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My Path to SHRM-SCP Certification: A Tale of Acceptance

By Alice Chang-Der Bedrosian

March 25, 2024

Alice Chang-Der Bedrosian

Making the decision to work towards my SHRM-SCP certification was a significant step in my career progression. As a student enrolled in a SHRM-aligned specialization within the SHR MBA program, I had the advantage of tailored preparation and discounted resources, making the decision to invest in this credential more than logical.

I initially decided to take the SHRM-CP exam, but with the direction of my center director, Tanya Hubanks, I eventually opted for the SCP exam. This was due to HR strategy that I was responsible for in my previous career and because the more strategic focus of the SCP certification better aligned with my career goals. With support from our center director, other test takers in the program, and alumni who had taken the exam previously, I spent a lot of time preparing for the exam. This included leveraging study group sessions and practical tips to navigate the broad subject matter covered by the SHRM BASK. It is important to know that even though the SHR program is SHRM-aligned, you will need to put time and effort into preparing for the exam.

I learned this lesson firsthand- at the start of my exam preparation I was baselessly confident. However, practice exams available as part of the SHRM learning system quickly humbled me. The questions were almost nonsensical to me, and trying to piece together what SHRM was actually asking almost convinced me that I didn’t know anything about HR at all. However, the SHRM learning system proved to be a useful tool, and as I went through the system it became easier to dissect the questions on the exam, eliminate the noise, and determine the best answer choice.

Alice studying for the SHRM exam – despite distractions at home 🙂

Studying itself posed its own challenges- there was always something more urgent beckoning for my attention. Whether that was required coursework for my degree program, my project assistantship with the School of Medicine and Public Health, or caring for two young children, it was difficult to prioritize studying for the SHRM certification exam when the exam day seemed so far off. In the end, I had to be focused and disciplined with myself to carve out the time, whether that was late at night after the children had been put to bed, or with a toddler climbing all over me. While the circumstances might be different, I don’t think this lesson is unique to me; we all have many demands competing for our attention, and knowing how to consciously prioritize and set time aside to work towards goals is instrumental in success.

I stated previously that studying and preparation is absolutely vital, and I stand by that. However, taking the actual exam is a whole different beast, regardless of how much preparation you have done. I sat down at my test computer in my little walled cubicle after an extensive security procedure, and the first few questions felt as if I was back at the beginning again, looking at a totally unfamiliar landscape and wondering what it is I was supposed to be looking for. As I moved through the questions, I halfway convinced myself that this was it, I was going to fail, and trying to spin it in a positive light to myself: “That’s okay, you can take it again in May!” I didn’t want to take it again in May. I didn’t want to take it again ever.

Fortunately, as I was silently accepting myself into the next exam window, I had done so much preparation that I was unconsciously recalling the knowledge and thought patterns that I had gained through coursework, study, and practice. Looking through the answer choices for key terms I understood helped me understand the context of the question and which answers might be better. Eliminating the answers that didn’t make sense helped me focus on what element of the SHRM BASK the question was referring to and hone in on the answer choice that aligned with that area. Skipping the questions that you don’t have an immediate answer to and coming back to them at the end when you know how much time you have, allowed me to proceed through the exam as efficiently as possible.

Those who have never taken the exam before may not know that you find out with your submit exam button immediately whether you passed or failed, which made the final moments of the exam very stressful as I debated whether there was any point to going back through it one more time. As I went to press the button, I felt my heart getting faster in my chest, a surreal sense of disbelief washed over me as the smallest possible pop up window notified me I passed. It felt very anticlimactic and I didn’t believe it might be real until I received an email confirming a preliminary pass. From there, it was several weeks until I got my official passing score notification and was finally able to announce that I had passed the SHRM-SCP exam. It was an intense, trying, and immeasurably rewarding process.

TL;DR: Being in the SHR MBA program means that the coursework you take is aligned with the SHRM BASK and prepares you to take the exam. As a student, you have access to resources that most professionals do not, and you are able to take the exam for far less than non-students. The SHRM certification is a differentiator in the HR field, and demonstrates to employers that you are able to apply the skills and knowledge covered in the BASK. Preparation is critical, and there are so many resources to help you, from people to materials. Anybody looking to make a career within the HR field should definitely consider taking the SHRM certification exam.