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Just Passed the NSCA CPT Exam!

by P-Dog
(North Cackalacky)

Here are some tips.....

Get the 3 practice exam set! and take it early on....when you print out the questions and answers it will give you a very accurate picture of which chapters you should study most in my opinion....The techniques chapter (13 I think) is important....

And then when its closer you can re-take them because you get another try for each practice exam.

I have been training for a year and a half and have been training myself for 15 years and I still thought the practice tests were hard and failed all three the week before my test which really made me scared and so i was very methodical about studying the four chapters where i missed a lot: 16, 18, 13, and 25. Could be different for you.

But Then i took the exam and could have missed 16 more questions and still passed per my report!!

The practice tests are harder, I thought, but I also studied the parts I was less familiar with before the real thing.

Sure, there is a TON of info in the book, but some chapters are not represented AT ALL it seemed. So don't give the same weight to every chapter while studying!! I could have saved a lot of time had I taken the practice exams earlier to find out...

I still don't feel like I have comprehension of everything, and I'll go back and probably continue to learn more from that giant-#ss book.

So happy, I get to put those letters after my name now...
I've done really well without them, with 20 clients+ in a private studio, but I think this will really set me up as legit and not a trainer-dummy.

Most people don't care about my certification, but its really about feeling legit versus feeling like a fraud to me. I think this will give me the confidence to approach more corporate and collegiate clients.



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Congrats on passing!
by: Will

Thank you for the information. I am thinking about taking the exam as well!

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Your a life Savor
by: Trainer in the making

I suspected that taking the practice examine early on would clear up alot of what would be on the test.Thanks for giving me the push I needed to take them and see what chapters deserve more attention than others.

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Print it all out
by: Anonymous

When you take the practice exam, you can print out each question (as you see them), then also print all the answers at the end. Then you'll have the complete exam and answers to study from.

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just passed
by: Anonymous

I passed the NSCA exam on my first attempt with 85 score. I found the material on this site very useful in preparing for the exam.

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just passed again
by: Jim

I just passed the NSCA-CPT exam (second time I've taken and passed in the last six years). The main thing you need is the "NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training". They have a newer edition out (I had one from 2005 but I called them and they said the changes were minimal). Make sure you review all the concepts, tables, definitions, etc in each chapter. I probably should have studied the nutrition chapter more, but overall I thought the test was fair. Know your exercises (resistance, aerobic, plyometrics, etc) cold concerning technique, etc, along with everything else. This is all mentioned in their content outline so nothing groundbreaking I'm saying here. I took about two months to restudy everthing and felt very confident going through all the questions. They had a few questions on there that weren't covered in the book I mention but they could have been pre-test questions that aren't scored. The first 35 questions are video based and you can only see the video once, so make sure you read the question and try to figure out what the video would then be showing, that helped me a lot and I was correct about 80 percent of the time with what the exercise was that was coming. Some questions are extremely picky but for the most part fair. I already have a job interview lined up so this cert is highly regarded.

Good luck!

Jim in Minneapolis

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NSCA-CPT exam. Study, study, study then study some more?.

by Maripili
(NJ/NYC)

I graduated from a state licensed personal training school in NYC where I had an A average and was often praised by my teacher and classmates for my knowledge and understanding of the overall curriculum; while in school I registered to take the NSCA-CPT exam about 6 weeks after graduation 11/27/08. In addition to my school knowledge, I purchased study materials from NSCA site and the study program from this site and used them to prepare. I failed on my 1st attempt by 8 points. I passed the exam on my 2nd attempt by 5 points 3/13/09. The exam is extremely difficult.

My advice:
1. Purchase and read the text book NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training textbook. I found that the exam doesn't really cover much material from the first 4 or 5 chapters that go deeply into anatomy/muscle/muscle structure and make-up.

2. Purchase NSCA practice exams {I bought all 3 volumes} because they really give you an idea of how the exam and questions are structured. The majority of the questions are not single but multiple answers.

3. One must truly know and understand program design and health assessments blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, triglycerides, MRH most of the questions are about these topics.

4. One must know all the major muscle groups and their functions.

Maripili Rodriguez, NSCA-CPT
Coaching for a Healthy Lifestyle
Health Counselor, Certified Personal Trainer & Personal Chef
www.myhealthjourney.org

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I passed!
by: Larissa

Hello Katie,
Thank you for such wonderful website. I just passed my NSCA exam on 8/22/09. I now understand when everyone says that it is not easy.
Thank you again for creating this website.

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Studying for the NSCA - CPT Exam
by: Maureen

I have been studying for the NSCA - CPT Exam for approximately 6 months and I find it rather difficult.

Thank you for the great advice!

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Studying for my NSCA-cpt exam
by: Kimberly

Hi, i have purchased all the study material possible to pass the NSCA-cpt exam. Including the NSCA's Essentials of personal Training text book, and i was wondering besides the 'applied nowledge questions' Is there any where i can check to see if my end of chapter multiple choice answers are correct?

I have always had a great passion for physical fitness, and have been working out for as long as i can remember and have finally decided to make a career out of it. I have no science background so i found the beginning 6 chapters rough but if i can at least verify my answers im sure it would help. So if anyone knows where i can find them please let me know!


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My experience getting certified

by Chris, NSCA-CPT
(Minneapolis, MN)

I've just recently become certified through the NSCA (NSCA-CPT) and I thought I'd try to answer a few of the questions that I see posted here as well as to give some input that I have on the subject. I think that there are a few things that everybody should know about the certification process right off the bat:

1. The best resource for learning is the NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training textbook.

2. The best resource for learning about the exam content is here (click on NSCA-CPT Computer-Based Exam Candidate Handbook): http://www.nsca-lift.org/nscapdf/view.asp

3. It's a better deal to become a member. It saves you a huge chunk of money on the exam and the study materials. It's probably best to get the membership right when you start studying for the exam, especially if you are buying a new textbook.

4. The exam is only hard if you're not ready for it. 57 percent of the people that take it fail it because they weren't prepared. It takes a lot of study time to prepare for this exam. A quick one-time read through the book won't be enough. I took a 3 credit college course to prepare for the exam and let me tell you - when the class was done, most people (including myself) still weren't prepared for the exam. The exam focuses on the finer details of the subject matter in the textbook.

5. Take my word for it when I tell you that you'd be stupid for not taking at least one of the practice exams. Even if you don't need it, at least you'll go in feeling more confidant about your abilities and you won't be freaking out for 3 hours while taking the exam.

I think that it all comes down to really wanting to learn the content. It's actually pretty fun to learn most of the stuff if you have the patience to dig around on Wikipedia to get a better understanding. If you have a passion for training and you can embrace the learning process, it'll just come naturally to you.

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Close to taking the exam

I just want to say thank you for this site. I wish I had found it before I signed up with the online school I'm currently enrolled in for my CPT.

Taking the advice of others, I have purchased the practice exam for the NSCA-CPT exam, as well as the "Essentials of Personal Training" textbook. I've also purchased the practice exam from this site. I feel that had I found this website first, I wouldn't have a need for the that school whose materials are out-dated in my opinion. I feel that if the school is has chosen the NSCA-CPT as the test for its students, then they should have used material from that orginization. Again, this is only my opinion.

Thank you Katie for this site. It is a God send. I was so nervous about the exam, but now, I honestly believe I can pass my exam on the first try.

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You Can Pass the NSCA Exam on Your First Try

by Paul
(Fort Lauderdale, FL)

I just did and I have no formal education background in exercise or any related degree. I also have no real professional experience as a personal trainer. My experience is limited to 17+ years as an avid weightlifter, workout partner and recreational athlete. This year, I decided to turn my passion into a profession and chose to go after the NSCA-CPT as my certification. I purchased some study materials and began studying every night, late at night after working a full day and helping my wife care for our young daughter at home.

Despite hearing from many people that the pass rate was very low and that I should start with an easier cert, I kept after this one and scored an 82 on my first try! So for anyone currently studying for this test or thinking about it, don't take it for granted that you will have to take it more than once. You can pass it on your first attempt, even if you don't have a background in the field.

Now that I've said all that, let me say that it is a challenging exam. You will have to work hard. I studied at least one hour per night almost every day for four months. Here are some tips that I think helped me do well on the exam.

1. Buy the textbook ("NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training") and read it cover to cover. It is around 640 pages, so that is a daunting task. However, break it down into 10-15 pages a day and do it consistently and you'll have it done in less than 2 months.
2. Take notes while reading the book and review them frequently so that the book material doesn't get stale.
3. Complete the practice questions at the end of every chapter. There are 100 in total.
4. Buy all three NSCA practice tests and take them. Go back and review every question you get wrong. Make sure to spend some extra time re-reading your textbook or notes for any areas you are weak at. If you pass all three practice tests (as I did), you are ready to take the exam.
** a quick note about study materials...You can spend a fortune if you buy all the material from the NSCA website. The textbook and practice exams are the only ones I bought. It cost me about $125. If you master the material in these two items, I don't think there is a need to buy any more. Considering that the test with an NSCA membership costs around $400, its worth not overspending on study material. I also bought the practice course offered from this website. Although the course is not NSCA specific, I thought it was an excellent value for the money and 500 questions will help you get used to test taking.
5. In addition to studying the textbook material, make sure you are well versed in anatomy and have a solid understanding of functional anatomy. This is a must!
6. This test is as much about test taking as it is about knowing the material. You can probably pick up an extra 5-10 questions on the exam just by being a good test taker.
7. Take your time. Both in your studying and when you take the exam. Don't rush through the exam. You have three hours, which is plenty of time. Read the questions completely to avoid silly mistakes.
8. Belive you are going to pass. I think it sets you up for success when you expect something of yourself. Of course, you will have to put in the work, but giving yourself confidence is half the battle.

I hope this helps. I know when I started studying, it was a bit inimidating to constantly hear (both online and from people in the business) how tough this exam is. Study hard and follow the tips above and you'll do well! Now, I am excited to not have to study anymore and get to work as a personal trainer!

-Paul

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Studying for the NSCA - CPT Exam
by: Maureen

Thanks for the tips!

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paul thanks
by: Anonymous

very inspiring paul plus you get a respectable certification if one can follow your footsteps!

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Question for Paul
by: Anonymous

Hey Paul, I just took the NSCA test for the first time about three weeks ago and just recived my Results today.... I got and 85 and didnt pass, so I guess my question is you said you got an 82 and passed, I got an 85 and didnt so did I get screwed over or what happened, how come I didnt pass with an 85!?

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possible answer
by: Anonymous

70% passes the exam which is 98 questions i believe. If it was an 85% which I assume, then he passed with a score of 119 and an 85%. A score of 85 would equate out to a 60% which is not passing. I may be wrong here but this is my guess. When you recieve your results it should have a number out of 140 (xxx/140) and then a percentage grade. Remember the test is actually 150 questions but they throw out 10 "test" test questions (questions they are thinking of adding to the test bank but want data from first). Hope this helps.

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Thanks!
by: Anonymous

Thanks for your help Paul!


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NSCA Exam tips
by: Kyle

As paul did, i passed on my first attempt with no formal education, i worked extremely hard and for the month leading up the exam i studied about 4 hours a day. I know that that amount of study time is unrealistic for most but its well worth it in the end. If you have no formal education the best thing you can do for yourself is find an anatomy book before you even crack open the NSCA book.


Make sure when you study to focus extra attention on Technique, and special populations. As for the person who did not pass with an 85, make sure you only didn't get 85 questions right, not an 85 percent, i think you need to get 93 questions correct to pass. Plus there are 10 questions that are not included in your score that actually are trail questions for NSCA. Remember thou, they just dont include material that is in the book, some information is on the symposium cds, ect.

Remember the NSCA test is not just about knowing facts, you have to understand how to apply those concepts that you learn! there are only a few questions on the test that are actually recalling of facts. Most are situational or analitical(spelling). But if you prepare yourself and do well on all the practice exams you will do fine.

*remember when you go in to take the test (me computer exam) there is no reason to be nervous, even if you feel as if you are not prepared. Everyone will feel that way, but at that point it is not going to do you any good! Just relax, take a few deep breathes, and remember you did all you could up to that point, there is no reason to miss questions becasue you were nervous. Dont over complicate questions on the test. The questions arent there to trick you or have you take huge leaps of logic, go with your first choice, unless you absolutly sure it is wrong!

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Good advice
by: Anonymous

Your advice is great! I got the NSCA book from a class I took in college and decided I would read through it and get certified through this organization. Before reading anything about the differences in certifications, I would have had no clue that this is one of the more difficult. Prior to hearing how tough the exam is, I was completely confident in myself. Not to say that I am less confident now, but it will just be a much better satisfaction when I pass the test. I am going to take your advice and study as often and diligently as I can. Your comment has put a lot of motivation to me achieving my goal. : )

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Anatomy Study Material
by:

Thanks everyone for the good advice. It's nice to know I can be confident in studying without spending $700! Does anyone have a suggestion for an anatomy textbook or an online resource?

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books
by: Frankie d

as far as books go. google human kinetics. good stuff!

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Functional Anatomy books
by: Anonymous

Paul, thanks for the concise study outline - its the kind of info. that can really be put to work. You mentioned having a "solid understanding of functional anatomy". GULP! Can you recommend a book or program to that end?

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Passed on the first try
by: Benjamin

I just got my results & I passed on the first try. I thought I could have studied a little more but I passed none the less. I give credit to exam prep course on this site. I feel it really helped out a lot. A little advice: just take your time and READ the questions. Pay close attention to the video portion. Eliminate the answers that you know are not correct so if you have to guess your odds will be better. You have 3 hours....USE IT. I left that test feeling dizzy. I used a lot of the advice I got on this site. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE.


Benjamin
NSCA-CPT

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manage your time
by: Nathan

I would agree with the OP. Make sure that you allot yourself plenty of time to study and be very systematic in your approach. I would add that you must know exercise contraindications/positive risk factors for CAD/reasons for physician referral like the back of your hand.

I passed on my first try as well with a score of 87%, but I also spent nearly 4 weeks reviewing and re-reviewing the key chapters (the exam content description booklet emphasizes the four key chapters you'll need to know, but don't overlook the special populations and goal setting chapters).

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Passed on 1st Attempt!
by: TB

I took the PC version exam and passed. I used the text book, the cd tapes, and sample tests from the NSCA prep courses. And, Katie's exam prep course. Far as I'm concerned, it all helped. After spending just about all 3 hrs in front of a PC, here's my take on the experience:
- Glance over the 1st 3 chapters. Not necessary to know more than the basics in terms of the # of Qs.
- Qs re: planes (sagittal, frontal, transverse)
- Qs regarding safety was related to who (client, facility/club or PT) was responsible if client slipped, tripped, or fell.
Ex: If a client (signed a waiver) that's 6 mo. pregnant is in a group class and slips and miscarries, who's liable?
- Situational Qs related to what a client “wants”. Ex: Client wants to include an exercise that the Dr identified as contraindicated, how should the PT respond?
- Qs on anatomy and exercise techniques. In terms of anatomy references, I used Netter's Anatomy of the Human Body. Local library. You need to know the major bones and muscles that also relate to NSCA's Technique of Exercises book. The Qs had plenty of how would this exercise increase the utilization of the hip flexor, for ex. What exercise would be best for the hip flexors? And, I recall there was quite a bit of ab crunch vs ab sit up Qs. Ex: the rectus ab are used primarily from 0-30, 45-60, 75-90 degrees? When do the flexors take over?
- Sports related Qs: soccer player moving from mid field to defender what exercises would be most beneficial...lateral moves, drills, cuts for speed or backpedaling, turning, etc. Not good if you don't know anything about soccer!!
-Qs on %RM. Know how to derive 1RM if you're given 10 RM scenario and vice versa. Ex: Client bench presses 150lbs, 10 reps. What's the 1 RM?
***Tip: Here's how I memorized the %RMs:
1 - 1
2 - .95
4 - .9
6 - .85
8 - .8
10 - .75
12 - .67
15 - .65

Circle 1, 4, 8...now u also have your Heavy, Medium, Light day calcs.
Also, here's an acronym to help jar the memory during the exam:
F - family
I - Impaired glucose
S - Smoking
H - Hypertension
S - Sedentary
H - Hypercholesteremia
O - Obesity
P - Positive HDL...deduct a negative risk
Then, underline every other letter (I, H, H, P) and now u have most factors for metabolic syndrome.
- Qs on motivation (the difference of negative reinforcement vs negative punishment).
- Qs on forms(consent, waiver, PAR-Q,), order of goals, contract agreement, eval, etc.
- Like others, whenever it looked like there might be several possible answers, I was able to use the process of elimination easier than trying to determine which had ALL the correct possibilities.
- For the Technique portion, I actually took the Tech book and categorized them by group (Hip/Legs, Chest, Back, etc.), by joint (MJ/SJ), then listed and memorized the concentric action and the associated muscles. I actually took the 1st 20 min to write out the info on the scrap paper provided during the exam. It gave me a visual reference and calmed me down.

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CSCS study material
by: Anonymous

Can you I pass without having the book, I ordered a package that only came with the 12 multimedia symposium cds? Can some tell me the difference between the two.

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cheaper with package
by: Anonymous

the whole package that they are selling for paper test is only 434.95.. if you were to register, get the text, and the practice test, the pricing is already more than that..

so I would suggest to just get the package instead.. cheaper

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Book and Practice Exams
by: Isaac Way

I bought the book for half price and then ordered the three practice exams from NSCA. I read the book 2 times (highlights, underlines, post-it notes)and took the practice exams 3-4 times each. I then reviewed the book one more time concentrating on my notes. I passed the first time as well :)

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Plus the Exam Package Here
by: Isaac Way

I also bought the exam review package from this site for the last 2 weeks of studying. I have a BA in International Studies, so no real education in the related field prior to studying. Now for the CSCS!

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NSCA Exam Tips

by Brad P.
(CT)

My exam had a lot of sarcomere/I Band/H-Zone related questions on the exercise science/nutrition part. I was surprised as to how many different questions I was asked regarding those. Specifically, they would ask which portion would shorten when performing a specific exercise for example.

Know how to calculate BMI and what would be the exact recommendation of percentage of carbs/protein/fat for a specific athlete. I found myself giving my best educated guess instead of actually doing the math on scrap paper. I also had a good 7-8 questions regarding drugs like erythropoietin and their effects on the body. Know the differences between testosterone and growth hormone and which one is more elevated after training for example. I remember a lot of questions where I was deciphering between these two answers and could not recall which one it was, so make sure you are clear on them.

I ended up passing the exercise science/nutrition section with an 80%. Unfortunately, I did not pass the program design/exercise technique section. I felt kind of up-in-air after completing the first section, but ended up doing fine. I took both sections on the same day. I ended up nearly taking the entire allotted time on the first section (all 1.5 hr) and was only given a 10 minute break until beginning the next section.

I believe I worked too quickly through the practical section because I finished with 40 minutes remaining. By this time, I was mentally drained and just wanted to get out of the testing room that I had been cooped up in for hours on end.

What really hurt me in this section were the Exercise Technique questions, which I am assuming were the first 40 questions with the video. You get to watch the video once, but it does repeat a couple of times. My suggestion (although mine my not be any good because I didn't pass) is read the options before viewing the video so you have an idea of what you're looking for. This was what I did and it was helpful, or so I thought.

I was surprised to see that I only got 22/39 correct in this section. It was ultimately what hurt me most. I got a 63% overall for the practical portion. Some questions really are dumb. I remember a couple questions having the option of "Nothing is wrong" referring to the clients technique. After viewing these particular videos, I honestly could not see anything wrong with the exercise technique performed. Looking back however, that was probably not the answer they were looking for.

Know your plyometrics like the back of your hand too! Know which is the best plyo exercise to progress to for a specific client after seeing the one performed in the video. I would suggest purchasing the practice tests. They are helpful for the video portion because some of the videos are very similar to the ones that are used on the actual exam i.e. same individuals, same exercises. Obviously, make sure you are very comfortable with the material in the book (Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning). I honestly cannot even recall a question regarding stretching.

I only studied for 3 weeks for the exam, so that was my fault. I am currently in a physical therapy program and used my winter break to study for it. I read 2 chapters/day and typed up notes and highlighted the book. I feel comfortable now knowing what I have to do. I could have used another month, even just one more week would have been beneficial. The later chapters are most important (Chapter 11 on). Hope this gives you some advice. Good luck!

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Which Test?
by: Anonymous

Was this for CPT or CSCS?

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