I just passed the ACSM Exam
Okay guys, I just passed the ACSM exam this morning, and I'm going to tell you some things that will hopefully alleviate some anxiety! I studied for 5 months and I am so glad it's finally over! I had heard from so many people (including on this board) that this exam is incredibly difficult. That really tweaked me out- but then again, it also motivated me to study extra hard. In reality, this exam was not really THAT difficult IF (big IF) you study properly beforehand.
First about me: I am totally new to the fitness field- my degree is in the social sciences and I had no experience as a trainer before. So I was going into this totally green.
I am not going to go into a long list of questions and examples from the exam, simply because there are a few threads on this forum that already do so and pretty much cover it all. So if that's what you're looking for, check out some of the other threads and I am sure you will find all the question hints you need.
Here's what I did to pass the exam:
1. I bought every book; the textbook "Resources for the Personal Trainer"; the Certification Review, Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription", ACSM's Guide to Physical Fitness Testing" (Or something similar). I read each one cover to cover twice, for comprehension, and took a TON of notes. The textbook "Resources" is NOT enough to get all the information to pass this exam. You MUST get "Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription." It's very dry and sometimes boring but there's stuff in there you won't find anywhere else. Read the books carefully.
2. I made little posters of the more challenging/hard to remember concepts and put them up around my apartment. There must have been 15 little posters up all over but you know what- it was fun making them with colored pencils and I would just walk around my place looking at them whenever I had a minute, and I think it really helped.
3. I bought 3 online courses from ACSM learning. The human behavior one was good, but I didn't think completely necessary. There's not much on the test about this and if you study the textbook carefully it should be sufficient. The anatomy online course was great and a huge help. The exercise prescription course was awful- whatever company ACSM/Pearson contracted out to this that module did a terrible job. It was a mess- pages out of order, wrong topics... I ended up asking for and getting a refund for that. The online courses have these little quizzes at the end that I found helpful as well.
4. I'm not an idiot, and even though this sounds pretty goofy, it was very helpful to me. I took a dry erase marker and wrote on my arms and legs the muscles, bones, movements (evert, invert), etc. I did this on a day I didn't have to leave the house- and believe you me, one day of looking that goofy made the information stick in my mind forever.
5. I took every practice test in the certification review several times. At least 3-4 times. When I was averaging 90-95% on each chapter test, I knew I was ready to take the exam.
6. I got the study course from THIS website. Huge, HUGE help! I took every quiz probably 5-7 times. It's worth every penny.
7. I took the 3 day workshop. I guess I am glad I did it, though I can't say I really think it was worth $375. I thought the information in the workshop I attended was a little watered down and just repeating what I had learned- not at all supplemental, which is what I think a workshop should be.
8. I shadowed a personal trainer for 3 months, a couple hours a day, 2 days a week. This was immensely helpful but most of all got me prepared to actually start training!
9. Those KSA lists in the back of your books? I typed out each one, the corresponding answers and then printed them out and bound them into a little notebook. I carried this with me everywhere and whenever I had a moment I would look at a page or two.
After all that, the exam was challenging, but not overly difficult by any means. Know your risk stratification and formulas, anatomy & exercise prescription. Take your time. LIke any multiple choice test, for most questions there will be 2 choices that are just obviously totally wrong, giving you a 50-50 shot if you must guess.
Read the questions carefully. Don't rush. There will be a couple questions you will have no idea about and won't know where the hell they got them from. There were 2-3 that I KNOW were absolutely not covered ANYWHERE. I suspect these are are their 'test' questions that don't actually count on your score but that they use to choose questions for other exams. Don't sweat it. 99% percent of what you need to know is in your books. There were only 10 questions I had to flag and go over at the end; using common sense and what I knew I was able to figure out the right answer.
So.... in short... YOU WILL DO FINE! Study hard, don't slack off, take it seriously, and take your time on the exam. Take advantage of EVERY resource you can fine.
I ended up scoring around 90% on the exam. I wouldn't do anything different. I wish all of you great luck!! Now get studying!