The SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Certified Application Associate Exam: How I passed it and how I prepared for it

Update: 02. November. 2016 Link to Chris Solomon Post From SAP HCM to SF EC Learner: My Journey to SuccessFactors Employee Central Certification added

This article has three parts. In the first part I write about my personal experience of the test itself in more detail because I would have welcomed such insights before my exam. In the next part I talk about my learning journey and in the last section I speak about my learning strategy. I will also share my key learning’s and what I would do differently the next time.

NEW Update: March, 14th 2016
At the bottom of this post I have included a link to a post on how I have passed and prepared for the delta exam on employee central.

My certification test experience

I was able to take my test from my home office. This is such a big improvement because I did not have to drive to a test centre which in my case is far away and where I can only take the test on specific days in the year. Instead I scheduled my preferred time in the certifications section on site.

Another good thing is that I could even change the start time just shortly before. This means if ever anything unexpectedly happens you can reschedule quite easily.

In order to do it from home I needed to have a webcam and a reliable and fast internet connection.

In the certification exam section I used the link to install the required questionmark secure browser 4 days before. Additionally I tested the system by connecting to a proctor to confirm it is working. A proctor will be the person to welcome you to your exam and give you advice as well as continue to watch you the whole time. SAP will allow you to do the system test up to 4 hours before your exam.

It takes a few clicks to get to the page where I launched the certification test. I logged in in as suggested 15 minutes before my start date on 14.00 hrs on Friday, August 14. You do not have be on time. SAP will allow 15 minutes after the start time to log in before you will be denied entrance. In total you are allowed to take 6 exams in one year. If you miss one you have 5 more opportunities.

On the SAP Certification Hub Page where the examination process is described in detail I needed to click on the link C_THR81_1502 on the left side of the page. This then opened up a page with a menu at the top. This menu contains a link to the “Exam Appointments”. This is also the exact same way to take when you schedule for an exam. I opened up “Exam Appointments” where the upcoming appointment is listed in a table with the following headings “exam title”, “booking code”, “exam date” and “start exam”.

Around 15 minutes before the exam date a green arrow should appear in the row “start exam”. This wasn’t the case for me. Therefore I contacted Technical Support and was advice to reboot my computer or even use another web browser.

I rebooted my computer but had to use Internet Explorer again the only browser currently installed on my computer. And yes after several minutes later and past 14.00 hrs. I was back to the same page. The green arrow did appear but when I clicked on it nothing happened. The secure questionmark browser does not start when other programs like outlook or skype are running. Even though I had switched off those programs before yet in my case skype always starts up again when my computer restarts.

Therefore my recommendation is to disable the auto launch of such programs. I quit Skype but to my surprise it took the questionmark secure browser a few minutes to launch. This was much longer time compared to the system test I did with a proctor a few days ago. You can guess how exited I got and how my blood pressure went up during those moments.

I would recommend you to boot your computer 30 minutes prior to such an event and hope that the green arrow is there 15 minutes before your scheduled time.

Additionally I had forgotten to have my two official identity documents with a picture ready to show to the proctor. The proctor was so kind to wait and let me get my passport and my driving license.

The proctor would then explain the key rules: If my connection would break down during the test I had 5 minutes to get back in and if I had technical issues I had another 5 minutes to contact the technical support. After this time my test would be cancelled. Also I was told not to leave the room during the exam. In a test centre someone can accompany to the rest room, but at home the proctor needs to rely on your presence in order to prevent any unfair test taking practices. I also had to show that I was alone in the room with my webcam by turning the camera 360 degrees. Further I had to point the webcam to my desk to proof that it was totally clean of any supporting material.

After this phase the proctor activated the test button. I now had 180 minutes time to go through 80 multiple choice questions while being watched all the time by the proctor. I needed to answer at least 50 (63%) of the questions correctly to become certified. For each multiple choice question it was indicated in writing how many answers were expected. A radio button indicates if only one answer is required. Boxes are used if more if more than 1 answer is correct. 3 were the maximum answers I came across. SAP provides a lot of information on the certification exam here:—cloud-hcm-employee-central-g/

The page above has currently no information. The weighting of the certification topics for the C_THR81_1602 is:

Topic Areas                           Weighting
Importing and Exporting Data > 12%
Events and Language Implementation > 12%
Foundation Objects and Generic Objects > 12%
Rules and Workflows > 12%
Data Models 8% – 12%
Manage System Security 8% – 12%
Manage Employee Data and Position Management 8% – 12%
Manage Time Off and Benefits < 8%

As well you will find a link to 9 example certification questions.

Overall it took me around 85 minutes to pass the test. I went through question by question and I skipped a question when I was not sure about the answer yet. Then I went backwards from 80 down to 1 and checked each question again if I was confident about my answer(s) and reworked those that I was still not 100% sure of. Of course I answered all the ones that I had skipped. Each question I read at least two times before I made my choice.

Usually I read out questions aloud and write the question again on paper in order to uncover any hidden traps. But these practices are not allowed in the certification exam.

Learning Journey

On June 24th 2015 I got my access to the SAP Learning Hub ( ). The first course I had to take was the THR80 Foundations of SuccessFactors HCM. I passed this course on 29th of June.

As I had holidays scheduled from 11th of July till 1st of August I decided not to take the THR81 SuccessFactors Employee Central Academy before. I began with this course on August 3rd and finished by August 7th.

I scheduled my exam for August 14th at 14.00 hrs. In the week before the exam I read the Employee Central Implementation Handbook carefully and skimmed through the Employee Central Country Specific Implementation Handbook, Role Based Permission Handbook, Data Objects: Quick Reference Tables and the Metadata Framework Implementation Handbook. 2 days before the exam I went through my notes three times. I passed the exam on August 14th at 15:50 hrs.

During my holidays I read a few articles by Luke Marson: the SuccessFactors Employee Central Organization Structure, The SuccessFactors Employee Central Pay Structure, The SuccessFactors Employee Central Position Management feature, Extending SuccessFactors with the Metadata Framework and Rules and Picklists in the SuccessFactors Metadata Framework. You find the articles here at: SuccessFactors – Useful Resources and Documents

If I had to do it again I would not take a holiday between the THR80 Foundations of SuccessFactors HCM course and the THR81 SuccessFactors Employee Central because content from THR80 Foundations of SuccessFactors HCM is still part of the exam. It is best to keep these courses as close as possible together.

At least I would read the Employee Central Implementation Handbook thoroughly and schedule the exam as soon as possible after the end of the THR81 SuccessFactors Employee Central course.

At minimum I would leave a week between the end of the course and the exam. Yet I believe the longer you wait with the exam the more likely you will forget the content of the courses.

In total I invested 3 weeks net over a time of 8 weeks while still working on demanding projects at the same time and looking after my family.

Learning Strategy and Recommendations

As I have a very strong background in Learning & Development and a passion for continuous learning I used all my wisdom to make my learning journey as effective as possible. I have read all the major and current research on human learning and I have read a number of books written by world class memory champions on mnemotechnics and learning.

The first fundamental principle I follow is frequency over duration. Instead of learning on one day in a week for several hours I spread it out and learn every day at least for 5-10 minutes and if possible I do this several times a day if time permits. The only time I broke this rule was during my holidays. Only in the last few days of my vacation I started to read the articles from Luke Marson.

Further I use spaced repetition and the PQ4R method (Preview-Question-Read-Reflect-Recite-Review).

Everything that I found to be a good content for a question I wrote down. I came up with 200 items. Which brings me to my second fundamental principle of vivid associations I apply in learning. I used the method of loci ( to memorize it all. But before memorization I first and foremost try to establish logical rules to understand and connect the new knowledge. Sheer memorization is dedicated to exceptions and key underlying information chunks to build my knowledge or so called mind map.

And the third fundamental principle is called overconfidence in learning. Often when I listen to a trainer or read a document I come out feeling that I have understood everything and it will be easy to recall. Then a few days later I come across a question and I realize that I am not so sure anymore how to answer it. In order to overcome my overconfidence I created my own set of 212 questions to test my learning progress. I used those questions again just the last days before my exam.

If you would like to see my set of practice questions I am happy to share with you my document. Either send me a message on Linkedin Peter Palme or connect with me on Linkedin and let me know in your invitation that you are interested or enter your email address in this google form: My SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Practice Questions.

. Here are some of my sample questions:

  • Are all Foundation Objects effective-dated?
  • Is NationalID an MDF object?
  • Can one person have more than one active employment at the same time?
  • Can you assign a workflow to a field in a foundation object?
  • Can you assign a workflow to the payCalendar object ?

I would recommend you to read at least the Employee Central Implementation Handbook. Pay special attention to the info section that are highlighted in light red / pink colour.

If you do not have access to the SAP Learning Hub yet I have collected also some free resources on Employee Central here:

Further Experiences Shared

Sarika Jadhav: My Successfactors EC Certification Journey

Chris Solomon: From SAP HCM to SF EC Learner: My Journey to SuccessFactors Employee Central Certification

SAP SuccessFactors Compensation Exam – How I Passed it

Successfactors Employee Central Delta Exam How I Passed and How I Prepared For it

Becoming a SuccessFactors Consultant Part 1 and Part 2

About me:

My vision is to build a truly integrated HR in the cloud. A truly integrated HR is the key enabler for organizations to maximize their business outcomes.

Currently I am working on three projects.


Tags: , , , ,

One Response to “The SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Certified Application Associate Exam: How I passed it and how I prepared for it”

  1. Phuong Says:

    Hi Peter! Thank you for your informative article. I am very interested in your questions collection. Would you mind to share it with me. My email:

    Many thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: