Welcome to the Trainer Academy article that’ll tell you everything about the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) personal training, or NASM-CPT, certification exam, and answer the most frequently asked questions.
We know you’ve been anxious to learn more about the NASM exam, so we’ll share with you this:
- NASM-CPT exam requirements
- Certified personal trainer exam level of difficulty
- Exam layout and costs
- How to pass your NASM-CPT exam
After reading this article, we promise that you’ll gain insightful knowledge of the NASM-CPT exam and confidence in your ability to ace your NASM-CPT certification exam!
Check out our premium study materials if you want to guarantee that you pass the NASM CPT exam. It comes with an exam pass money-back guarantee with a 99% pass rate.
Don’t forget to download our 14-step NASM-CPT exam preparation checklist to ensure that you pass the test.
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NASM-CPT Exam Requirements
Before enrollment into the NASM personal trainer course, it’s required for you to meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years of age or older
- Have a high school diploma or the equivalent (GED)
- Hold current and valid Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certifications; CPR tests preferably from American Red Cross or American Heart Association
- Have a government-issued form of ID (i.e. driver’s license, passport)
- Have a strong passion for health, fitness, and helping others live a healthy lifestyle
In order to enroll in the NASM-CPT certified personal training courses and to ultimately receive your personal training certification, it is mandatory to meet all of the above prerequisites.
Please note that on the day of your certified trainer exam, you will be required to bring proof of your government-issued photo ID, CPR certification, and AED certification to the testing center.
These cannot be expired, as these credentials will be verified by the proctor before you are permitted to begin your NASM-CPT certification exam.
If you have any lapsed certifications, please make sure to renew them as soon as possible, as this may affect your eligibility to test.
I just arrived at the testing center, and I forgot my documents.
Sorry Charlie, but you must then reschedule your exam for another day.
If you cannot be verified, you cannot take the exam.
That’s just how it is.
Lastly, if you want a successful career as a personal trainer, you must have a strong passion for helping others achieve their health and fitness goals.
Your clients will want to work on specific goals sometimes, such as improving cardiorespiratory fitness, balance training, resistance training, or core training.
Maybe you’ll work with an athlete on plyometrics to help develop stamina and improve overall endurance.
As trainers, we also need to know the proper forms and functional biomechanics.
You must also have a passion for motivating clients to be conscious of their choices and behaviors as they relate to and affect their health and fitness.
You may go over the importance of making SMART goals with your clients, which are realistic goals that can be measured and are safe and effective.
Clients love trainers who are attentive and truly care about their progress both inside and outside of the gym.
Gotta celebrate small client victories and non-scale victories, too!
Depending on who your client is, a fist bump after a core circuit or a high-five after an intense exercise can be encouraging.
Also, a client who decided to drink more water instead of sugary drinks is a client worth praising.
Every step counts!
As trainers, we have the ability to change people’s lives, which is why patience and interpersonal relationships skills are also just as important as making money as a personal trainer in terms of your long-term success helping people.
Level of Difficulty
The NASM-CPT exam pass rate is 64%, which means your odds of failing are 36%.
Back in 2015, the NASM-CPT exam pass rate was 67%.
While you are much more likely to pass and obtain your personal trainer license, just know that failing isn’t completely off the cards if you don’t adequately prepare for testing.
When comparing these statistics to ones of other fitness professional exams, without a doubt the NASM-CPT exam difficulty is on the higher end of the spectrum.
But that’s not all.
Because this CPT exam is certainly not the most difficult one out there.
Other certification programs, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) personal trainer exam and the National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA CSCS) exam, are notorious for their exam level of difficulty, the latter being the more difficult.
The personal trainer ACSM exam pass rate revolves around 68%, whereas the pass rate of the NSCA-CSCS is approximately 56%.
To put your mind more at ease, the level of difficulty, with this NASM exam and any other, can be combated with preparing appropriately, reviewing practice test questions, making flashcards, and anything more you could think of!
Point is, take action!
Remember the higher level of difficulty means that when you pass the exam you’ll be in a better class of personal trainers, able to increase your personal trainer salary over time.
Now let’s see what the NASM-CPT exam layout looks like!
The NASM-CPT certification exam tests your knowledge of materials from the various chapters and domains set throughout the entire course textbook.
Keep in mind that each section is also weighted differently, so you may definitely need to prepare more for some sections than you would for other sections.
If you want to take the steps to become a personal trainer through NASM here are the sections you’ll be tested on:
- Domain 1: Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching
- Domain 2: Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts
- Domain 3: Assessment
- Domain 4: Program Design
- Domain 5: Exercise Technique and Training Instruction
- Domain 6: Professional Development and Responsibility
Here is a comprehensive NASM-CPT exam layout condensed for you and in weighted percentages, as it appears on the official certification exam:
|Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts||17%|
|Exercise Technique and Training Instruction||22%|
|Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching||12%|
|Professional Development and Responsibility||10%|
As you can see in the table, the two most crucial domains are Program Design and Exercise Technique and Training Instruction.
This makes sense. These are the top two most important skills for personal trainers to have in terms of the basic personal trainer job description.
If we were to do a top 3, Assessment is the third most important section.
And again, this makes sense because as professional personal trainers, we must have the knowledge of different types of assessments, how to interpret them, and why they are important for clients.
The other sections are important as well, but make sure when studying, that you devote extra attention to those top 3 domains, Exercise Technique and Training Instruction, being the priority.
Nutrition is given less of a emphasis here versus some of the other PT programs out there and you may find you want to look at the NASM nutrition certification or another nutrition coach certification out there for more knowledge or if you want to become a nutrition coach.
For more information on the NASM CPT, we a comprehensive NASM review that covers the content you will learn with NASM.
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It is important to know that NASM does not only offer one study package and CPT exam but multiple.
For example, you have an assortment of materials that provide both practical and theoretical study options.
NASM also offers a decent variety of career support resources with higher-tier packages.
Four, to be exact.
- Self-Study Program
- Premium Self-Study Program
- Guided Study Program
- All-Inclusive Program
And depending on which NASM-CPT study package you purchase, pricing varies.
Let’s take a look at the four different NASM-CPT study packages available and their standard pricing:
|Premium self-study package||$1099|
|Guided self-study package||$1499|
Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for prices to change every now and then and that there are opportunities to apply NASM discounts and special promotions.
Are you a military veteran or service member?
You are eligible for unique discounts for sure.
More ways to become eligible for NASM discounts include participating or signing up for some of the membership deals and study package promotions, such as NASM Connected.
NASM Connected offers the best value for fitness professionals.
When you sign up, you will get access to everything you’ll need to expand your personal training career, learn to master new disciplines, maintain your certification, and manage client workouts.
This is all included in one package.
Did I already say NASM Connected was the best value?
Also, you can refer to the NASM website on a regular basis to best keep yourself informed of any additional discounts and promotions too.
When compared to other training instruction and fitness certifications, NASM is no doubt on the higher end of the spectrum.
It’s not the cheapest personal trainer certification, but in many ways that’s a good thing.
This is because of the high quality and accreditation.
You truly do get what you pay for.
How to Pass Your NASM-CPT Certification Exam
We get it, you want to pass.
And we can ensure you that with proper, adequate studying, there’s no doubt that you’ll do your absolute best!
NASM gives you 180 days from when you enrolled in your courses to take the exam, so you will definitely have plenty of time to prepare.
Also, you will have access to NASM course content for 5 years, but an extension for the exam can be purchased by contacting the NASM Member Services.
Furthermore, if you aren’t ready to take your certification exam, or simply forget to register for your certification exam within the 12-month period, you will need to pay an extra $75.00 fee to gain an extra 3 months of preparation and exam time.
Now let’s cut to chase and go through some NASM study tips:
- Time management
- Have a structure
- Take advantage of the free NASM study guides
- Make flashcards
- Be consitent
How long does it take to become a personal trainer with NASM, to pass the rigorous test? It will vary based on what you put into your prep.
The most important test-taking skill is time management.
Please know the 180-day limit, and study accordingly.
If you already have a background in basic exercise science, kinesiology, or anatomy, then studying for your NASM-CPT exam may come easier.
If not, you may want to look into studying extra material which covers this, or simply breeze through these sections in your NASM course textbook, and write notes to refer to.
Point is, you want to be as knowledgeable as possible.
At first, all of the material may seem overwhelming, especially if you are not already familiar with the topics covered in the coursework and textbook.
So please allow ample time to study, study, study!
Remember back in elementary school when the teacher assigned homework to do an outline or highlight certain keywords in a book?
Your 5th-grade teacher may actually have had a point with that.
Outlining and highlighting are forms of structure.
Having a structure, or certain way of helping you retain relevant information may also increase the chances you’ll have a much better and clearer understanding of the information.
Breeze through summaries in the textbook as well.
Instead of trying to memorize things verbatim, try and focus on getting the gist of each chapter by simply reading the summary.
Do summaries not cut it?
It must be because you’re a visual learner, we figured that out quickly!
Good thing for the lecture videos, which NASM has a ton of those you can watch and listen to.
Maybe you’ll watch the videos once, maybe twice, maybe three times. Up to you!
You may also save the transcripts for reference.
Are you more of a DIY-er?
NASM has activities you can try, which are fun and very informative, and they offer something different rather than just reading, writing, or watching the lectures.
The NASM activities are a great way to assess your knowledge and see which areas you are confident and strong in, and also which areas you should definitely consider re-studying.
Then lastly, there’s a free chapter quiz at the end of each chapter.
There are 16 chapters in total, so that’s 16 NASM chapter quizzes that you can take for free!
Assess your knowledge and aim for at least 90% or better on each.
If you do not achieve a 90% or better on the first attempt, it is highly encouraged to go back and skim through the chapter, maybe take some notes, and then re-attempt the practice quiz.
Furthermore, NASM also provides free study guides that you can use to increase the chances you’ll pass your certification exam.
Basically, the NASM study guide is a summary that is divided into 6 primary domains, just like the official exam.
So you’ll see each domain and the corresponding related content.
Spend the most time studying the domains which are most prevalent on the exam.
The top 3 most prevalent domains are as follows:
- Exercise Technique and Training Instruction
- Progam Design
There’s also a 120 questions master quiz, which will grant you the opportunity to put your skills to the test.
See what you know, see what you don’t.
If you feel super confident with one section, keep it that way.
Whereas if you know you’re having trouble in a particular section, study, study, study!
You may go back and take this NASM master quiz as many times as you want to.
Here, you’ll find the best quality NASM study materials clearly condensed into one document.
You’ll have the questions and the corresponding answers.
But it is recommended to only view the provided answers to check your answers and to use the answers as points of reference when you are stuck or wrong.
Using the Trainer Academy NASM-CPT certification exam study guide will reduce your study time by 50%!
But what if study guides, personal notes, and the textbook and coursework are not enough?
Sometimes, it’s not.
Don’t limit yourself to these means of studying. Sky’s the limit!
Know that you can also make flashcards, as they tend to be popular among students, and will relieve you of having “too much information” in your face all at once.
The main topics you can include on your flashcards are the muscles (refer to Appendix D, and include the origin, insertion, isolated function, and integrated function), any key terms and phrases with corresponding definitions, and of course, the famous NASM OPT-Model.
Plus, you can have a friend or a family member quiz you, too.
Don’t work hard, work smart!
Most importantly, consistency is key!
Please stay true to the 180-day time limit from your enrollment period and just stay focused.
You must remember that you are doing this for yourself, by yourself, so that you can be a NASM certified personal trainer in the near future.
In the very near future, that is!
And lastly, don’t forget to breathe!
Study, but take breaks whenever needed, and maybe go for a 20-minute nature walk to clear your head.
Burnout from studying too hard is a real thing and may negatively affect you in the long run.
So study, but just don’t kill yourself, are we clear?
And, for those of you who want to take your studying to the next level, we suggest our premium NASM MVP study system which has a 99% pass rate and a money-back exam pass guarantee.
Here are some things that we liked and did not like about the NASM-CPT certification exam information; check the list below:
What we liked:
- The NASM-CPT certification exam is very straightforward
- The exam layout is not confusing and is carefully broken down into 6 domains
- High-quality study materials and made easy to comprehend
- Multiple study packages to choose from (4)
- Lenient exam and retake policies
- NASM-CPT salary higher than most other CPTs
- NCCA-accredited program
What we didn’t like:
- On the pricier side compared to other CPT certification exams
- Exam difficulty on the higher end of the spectrum
Overall this really is one of the best certs out there.
It doesn’t go as in depth on the anatomy and physiology sections as the ACSM certification. But that material is more important for people with exercise science degree jobs versus personal trainers. NASM doesn’t cover the more specialized forms of periodization like the NSCA personal training cert or the NSCA CSCS exam, but that information is more important when you are working with athletes instead of the general population.
NASM gives you the basics of what you need to know, but doesn’t overcomplicate the matter, which is great when you are starting out.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many questions are on the NASM-CPT exam, and how long do I have to complete it?
There are 120 multiple choice questions on your NASM-CPT final exam. Of all, 20 questions are research questions and will thus be unscored, so they do not count toward or against your final score. You will be given a 2-hour time limit and you must pass with a score of 70 or better. If you do not pass, there are retest options.
Does NASM offer any special accommodations for the CPT exam?
NASM complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and therefore does offer Special Accommodations for the CPT Exam. To ensure the opportunity for all those who qualify, NASM will make special accommodations for candidates with disabilities that might affect their NASM certification exam taking. Please refer to NASM.org for more information and instructions on how to proceed. Just keep in mind that to apply for special accommodations regarding your exam, you must be enrolled in the in-person proctored exam.
Does the NASM-CPT exam ever expire?
You bet your bottom it does! Yes. Your CPT license exam expires 180 days from the date of enrollment. Not sure when that date was? Not a problem. Just log into NASM.org, click where it says “My Account” and select the “Courses” menu option. In your “Courses” list, go to “CPT Exam” enrollment and click the blue action button. You’ll then see the exam enrollment page, and your expiration date will be highlighted in red lettering at the upper right-hand corner of the page.
Where can I find a NASM certification practice exam?
Depending on which study package you purchased, you may have 1 or more free personal trainer practice exams and test prep available to you during your full enrollment period. You can locate the practice questions in your NASM Student Portal.
Where can I find the best exam study guides and tips?
You can find many great NASM study guides and tips for acing your fitness trainer certification exam, but by far, Trainer Academy is home to the absolute best free NASM exam prep, free NASM practice test, and more! Check it out.
What happens if I miss my exam appointment?
If you miss your certification exam appointment, you must contact NASM Member Services (see NASM website for this information) to reactivate your CPT exam eligibility. Kindly note that additional fees may apply.
What happens if I need to cancel my exam appointment?
If you need to cancel or reschedule your in-person exam appointment at your designated testing center, call PSI at least 24 hours in advance to avoid being charged a late cancellation fee. If you fail to show up for your certification exam appointment without canceling, your certification exam eligibility gets voided, and you will not be entitled to a full refund.
Will I receive my exam score?
Unfortunately, NASM does not release exam scores, even if it is only for you to see. Whether you pass or fail your NASM-CPT exam, PSI will provide you with a detailed score report.
I passed! When will I receive my NASM certification?
An official NASM fitness training certificate will be mailed to the mailing address you have listed in your NASM account within 4 to 6 weeks after passing your fitness certification exam. You will also receive a digital copy of your certificate, which can be found in the “Certificates” section of your NASM Student Portal, within 1 business day of passing your fitness certification exam.
I failed my NASM-CPT exam! Now what?
So you failed your initial exam attempt? Don’t worry! You are certainly more than eligible to retake your NASM-CPT test. Your final exam can be purchased, and if you have any additional questions, you may review the requirements and limitations for final exam retakes in the NASM Exam Candidate Handbook. Please visit NASM.org to contact the NASM Member Services team.
How to become a personal trainer once certified?
With your official NASM-CPT certificate, the world of professional fitness is yours to conquer! Research prospective employers and companies. Prepare for job interviews. Most new trainers start their personal training careers in commercial gyms. Some experienced trainers have fitness careers independently or online as virtual physical fitness coaches. Some do both online and in-person physical training. The best way to learn how to become a successful personal trainer is just to do it!
Is the NASM-CPT worth it?
The NASM-CPT is a well-renowned certification and is actually the best personal training certification in the fitness industry. It is the most popular personal training certification online course! You may also choose a specialization, such as a group fitness instructor, corrective exercise specialist, health coach, and more. So if you are passionate about human movement and want to train a general population, then the NASM-CPT may be the best personal trainer certification for you after all!
We know that the NASM-CPT certification exam is somewhat tough, but we are here to help guide you toward a passing score.
There are four different study packages for you to choose from, so make sure you review them, all to see which one best fits your needs.
Compare and contrast the costs of each study package, too.
Sometimes, the price is worth the pay, and this is definitely the case with NASM!
Can’t beat its high-quality study materials and expert support. It’s certainly one of the best NCCA personal trainer certifications.
The NASM exam level of difficulty is pretty high up there when compared to other personal trainer certifications, such as ACE, Action, and the ISSA CPT.
But the NASM-CPT certification exam is actually pretty straightforward in terms of structure and layout.
It covers everything from the NASM textbook, lecture videos, and online courses all compartmentalized into 6 comprehensive domains.
And, in case you were looking for more online NASM-CPT exam study guide options, Trainer Academy gives you an edge on how to pass your NASM-CPT exam with an in-depth, free NASM-CPT study guide.
While you may find many options for legitimate personal trainer certifications, keep in mind that only a handful are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Your personal trainer job outlook will be better with a well known cert like NASM.
Do you have to be certified to be a personal trainer? In almost all cases it’s important to be certified and you want the best cert you can find.
We wish you nothing but the best as you embark on your journey to passing your certification exam, and becoming the best NASM-CPT that you know you could be!
Stay tuned for more Trainer Academy articles that’ll help you be the best personal trainer and fitness professional that you could ever be!
Whichever exam you pick, good luck!