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NKE Exam

The National Knowledge Exam®

The National Knowledge Exam® (NKE) assesses your understanding of HR knowledge and skills. After you have passed the exam, you are considered a candidate for certification.

NEW – Graduates of CPHR Accredited Post-Secondary programs will be one step closer to receiving their CPHR designation and may be eligible to waive writing the NKE. Check the Accredited Post-Secondary Program listing here.

Each provincial member association administers the NKE for their members. You will find all the information related to the NKE for your Province on their site. You must register with your member association as the first step. The cost of writing the exam varies from province to province.

Normally, the NKE is held the first Saturday in June and November of each year. Exceptions will be made when these dates coincide with a major holiday or holiday weekend. Exam dates are posted one year in advance of the day the exam is held. Please check with your provincial HR association for the location, times and more information regarding upcoming exams.

The NKE is comprised of 150 multiple choice questions. 3 hours and 15 minutes are allotted to complete the exam. Prepare for the NKE with the Captus Online NKE Prep Course.

Once completed, results will be sent out within 8 weeks. Those who pass the exam are now "CPHR Candidates". The next step is to complete the Validation of Experience. 


The Number of Allowable National Knowledge Exam Attempts Policy:

In order to elevate the status of the CPHR designation, the CPHR Canada Board approved a policy to limit the number of times a person may attempt the National Knowledge Exam (NKE). Beginning with the November 2014 NKE administration, candidates who fail the NKE three (3) times will be required to wait a full year before attempting the NKE for a final and fourth time. A fifth attempt may be permitted following a review process1 by the appropriate provincial HR association. NKE attempts made before the November 2014 exam session will not be included in the total number of attempts.

During the break period between the third failure and a fourth attempt, candidates are encouraged to complete a NKE preparation course and/or review the material which their NKE results indicate require more study.

This policy change aligns the CPHR designation with the exam attempt restrictions of many other professional designations. 


How the National Knowledge Exam is Scored:

The NKE is a multiple-choice assessment of knowledge in human resources. 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. A candidate’s total score is calculated as their number of correct answers.

Candidate responses are extracted from the line test delivery tool, and imported into a scoring and reporting software. Then, a preliminary item analysis study is conducted in which the statistics that describe the quality of each question is 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.

Using the approved answer key, the answer records are then scored and equated. Equating is a statistical process used to be sure that everyone is held to the same passing standard. This is necessary because there are multiple versions of each exam, and these versions may vary slightly in difficulty. Thus, 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 raw 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.


NKE Score Verification Policy:

Candidates who do not successfully pass the NKE have the right to request a manual score verification. Candidates must submit requests to their provincial association within 20 business days after the results have been sent out. The cost for the manual score verification is $65 and payment must be received at the time the request is made.  

1. Email: to complete the request

2. Pay the $65 plus GST non-refundable NKE Score Verification Fee


Upcoming Exam Dates:

Fall 2020 - October 28 & 29, 2020
Spring 2021 - May 28,  2021
Fall 2021 - November 5, 2021


Fall 2020 Exam:

Register Now


NKE Registration Fee: $400.00 + GST
Yardstick Seat Fee: $125.00 + GST
$525 + GST



Time Slots:

Please be available to write during the following dates:

October 28 & 29, 2020

Your confirmation letter (to be sent October 7, 2020) will include login details and instructions to select and book your exam date and time.

Registration Information:

You must be an Associate member of CPHR Saskatchewan prior to registering for the exam. You must be signed in to your member profile in order to register.

All questions must be addressed upon registration. For more information, please contact or 306-242-2747.

Registration Deadline:

August 31, 2020

Late registration will NOT be permitted.

& Deferrals:

Exam registrations can be cancelled up to August 31, 2020. After August 31, 2020, the exam may not be cancelled, and the exam fee is non-refundable. Exams may be deferred until October 15, 2020.

Exam Deferral Fee: $115 + GST

To view the deferral policy and to defer your exam to a future exam sitting, click here.

Note: All deferrals between October 15, 2020 and October 23, 2020 will forfeit their $125.00 seat fee for that exam. This fee will be added to the deferral for your next sitting (no exceptions).

Exam Resources:

NKE Writer Guidelines - Fall 2020


Exam Prep: 

Captus Online NKE Prep Course


Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Saskatchewan (CPHR Saskatchewan)
#210, 3501 8th Street East / Saskatoon, Sask. / S7H 0W5
tel: 306.242.2747  / email: 

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