The National Knowledge Exam®


National Knowledge Exam® (NKE)

The National Knowledge Exam® (NKE) assesses one’s understanding of the CPHR 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.

You are not required to complete your full required length of experience (3 or 8 years) prior to writing the exam. We encourage you to register and write the NKE as soon as possible following graduation.

More details about NKE content and structure can be found on the CPHR Canada website


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 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 process 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.

Exam Preparation

There are several study methods to help you prepare for the exam. CPHR PEI has partnered with Captus Press and recommends the following course to assist you in your exam prep:

Should you wish to take this course to assist you in your exam preparations, you can register directly on the Captus Press site provided via the link above.

CPHR BC & Yukon has shared some Practice Exam Questions that could be used to assist in exam preparation.  They can be found here:

NKE Practice Exam Questions

Exam Dates

Exam sittings are held twice a year and start at 9:00 AM local time. National exams are offered every June and November.

The next National Knowledge Exam (NKE) for Prince Edward Island is scheduled for Friday, November 1st, 2019. The registration deadline is September 3rd.  

To register, please complete the registration form:

CPHR PEI NKE Exam Registration Form

The cost for the NKE Exam is $400.00 plus HST. Late registrations are not permitted, regardless of circumstance. All registrations are subject to the deferral policy. Registrations cancelled prior to the registration deadline will incur a processing fee of $50.00 plus HST. Cancellations after the registration deadline are not possible as the deferral policy then applies.   Please register as soon as you know you plan on writing the exam. Any last minute registrations that incur technical difficulties will not be permitted to register after the deadline, regardless of circumstance. You must be a member in good standing to register for the exam (dues must be paid). If you are not yet a member and plan to register for the next exam, you must apply (and pay) for membership prior to the exam deadline.

After you Register

You will be sent notification from us advising your application has been received and it will outline some details relating to the exam. Part of the process includes an official confirmation of your registration (by letter) including notification of exam security procedures and your test location. You will be required to retain the letter and bring it with you to the exam. Exam writers will receive exam results approximately eight (8) weeks after the exam date.

Individuals that pass the NKE start the ten year clock to obtain the CPHR. They have ten years to complete the overall process to obtain the CPHR, provided they remain a member in good standing of our Association.

Cancellation and Deferral Policy

An exam registrant may defer their exam to a future sitting at any point following registration up until October 24, 2019.

After October 24, no deferrals will be allowed. In certain extenuating circumstances, the deferral may be granted after this deadline. The provincial member association would grant exceptions (i.e. death in immediate family, serious illness with doctor’s note).

Note: all deferrals after October 17, 2019, will forfeit their $125 seat fee for that exam. This fee will be charged again for the deferral sitting (no exceptions).

A maximum of two deferrals are allowed per exam fee (i.e. the exam must be written on the third sitting or the exam fee would be sacrificed). If the third exam is not written and the exam fee is sacrificed, this is to be considered a ‘no show’ and the member association will be charged the full exam fee for that writer.

Important note: Exam deferrals are only processed upon receipt of the payment of the $100 + GST deferral fee.

Special Accommodation

If an exam writer requires special accommodation for the exam, they must indicate it during the online registration process. Supporting documentation outlining the accommodation required must also be submitted to us within one day of your online registration in order to allow the Association to make the arrangements. Only original, physician supported, documentation will be accepted. Supporting documentation must also be received by the exam registration deadline.

Out of Province on the Day of the Exam

If you must be out of your home province; however, will be in another province that hosts the NKE exam on the day of the exam, you must advise us when you register for the exam (indicate in the exam location field) as out of province writing may be possible. Please note that Ontario does not host the NKE exam so out of province writing cannot be arranged in that province.

Exam Results

Exam results are emailed approximately eight weeks after each exam session.

Recognition as a CPHR Candidate

Members who have passed the National Knowledge Exam and have not yet completed the Validation of Experience (VOE) will be granted the ability to use “CPHR Candidate” as a professional title.

The CPHR is valued by the employment community and the ability to be officially recognized as a CPHR Candidate will provide you with additional recognition. You may use this title in resumes, business cards, emails, LinkedIn or any other public profiles.

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. To do so, please mail us at