Are you interested in taking a career as a personal trainer? One of the first things you’ll need to do to start a career in this niche is to obtain certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). NASM is the world’s leading body in the health and fitness industry, and its resources are encompassing. It’s not a surprise that many employers desire the NASM certifications. But the exam that qualifies you for this certification is pretty difficult. This shouldn’t discourage you, especially as so many tips and tricks can help you. However, the questions is often “how hard is the NASM exam?” This article contains everything you should know about the NASM exams and how you can ace them.
What is the Most Important Part of the NASM exam?
The National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainers exam is also known as the NASM-CPT or simply NASM. It is one of the most popular personal trainer certification exams today, and it’s not surprising that many employers seek after it today. The exam is designed to challenge your overall knowledge of personal fitness. However, it’s important to note that the test is entirely based on the NASM Certified Personal Trainer Course, which is quite broad with several topics.
The test is structured to contain 120 questions, which candidates must finish within a two-hour time frame. The test can be taken online or at a proctoring venue, and its fee is included in the NASM Certified Personal Trainer Course.
While preparing for the exam, you may be wondering what it entails. As we’ve explained above, there are several topics, and all of them are covered in the NASM Certified Personal Trainer Course. However, the most important parts of the exams are classified into 6, namely:
- Basic and applied sciences and nutritional concepts
- Program design
- Exercise technique and training instruction
- Professional development and responsibility
- Leant relations and behavioral coaching.
So, while it’s essential to cover as many topics as possible, we typically recommend slightly shifting your focus to this part of the course during your preparation. This is because a majority of the exam questions are gotten from these areas.
How Many Questions Are on the NASM Exam?
First, it’s important to note that the NASM Exam is a multiple-choice exam. It contains 120 questions, and students typically have 2 hours to complete the exam. However, 20 of these questions are research questions and would not count for your final score. Many test-takers claim that the NASM exam is a tough one, so it may be an uphill task to reach the 70% passing score of the exam. Remember that no reference materials, personal computers, phones, or other electronic devices will be allowed into the exam room, so it’ll be best to prepare adequately before the exam day.
The exam is a computer-based exam administered by an independent testing vendor, PSI. The exams are usually scored immediately after finishing, and the results are communicated to candidates. Bypassing the exam, candidates earn the right to call themselves “NASM Certified Personal Trainers.” Candidates are also offered certification for passing.
Is NASM Really Hard to Pass?
One question that always pops up in forum discussions is “is the NASM certification test hard to pass?” The NASM exam is designed to gear candidates up for a pretty challenging career, so many people expect that it’d be a difficult exam. True to these expectations, the exam is ranked as one of the most difficult personal training tests to pass in the industry. With a textbook of over 700 pages, you can expect preparation to be a very daunting task.
However, as challenging as the exam may be, it still has its pass rate revolving around 68%. This NASM exam pass rate means you are likely to pass on your first attempt. Bear in mind that the retest fee is very high, so it’ll be best to have a proper direction to study the most important areas. Perhaps it’s time to shift your focus from how hard the exam is to how you can adequately prepare for it.
How Many Questions Can You Miss on the NASM Exam?
There are 120 questions in the NASM exams, as we’ve explained above. However, out of these 120 questions, 20 are research questions and wouldn’t affect your exam score in the end. Since they do not affect your score, you can miss them without any real consequences. Usually, we advise candidates to skip these questions for the last. If, after answering the other 100 questions, you still have enough time left, you can go back to answer these questions.
How Long Should You Study for the NASM exam?
Completing 120 questions in 120 minutes with only your memory can be challenging. Remember that you won’t even go into the exam with as much as a piece of scratch pay. So, you’ll need all the preparations you can get for this exam. But how much preparation is enough preparation? We’ll wind out.
When you sign up for the exams, you’ll be given a textbook and some basic online materials depending on the package you get. But that’s just about that. You’re let loose with those materials without much direction. It is no wonder about a third of candidates fails this exam every year. As exam experts ourselves, we’ve had to assist thousands of students in pursuing the NASM CPT Certification. We’ve learned the best study materials that can help you succeed throughout this time.
Like most other career-changing certifications, the correct study tools and a plan of action can help hasten your preparation to preparation time. With the best study tools and the right plan, you’ll be able to cover the course material within 4 to 8 weeks. However, there have been cases where people prepare for months and still fail. So, it boils down to how you prepare.
How to Prepare for the NASM Exam?
After reading the preceding section, you’ll probably wonder how best to prepare for the NASM exam. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as many people suggest, as long as you know what to do. This section will cover tips and tricks that you can adopt to get yourself physically and mentally prepared for the exam.
Create a weekly study schedule
The first thing most people do before this exam is to readjust their study schedule. Usually, you’ll have a few weeks between when you receive the exam notification and the exam date. So, you’ll need to maximize the weeks building up to the exam to cover as much as you can. This is where your level of discipline comes into play. Usually, we advise students to build a weekly study plan using the calendar feature on their phones. But you shouldn’t stop at creating a schedule. It makes sense to follow it religiously. You’ll need to sacrifice many other activities to have the large chunks of time you’ll need to study. However, remember to be realistic with the number of tasks you assign for each week because putting yourself under too much pressure can also have negative effects.
Identify areas where you struggle
One of the main reasons you’re taking so much time to study is to build enough knowledge for the exams. Another reason is to know where you lag behind and work on them. Most NASM exam study guides come with additional NASM test questions and answer to help you test yourself before the exams. As you study the course, take note of the areas of your study. Always go back to these areas in your NASM CPT textbook and study them vigorously. If you’re still struggling, you can contact someone who’s knowledgeable in those areas to help walk you through them.
Improve your multiple-choice answering skills
All 120 questions in the NASM exam are multiple-choice questions with options “A-D” for each question. This question format means you’ll have a 1 in 4 chance of answering each question correctly. By working on your multiple-choice question-answering skills, you can learn to eliminate options and improve your chance of success. There are study guides available today to help you learn how to choose the best answer options. These study guides also allow you to take practice questions and improve your timing. The closer you can stimulate the test while practicing, the more confidence you’ll have on the exam day. Take practice tests in environments that closely mimic the condition of the actual test.
Focus more on the essential topics
No doubt, the syllabus for the NASM exam is bulky, and some of the topics can be pretty complicated. But as we’ve mentioned before, some topics feature more questions than others. Therefore, you should naturally pay more attention to such topics when studying. Before the exam date;
- Familiarize yourself with the overactive and underactive muscles while noting their concentric actions. This way, you can clearly understand how the body works.
- Understand how to progress and regress exercises. Questions from this section target your understanding of unique clients’ needs and your ability to slow down, speed up and personalize exercises based on a client’s progress.
- Understand how to categorize and cue exercises.
Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is the NASM Exam?
Well, that’s it – a detailed look at the NASM exams. With 120 questions and no opportunity to take anything into the exam hall, you know that it’ll be a tough one for sure. Before going in for the exam, make sure you click every box in your preparatory schedule. Pay attention to the five crucial NASM parts we’ve talked about in this article. The exam board assumes that you’ve studied every aspect of the course syllabus, so there’ll be random questions from different parts.
If you’re still unsure whether the NASM is the right certification for you, we recommend talking to any exam expert about that. Make sure you look up online sources for study guides and flashcards. The tips in this article would help you take the right path as far as preparation is concerned.
That being said, we wish you the best of luck, not just in the exam but in your study process. And don’t kill yourself if you don’t pass the exam. It’s okay not to do so well in such a difficult exam. It doesn’t mean you have a character flaw. Just pick your pieces and go again.