How I prepared for the SPHR exam this time around:
1) I convinced a friend at work to take the test with me. This is probably the single most important thing I did. We spent every lunch hour for the last 5 months reviewing material, taking practice tests, sharing memorization techniques and venting our frustration. Not only did we study together, we carpooled to the testing center, took the test and passed at the same time. Thank goodness we both passed, or that would have been an awkward ride home! Having someone to keep me accountable for studying, and struggling through the same material helped immensely.
2) I joined my local SHRM chapter, North Texas SHRM (http://www.northtexasshrm.org/), and started attending their monthly luncheons. One of the luncheons I attended featured Mike Poskey, a speaker who introduced me to the concept of Emotional Intelligence through his company Zero Risk HR (http://www.zeroriskhr.com/). I don't recall seeing the concept in the study material, but I did have several questions on the exam about the subject. Thank goodness I attended that meeting!
3) I joined the North Texas SHRM PHR/SPHR Study Group. Our group met every Thursday night from 6:00-9:00pm for about 10 weeks, as well as a few Saturday mornings for practice tests. Not only did I learn a ton of information at these meetings, I met the most phenomenal HR professionals and made some great friends.
4) I studied from several different sources of information. First, I read through and took notes from the PHR/SPHR Professional in Human Resources Certification Study Guide by Anne M. Bogardus (http://tinyurl.com/6nyqnch). Then I read through the SHRM Learning System and made flashcards for the concepts I was having difficulty with. I googled like crazy, and used some of the information from my friend's HRCP PHR & SPHR Study program.
5) I used an iPod/iPhone app called Flashcardlet. It allowed me to create my own flashcards on www.quizlet.com and to use flashcards that other users had already created. Check out all of the cards available that relate to the PHR/SPHR exam: http://quizlet.com/subject/sphr/
6) I used some interesting memorization techniques. I'll write more about them in an upcoming blog.
7) Practice test, practice test, practice test. I tested from so many different sources I can't remember them all. I practiced at home, in the office, and at a local coffee shop to be comfortable with testing and analyzing questions, and to learn to test through distractions. The testing centers are quiet, but there are still distractions, so I learned to ignore them.
It was a lot of work, but I'm so glad I decided to test again! Now to work on those recertification credits...
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.