In March of 2013 I passed the NASM Certified Personal Trainer exam. NASM gives you 180 days from the date of purchase to schedule and take the exam; I took the test on day 180. It was a long and sometimes stressful process, but all-in-all a positive one and I realize that’s easy for me to say now since I passed.
If you do a quick Google search for personal trainer certifications, you’ll find more information than you know what to do with. So, I advise you to do as much research as you need to make an informed decision. A good idea would be to call gyms in your area and ask what certifications they look for. I wish I had taken this kind of measured approach, but I know I didn’t. If you were to ask me today, I couldn’t tell you why I settled on NASM. I thought about it for a few days then pulled the trigger … $700 later my study materials were on the way and the clock was ticking.
What did $700 buy me? Not a whole lot but it was enough to pass the exam. The self-study package included:
- Certification Exam (1 attempt)
- Online Practice Exams
- Online Course Content/Presentations
I attacked the book one chapter at a time, making note cards for every vocab word, anything NASM recommended I should focus on, and generally anything that looked important. That last part was probably overkill, but I figured having more information was better than having less. After completing a chapter in the textbook, I’d view the online presentation for that chapter and take any review quizzes. Throw in a photocopy or two for some of the important charts (overhead squat assessment!!) and the book was done.
From that point on, I spent about 20 – 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, reviewing my notecards and the assessments. What probably helped me the most was Quizlet (a user-generated flashcard study site) and my iPhone. Being able to study whenever I had a spare 5 or 10 minutes really helped me get the information down. The Scatter feature may have been the biggest help; it turned studying into a game which made the entire process a lot easier.
The certification exam consisted of 120 multiple choice questions that must be passed with a required score of 70. Of those questions, 20 were for research purposes and did not count toward the exam score. Unfortunately, you don’t know which are which so you just have to answer the best you can. Fast forward an hour and a half and you get your results on the spot.
For some people this will be a longer process than for others, but if you work your way through the material, you shouldn’t have any problems passing the exam.
Are you currently studying for the NASM exam? Thinking about it?