NASM Exam Info and FAQ - Best NASM Test Prep Info: Fall 2021


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

We promise that after reading this article, you’ll gain insightful knowledge of the NASM-CPT exam, and sheer confidence in your ability to ace your NASM-CPT certification exam!

Let’s go!

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.

What now?

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 him or her develop stamina and improve overall endurance.

As trainers, we also need to know proper forms and functional biomechanics.

You must also have the 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, 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 important.

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 ACSM personal trainer 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!

Now let’s see what the NASM-CPT exam layout looks like!

Exam Layout

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.

Sections included are as follows:

  • 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 Concepts17%
Program Design21%
Exercise Technique and Training Instruction22%
Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching12%
Professional Development and Responsibility10%

As you can see in the table, the two most crucial domains are Program Design and Exercise Technique and Training Instruction.

This makes sense, being that these are the top two most important skills for personal trainers to have.

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.

Exam Cost

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.

These are:

  • 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:

Self-study package$699
Premium self-study package$1099
Guided self-study package$1499
All-inclusive package$2199

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.

But this is definitely 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.

See the source image

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
  • Breathe

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
  • Assessment

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.

Also, kindly note that Trainer Academy offers a free, comprehensive NASM personal trainer study guide and practice test for the certification exam as well!

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%!

Check it out here!

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?

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 straightforawrd
  • The exam layout is not confusing, and 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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


The answers to the hottest questions about the NASM-CPT certification exam are right below.

Because who doesn’t want closure and love the peace of mind?


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, expert support, and NCCA-accreditation.

The NASM exam level of difficulty is pretty high up there when compared to other personal trainer certifications, such as ACE, Action, and ISSA.

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).

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!

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