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
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
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)
- Current trends
10 Questions and Explanations from Domain 3
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
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
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
The Randomized 60 Q NASM CPT 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.
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.