PHR Study Materials (cheap and free)

show me the moneyBecause of my involvement in the HR certification scene, I get asked often about PHR study materials. More often than not I recommend one of our courses along with another book or inexpensive study material, but the message below prompted a thought.

Hi! I am signed up for the PHR and looking for study materials. Since I’m in transition, my budget is super tight so I’d love to get something for less than retail prices. Thank you! Amy in Orlando

If I had to start all over again and study with the limited budget I have, what would I use to prepare?

Studying on the cheap

First of all, I’d look through the various resources for the PHR and SPHR exams I’ve gathered over the past 24 months. There are some great tools in there that are totally free and would be a good place to find some help. But you’ll only get so far with free stuff. In truth, I’d probably just use the same resources to study as I did for the PHR exam last year.

  1. Two pack of HRCI practice exams $70
  2. Anne Bogardus PHR/SPHR book ~$40
  3. Any other practice exams available

The bare essentials

I know there are a lot of people in transition right now and some of them are looking at certification as a way to help increase their marketability as a candidate. The bare essentials: Anne Bogardus book and the PHR/SPHR Self Study Course. You’ll get enough content in those two resources to successfully pass the exam.

How to get your employer to pay for it

If you are working and don’t want to pay out of pocket, here are some ideas on how to make that happen. I recently shot this video for the subscribers to the free SPHR/PHR email newsletter. It might give you some thoughts on how to reduce your cost and maybe even get your employer to pick up the tab!

Email subscribers may need to click through to view the video.

14 thoughts on “PHR Study Materials (cheap and free)

  1. Jennifer

    I used the same study approach almost 2 years ago – bought the same book and took the same practice tests – and passed the PHR test on the 1st try. I heard so many mixed reviews about the SHRM study class & tools (plus the high cost) I was not sold it would help me pass.

  2. Ben Post author

    Hey, Jennifer! SHRM’s stuff is just out of whack. $800? Seriously? Who’s going to spend ~$1000 total to get certified? That is insane. Thanks for the comment!

    1. Ben Post author

      Hey, Leslie!

      One of the biggest factors I’ve seen is 1) how good are you at test-taking and 2) how much time do you have to study? If you are good at taking tests and have the time to study, it’s really not that difficult. If you don’t have 1 or 2, that dramatically increases the difficulty. :-)

  3. martha miller

    Ben, this was the best thing you ever could have done for me, I have been looking for a way to get my PHR certification, and not have to pay alot because am a singal mom working at a call center as a CAE I thought this year I would get my taxes and invest in my career goal, but you have given me an way to save some of my money thanks so much god bless :-)

  4. chad hutchison

    one of your links to the practice test double pack does not work. I get errors. I also could not find the book your referenced as the link brought up a list of books on amazon. can you help me narrow it down. I will be testing the first part of 2017… will the 2016 editions work or will they be publishing new additions soon ? Im broke, my employer wont pay, but I know I need to do this to make the income level I need to make ends meet. HELP!! :)

  5. chad hutchison

    Is there a newer updated version for 2017 ? the study guides you refer to are dated 2012… I cant find anything newer than that in the same format or bundle as the 2012 you referenced. Maybe you will have better luck ?

    Everything I find will cost in excess of 300 dollars and that's not even including the testing fee yet.. outrageous.

    Please help and share

  6. LaQuana Simmons

    Do you still recommend Anne Brogardus book? I ask because your original post was in 2010 and it is 2017. I am willing to buy whatever I need to within budget.

    1. Ben Post author

      I do! If you click through to Amazon through the post you can search for her name. They don’t do a new version EVERY year but there has been an updated version published since 2010. Still a great resource!

  7. Timothy

    I noticed you still recommend the Anne Brogardus prep book. I also noticed that there is a new version that will be released in October 2018. However, I want to take the exam in about 3 months. Do you think the 2015 version is still valid for the exam in 2018? I was thinking about using it along with the HRCI practice exams, plus your study guide. What do you think?

    1. Ben Post author

      @Timothy It would be fine to use the 2015 version! There haven’t been enough changes in the last year or two that HRCI would incorporate that you would have to worry about covering in your studies.

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