A long winded guide to the NASM testing experience
by Tryan Tahelp
I recently took the NASM exam, I was not given an actual score only a pass or fail. It was my first time ever taking any CPT test and I passed. The night before my test I got on the computer and started surfing to find tips, naturally I found this sight. I think the information given as "tips" here freaked me out. I won't argue with the others, but I will say the test is different from what they give you to use as "study material", but the information presented in the study material will pertain to the questions on the test.
The NASM Book:
I spent two days reading the text book cover to cover. I'm not a big reader, in fact I don't think I have ever read a novel cover to cover before. However, this book is a very easy read and filled with more pictures and graphs than it is with long drawn out scientific text. Especially if you are really interested in the information you will fly through the book and it will leave you thirsting for more information.
Hint: If you don't understand the subject matter, or you haven't been working in the field of sports medicine or kinesiology you may not understand some of the wording or text. My suggestion is to get with a trainer you know or someone that could help you visualize what is being taught (I say this simply because I have a friend that is new to this material and they say that their test is coming up and it scares me because when I talk to them about the information I seem to be getting that "wait what are you talking about" look from them).
The NASM Study Guide:
Along with the book I would use the study guide before and after each chapter as a quick reference as to what to expect or focus on in the chapter and to assess what I may already know or not know.
The NASM Practice Test:
Take the practice test as many times as you can stand and don't just memorize the answers, but understand why the answers are right.
HINT: when you take the practice exam online take note of the material its asking for and look over the whole section again pay attention to the little things like Numbers or Percentages.
(what you might see on the NASM practice exam):
What is the daily recommended intake of protein for a healthy adult?
What is the daily recommended protein intake for a marathon runner?
Even without studying I passed the practice exam but DO NOT just assume that they will ask practice exam questions word for word on the exam itself. For a question like the one above I would go back to the book and look at the different recommendations of intake for all the different types of goal sets (ie: weight gain, fat reduction, body builder, or endurance runner). If there is one thing that I would call a SOLID TIP on this whole page that little bit of information would be it.
The Wrap Up
Like I said, I only absorbed the information from the NASM book/study guide/practice exams for 2 days and then spent another 2 days taking practice exams to prepare for the real deal cause its taken on a computer if you didn't already know. I'm convinced that people make this test out to be harder than it really is. I believe they just get caught up in the initial shock of the test's format and then panic their way through it. I say just relax and try not to psych yourself out and make sure you have a good understanding of the knowledge presented in the text.
I felt super confident before I read some of the stories I found online. They scared the heck out of me so I went in totally stressed out and dehydrated from sweating so much before I even got to the testing center. I hope this is the last online story you read about this test cause there are some horror stories out there. DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE ITS NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO PASS, JUST RELAX YOU'LL BE FINE*
*(that is pending you understand the text you spent day reading) :P
As far as NASM exam tips go KNOW this info:
-Assessment exercises: names and function
-OPT model in and out along with what exercises go with what stage
-All the definitions in the study guide backwards and forwards (seriously they will word the questions in awkward ways)
-Know the emergency steps in the appendix for cpr and first aid
-specifics for men and women when it comes physiological differences...resting heart rate differences etc..
-know the solutions to assessed dysfunctions for all assessment tests
-pay attention to % and specific numbers given in the text like the amount of water recommended/day
-take the practice test at least 15 times (yes you can retake it multiple times and questions differ sometimes)....know the material they teach don't just memorize the answers, know why the answer is correct.
-know the NASM business standards there are several questions
-the questions that are study questions are unknown and they don't count against you or for your score but I assumed they were the questions that made me go "what, that wasn't in the text" but seriously if you think about what those questions ask and evaluate the answer selections you will figure it out.
This is not a complete list of things that you will find on the exam, but it may help in some small way.
Take your time, you have 2 hours. Read the question carefully and then read all the answer choices. I rushed through and had about 1 hour left so I double checked my answers and found about 4 that I misread and would have gotten wrong, who knows I may have failed if I hadn't gone back. So definitely
GO BACK AND CHECK YOUR ANSWERS.
All in all, I would say that the test is a good measure of knowledge of the information needed to earn a certification in personal training, but don't be fooled they will not make it easy on you. Know what your reading and be able to explain the material to someone as if you where trying to teach a baby how to walk (minus the condescending baby voice and weird faces) and you will pass.
Thats all I got, GOOD LUCK
P.S. Don't take stock in those quick study guides to the NASM exam cause if you don't have a working knowledge of biomechanics and the anatomy/physiology of the human body then you would be wasting your time.
On the other hand if you have been a trainer and need a quick reference guide for a recertification after the 2 year mark then that may be the way to go if you no longer have your text book.