ISSA Exam Info & FAQ - ISSA Test Prep 2022

Hello and welcome to our page covering all the need-to-know information for the ISSA Exam.

The ISSA PT certification final exam is essential for completing your certification and making use of the credentials in your profession as a certified trainer.

In this article, we will be covering these items:

The basic exam requirements for certification
The difficulty of the certification exam
ISSA certification exam breakdown by domain
The answers to all frequently asked questions

After reading this page, you will be able to prepare for the ISSA exam by knowing all of the basics regarding this organization’s certification exam for personal training.

So, let’s get into it by first breaking down the domains of the exam!

ISSA Exam Breakdown

Let’s begin by going over the basic information when it comes to taking the exam.

The ISSA, or the International Sports Sciences Association, has an examination process similar to all other organizations in fitness.

Passing the CPT certification exam sets up the path to becoming a personal trainer.

The ISSA exam is a 200 question multiple-choice test, as opposed to the older multiple-choice questions, case study, essay combination exam they used to give. The exam is also open-book, which surprises many people.

The open-book status of the exam makes it seem like a pass guarantee, but it doesn’t automatically mean you will pass. You still need to study well to answer the questions that will come up.

We still suggest going through practice tests to ready yourself for the exam, along with a study program to make sure you are fully prepared.

The exams are given through online testing, along with their offered quizzes which cover the various chapters and units. Online personal trainer certifications make it even easier to enter the world of fitness as a physical trainer.

All ISSA courses, including the certified personal trainer course, must be completed within 6 whole months from the date of purchase.

The ISSA is accredited by the DEAC, which is considered to be the second-best option for fitness certifications from the many organizations in the industry.

The DEAC accreditation is one of the best options to look for when it comes to grading the certifying agencies.

The company also offers the NCCPT exam, which has a separate fee and is accredited by the NCCA, which is the number one option in the fitness industry. This is nice, although it is not their main certification exam.

Virtually all fitness certifications are accredited by the NCCA or the DEAC. So it is really great that the ISSA offers exams that are covered by both of these great companies.

Just keep in mind that the NCCPT requires an additional proctoring fee that isn’t included with your certification package purchase.

This ensures anyone going for their personal training certification that they are receiving a certification course that has a high reputation and stays up to the industry standards.

The ISSA Personal Trainer Certification is broken down into 6 different domains of study, with different subunits making this up.

Here is the breakdown:

  1. Anatomy and Physiology – 13%
  2. Kinesiology and Biomechanics – 15%
  3. Health and Physical Fitness – 18%
  4. Program Development – 17%
  5. Nutrition – 20%
  6. Fitness For All – 17%
Anatomy and Physiology 13%
Kinesiology and Biomechanics15%
Health and Physical Fitness18%
Program Development17%
Fitness For All17%

So, these 6 units make up the text and the exam, and it is important to nail down these for studying. Some study guides will have things broken down based on each domain.

Take a look at each domain below to see the chapters included and get an idea of what information the domains consist of.

Domain 1: Anatomy and Physiology

  • Chapter 1: Metabolism
  • Chapter 2: Basic Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chapter 3: Musculoskeletal Anatomy and Physiology

Domain 2: Kinesiology and Biomechanics

  • Chapter 4: Kinesiology of Exercise
  • Chapter 5: Biomechanics of Exercise
  • Chapter 6: Musculoskeletal Deviation
  • Chapter 7: Muscle Mechanics

Domain 3: Health and Physical Fitness

  • Chapter 8: Strength
  • Chapter 9: Cardiovascular Training
  • Chapter 10: Flexibility Training
  • Chapter 11: Body Composition

Domain 4: Program Development

  • Chapter 12: Drawing-In Phase
  • Chapter 13: Basic Assessment of Fitness Professionals
  • Chapter 14: Training Pricniples
  • Chapter 15: Periodization
  • Chapter 16: Determining Training Loads

Domain 5: Nutrition

  • Chapter 17: The Bid Picture of Nutrition
  • Chapter 18: Nutritional Physiology
  • Chapter 19: Nutritional Science
  • Chapter 20: Nutritional Coaching

Domain 6: Fitness For All

  • Chapter 21: Exercise for Older Adults
  • Chapter 22: Exercise and Adaptive Fitness
  • Chapter 23: Exercise and Our Youth
  • Chapter 24: Exercise and Hypertension
  • Chapter 25: Exercise and Diabetes
  • Chapter 26: Exercise and Arthritis
  • Chapter 27: Exercise and Coronary Heart Disease
  • Chapter 28: Exercise and Pregnancy
  • Chapter 29: Exercise and Asthma
  • Chapter 30: Sports Medicine in the Trenches
  • Chapter 31: Basic First Aid

Make sure to note the different percentages that these domains will show up on the test. They all stay in the same basic range and are equally important.

Make sure that you qualify for the personal trainer programs by meeting the prerequisites, which are typically going to be high school diplomas and age requirements.

Let’s look at how difficult the exam is considered to be next…

ISSA Exam Difficulty

The ISSA is one of the easier exams in the realm of personal training, but knowing that can sometimes give the impression that you should not study as much as you need to.

It is far from a NASM, ACSM, or NSCA exam, so you don’t need to worry about a near 60% pass rate, but the general pass rate is still hovering near 90% for the ISSA CPT cert. ACE would make it in the list just a tad higher on the difficulty rating if you were wondering.

The exam requires extensive knowledge of the materials within the text and the ability to put multiple concepts together to answer the questions. This is why it is not viable to simply take the test without studying, even though it is an open book.

Also, consider that the exam costs 99$ to retake every time after the second attempt.

ISSA Study Materials

Current Edition Textbook
Online Practice Exams and Quizzes
Audio and Video Lecture Options
Online Study Guide and Workbook
Online Student Forum
Online Exam
NCCA Accredited Exam (NCCPT)

When you purchase the ISSA Personal Training certification program, you will receive the 759-page textbook in an online form. This is the basis of all the course materials needed for passing the ISSA trainer program.

It may be a good idea to get a hard copy of the textbook for learners that enjoy having a physical textbook to mark up and enhance their studies.

They also offer online practice exams and quizzes through the study portal, which allows you to test yourself and keep up with your study program.

There are also video and audio lecture options to go through in the ISSA certified personal trainer package.

Another useful feature of the package is an online fitness coach study guide and workbook for increased effectiveness of your study time.

The package from ISSA also includes the ISSA take-home or online personal training exam. Along with this exam, you get access to a free NCCPT NCCA accredited exam, with the proctoring fee not included.

The CPT Education Bootcamp also allows you to have access to a live guide for studying and will assist with passing your course.

A “new fitness trainers guide” to success is also included with the purchase of an ISSA Study Package.

These are the study materials that are included in the basic certified trainer package from the ISSA website, and they show why it is considered one of the best personal training certifications in the fitness industry.

There are some other packages that include access to additional items like CPR and AED certification. Make sure to check out more than the basic packages.

The ISSA also has an excellent educational support team that works to provide answers to students in the earliest possible timeframe.

There are some amazing deals in the master trainer and elite trainer programs.

The best deal possible is the Elite Trainer Program which includes the certification for personal training, the ISSA nutrition certification (called the ISSA nutritionist), and then four other specialization courses.

This program will ensure that you master all of the possible exercise science topics ranging from nutrition to biomechanics. You can work with athletes in strength training, bodybuilding, or other top realms for a fitness professional.

ISSA Exam Study Tips

Visualize the subjects in the textbook.

This means you will create pictures within your mind that explains and describes something.

Another way to make use of this study tip would be to make mnemonic devices to help remind yourself of concepts during testing.

This happens by making an extreme and descriptive scenario in your head and perhaps even drawing the scenario out.

This also allows you to master the second tip to success, which is linking ideas together.

This can look like the visualization part, in that mnemonic devices and other visualization tools can allow you to remember information better.

The more absurd and exaggerated, the better the study device.

Our final tip is to make use of the three types of learning, which are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

So, with this, we want to make sure that we engage all three senses, which allows for your brain to process within multiple areas and maximize learning.

Auditory learning means that you are hearing the concepts with your ears. This can be through reading out loud to yourself or listening to an audio version of the text or study materials.

Visual learning involves simply reading the textbook, watching videos lectures, and drawing out pictures of the various concepts in the text.

Kinesthetic learning involves the actual demonstration of an exercise or other study material, which allows you to actually apply the things you are reading and hearing. This can also mean having a physical textbook, as compared to the digital version.

A lot of people say that people are one of these three types, and that is likely true that we respond to one of these three the greatest, but engaging all of these sources helps to retain the maximum amount of information.

Study materials for all three learning types are available when you purchase a package from ISSA or a study package from Trainer Academy.

ISSA Exam Retake

If you fail the exam, you will need to sign up for a retest on the CPT exam.

The ISSA actually offers one free retake on a portion of the exam, but anything after that will require a fee.

The fee for every retake after that first one is 99$.

The ISSA fitness instructor exam may be on the easier side of exams in the online fitness trainer realm, but personal training licensing still requires that you know a lot of material, and the retake fee being 99$ means that you really need to master the textbook.

It is a good idea to make use of free personal trainer practice testing found online for ISSA training or to pay for a program to help keep you on track, like the ones we offer at Trainer Academy.

Study help from an established company can be like striking gold and allow you to ace your fitness trainer certification and give the best personal coach experience to your initial clients.

Also, ensure that you make use of the ISSA’s educational support when you have kind of question that arises.

This will only help you out in the long run.


What we liked:

  • Near 90% pass rate for the exam
  • Great sports nutrition and regular nutrition focus
  • Thorough program design and certification course
  • Retest fee is one of the lowest in the industry

What we didn’t like:

  • Lack of NCCA accreditation on the standard exam
  • Expensive exam-only price
  • Average salary expectations sit a tad lower than other CPT certs

In conclusion, the ISSA gym instructor/personal trainer certification is perhaps the best personal trainer certification due to being slightly easier than industry-standard certifications and still having all of the essential gym trainer information that makes a well-rounded national PT training certification.

After you have received your certification, make sure that you are prepared to get your continuing education credits, or CEUs, which allow you to achieve recertification every few years.

Also ensure that you have your certification for AED, CPR, and first aid ready to go. This can be achieved through ISSA if your employer accepts online certification, or it can be achieved through an organization like the American Heart Association.

For more information on the ISSA personal training certification and other PT certifications, make sure to check out our article on how to become a personal trainer.

If you would like to become an ISSA certified personal trainer fast, look no further than Trainer Academy to strengthen your studies and cut down the time in half.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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