American Institutes for Research and the Society for Human Resource Management Create a New Test to Assess the Knowledge of College Graduates Seeking Careers in Human Resources

Washington, D.C. – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) have created a new examination for assessing the human resource (HR) knowledge of graduating college students seeking HR careers. The first tests will be administered beginning in May 2011.

Employers will be able to use the results to determine whether job applicants possess the knowledge required for entry-level HR positions. The exam also provides colleges and universities with a way to measure the effectiveness of their HR-related curriculum and help them meet their accrediting body’s assurance-of-learning requirements. Some institutions are considering adopting the test as an exit requirement.

“This Assurance of Learning Assessment is part of the long-term strategy of SHRM’s Academic Initiative.  It aligns with SHRM’s mission to provide thought leadership in the field by providing a test of mastery of HR knowledge for recent graduates,” said Deb Cohen, Ph.D., SPHR, Chief Knowledge Officer with SHRM. “We consequently sought AIR as a partner and commissioned them to develop the assessment with us because of their expertise and reputation.”

 “This is an important contribution that provides graduates with an opportunity to show prospective employers the HR knowledge they possess even though many of them have limited work experience,” said Lorin Mueller, a principal research scientist at AIR and an assessment expert. “At the same time, it is a reliable new resource for employers to consider when hiring entry-level applicants and for college administrators to turn to as they seek to produce the best graduates.”

Undergraduate and graduate students in HR or HR-related degree programs are eligible to take the exam beginning one year before graduation and ending one year after graduation. The test consists of 160 multiple choice questions that cover 18 HR-related content areas covered by SHRM’s HR Curriculum guidelines.

The registration for the first exam runs through April 30, 2011. The computer-based exam will be conducted during three test “windows” of May 15-June 15, July 15-Aug. 15 and Oct. 15-Nov. 15. Details are available on the SHRM website.

The examination is based on the results of a series of studies AIR and SHRM conducted to identify the key topics and knowledge areas that HR practitioners need. Collaborating with SHRM staff, AIR was responsible for creating the exam and tracking quality assurance, performing psychometric analyses and scoring, developing support materials and setting performance standards.

The research included interviews with leading experts and a survey of approximately 700 HR faculty and practitioners to determine what graduating students need to know in order to begin careers in the field. More than 200 college and university faculty and practitioners were involved in writing and editing test questions, and a national panel of practitioners and faculty determined the standard for passing the assessment.

The studies were commissioned by SHRM, the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. It represents more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit