of keeping your body in a state that will allow you to perform at optimum levels.

Follow the above tips and you’ll be that much more prepared to nail your upcoming HR Certification exam.

Be sure to let us know when you pass your HR Certification exam!

(images provided by

Need Extra Practice Before Your HR Certification Exam?

Check Out Our Online PHR and SPHR Practice Exams. You’ll Get Instant Access to a 125 Question PHR or SPHR Exam Simulation That You Can Take Anytime, Day or Night.