Free NASM CPT Practice Test

Welcome to the Trainer Academy NASM CPT exam prep guide. 

This guide covers the most essential facts, figures, and frequently asked questions regarding the NASM CPT exam and NASM training.

We’re going to kick things off with a short but sweet NASM practice test designed to challenge you on what we’ve identified as the most difficult questions in the exam.

NASM CPT’s curriculum is divided into 6 distinct domains. These domains tackle different aspects of activity a typical fitness practitioner would undertake.

After that, we’ll go in-depth into each domain, peeling the hood back so you can gain a proper understanding of NASM study focal points.

The NASM examination is pretty straight forward in terms of structure, but we would also like to give you some insight into the NASM test difficulty just so you know what you’re getting into.

For this, we will be looking at the NASM exam pass rate, giving you an edge on how to pass the NASM CPT exam.


NASM CPT Practice Test

The NASM practice test vs real test is just a question of how the test is administered, but as far as the actual questions are concerned, you’ll be able to engage with authentic NASM questions right here.

As mentioned, we’ve picked out what we’ve identified as the most challenging NASM certification test questions.

You’ll be going through each domain, answering 10 questions from each domain, giving you a grand total of 60 questions for you to practice with.

It’s important to note that each of these exam domains is weighted differently based on what NASM regards as the most essential points of skill and knowledge for a fitness professional.

The 6 domains are broken down as:

  • 10%   Professional Development and Responsibility
  • 12%   Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching
  • 17%   Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts
  • 18%   Assessment
  • 21%   Program Design
  • 22%   Exercise Technique and Training Instruction

This practice test will challenge you on each domain, but you’ll ultimately need to focus on the big ones.

Domain 1: Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts (17%)

At 17% weighting, this domain rounds off the bottom 3. 

Here you will be tested on your scientific and theoretical knowledge of nutrition and human biology.

A common colloquial idiom that goes “gains are made in the kitchen” is pretty much the premise for half this domain, although we do feel NASM could have gone more in-depth with the coaching methodology around nutrition and less on just the theory side of things.

In any case, your concern is what you’re challenged within the actual test. When it comes to nutrition, pay attention to concepts such as macro and micronutrients as well as supplements.

The other half concerns human biology. The focus being human biochemistry (energetics, metabolism, endocrine system, cardiorespiratory system) and human biomechanics ( neurotransmission, kinesiology, and basic principles of biophysics).

10 Questions and explanations from Domain 1

1. When would a trainer be permitted to legally offer counseling to a client?

A. A trainer should always offer counseling to clients
B. A trainer should always refer clients to a licensed professional counselor
C. The client doesn’t show any progress
D. If the client is struggling to meet their training appointments

2. Which of the following is not a way to create a proprioceptively enriched environment?

A. performing active isolation exercises
B. using a foam pad
C. balancing on one leg
D. exercising in the sand

3. Which of the following isn’t a division of the spinal column?

A. Sternum
B. Sacrum
C. Coccyx
D. Thoracic

4. What can the sliding filament theory be described as?

A. The process of electrical impulses that slide from the CNS down the axon of the neuron, in order to initiate muscle contractions
B. Thick and thin filaments within the sarcomere move past one another, this results in shortened muscle and force production
C. The process of neural stimulation that creates a contraction of the muscle
D. Troponin providing binding sites along the actin filament for both tropomyosin and calcium when there is a need for the muscle to contract

5. What two hormones are responsible for fight or flight?

A. growth hormone and testosterone
B. epinephrine and testosterone
C. epinephrine and norepinephrine
D. testosterone and estrogen

6. Proprioception uses information from which of these in order to provide information regarding the body position and movement?

A. chemoreceptors
B. sensorimotor integration
C. muscle synergies
D. mechanoreceptors

7. Which of these is a sesamoid bone?

A. patella
B. humerus
C. vertebrae
D. carpals of the hand

8. What two factors make up cardiac output?

A. heart rate x systolic blood pressure
B. heart rate/stroke volume
C. heart rate x stroke volume
D. systolic blood pressure / diastolic blood pressure

9. Which is the fastest energy system?

A. ATP-PC system
B. Glycolysis
C. oxidative system
D. the Krebs cycle

10. A fracture that is proximal to the head of the humerus is located where?

A. It is located at the top of the humerus
B. It is located on the left side of the humerus
C. It is located at the midline of the humerus
D. It is located at the bottom of the humerus

Domain 2: Assessment (18%)

The bottom of the top 3 domains in terms of weighting, assessment deals with topics and concepts around determining where your client is at, what they can or can’t do, and what it will take to achieve their goals.

Assessment is the crucial first step in dealing with a client and as such, is considered an important domain, and weighted accordingly.

This domain covers a wide variety of assessment protocols and methodologies for the PAR-Q and other questionnaire formats as well as more hands-on approaches such as the various strength tests (overhead squat, push, pull, postural assessment, etc…)

In order to nail this domain, you will simply have to study and understand each assessment type, perhaps even try them out in real-world situations so you can match what the book says, with the skills you’re actually equipping.

10 Questions and explanations from Domain 2

1. All of the following muscles are overactive in upper crossed syndrome except for:

A. levator scapulae
B. upper trapezius
C. deep cervical flexors
D. sternocleidomastoid

2. What position is the ankle put in when wearing shoes with high heels?

A. a pronated position
B. a dorsiflexed position
C. a supinated position
D. a plantarflexed position

3. Which joint mechanic is present in upper crossed syndrome?

A. Increased scapular protraction
B. Decreased cervical extension
C. Increased shoulder rotation
D. Increased shoulder extension

4. The Durnin formula includes each of the following skinfold sites except:

A. Midaxillary
B. Subscapular.
C. Biceps
D. Triceps

5. Which assessment is good for the single leg squat assessment?

A. Overhead squat assessment
B. Inline lunge assessment
C. Single-leg balance assessment
D. Stork balance test

6. Why do we do the L.E.F.T. test?

A. L.E.F.T. assesses dynamic posture, lower extremity power, and speed
B. L.E.F.T. assesses gait, body control, speed, and balance
C. L.E.F.T. assesses dexterity, acceleration, and deceleration
D. L.E.F.T. assesses speed, explosive power, and neuromuscular regulation

7. Which of the following is the best collection of objective assessments for a sedentary but healthy client who is 45, had a knee injury five years ago but was cleared by her doctor to exercise, and wants to build muscle, lose fat, and increase flexibility?

A. Circumference measurements, Step Test, Overhead squat assessment, Push-Up Test, Shark Skill Test, Upper extremity strength assessment
B. Body fat measurement, Circumference measurements, Resting heart rate, Blood pressure, Step Test, Overhead squat assessment, Single-leg balance/squat
C. Medical release from the client’s physician, Resting heart rate, Blood pressure, Step Test, Overhead squat assessment, Assisted single-leg squat assessment
D. Body fat measurement, Step Test, Davies Test, Shark Skill Test, Lower extremity strength assessment

8. Which of these are cardiorespiratory assessments?

A. YMCA 3-Minute Step Test and Davies Test
B. Davies Test and Shark Skill Test
C. Rockport Walk Test and Davies Test
D. YMCA 3-Minute Step Test and Rockport Walk Test

9. What is signified by a lower resting heart rate?

A. A more efficient and fit cardiorespiratory system
B. Overtraining or increased life stress
C. A less efficient and fit cardiorespiratory system
D. Poor sleeping patterns

10. Which of the following muscles is overactive when someone demonstrates an excessive forward lean?

A. Anterior tibialis
B. Gastrocnemius
C. Gluteus maximus
D. Erector spinae

Domain 3: Program Design (21%)

The program design is the meat and potatoes of being a successful PT. 

Whether you’re an in-person coach, or virtual online coach, your ability to create a structured plan of action that is both evidence-based and results-driven is your primary objective.

In recognition of this, NASM has made program design the second most focused domain of the lot. In fact, it barely falls behind the number one spot.

This is therefore one you need to focus on.

One of the biggest aspects of program design as it concerns NASM is the OPT model or optimal performance training.

This is the framework on which NASM delivers fitness, so it will be integrated into most program design questions.

A firm understanding of periodization will also count in your favor. 

Other areas of focus include:

  • Exercise principles (GAS, SAID, Overload, Variation)
  • Periodization methodologies (linear, undulating)
  • Overtraining
  • Current trends

10 Questions and explanations from Domain 3

1. Why do we choose slower tempos for stabilization and endurance?

A. The tempo encourages less fatigue and longer stamina
B. The tempo is inversely related to training intensity
C. The rep speed is inhibited by the stamina of the client
D. The slow velocity improves nervous system preparation time

2. Why does performance improve when resting between sets?

A. Adenine and cytosine are reduced during training, and rest allows replenishment
B. Glutamine and tyrosine are reduced during training, and rest allows replenishment
C. Methionine and adenosine triphosphate are reduced during training, and rest allows replenishment
D. Adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine are reduced during training, and rest allows replenishment

3. Which rep range is best for maximal strength adaptations?

A. 1 to 10 reps at 30-45% 1RM
B. 1 to 5 reps at 85-100% 1RM
C. 12 to 20 reps at 50-70% 1RM
D. 6 to 12 reps at 75-85% 1RM

4. Which of these produces both hypertrophy and fat loss?

A. High volume, low/moderate-intensity training
B. Low volume, maximal strength training
C. Low volume, high-intensity training
D. High volume, high-intensity training

5. Why should we continue stabilization training both during and after strength and power training?

A. Stabilization training is the most efficient cardiorespiratory training
B. Stabilization training will burn more calories
C. Stabilization training will increase the rate of force production
D. Stabilization training will maintain core and joint stability

6. Which of these is not a low volume training adaptation?

A. Increased rate of force production
B. Increased muscle cross-sectional area
C. Increased motor unit recruitment
D. Increased motor unit synchronization

7. How much of our ATP and phosphocreatine can be restored in 20-30 seconds?

A. 100%
B. 50%
C. 75%
D. 85%

8. Which combo of sets, reps, intensity, tempo, and rest supports power training?

A. 1-5, 3-6, 30-45% 1RM, fast/explosive, 0-60 seconds
B. 1-10, 3-6, 85-100% 1RM, fast/explosive, 3-5 minutes
C. 1-5, 4-6, 85-100% 1RM, fast/explosive, 3-5 minutes
D. 1-10, 3-6, 30-45% 1RM, fast/explosive, 3-5 minutes

9. Which is not a multi-joint exercise? 

A. Calf raises
B. Squats
C. Step-ups
D. Chest presses

10. Which rep tempo is ideal for increasing muscular endurance and stabilization?

A. 4/2/1
B. 1/4/1
C. 1/0/1
D. 2/0/2

Domain 4: Exercise Technique and Training Instruction

This is the most prominent domain in the exam, but only by a single percentage.

Here you will be tested on your ability as a coach in real-time, real-world scenarios.

You will also be assessed on your knowledge and ability to identify and execute proper exercise protocols and forms of technique.

The aim is to optimize your ability to achieve results and achieve them safely.

Focus on all the main training methodologies such as SAQ, resistance, flexibility, balance, and core training.

You will also need to successfully categorize different exercises based on which training methodology they fall under as well as have an understanding of different types of equipment and apparatus you can employ for exercise instruction.

Focus on the different training methodology charts, understand the modalities, and memorize a few exercises in each category.

Other points of focus include:

  • Cueing techniques (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory)
  • Exercise regression/progression
  • Spotting techniques

10 Questions and explanations from Domain 4

1. Reciprocal inhibition is:

A. The resting length of a muscle and the tension that the muscle is able to produce at that resting length
B. Response to stimuli that activates movement in muscles
C. When a muscle relaxes to allow another muscle to contract
D. Muscle groups produce movement around a joint by moving at the same time

2. Relative flexibility is:

A. An increase in the normal movement and functionality of a joint, this alters the range of motion

B. The human movement system finds the movement path that has the least resistance

C. The range of motion joint moves in without pain

D. The neuromuscular system allowing agonists, antagonists, and stabilizers to synergistically produce muscle forces

3. Overactivity and tightness within a muscle tends to have what kind of relationship?

A. A relative relationship
B. There is no relationship
C. A direct relationship
D. An inverse relationship

4. What type of flexibility is static stretching considered?

A. Functional flexibility
B. Active flexibility
C. Immobile flexibility
D. Corrective flexibility

5. Autogenic inhibition is:

A. A process in which neural impulses recruit muscles in order to produce force using mechanoreceptors
B. A process where inhibitory action to muscle fibers will lead to excessive increases in muscle length
C. A process in which proper muscle contraction is inhibited by excessive tightness of the muscle, this could lead to injury
D. A process in which tension impulses are greater than contraction impulses, leading to relaxation of the muscle

6. What muscles need to be statically stretched?

A. The major muscles at each kinetic chain checkpoint
B. Muscles that have been identified as weak
C. All the muscles of the lower body
D. Muscles that have been identified as overactive

7. Why is myofascial release beneficial before a workout?

A. It can prevent muscle soreness
B. It can break up fascial adhesions
C. It can help flush out excess lactic acid
D. It can be used as a method of muscle activation

8. What type of stretching needs to be avoided if postural distortions are present?

A. Ballistic stretching
B. Active-isolated stretching
C. Self-myofascial release (SMR)
D. Static stretching

9. Which of these is pattern overload?

A. Walking every day for 20 minutes
B. Variety of core strength exercises at every training session
C. Superset resistance training several days per week
D. Extended periods of sitting every day

10. Which ligament receives high stress during the inverted hurdler’s stretch?

A. Medial collateral ligament
B. Anterior cruciate ligament
C. Lateral collateral ligament
D. Posterior cruciate ligament

Domain 5: Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching (12%)

The next domain from smallest to biggest is Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching.

This encapsulates a concept many like to call “change psychology”.

That’s because as a health coach, your main goal is actually to inspire a change of habits and behaviors from ones that lead to negative health impacts, to those that lead to more positive outcomes.

This is achieved through successful and effective communication, which is why questions from this domain will test you mainly on the quality and methodology of communication as a PT.

Topics in this domain include best practices for listening such as active listening, providing support, as well as the quality and nature of feedback.

You will also be assessed on your ability to identify barriers to success towards client goals.

10 Questions and explanations from Domain 5

1. What is the best description of instrumental support?

A. The support expressed through encouragement, caring, empathy, and concern
B. Individuals or groups that remove tangible barriers to exercise
C. The availability of family, friends, and coworkers to exercise with the client
D. The support that includes directions, advice, or suggestions given to clients about exercising

2. What is the definition of the “S” in SMART goals?

A. Specific enough that the trainer knows what it implies
B. Specific enough that the client can remember it
C. Specific enough that anyone can understand it
D. Specific enough that any trainer could understand it

3. What is a good short term goal?

A. Perform 100 push-ups every day for six months
B. Become a size 8 and fit into old clothes
C. Lose 20 pounds for a high school reunion
D. This week, research three reasons to exercise to support motivation

4. How do we define “realistic” in SMART goals?

A. The client is willing and able to work toward the goal
B. The trainer is sure the client can achieve the goal
C. This type of goal is completely new to the client
D. The goal is something the client is capable of doing

5. How is the M in SMART goals applied?

A. By creating a timeline for the goal’s completion
B. By not making the goal too challenging
C. By making the goal something they are willing and able to work toward
D. By making the goal quantifiable

6. How does positive self talk support client success?

A. It improves the client’s belief in their abilities
B. It forces the client to embrace exercise
C. It allows the client to succeed
D. It has no effect on client success

7. What is the difference between process and product goals?

A. Process goals give the client something to work toward, product goals are something to do in the moment
B. Process goals can be predictively achieved, product goals may or may not be achieved

C. Process goals can always be achieved, product goals are rarely achieved
D. Process goals are only achieved with careful assessment, product goals are simple to achieve

8. Why should trainers ask for permission from clients before educating them?

A. Permission allows trainers to fully speak their mind and share details
B. Trainers should never share information with anyone without having permission
C. It can improve the trainer-client relationship by reducing the imposing image from trainers
D. The client isn’t paying for education, but paying for training and a thorough fitness training plan

9. Which is not a behavior strategy?

A. Self-monitoring
B. Self-management
C. Positive self-talk
D. Goal setting

10. The most important component of a fitness goal is:

A. The client should create the goal of wanting a certain outcome
B. The trainer and client should agree the goal is achievable
C. The trainer and client should agree the goal is important
D. The trainer should create the goal based on what is most beneficial for the client

Domain 6: Professional Development and Responsibility (10%)

This domain holds the lowest weighting and is therefore the one you need to focus on the least.

Having said that, we do feel this domain is important for personal research and education as it covers the business and entrepreneurial fundamentals of personal training.

Essentially, as a qualified PT, you are a business person running a business.

But back to the exam, and how this domain relates. It’s quite a narrow assessment of the topic, and only really tests you on some broad stroke basics of generating income as a PT.

Common concepts in this domain are the four P’s of marketing ( product, price, place, and promotion) as well as effective sales strategies.

10 Questions and explanations from Domain 6

1. Which of these is a niche in the training business?

A. Private gym
B. Women’s fitness
C. Independent contracting
D. Small group training

2. Which additional certification is a NASM PT required to have?

C. First Aid
D. Undergraduate degree

3. Which of these is appropriate when approaching a possible new client that is incorrectly performing an exercise?

A. Informing them that you know the right way to perform the exercise
B. Saying a better way of performing the exercise
C. Telling them about the benefits of the exercise
D. Asking if you can suggest something

4. Which of these is a part of in-home personal training?

A. The trainer pays a fee to a health club in order to train clients
B. The trainer is paid an hourly wage with benefits
C. The trainer must travel and use portable equipment
D. The trainer owns a facility and is responsible for facility ordinances

5. How should a trainer contact their client after asking them for their contact information?

A. Call the potential client 2 to 3 days later
B. Approach the client at their next gym appearance
C. Mail a handwritten card within 24 hours
D. Email the client a few days after meeting with them

6. In what situation does a trainer give a percentage of their session fees?

A. Working as a full-time employee at a commercial fitness club
B. Working as an independent contractor at a commercial fitness club
C. Owning a facility
D. Providing in-home personal training services

7. What is an aspect of independent contractor work as a trainer?

A. There aren’t any overhead costs, but the trainer must transport equipment
B. The trainer may be paid more if they have multiple fitness certifications
C. The trainer works on an as-needed basis
D. The trainer can target and market to a specific population

8. Which of the following is a reason to stay within your scope of practice?

A. To become a high-quality trainer
B. To avoid injury and liability
C. To ensure a long career
D. To protect the gym’s reputation

9. For what reason is uncompromising customer service an important part of being a trainer?

A. It is necessary for the personal trainer to be considered ethical
B. It provides an exceptionally valuable experience to the client
C. It is necessary to develop your reputation as a decent trainer
D. It shows that you are unwilling to compromise on your personal beliefs

10. Which is an appropriate pricing strategy for training?

A. More than what is comfortable for potential clients
B. On par with prices in other areas
C. On par with your competition
D. More than your competition

The Randomized 60 Q NASM CPT Exam

Click the "Next"  button to begin the exam

NASM CPT exam breakdown

Now that you’ve taken a whack at some of the NASM CPT Test questions, let’s take a look at how the exam is actually structured so you know your way around.

NASM CPT provides you with a 6 month enrollment period from the time you purchase the program to the time you’re required to take the test.

It’s available in 4 packages, each with a different pricing tier based on the quantity and depth of study material provided.

Sometimes life happens, and you may not quite be able to take the exam within the 6 months. If that’s the case, NASM allows you to extend your enrollment by an extra 3 months.

This does however come at an additional cost of $75.

Now let’s get to the actual exam itself.

The NASM CPT exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions, of which you will need to land at least 70% to pass.

The exam runs through most of the core concepts you will find in the course text.

These concepts are categorized according to the 6 domains of study you’ll have become familiar with during your NASM practice exam.

Exam Administration

The exam is 120 minutes long, which means you essentially have a minute to spend on each question on average.

To take the exam, you must either register for a spot at a PSI testing facility. Simply search for the one most convenient for you, which would normally mean the center closest to you.

Here, you will take the exam in a room with other candidates, monitored by an exam proctor.

Your second option is to register for live remote proctoring. This is a new option that allows the NASM test to be taken completely online while still preserving the quality control of a real-world proctored exam.

This is done through your computer’s laptop which will be used to keep an eye on you through the duration of the exam.

NASM Test difficulty

An important consideration with any test or exam is roughly how challenging it is to pass.

This article will work as not only a prep guide and prep material but also as a NASM test review.

As we’ve mentioned, NASM CPT requires that you achieve a minimum grade of 70% in order to pass.

This seems to be a common standard across the board with most big-name certifying agencies.

NASM CPT however, is comparatively more difficult than most other CPT certifications.

The main two domains that will test your skills and knowledge are of course the two most prominent domains, Program Design and Exercise Technique and Training Instruction.

These are designed to be challenging because the bulk of your activity as a professional fitness practitioner will involve these areas of focus.

So is the NASM test hard? Let’s look at the pass rate to figure that out.

NASM exam pass rate

Coming in with a pass rate of  64%, that means you’re likely to pass, but also have a high chance of failing.

NASM CPT is a popular certification, so it must mean enough people pursue and pass it, there’s no reason you can’t be one of them.

All you need to do is prepare adequately of course. 

That means focusing your study engagements of the domain layout we’ve just indicated as well as making sure you tap into the best study material options.

As far as NASM is concerned, they provide a neat selection of study packages as we have already mentioned, but in order to guarantee success and optimize your odds, we suggest you go for a third-party suite of study materials such as what we offer here at Trainer Academy.

You can get started with our free, fully comprehensive study guide here:

In the meantime, why not get acquainted with the NASM CPT exam by trying out each domain’s most challenging questions.


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