How I Passed My NASM Personal Training Exam

So I just finished taking the NASM CPT exam . I'm happy to say that I passed! I'm not going to lie though I didn't think I was going to.

Around question number 20 found myself extremely irritated feeling like I definitely didn't study correctly.


By question number 43 I began to calculate how much it would cost to do a retake.

Although I don't know what I officially scored on the test I would like to part some words of wisdom for getting ready for your NASM personal training exam.

I purchased the NASM premium self study plan, no textbook. I think it's silly to do that in this day and age. All of the books in college that my professors made me buy ended up sitting on my shelves for years and then eventually became outdated relics. And honestly, I did the majority of my studying/reading on my phone.

Study schedule: Make sure you set aside time in your week to study. If you don’t make time, you will never get around to doing it. Personally, I studied in between personal training clients, after work, on lazy Sundays…. I did 2 modules a week. I would spend one day reading the text, the following day I would read the review and watch the lecture video and then the next day I would test myself with the flashcards and quiz. On all the process took about 2 months. You gotta find what works for you and your schedule but make sure you keep it somewhat consistent!

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Exam prep: Don’t underestimate the NASM exam. At the same time give your brain time to decompress. After 2 months of reading and studying all the modules, I think its important to give yourself some time before taking the final exam. I strongly recommend giving yourself at least 3 weeks of reviewing and studying. Life is crazy. I told myself I would study at least an hour a day every day until the day of the exam. Realistically, I probably studied an hour every 3 days. In the end, I think this was helpful because it gave me the opportunity to see what I truly retained and what I did not.

As far as studying goes I would say don't focus so much effort on the practice test questions. I foolishly assumed the exam was going to recycle the majority of the questions on the practice tests on the actual exam. I think I saw a repeat of about 17 of the practice questions on the final exam.

I also felt like it was important to know specifics. I spent my time memorizing general information on the practice test and I found myself struggling with about 50% of the test because I couldn’t remember a specific muscle (was it bicep femoris short head or long head??) or the exact amount of repetitions on the OPT model.

When you finally sit down to take your big, scary test make sure after you finish you go back through and double check your answers.

Roll your eyes if you must, but I found that some of the wording would be tricky and some of the questions they ask later on would give you the answers to earlier on questions.

To be frank, I didn't listen to the podcast for the domain specific learning. I recognize that I am a kinesthetic learner and anything auditory just goes in one ear and out the other. Writing information out and making lists helped me organize and learn So make sure that you know how you learn best. Are you an auditory learner? Visual learner? or Hands on learner? Don’t waste your time

One last tip, Mnemonic devices are your best friend! This technique helps you improve your ability to remember something. Studies show this memory technique to help your brain better encode information. I really loved this gals mnemonic devices (

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Hags, age, hel..... genius! I created mnemonic devices for the the overhead squat assessment. If you can remember the overhead squat assessment compensations then you can use critical thinking to figure out the other compensations in the remaining assessments. They are essentially the same. Just so you know, the exam does not allow any scratch paper. I totally thought I could have a piece of paper to write down my mnemonic charts down. False! No paper is allowed.

Big subjects you should know:

Overactive and under-active muscles assessments chart

# of Reps and length of rest in each stage of the OPT model chart

Planes of movement and an example of an exercise in that plane (transverse, frontal, etc)

Balance training stages

When to use corrective, functional stretching

Lower cross syndrome characteristics

Behavior Change Strategies

Study, study, study!!!

Of course look over the reviews at the end of each chapter. Make sure you know your stuff! You got this friends! Best of luck on your studying! Feel free to message me or comment below if there are any other questions! :)

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Kristin Schedell