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How I Passed the ACSM CPT Exam

by Lawrence
(Los Angeles, CA)

Just passed the exam on Friday, 12/14/12. 731 out 800. Not bad. Here is what would be my suggestions followed by my study structure. But first, a brief history so as to know what my knowledge base is built upon.
I hold no degree in exercise science, have no formal training, have never had a trainer, or any involvement in the field of exercise science. With that said, I also have read every Muscle & Fitness magazine since 2006, read nutrition studies for fun, and workout 4-6 days a week with like-minded individuals who have been more than willing to share their knowledge. I also hold a BA in mathematics, which for the exam is completely unnecessary (very basic math on the exam), but I share this to inform you that I know how to study.
With that in mind, here is what I would suggest, as it worked for me:

1) Read every post on this forum. I won't go into the details of exam topics because they're here already. Go read them.

2) Buy all 3 books suggested by ACSM. I read some negative posts about the Certification Review book and I would COMPLETELY DISAGREE! The tests at the end of each chapter are priceless, not to mention the very thorough answer key.

3) By the course from this website. Again, priceless.

That's it for suggestions. As for how I did it here it is:

1) Took a month to read and notate Resources for a Personal Trainer. About 70 pages of typed notes and about 150 index cards. Took me a month because I was not in a hurry. Read a chapter or two a day and took notes for a day. When I say a day I mean an hour or two. Again, that was my pace. If you have the time of course this can be done faster.

2) Took a couple of weeks to go through Guidelines of Exercise Testing and Prescription. By this time you should have a good grasp on what you need to know. This book can be clinical, so just read what pertains to you. If you read the posts in this forum and know your KSAs then you should be able to deduce what is beyond the CPT's scope. I did not notate this book, but it clarified my understanding, especially the risk stratification and special population sections.

3) Took all the quizzes from this website straight up. Passed some, failed some, but was a good start to utilizing the information I had been absorbing.

4) Took all the Certification Review exams straight up. Failed most (FYI, fail for me was less than 70%), and purposefully did not read answer key.

5) Used index cards and notes to study areas of weaknesses. I had made a list as I went through the quizzes and tests. Also read through Certification Review chapters for the first time.

6) Did steps 3 & 4 from above again with clearly improved scores. This time I read the answer key for problems I missed.

7) Step 5 from above again but no reading of Certification Review this time. Once was enough.

8) Steps 3 & 4 again, but this time reading every answer in the keys. Because this was a third time through clearly some memorization of the problems was occurring. To make sure I was getting something from it I would mentally go through why all of the other answers were not correct.

9) Took the exam.

Steps 3-8 from above were about a month out from the exam. By about the week before the exam I was well versed and ready to go. It may seem like a lot, but really we're talking about a couple hours a day, sometimes just an hour if that, for a few months. And in the end, well, in the end was a 731.
Hope this helps someone. I never post to things of this nature, but this forum was an immense help and I thought I'd give back. I'll check in for about a month or so, so if you have questions feel free to ask and I'll get back to you. This is a very passable exam, just make an effort. Good luck.

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