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What is the difference between the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam?
What is the format of the questions?
Are both exams the same length?
How were the questions on the exams developed?
What are application questions?
What are test questions?
Why are the test questions not scored? Wouldn’t it make more sense to score these too?
How often will the exams be administered?
Where will the exams be administered?
Will both the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam be held the same day?
Does HRPA provide accommodations for the exams?
Who will set the questions and mark the exams?
How should I study for the CHRP Knowledge Exam and/or the CHRL Knowledge Exam?
Is the CHRL Knowledge Exam more difficult than the CHRP Knowledge Exam?
How are the cut-scores set for the exams?
What are the requirements to write the exams, are they the same for both exams?
How do I know if I’m eligible to write the CHRP Knowledge Exam and/or the CHRL Knowledge Exam?
So why would one choose to write one exam over the other?
Do I need to write the CHRP Knowledge Exam before the CHRL Knowledge Exam?
How do these exams relate to the National Knowledge Exam (NKE)?
Are these exams being offered by the other HR associations in Canada?
Are the functional areas given the same weight? 
Is the exam fee the same for both exams?
How many times can I write the exams?
How long are exam results good for?
Will there be an online prep program for each exam?

What is the difference between the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam?
While both exams test academic knowledge, the CHRP Knowledge Exam tests the
knowledge which is required to demonstrate or acquire the competencies described
in the CHRP column of the HRPA Human Resources Professional Competency
Framework. The CHRL Knowledge Exam tests the knowledge which is required to
demonstrate or acquire the competencies described in the CHRL column of the
HRPA Human Resources Professional Competency Framework.
Competence is another matter, but an adequate knowledge foundation is necessary
to develop the competence. For many exam-writers, the exam will come after
completion of the coursework but before any significant work experience. The
purpose of early career experiences is to transform knowledge into competence.
The HRPA Human resources Professional Competency Framework can be downloaded from our CHRP and CHRL Knowledge Exam page.

What is the format of the questions?

Both exams are comprised of four-option multiple-choice questions.

Are both exams the same length?

The CHRP Knowledge Exam has 175 questions whereas the CHRL Knowledge Exam has 250 questions. Also, each exam contains approximately 25 test questions. These questions are not scored and are scattered at random throughout the exams.  The reason why the CHRL Knowledge Exam is longer is because the exam is scored via non-compensatory scoring; you not only need to pass the overall exam, but also each individual section of the exam.
The time allotment for the CHRP Knowledge Exam is 3.5 hours. and 5 hours for the CHRL Knowledge Exam
All exams are currently being delivered via computer-based testing at a test centre or online via remote proctoring

How are the questions on the exams developed?

Using the HRPA Human Resources Professional Competency Framework as a starting point, and using HRPA’s style guidelines, select HR course instructors and faculty are asked to write questions that would be appropriate for either at a diploma level or at a degree level.

The questions are reviewed for adherence to HRPA’s style guidelines and the questions are then reviewed by a psychometrician for technical correctness.

  • There is one and only one correct answer.
  • Each response option is generally of similar length.
  • Each response option appears equally plausible to someone unknowledgeable in the domain.
  • The correct answer does not stand out in any way—either by being shorter or longer, or by using different grammar, or different a different style.
  • None of the options contain clues that would point to the correctness or incorrectness of another response option.
  • The ‘none of the above’ option is not used.
  • The ‘all of the above’ option is not used.
  • The ‘a and b are both true’ type of response option is not used.
  • There are no double negative questions.
  • The ‘odd item’ or ‘which of the following does not belong’ style of question is rarely used.
  • There are no ‘funny’ or ‘silly’ answers.
  • There are no ‘trick’ questions—to the knowledgeable exam-writer the correct answer will appear clearly as the correct answer.

The questions are then reviewed by a copy editor for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The editor is directed to ensure there are no differences in the quality of correct and incorrect response options.

The next step is for all questions to be reviewed by Subject Matter Expert (SME) panels.  These panels are comprised of experienced HR professionals. These panels confirm that there is indeed one and only one correct answer. Questions for which there are issues are either set aside or revised.

The Examination Validation Committee also reviews and approves all items before they are used on question forms.

Also at this time, ‘enemy questions’ are identified. Enemy questions are questions that are perfectly good questions on their own, but that have some kind of connection with another question such that seeing one question provides clues that help answer the other question.  Questions that are very close to each other in terms of content are also flagged as enemy questions.

The next step is final exam assembly. Based on the number of questions as set out in the test blueprint, questions are selected to provide good coverage of the functional domains and across all competencies.

The questions do not appear on the test form in any specific order and are not grouped by functional area or any other category. This includes the 25 ‘test questions’ which these are scattered at random throughout the test. ‘Galley proofs’ of the tests are produced..

This entire process occurs annually for both exams, and new forms are created prior to every administration window.

What are test questions?
In any test leading to a designation, it is important that all questions perform as they should. Despite all the steps involved in developing an exam question, a certain proportion of questions will turn out not to perform as they should. The purpose of test questions is to verify that the questions are good before they are included as ‘live’ questions.

Why are the test questions not scored? Wouldn't it make more sense to score these too?

Yes, it would make sense for all administered questions to be eligible for scoring if all candidates were administered the same set of test question, but this is not necessarily the case. It is possible to have multiple forms of an exam which are identical in all respects except for the test questions. For this reason, the test questions cannot be included in the scoring of the exam.

How often will the exams be administered?

The exams will be administered three times a year. Please consult the schedule for future testing dates.

Where will the exams be administered?

HRPA has contracted with Prometric, a computer-based exam vendor who will administer the exam at testing centres across Ontario, Canada, and globally. As of summer 2020, HRPA has introduced remote proctoring to allow candidates to take their exam at home.

Will both the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam be held on the same day?

No, they are not held on the same day, and are administered during separate two week long testing windows.

Does HRPA provide accommodations for the exams?

HRPA acts in compliance with legislation to accommodate exam applicants with disabilities who need special arrangements to write the exam. Auxiliary aids and services will be provided except where these may fundamentally alter the exam or result in an undue burden. Accommodation requests must be made at the time of registration. HRPA needs to receive documentation from the applicant’s treating physician to support the need for accommodation. The nature of the disability, identification of the tests and protocols used to confirm the diagnosis, a description of past accommodation(s) (if available) made for the disability and specific testing accommodation recommendations must be included. If you require an accommodation(s) during the writing of your exam due to a physical or learning disability, please notify HRPA as soon as possible. HRPA must coordinate accommodation requests with the exam vendor and therefore requires an adequate amount of time to process these requests.

Who will set the questions and mark the exams?

Developing questions for a certification exam is a multi-step process. The questions are initially written by course instructors.  CHRP Knowledge Exam questions are initially written by instructors who teach relevant diploma-level courses. CHRL Knowledge Exam questions are initially written by instructors who teach relevant degree-level courses. The questions are then given a technical review by a psychometrician and then by a copy editor. The questions are then reviewed by a panel of HR professionals and by the Examination Validation Committee.  Finally, after the administration of the exam, the questions are reviewed from a psychometric performance perspective. Questions are discarded or alterations are made to the scoring key, occasionally.

The next step is to set the cut score for the exams. The cut score is set in one of two ways.  On a new exam, the cut score is established by a process called a standard-setting process. This standard-setting process is based on the judgment of subject matter experts.  The cut score on the CHRP Knowledge Exam is referenced to the ability to perform at the level expected of a CHRP; the cut score on the CHRL Knowledge Exam is referenced to the ability to perform at the level expected of a CHRL. Once a cut score has been established on a base form, the cut score on subsequent forms of the exam is set by a process called equating.

On the CHRP Knowledge Exam there is one cut score for the total score.  This is called compensatory scoring because a low score in one functional area can be compensated for by a high score on another.

On the CHRL Knowledge Exam there is a combination of compensatory and non-compensatory scoring. Candidates must score at or above the cut score established for the total score.  In addition, candidates must score above a threshold on each of the functional areas. Candidates must have a total score above the cut score and each of the functional scores must be above their respective thresholds.

How should I study for the CHRP Knowledge Exam and/or the CHRL Knowledge Exam?

There is nothing on either exam that would not have been covered in the required coursework.  For example, topics covered in the Finance and Accounting course will be covered in the exam in the Human Resources metrics, reporting, and financial management functional area. Similarly, many of the topics now found in the Strategy functional area are covered in courses such as Human Resources Planning. 

Is the CHRL Knowledge Exam more difficult than the CHRP Knowledge Exam?
The exams are designed to assess whether a candidate possesses the requisite level of knowledge to perform competently at different levels of practice in HR.  The exams are not designed to be easy or difficult, but rather a reflection of the minimum level of knowledge needed to perform competently at the relevant level of practice in HR.

How are the cut scores set for the exams?

As criterion-referenced tests, the cut scores on the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam are set using what is known as a criterion-referenced standard-setting process. Once a cut score has been established using a standard-setting process, cut scores on subsequent forms of the same exam can be set by a process called test equating.

Both will be described below.

The specific standard-setting process used for the exams is known as a “modified Angoff approach.” The modified Angoff methodology is the most widespread and the most widely accepted methodology for setting cut scores for credentialing exams.

An Angoff panel is a method which makes use of the combined judgment of panel members to establish the probability that a candidate at the threshold of competence will answer the question correctly. The Item Performance Index (IPI) for a given item refers to the average probability of answering the item correctly as averaged across the panel.  Summing the Angoff indices for all the questions included in the scoring of the test gives the cut score for the whole test.

Because the cut score for the test is derived by adding the probabilities for each question, the cu score will vary depending on the particular set of items that make up the test. Each version of the exams will have its own cut score. An exam that is made up of somewhat more difficult questions will have a somewhat lower cut score; an exam that is made up of somewhat easier questions will have a somewhat higher cut score.

Each member of the Angoff Panel is provided a printed copy of the exam booklet, as well as the scale to be used for item ratings. In booklet sections, the group members then individually review each item to determine the Item Performance Index (IPI). Discussion then follows for each item to determine the average level of difficulty determined by the Panel. This figure is recorded as the IPI for that item.

Separate panels are used for the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam.

Angoff panels can be conducted either before or after the administration of the exam. One advantage of conducting Angoff panels after the administration of the exam is that exam data can be useful in helping panel members at arriving at better item performance indices, and this is the method employed by HRPA.  The cut score is determined after the exam is written.

The CHRP Knowledge Exam uses a compensatory scoring approach, whereas the CHRL Knowledge Exam uses a non-compensatory scoring approach.  ‘Compensatory’ scoring is when a high score on one sub-test can compensate for a low score on another sub-test. When a cut-score is set on a sum of sub-test scores, scoring is compensatory. On a test made up of seven or eight sub-tests, it would be possible for a candidate to have a very low score on one or more sub-tests and yet pass the exam.. With non-compensatory scoring, candidates are expected to achieve a given score on each sub-test to pass the exam.

Non-compensatory scoring makes sense intuitively; especially given that the profession has a ‘generalist’ perspective.  It does not seem right that some candidates with narrow or uneven knowledge of the field could pass the exam simply because of the compensatory nature of the scoring. It is also possible to combine compensatory and non-compensatory scoring approaches. For instance, we could have a cut score on the overall score and minimum scores for each of the sub-tests. This is the approach taken for the CHRL Knowledge Exam.

For the CHRL Knowledge Exam, in addition to the overall cut score, a cut score is set for each sub-test.  However, the cut scores on the individual sub-tests are set such that the probability is less than 1 in 20 that someone with such a low score has a true score above the cut score.  Essentially, candidates are given the ‘benefit of the doubt’ on each sub-test in part to make up for the fact that each is made up of a relatively small number of questions.

An individual must have an overall score that is equal to or above the overall cut score and a score that is equal or above the cut score for each of the nine functional areas. It is possible to get a score at or above the cut score on each of the functional areas and still not meet the overall cut score. It is also possible to get an overall score at or above the overall cut score and still fail the exam because one has failed to meet the cut score on one or more of the sub-tests.

After setting the pass mark using the modified Angoff method, in subsequent forms of the CHRP Knowledge Exam and the CHRL Knowledge Exam, the cut scores are established by equating. In equating, a common set of questions is used. These are known as the bridge items.  Using the bridge items, it is possible to calculate what the cut scores should be on each new form so that candidates have an equal chance of passing no matter which specific form of the exam they happen to write.

What are the requirements to write the exams, are they the same for both exams?

Yes, at this time the eligibility requirements for both exams are the same:  be an active registrant in good standing  and meet the Coursework  Requirement, via the course by course approach or via the Alternate Route process.

So why would one choose to write one exam over the other?

It depends on which designation you wish to pursue.  If you intend on getting the CHRP Designation, or you do not have a degree and are not planning to obtain one, you should write the CHRP Knowledge Exam. If you intend on getting the CHRL Designation, you should write the CHRL Knowledge Exam.

Do I need to write the CHRP Knowledge Exam before the CHRL Knowledge Exam?

No, the CHRP Knowledge Exam is not a pre-requisite, nor is it required, to write CHRL Knowledge Exam.  The CHRP Knowledge Exam is only valid for the CHRP Designation, however, the CHRL Knowledge Exam is valid for both the CHRP and the CHRL Designations.

How do these exams relate to the National Knowledge Exam (NKE)?

The NKE uses a similar but different competency model than either the CHRP Knowledge Exam or the CHRL Knowledge Exam.

Are these exams being offered by the other HR associations in Canada?

No. The other provinces use the National Knowledge Exam, and Quebec also has its own knowledge test which it uses only for candidates who did not graduate from recognized programs in HR.

Are the functional areas given the same weight?

No. To see the relative weights and the number of questions for each functional area for each exam, please review the ‘CHRP-KE/CHRL-KE Functional Dimensions’ table on the CHRP Knowledge Exam & CHRL Knowledge Exam website.

Is the exam fee the same for both exams?

The fee to register for the CHRP Knowledge Exam is $290.00 plus HST. The registration fee for the CHRL Knowledge Exam is $345.00 plus HST.

How many times can I write the exams?

There is no limit on the number of attempts one can write the exams, per se. However, to continue to register for the CHRP Knowledge Exam and CHRL Knowledge Exam, your eligibility must still be valid.

How long are exam results good for?

Exam results are valid for 10 years.  This means that registrants have 10 years from the time they pass the CHRP Knowledge Exam or CHRL Knowledge Exam to complete the remaining requirements to obtain the designation.

Will there be an online prep program for each exam?

HPRA has online exam prep programs for all four designation exams. For more information, please visit our Exam Prep section of the website.