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National Knowledge Exam
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The National Knowledge Exam® (NKE) is a nationally regulated exam that 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 (three or eight 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 NKE is comprised of 150 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 150 questions on the NKE.

There are several study methods exam writers use to prepare for the exam, some set up study groups with friends or colleagues, review text books, take a preparatory program, etc. We have online NKE study group on our Facebook page as well.


Helpful Links

NKE Content and Structure

CPHR Competency Framework

Online Prep Course

CPHR Academic Program

Textbook List

Practice Exam Questions


NKE Educational Requirements Starting 2021

As of January 2021, CPHR Nova Scotia will be adding a new educational requirement that must be completed prior to writing the National Knowledge Exam (NKE). This requirement is applicable unless the individual is covered by another eligible path.

Please note: until January 2021, you can apply to write the NKE in June or Fall of 2019-2020 without taking any courses. 

Starting January 1, 2021, you will need to prove that you meet the educational requirements in order to write the NKE; therefore, if you plan to enroll in the June 2021 NKE, please ensure that you have successfully completed all nine accredited HR courses offered by CPHR Nova Scotia.

If you have successfully completed any courses that are equivalent to any of the listed courses offered, you may be able to transfer credits. Further information will be available in the coming months.

Click here for more information.


Exam Dates and Registration Deadlines

National Knowledge Exam Dates

Registration Deadlines

Fall 2020: October 28 & 29, 2020

August 31, 2020

Spring 2021: May 26 & 27, 2021

Registration Opening Soon (must be signed in as a member to register)

April 2, 2021

Fall 2021: November 5, 2021

September 10, 2021


Exam Fees and Locations

Exam sessions are held in Halifax and Sydney. If you reside in a remote location or are travelling out of province or territory, there may be an option for a proctor to be arranged in your location. Please contact us at or (902) 446-3660 for further details.

Registration and Fees

Fee (Pre-payment required):
NKE registration fee: $400.00 + HST
Yardstick Seat fee: $125.00 + HST


Exam Delivery

CPHR Canada has moved to computer-based testing (CBT). This transition gives members security, efficiency and convenience when writing the NKE and aligns the Association with industry best practice. For more information, please see our original announcement from June 5, 2019.

Cancellation and Deferral Policy

All registrations are subject to the deferral policy.

Registrations cancelled prior to the registration deadline will incur a processing fee of $75 plus HST. Cancellations after the registration deadline are not possible as the deferral policy then applies.   

For information on our cancellation and deferral policy, click here

Limits on number of NKE attempts

Candidates who are unsuccessful passing the NKE three times will be required to wait one full year prior to attempting the NKE for a fourth and final time. A fifth attempt may be permitted following a review process by the appropriate provincial HR association. During the break period between the third and fourth attempts, candidates are encouraged to take a NKE preparation course and/or review the material which their NKE results indicate require more study.


To Register for Exam:

Registration for the Fall 2020 exam sitting opened on May 21, 2020. Please register as soon as you know you plan on writing the exam as late registrations are not permitted, regardless of circumstance.

When you register, you will need to confirm you agree to abide by the Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct (click here to visit that page to view the PDF).

Click here to visit the exam registration page or visit the page in our calendar of events.  You must be logged in as a member to register for the exam.  

Not yet a member and planning to register for the Fall 2020 exam? You must apply (and pay) for membership online before August 20th, as you must be an approved member in order to register for the exam.


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 make the arrangements. Only original, physician supported, documentation will be accepted. Supporting documentation must also be received by the exam registration deadline.  Any registrations with accommodation requests must be done by April 2 to allow time to review your information.

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.


Request for Score Verification

Writers who do not successfully pass the NKE have the right to request a manual score verification. Writers must submit their request to CPHR Nova Scotia within 20 business days after the results have been sent out. Re-scores are available for those who believe that there has been an error in the scoring of their exam. More..


Recognition as a CPHR Candidate

Members who have passed the National Knowledge Exam and have not yet completed the Experience Requirement 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, Linked-In or any other public profiles. 

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.


Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of Nova Scotia
84 Chain Lake Drive, Suite 103 / Halifax, NS / B3S 1A2
Telephone: 902-446-3660
Toll Free: 1-888-678-3805 
Fax: 902-446-3677