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How to Pass the NASM Exam

Updated: November 2021

The NASM personal trainer certification has continued to grow in popularity. And while its not considered the hardest of the personal trainer tests, the NASM exam is not easy. With a pass rate hovering around 50% for first time takers, you are going to want to devote some serious time toward preparing for the test.

Passing the NASM Exam?

nasm certificateThere are 120 questions on the exam. You must complete the exam within 2 hours.

You need to get at least 70 out of 120 questions right to pass the exam according to NASM.

But NASM mixes in 20 research questions that don't count toward your passing score. This can be stressful because they don't tell you which questions are research questions. So theoretically it is possible to fail the exam even if you get 89 questions correct.

NASM tell us that only 50% of candidates pass the exam on the first try. So don't take this one lightly. You will need to study smartly to avoid failing the exam and have to pay the $199 fee to take the exam again.

Time Limits

nasm practice test
It is important that potential NASM CPT candidates understand that the NASM exam must be taken within 180 days of enrollment. Previously that time limit was 120 days, but was changed due to some of the problems this short time caused some people.

Nevertheless, if it is not possible to complete the exam in the stated amount of time, it is possible to get an extension of 90 days by paying an additional fee of $75. For this reason, it may be better to hold off on enrolling until the time is right.


Preparing for the NASM Exam

The NASM exam is broken down into these categories:

Number of Questions
Exercise Technique
Program Design
Client Relations
Professional Practice & Responsibility
Research Questions


You've got a choice of study materials. You can purchase the official NASM study program that includes the textbook, videos, practice exam, study guide, webinar coaching series, online learning, iPod video, MP3 audio and the actual exam starting at $629. But if you can't afford to that, you can self-study and take the NASM CPT 4th exam for $599. Not much savings so you are better off coming up with the extra cash for the study materials.

nasm exam reportA word of warning... don't rely completely on the NASM practice exam. You can read a lot of discussions below about how the NASM practice exam is not a realistic preview of what the real exam is like.

You should plan on taking our Exam Prep Course. With over 750 practice questions for only $32.95, it is a great insurance policy against having to pay $199 to take the NASM exam again. Also because our NASM pass rates are so high, we offer a pass or don't pay guarantee that gives you double your money back if you fail the NASM exam.

by Katie Donnelly


Have You Taken the NASM Exam?

The section below gives our readers the chance to talk about their experience with the NASM exam. After you take your exam, remember to come back and tell us how you did and what worked for you!

NASM Exam Insider Tips

Our readers submit some great tips about passing the NASM personal trainer certification exam. Read the tips and add your comments and ratings to each tip.

NASM Exam Study Tips Part 2 
I just passed the NASM exam on my first attempt and was TOTALLY overwhelmed and stressed when I first started studying the material. I was able to find …

NASM Brain Dumps Part 2 
Hi all, Just want to say that the tips on this site from other people were the biggest help for me, so I thought I would share my own. I took the test …

NASM Exam Study Tips Part 1 
I just took the test two days ago (May 27th, 2009) and passed. I personally felt like it was exactly like the practice test, maybe even a little easier. …

Failed the NASM exam 
Well today i took the test and i passed and it was fairly easy. the first time was really hard and i got a 69 out of 70 SO CLOSE! But this time i went …

The NASM Exam is Easy! 
I read horror stories on this site about how hard the test was so i studied REALLY hard for a month and finally took the test. When i got to the testing …

NASM Brain Dumps Part 1 
I took the NASM exam this morning for the first time, and passed. So, while they are still fresh in my mind, I'll try to remember in some shape or form …

NASM Study Tips - I found to be the best resource 
I took the test today and passed. I agree with what most people have already posted, know the OPT model, know how the regressions and progressions for …

A long winded guide to the NASM testing experience 
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 …

NASM Practice Test Reviews 
I don't like to admit that I failed the NASM exam, even after get 100% on the practice exams. No matter how confident you might feel, there is always …

Failed NASM Twice 
I just took the NASM exam for the 2nd time, missed it by 7 points, I studied for two months and still failed. The damned questions are very tricky and …

NASM-CPT in 1 week!!!  Not rated yet
Ok, firstly I have to say that I DO NOT recommend doing it this in the slightest but, I had an opportunity to become a personal trainer at a private gym …

Failed twice Not rated yet
Hello, I scored 90% percent on the exam that came with the study material and needless to say I failed. I studied harder and missed it by 3 points …

NASM, 8 years later Not rated yet
I took in 2007, passed ...never trained and didn't do my CEU's and expired. In 2012, I re purchased,- and do to a death in my family- never touched …

Just passed NASM exam! Not rated yet
Well, I studied a lot but to tell you the truth the test is nothing like what you study for. They worded things different and really had to read carefully …

NASM Exam 4th Edition Reviews Not rated yet
I will tell you that it is brutal. Please study all of the topics listed in the NASM outline guide. Find all of the practice test questions you can …

Kudos to Katie, website owner!! Not rated yet
Hi Katie! and all readers! Katie, I really hope you post this message on the site as I have to give you BIG TIME KUDOS!! For anyone out there who …

Pass the NASM Exam Not rated yet
I passed the NASM CPT exam yesterday on my first try. Want to thank everyone on this site for keeping me motivated during my studies. During my first …

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