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Chartered Professionals
in Human Resources

National Knowledge Exam – Content and Structure

The National Knowledge Exam (NKE) assesses one’s understanding of the Competency Framework as they relate to academic knowledge. Academic knowledge refers to basic facts, policies, practices, methods, legislation, etc. It is information that can be written into procedures and transferred fairly accurately during the learning process. Examples of academic knowledge include: the rights and responsibilities of management and labour during union organizing and negotiation processes; the various methods of training and developing staff; and human rights, employment equity and pay equity legislation.

Question Content

The NKE’s questions are based on the content in the following nine HR-related areas, or functional dimensions, under which the Competency Framework is organized.

In the chart below, the percentages provide guidelines on the extent to which each area of knowledge is emphasized within the NKE.

Functional dimensions:

Strategy 11%
Professional Practice 12%
Engagement 11%
Workforce Planning and Talent Management 11%
Employee & Labour Relations 11%
Total Rewards 11%
Learning and Development 11%
Health, Wellness, and Safe Workplace 11%
HR Metrics, Reporting and Financial Management 11%

Question Structure

The NKE is comprised of 160 questions including 10 questions which are added to the exam to allow new questions to be pre-tested. Pre-test questions will not affect the score and are used in examinations as an effective and legitimate way to test the validity of future examination questions. They are placed randomly throughout the exam.

Exam writers have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the 160 questions on the NKE.

The questions are multiple choice. Research has shown that exams using four-option multiple-choice questions to test academic knowledge are valid and preferred because they:

  • provide more flexibility and adaptability
  • tend to more reliable than other formats
  • can accommodate a wide range of skills, knowledge and abilities to be measured
  • provide better sampling
  • have lower chance scores
  • can be scored using efficient technology

Question Creation

Questions included in the exam are developed by an Operational Plan of Item Writers. This panel is coordinated by CPHR Canada and the Exam vendor. The panel members are considered “best in class” for their respective areas of HR expertise.

Exam FAQ

If you have questions about the NKE, please refer to the CPHR FAQ.