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NASM Exam was way too easy... very disappointed

by Ryan Welch
(Gainesville, Florida)

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 center i was very nervous until i saw the first few questions. I was like "Are you serious? This is pathetic". It was.

If someone fails this exam the first time maybe you should consider a different profession (sorry if that sounds mean) because the questions were extremely easy and just like the practice test, only worded much differently. You just have to use your critical thinking skills a little bit.

I finished the test of 120 questions in only 35 mins and even the lady who administered the test was suprised. Its no big deal and its taken on a computer. Just focus ALOT on Acute Variables and exercises for the OPT model and also Under/Overactive muscles and you will do fine.

Hope this helps


P.S. NASM really needs to make their exams harder, i was hoping for a challenge when i got to the testing center.

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I Agree - Way Too Easy
by: Anonymous

I second that. Studied my butt off for months and really could have passed the test with a couple weeks of focused effort.
Expected a lot more anatomy questions than there actually were and found that overall being able to answer most of the questions involved simply understanding the basic concepts of OPT rather than getting into the nitty gritty of training a specific client with specific needs. I think they would be better served developing a test with questions that was more situational based and also not completely a multiple choice format. But, NASM is a business and the more people you can get certified the more money you can collect for continuaing education courses and other NASM related offerings. Not to say they don't have valuable educational material and a sound training philosophy. Just saying they need to make sure those who pass the test have a better understanding of the material than is currently necessary.

I agree
by: Fitness professional in MN

I took the test back in 2010 so my review is a little dated but I too read the horror story reviews and was really nervous to take the test. I spent 4 months studying and the day before the test I literally locked myself in my house and did like a 10 hour study binge. I was super nervous on my way to the site, but when I got about 20 questions into the test, I thought to myself “when is this going got get hard?” . I finished in maybe 30 min and even though you don’t get your score, I am sure I got almost every question right.

The one piece of advice I would recommend anyone who is going to take the test is to memorize the muscle imbalance / corrective exercise chart. Back when I took the test, the chart was on page 169. I memorized ever word and column by making rhymes in my head. When I got to the testing site, I used my scratch paper and wrote the chart out. I want to say that 20 questions dealt with that chart and I am positive I aced those questions. The rest of the stuff was easy, blood pressure, a little nutrition, etc.. Stuff you should know anyway if you want to become a fitness professional.

You do however need to take the test serious and do study. I bet a lot of the horror stories are from people that didn't put in the effort and failed because they just were not prepared.

My 2 cents..

-Fitness professional in MN

About to take this...
by: Kelly

So after reading the comments on this feed(no clue how old this feed is by the way), I'm feeling a little better about this exam. I'm a mom of 3 and I've been studying like crazy for months. Still, I get interrupted A LOT and have an hour a day, on a good day. I know what to focus on but am concerned about the wording on the exam. I'm a horrible test taker and while I feel I'm grasping this as I study, I usually panic on tests and get confused easily because I get so nervous. I passed the NASM online practive exam on my e-learning center with plenty to spare. Should I be worried?

Just passed my test yesterday (5/2016)
by: Anonymous

I took the NASM exam yesterday and after months of being terrified of this exam and seeing it had a 50% pass rate I was ecstatic I passed on my first try!
I'll admit that I didn't study hard enough the first few months. I majorly crammed the final 4 days before. When I started the exam and was 5 questions in I was sure I was failing it bc 2 questions weren't even in the book! Must've been those "research" questions.
I couldn't even tell you now 5 solid questions that were on there because I think my brain has shut down for a bit lol. What I do know is knowing the muscles functions and how to correct underactive muscles was a must.
I'm just relieved it's over and I can get on with this career.

by: Anonymous

Agreed. I was SO terrified going into this exam due to all the comments online about how 'tricky' it is. I don't have a background in exercise science, and I have never worked at a gym; however, I am a third year pharmacy student with a BS in biochemistry, so all the anatomy and basic health questions were largely a review for me. Regardless, the exam mostly focuses on the OPT model with some very common sense questions about goals and customer relations thrown in. It's very simple material, and not even that time consuming if you just focus on the concepts everyone tells you to focus on. I purchased the exam-only package and bought the text on amazon. Due to working full time, I skimmed only the most important chapters for a couple of weeks over the summer. I planned on actually reading everything more in depth, but ran out of time before my semester started. I got cold feet, so I postponed my exam until Fall break, thinking I would have time between pharmacy exams to study more (didn't happen). This past monday I had a midterm pharmacy exam and my NASM was scheduled for Thursday. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday reviewing the key chapters I learned over the summer, and I used pocket prep to quiz myself. When I got to the exam, there were several questions that were all essentially asking the same thing. Every question reflected the key information I had skimmed in the text or learned from pocket prep. I couldn't believe how simple it was and how much I let myself stress over it. You don't even need a health science background like I do, because it's mostly OPT model. You could probably get away with just googling quizlet OPT flashcards for rep ranges, etc, memorizing the assessment charts, overactive/under active muscles, and still pass even without reading the text. The health science concepts are extremely basic (blood pressure, macros). I was relieved to find it was so simple, but also a bit disappointed I worked myself up so much over it.

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Overstudied for NASM exam

by Ed
(Seattle, Washington)

I just took the NASM exam about 30 minutes ago and it was not hard at all. I had no experience with training before taking the exam and I'd be surprised if I missed more than 10 (research questions included). I studied for about 2 months off and on and had a little cram session a few hours prior and that's all it took.

They asked only a couple real science questions concerning the heart and a few questions on special populations but otherwise, it's all about program design, pro/regressions, exercise selection, etc.

Hope this helps!

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NASM exam was easier than I thought.

by Nate

I took the NASM exam 2 days ago and honestly didn't think it was that bad. The earlier posts were very helpful in regards to the types of questions the exam asks. If you have a background in exercise science then you probably won’t have any trouble passing.

I have been certified through the NSCA for about a year now, but my current employer required that everyone must have at least one certification through NASM so I had to take the exam.

I had months to study and take the exam but I procrastinated and waited until the day before my scheduled time to actually look over the material (dumb idea). My original plans were to skim each chapter and fill out the study guide. After talking to others who took the exam, I was directed another way. They told me since I had such little time to just watch the DVDs and follow along with the study guide. This advice proved VERY USEFUL.

I watched all the DVDs and took notes on the important topics. After I watched every chapter, I filled out the related study guide questions. Honestly, this is all you need to do in order to pass the exam. Important topics to remember are:

1. Know the postural assessments and the over/underactive muscles.
2. The exam had the most questions pertaining to the fitness assessment and program design chapters.
3. Know the Acute variable of training (reps, sets, intercity, tempo)
4. Anterior/Posterior pelvic tilt.
5. Know the lumbo pelvic hip complex.
****Basically, just look at the previous posts to get a good idea of the questions.

My advice would be to not read the book, just watch the DVDs. The DVDs highlight the important information that you need to know from the book. I'd say from all the 120 questions on the exam, the DVDs covered 110 of them. Good Luck!!

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NASM exam is not that hard

by Sam
(Fairfax, virginia)

First off, don't worry...the exam is not all that hard. I had never worked in a gym before and studied 4 months for the test, but was a full time student and had a part time job. So i probably spent 2-3 hours a week studying.

The test is a little harder than the practice exam, but not all that much harder. Make sure you know the the OPT model and the assessment chapter. There wasn't that much on functional anatomy.

All these horror stories you will read are from hot shots who think that they can skim the book and pass the test...not gonna happen

STEP ONE: read chapter one, and than do the study guide section that corresponds to chapter one...after that, watch the dvd segment for chapter one. Repeat this process for EVERY chapter.

STEP TWO: Skim over each chapter in the book.

STEP THREE: Go over the study guide sections for each chapter again.

Take the test...and ACE IT!

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NASM is not that hard anymore
by: Anonymous

I would just like to point out that NASM has completely changed the format of their study materials in the past few years. The first book NASM shipped me was almost four inches thick. FULL of information, I didn't know where to begin! 120 days was NOT enough to get through all of that.

So, fast forward a year (I decided the cert wasn't for me and didn't take the test), I decided I really wanted to finish it and try again. So I called to reopen my certification, and the customer service representative sent me a whole new set of study materials for a discounted price because she said they had had textbook writers and study specialists revise and update the material.

When the new book arrived, it was full of pictures, examples, demonstrations, outlines, and all kinds of useful study aides! Not only that, this time, the book is literally half the size of the old book! It looks as though those revisers went in there and took out all of the uneccesary information, and I guess there was a lot of it in the old version, and perhaps that's why only 65% would pass.

Now, studying for NASM is a breeze; I have it all outlined in the book, exactly what I need to know. Very to the point. The old book went all over the place.

So, those who said it was hard in the past were probably right. And those who say it's not as hard as everyone says are right too, in that the study materials have changed.

Good luck everyone!

Passing the EXAM 8/12/2011
by: Phillip H

To be honest I am a horrible student and have always struggled taking test. However with the NASM I studied for a year on and off. It took a while for me to understand and take in all of the information. To be honest I understood 90% of the book, however when I took the exam there were only a few questions from the book. The questions that were on the exam were questions from the book, but asked a a confusing way. The test seemed to test how well you take test rather than if you would make a quality personal trainer. I don't know how helpful this will be, but when I started studying I read most of these blogs both positive and negative and new that when I passed I would try to help by explaining how I was able to pass the test on my first attempt.

Last thing. When studying review for a few minutes before you go to bed and when you wake up. I would recommend this probably 2 weeks before the test day. Also two weeks before make sure you take the practice exam offered to you once you sign up.

Stay positive. Good luck

Phillip H

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NASM exam not that hard

by Dorothy
(Northern California)

I'm surprised at the general review for this exam. I found it rather perfunctory and not that in depth or hard. The study materials are pretty straight forward.

I'm currently studying for an ACE certification and find it much harder -- the materials are not organized in a structured format which takes you through the study in prep for your exam. I feel like I'm 'on my own' with ACE.

Whereas, with NASM, I felt like they 'held my hand' in many ways.

My two cents.

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Not as hard as I'd assumed it would be

by Nichole
(Austin, Texas, US)

Hi All! I was scared to death when I went to take the NASM test this morning. First of all I have had four months to study. The most I was able to accomplish was taking the practice tests a couple of times and halfway going through some of the lessons on my IPOD during work.

Fast forwarding- I studied for the test intently for the last three days. I overstudied actually. I don't have a background in Kinesiology and I haven't worked in a gym previously. I know what I know from working on my own body and personal research.

I went into the testing center this morning and realized that the test was not that hard. You need to understand the OPT model as all doors lead to the knowledge of this concept. Acute variables and definitions are important. I don't remember seeing any questions regarding body position, I saw some regarding muscles but they weren't specific- instead questions were centered around what muscles are agonists, overactive, underactive etc. Client questions (but not as specific as I'd assumed).

Know how many calories the macro nutrients yield and basics on blood pressure, specific populations, etc. But overall not too many were asked. IT was a good variety but mostly common sense. Know percentages in relation to tempos, sets, reps etc. It was not that bad at all! I left feeling confident prior to receiving my score.

Good luck!
nichole in texas

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Helps to build confidence
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the information! This helps me to prepare and I feel more confident about taking the test.

Passed June 2013
by: Anonymous

I studied for 4 months, putting in at least one hour a day. I was so determined to past this test. Was reading all the comments regarding this test and what to study for. I kind of wish now I didn't. I was overprepared, but I guess that is better than failing. It was surprisingly easy! The practice test on the NASM website was harder than the real test! My advice would be to really understand what you are reading, and you will do fine. You will pick out the research questions easily, so just answer to your best ability.

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Passed 1st try. It is not that hard if you have studied!

by Jane
(Napa, California)

I just took the NASM and passed it on my first attempt. YEAH!!! I have no background in exercise science, and I am a 49-year-old mom of two young girls. I am also a horse/rider trainer, so studying body movement is not foreign to me. However, this exam is not doable unless you study. This website was so incredibly helpful, I wanted to put in my two cents too in case it will help anyone.

1. Don't read the negative comments-- they will just make you nervous. The exam is not complicated or tricky, it is straightforward if you know your material.

2. The practice exam DOES help a lot. The format is the same and there are several question on the test either from the practice tests, or similar in content.

3. Make yourself a study strategy. What worked for me is I would take the practice exam and write down questions I either missed or guessed on. I would look them up, and add the question to my own practice test. I also went to the study guide section by section and if there was something I was unsure about, that went into my "exam" as well. By the time I was done, I had a 247 question practice exam that I had created. Just the process of creating my own test helped me to learn the material.

4. As it says in other blogs here, memorize the chart on page 169. I, too, took my scratch paper and wrote it down as soon as I sat down to take the test. You can do that before you start so it takes no time away from your test time. It helped a lot.

5. Do learn the acute variables for all 5 stages of RESISTANCE training, for core, balance, reactive the parameters are more general and split into the 3 levels.

The only questions that confused me were questions that asked if an exercise was, for instance, a balance or a stabilization exercise, and then the choices given seemed like hybrids rather than exercises I had studied and practiced. I just gave the best possible answer.

Lastly, I went to the workshop two weeks ago. I really think the hands-on experience made a difference.

Cheers and good luck to everyone!

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by: Jane

Jane again. I should have said "Strength and Stabilization", not "Balance." I think my brain was tired yesterday when i wrote the post. Also, I forgot to mention I found great NASM review resources on there.


Gotta study!!
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for your feedback. I passed the test also, and I agree, it is easy if you STUDY! I thought the practice exam was very helpful. Some of the questions on the actual exam were way too wordy, a few were so poorly written that I couldn't decipher the question properly.
But other than that, if you indeed study, you will pass.

know the chart on pg 169
by: Anonymous

I passed first time as well - just yesterday! But I put a lot of effort into studying. When you get to the testing site you can ask for scrap paper and they will let you write stuff down before you start the test. I had memorized the chart on pg 169, so I wrote it down quickly and it was a great reference tool. No surprise, there are a lot of questions about the overhead assessment. But the test was very straight forward and the practice tests cover the same info, just from different angles. So if you know the information asked there, you should be fine.
I would also say, don't skip through any chapters thinking they won't show up. The test prep pdf file is very useful as well in pointing out key charts, etc.

passed NASM
by: Kim

I passed the test yesterday, first try.

I know some people have said the questions were worded in an unfamiliar way and I could see what they mean.

Here's my advice for test takers...

Know the different ways the same thing can be referred to. For example, the book talks a lot of overactive and weak (or underactive) muscles. On the test, they almost exclusively called these short or lengthened muscles. Luckily, I knew what this meant but it could throw someone off. Short = tight, lenghtened = weak.

Also, at least on my test they never used the "Phase" terminology. They exclusively called them by the full name and although most references in the book called Phase 1 "Stabilization" on the test it is called Stabilization Endurance which made me have to stop and think. That's really what it is, but the book usually shortens it to Stabilization. Not a biggie - but it doesn't feel completely familiar when you're nervous in a test.

They also did things like where the book would say the "Hamstring complex" was weak, the choices on the test question included four muscles, one of which was a hamstring muscle. SO if you didn't know the actual specific hamstring muscles it might be difficult.

So just some advice to be familiar with all the different things that mean the same. Hmmm, that doesn't sound helpful but hoping the above will help someone out.


169 Chart??
by: Anonymous

The chart that you guys keep speaking of, is that in the 4h edition book? If not, what is the chart?

The mysterious chart
by: Dabs

I am assuming the chart that is being referenced is the Compensations, Muscle Imbalances and Corrective Strategies chart. Is that correct?

In the 4th Edition, it is on pae 183.

Thanks for all of the tips.

NASM Review:Exam Day
by: Anonymous

I agree. This exam was not difficult. I just took it today for the first time and passed. One thing that I highly recommend is to do the practice test 3-4 times to find your weak points. There were multiple repeated questions on my exam today. Also work through the quizzes. There was not any material today that was not in the book. A few questions were worded weird, however they were pretty straightforward. There was much less anatomy and physiology that I expected...there was a lot on the OPT model and specific exercises etc. Overall, the exam was straightforward. Plenty of time to complete it as well!

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