Just passed ACSM exam - take the workshop before you start studying
I just took the ACSM exam yesterday and passed with a 606/800 (passing is 550). I wanted to write a review because I found the reviews I read on here prior to taking the test invaluable. The test is difficult, but not impossible by any means. I think the biggest challenge in studying for the ACSM exam is knowing what to focus your time on because there is so much information. I read through all the reviews on this site and found a list of items to focus my time on, it worked! :) I have no exercise science or nutrition background so I had no prior knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, etc.
I also took the 3 day workshop 4 months prior to taking the exam. The workshop provided an overview and a smaller book (you can't purchase this book, it's only given during the workshop) which narrowed down the material and reviewed what to know and/or memorize for the exam. I'm glad I took the workshop prior to starting my studies...there were topics in the books I purchased from ACSM that were not relevant to the CPT test, so I didn't bother spending time on them.
I casually studied (a few hours every couple weeks) for 3 months then did one big cram session the week of my test (approx. 30 hours). Make sure you memorize calculations and information such as:
- BMI (both U.S. formula and metric)
- Max Heart Rate (HRmax)....220-age
- Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)... HRmax-Resting Heart Rate (HRrest)
- Karvonen method for calculating Target Training Heart Rate.... (HRR*training%)+HRrest=THR
- Risk Stratification...know the in's and outs of this entirely! Know how to identify risks in each category (Age, Family History, Cigarette Smoking, Sedentary Lifestyle, Obesity, Dislipidemia, Hypertension, Pre-Diabetes as well as the negative risk factor (HDL>60).
This website and the practice tests were great at helping me test my knowledge to see what I needed to study more of and if I was in fact ready to take the exam. I HIGHLY recommend spending the $30 to purchase the practice quizzes exams from this website. Well worth the money.
Don't bother purchasing the ACSM certification review booklet...had minimal relevance to the actual test. You will have all the study material you need between the workshop booklet, the ACSM resources for the personal trainer book and the ACSM Guidlines for Exercise Testing and prescription.
Lastly, when you do take the exam...RELAX and don't OVER think the questions..but make sure you read the entire question and understand what the question is asking. The questions will contain answers that are "somewhat" correct, just make sure to pick the answer that is MOST correct.
Good luck! Put a good effort into studying the relevant material and you will do just fine :)