I’m baaaaack! I have definitely been a little MIA for the last couple weeks, but I’m back now with some great news! For the last six months I’ve been studying to become a certified personal trainer and I finally took the test this last week and it’s official! In this post I share my experience, how I studied, and ultimately how I passed the NASM exam. I also include a free study guide and practice test and tips that I have created! Enjoy!
WHY I DECIDED TO BECOME A CPT
I have considered becoming a personal trainer for some time now. The only thing that was really holding me back was that I was still in college with a full load of classes and worked two jobs, so I couldn’t devote as much time as I had wanted to studying for the NASM exam. I am extremely passionate about fitness and helping people – but you’ll hear that from just about everyone who wants to be the personal trainer – but I always wanted to find a way to make a difference, and I also recognize how broken the fitness industry is. Just about anyone can become a personal trainer. If you can read and are good at memorizing information, you can be a personal trainer. But I wanted to be different, I wanted to truly learn the information to be able to use it and actually communicate the right information to clients. Every trainer will tell you something different. One will tell you how to lose weight one way and one will tell you the complete opposite. But everyone is different. So being able to have all of the tools and information to be able to customize programs for people was important to me – not just handing out cookie-cutter diets and workout plans to anyone who asks to make money… Which you see A LOT.
NASM is just one of the many companies that offers a personal training certification. Depending on which company you decide to work for, some certifications are more highly regarded than others. However, clients typically don’t mind which certification a trainer has because a certification doesn’t dictate how good of a trainer you are. It’s a piece of paper that says you can pass a test. HOWEVER, from my understanding, the most commonly accepted certifications are NASM, NSCA, NFPT, ACSM, and ACE. I went with NASM based off recommendations from colleagues, good reviews, and the large amount of third-party study guides and information out there about the test.
WHICH PROGRAM DID YOU PURCHASE?
On the NASM website, there are a lot of different options when it comes to packages that you can purchase. I decided to go with the Online Classroom bundle, because I knew it would be a LOT easier to learn the information versus just purchasing the textbook and reading through it (I am not much of a disciplined self-starter). I wanted something more interactive. It retails for $999, but I ended up paying around $700 for it for everything through a promotional discount (they ALWAYS have some promotion running so keep your eyes out!)
Note: I highly recommend this bundle! Worth every penny. I purchased version 4.
WHAT CAME WITH THE PACKAGE?
When I purchased the package, there were several parts that came with it:
- The Exam
- The Textbook
- Interactive CPT Online – This comes with informational videos for each section.
- Online Flashcard Bundle – This has online as well as printable flashcards for each section of the textbook.
- 3 Hour Exam Prep Course – This includes an interactive presentation with practice test questions, tips for taking the exam, and important information you need to know to take the test.
- Exam Prep Super Bundle – Includes two 100-question practice exams.
- CPT eTeach – This is a week-by-week classroom-type atmosphere with an instructor, in which there are weekly reading assignments, discussion questions to answer, study guides, mid-term and final exam, and weekly section quizzes.
HOW DID YOU STUDY?
There are millions of ways to study for any kind of test, and not all ways work for all people. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from going to school all my life, it’s that I’m a very visual, hands-on learner. I also learn by writing things down. If you’re one of those people also, these study tips may work better for you! Here are my top tips for studying for the NASM exam:
1. FOLLOW WEEKLY eTEACH COURSE
The first thing that I did each week was the CPT eTeach course. They send you a reading list of when assignments are due and which chapters need to be read each week. I recommend following this outline, and keeping up with the eTeach course!
At the beginning of each week, usually on a Monday morning, I’d go through which chapters needed to be read for that week.
2. KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For the beginning of each chapter, before reading it, I would check the exam Study Guide and figure out what it was that I needed to know from that chapter, and I wrote on a sticky note the key points that could show up on the test. I would then read the assigned chapters, and highlighted anything that I thought would be important information – facts, numbers, statistics, and general information.
I also went through each chapter and highlighted the figures and tables that I needed to know.
3. WATCH THE VIDEOS
After completing the weekly reading assignments and highlighting the important information, I went through all of the CPT eTeach videos and took extra notes in the book for any information that I didn’t know or the book didn’t explain. I also did the same thing for the CPT4 Online videos.
I created a video to show you the dashboard of the CPT4 Online course that I purchased and how I used it to study. (I don’t have the CPT 4 eTeach course because it expired after 10 weeks), but I show you the rest:
4. DISCUSSION & QUIZZES
At the end of each week, I would answer the CPT eTEACH discussion question posted by the instructor. Don’t blow this part off, I found that it was very helpful because it really gives you real-world examples of things that happen while training. After answering the discussion question(s), I took the section quiz, trying not to use my notes (if I didn’t know an answer, I did look it up because then I didn’t forget it, but I also marked that it was one I didn’t know right away).
I also made notes (in purple pen) in the textbook pertaining to any information that showed up on one of these practice quizzes. That way if I was flipping through the book, they would stand out right away.
5. CREATE YOUR OWN QUIZZES
I am not someone that learns by making flashcards of definitions. In fact, I hate using flashcards to study. I am someone who retains information through drawing pictures, using acronyms, or re-writing the same words over and over. I created my own quizzes using information from the book, the study guide, and practice quizzes. My mini-tests are comprised of not only multiple choice questions, but also short-answer, fill-in-the-blank, and matching. This is the BEST way that I know how to study. Especially when the NASM exam is entirely multiple choice, practicing fill-in-the-blank questions helps you to know the right answer right away versus having to guess and use the process of elimination to find an answer. Click here to view the study guide I created.
6. UTILIZE OTHER RESOURCES
There are SO many resources out there for taking the NASM exam. Here are some of the other sources that I found helpful in my studying:
There are 120 multiple choice questions on the exam, so you don’t need to worry about spelling or grammar. You have 120 minutes (2 hours) to complete the entire test and you are not permitted to use scratch paper. You must score a 70% or better to pass, and there are 20 unscored test questions that are used as possible future test questions, so overall, you have to get 70 of 100 of those questions correct to pass (or 36 out of 120). When you arrive for the test, make sure to bring a form of ID with a photo and your current CPR/AED card or certification.
I am the procrastination queen and ended up waiting until day 179 to take my test (you only have 180 days to take the test before the exam that comes with the package expires and you have to repay around $600 for it). BUT, none-the-less, I got it done! Don’t wait until the last minute! You can also reschedule the exam through PSI with 24 hours notice of the test day… which I did probably 10 times.
[…to be continued…]
Thanks for reading PART 1!
click here for part 2 where i share my ultimate study guide for passing the nasm exam!
I hope this was helpful, leave a comment and let me know how you studies for the test or if you have any questions for me!