Free ACSM Study Guide 2022 - Pass the ACSM with ease!

The ACSM CPT Exam is a challenging test that marks the first major milestone in your journey as a personal trainer.

This online ACSM study guide gives you an overview and study questions from each section to help prepare you for the ACSM certification exam.

This free ACSM study guide provides you with the following:

Mini study assignments to guide your exam prep
Boost your knowledge with answers and textual references
ACSM exam content outline to focus on important information

When you finish, you will be one step closer to passing your ACSM exam.

Check out our premium ACSM CPT MVP study materials here. Reduce your study time by half and receive an exam pass guarantee.

Let’s dive in!

ACSM Exam Information

ACSM Exam InfoQuestionsTimeLocation
120 Scored, 15 Unscored150 MinutesHome online proctored exam

The ACSM certified personal trainer exam contains a total of 135 questions you must answer within 150 minutes.

120 of these questions are scored, while 15 are non-scored ‘experimental’ questions.

You will not know which questions are scored and unscored, however, you only need to get a 70% passing score on the scored questions. Incorrect experimental questions will not count against you.

Exam questions fall into three categories:

  1. Recall – basic facts, information, or steps in a process.
  2. Applications – comprehend and implement processes, interpret simple results, or summarize information.
  3. Synthesis – Differentiate, relate parts of a system, make judgements on new information based on given criteria.

All types of questions are weighted equally. However, they tend to increase in difficulty as you go from recall to application to synthesis questions.

ACSM Exam Questions

Domain NamePercent of ACSM ExamNumber of Questions
Initial Client Consultation & Assessment25%30
Exercise Programming & Implementation45%54
Exercise Leadership & Client Education20%24
Legal & Professional Responsibilities10%12

Each Domain contains questions from chapters across the textbook. As such, the chronological order of chapters in the textbook does not correspond to the order of the domains.

Domain I – Initial Client Consultation & Assessment

This section of the ACSM curriculum focuses on the initial client interview and screening process. It also includes the anatomy questions on the ACSM exam. Exercise science is heavily emphasized in this section.


Domain II – Exercise Programming & Implementation

Domain II is the biggest section on the exam and contains the majority of practical personal training information in the ACSM curriculum. Topics include exercise techniques and programming guidelines.

Domain III – Exercise Leadership & Client Education

This section focuses on the ‘soft skills’ of personal training. In particular, verbal and nonverbal communication. It also includes nutrition.

Domain IV – Legal & Professional

The final section covers the scope of practice and liability-related issues in personal training. It is smaller and less emphasized but still has key information you will need for the exam and the job.


Becoming an ACSM certified personal trainer sets you apart from many fitness professionals. The ACSM CPT training program will prepare you for many careers in exercise.

You can be a personal trainer, but the ACSM also prepares you to become a specialist through additional certifications.

ACSM CPT careers include:

Preparation will make or break your ability to pass the exam. We recommend checking out the Trainer Academy ACSM study guide online. If you are wondering how to prepare for exams, we’ve got you covered.

Hopefully, this ACSM CPT study guide helped you prepare for your examination. It’s time to pick your testing dates and get your ACSM cert!


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