Twice each year the member associations of the CPHR Canada administer the National Knowledge Examination (NKE), a 160-item multiple-choice assessment of knowledge in human resources. Scores that candidates earn are used by the member associations as part of the criteria for the Chartered Professional in Human Resources designation. Of the 160 questions on the examination, 150 are designated as operational (intended to be scored), and 10 unscored are included for field test purposes. Most candidates write the examination in paper-and-pencil format, recording their responses on a scantron answer sheet; however, other candidates write by computer in a supervised testing center. The NKE is scored using the Rasch model, a well established one-parameter approach within the group of psychometric methods known as Item Response Theory.
Answer records from the two modes of administration are combined into a single data set after the answer sheets are scanned. Then, a preliminary item analysis study is conducted in which the statistics that describe the function and quality of each question are used to identify if any questions demonstrate unsatisfactory measurement properties. Such questions are then reviewed one-by-one by experts in human resources, and these experts decide whether or not the questions should be scored. Thus, the number of questions that ultimately are scored may not equal 150. Once these decisions are made, they are recorded in the answer key and an additional item analysis study is conducted to verify that the decisions were recorded correctly.
CPHR Canada uses a scaled scoring process for the National Knowledge Exam (NKE). Using the approved answer key, the answer records are then scored and equated in the Rasch model. Scores that result from this process account for the number of scored questions answered correctly by each individual as well as the difficulty of the version of the NKE used in the given test administration, such that scores represent the proficiency of each candidate relative to the standards established for the NKE. These scores are then scaled to a distribution that ranges from 200 to 800, with the criterion-referenced passing standard anchored at 500. A scaled score is a score that has been mathematically transformed from one scale to another scale that is used for reporting purposes. This transformation is similar to converting from pounds to kilograms. The weight of the object has not changed, only the units being reported. The scaling is performed by multiplying the Rasch score for each candidate by the expected standard deviation of the scaled-score distribution and then adding a constant that places the passing standard at 500.
One reason for converting raw scores to scaled scores is that the NKE may vary slightly in its level of difficulty from sitting to sitting. To ensure that scores on different forms of the exam have the same meaning and that pass points represent the same level of difficulty, raw scores on different forms are equated and then converted to scaled scores that represent equivalent levels of achievement regardless of the test form taken.
All member associations of CPHR Canada have agreed that a score of 500 will be the passing score on the NKE. This means that regardless of the form of the exam, a score of 500 will represent the minimum level of knowledge required to qualify for the Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHRTM) designation.
Although the cut-score of 500 will not change from one form of the NKE to the next, the number of questions that have to be answered correctly to achieve a passing score can change. If a form of the exam is easier than the form on which the passing score was set, more questions would have to be answered correctly to obtain a scaled score of 500. If the form of the exam is more difficult, fewer questions would have to be answered correctly to pass the exam. Thus, candidates are not unfairly rewarded because their test was easier nor unfairly penalized because it was more difficult.
Scanned exam scores are very accurate, however manual re-scores are available for those who believe that there has been an error in the scoring of their exam. Requests for manual re-scores will be accepted for 60 days following the release of exam results. Please allow at least two weeks for processing of your request.
To request a manual re-score for the NKE, print a copy of the request form, complete and send along with payment of $50 USD, to the address indicated on the form.