June 18, 2016

10 Study Tips to Pass Your NASM CPT Exam on Your First Try




So you’re interested in the NASM Certified Personal Trainer certification?

When I was looking and thinking about getting my certification, I looked into a bunch of different organizations. I decided on NASM because I heard it was the most recognized and reputable. I also heard that the NASM focused more on actual training aspects, compared to other organization certifications. So that’s is where my journey started.

I ordered the book in August and I was convinced to go slowly, and read 1 to 2 chapters a week and surely I would get the information. But I was in for a big surprise. I had to read, re- read, and re- read again, research, and watch YouTube videos to really retain the information. I took my test 11 months later! I think it is totally possible to do this quicker, but I went pretty slow in the beginning, and ramped things up at the end.

Honestly, When I first started studying the book could have been in French. It was so confusing! I’m not saying this to freak you out if you are on your journey to take your NASM CPT.  But instead to let you know I really struggled through in the beginning, I used the study tips I’m going to show you, and I was just fine. I passed on my first try. So take a deep breath! This is totally possible, you can do it!

In full disclosure I had ZERO science background before this test. Actually, typically I am pretty awful at anything related to science. But I think with the study skills listed below, and the willingness to put in the time to learn the information I was able to pull this off on my first try.

I know that there are a ton of sites out there listing all the information that you need to know. So instead I’m going to show you how I studied for this test, because honestly I think that is the most important thing.


1. NASM E-Teach

Originally I tried to do the cheapest option, by buying the book and purchasing the test. When I went to purchase the test they really discouraged me from buying just the test since I have no science background. And honestly it was good advice. I went ahead and purchased the e-teach course package. It is a online class with due dates and a re-test guarantee if you pass your unit quizzes, mid-term, and final. It is an actual class, so just be prepared for that. It was very helpful, and the class was 9 weeks long. I read the entire book before I purchased e-teach and started the class, so the course went very fast for me. And it was also easier to get the assignments in on time because I was not re-reading entire chapters at that point.

2. Other Web Courses & Websites

Brent Brookbush Institute– Brent has a bunch of free YouTube videos online, and also has a pay for site with a ton more anatomy and physiology class videos. He is so great at explaining things in a way that was so much easier for me to understand, than reading the text in the book. He is a NASM teacher, so his information goes right along with the test. By far, his sight was absolutley the most helpful! It is $12.99 a month, and I paid for 1 month.

NASM made easy by Jonathan Fitpro– this was a brief overview of important information on each chapter. It was similar to the eteach, but with a different instructor. It was a great review that I used the week before my test, with important “need to remember” information. Although I will say I found a few incorrect pieces of information and #’s in the course. But all-in-all it was worth the $47 bucks for a little extra review and peace of mind.

Crash Course on YouTube– these videos seem so silly, but the information and the way it was presented in quick 10 minute videos helped me see the “big picture.”

KhanAcademy– this is a free online website that has instruction on a variety of topics.

3. Make a Study Calendar


After I finished the e-teach course I gave myself 4 weeks to prepare. I wrote out the plan of what I needed to study and when, during the 4 weeks. I included chapters I needed to review, quizzes I needed to take, and topics I needed to look over again. During the four weeks, I crossed things off as I finished them, and added more things as new topics came up that needed more attention. The calendar really helped calm my nerves and help ease my mind that I would be able to fit everything in and be fully prepared before the big test day.


4. Reviewing Practice Quizzes

I took all 5 quizzes online.  There was the practice test B, practice test C, e-teach final, and 2 CPT online practice tests. I took them all one time. I flagged ever question that I was even a little unsure of, then copied all of those on a word document, then cut them out to make flashcards (discussed on #5). Instead of memorizing the information, I researched what ALL the choices were (a. b. c. d.). I took a few of the quizes more than once, but truly didn’t dedicate a lot of time to taking and retaking tests. I just felt like my time could be utilized better in the other study techniques listed in this article.


5. Flashcard Method


I had a method to my madness with the flashcards that I made from the practice quizzes (discussed in #4). Although I didn’t go over the actual practice quizzes multiple times, I did go over the flashcards that I made from the practice tests a bunch! Like I said in #4, I didn’t just memorized the answer…I knew why and also knew what the other answers were (a. b. c. d.) If I felt like I knew all the information on that card, then I would put it in a “done studying” pile. I did this until I knew all the cards. Once I was done will all the flashcards I went back over the full stack and I pulled out any that I couldn’t remember, and reviewed those again. This process repeated until I knew all of the cards backwards and forwards.


6. Write Down Questions…as soon as you have them


Sometimes as I was studying and rereading I would have questions that would pop in in my mind. I would write these questions down as soon as they popped into my mind, on note cards. Then I would find the answer to these questions on another day or whenever I had time, and cross them off.


7. Uses Sticky Notes to Flag Book Pages

As I was studying I found myself reviewing a lot of the same pages and charts over and over again. The easiest solution to this was putting sticky notes on important pages in the book. This was really was a easy time saver instead of having to refer to the index each time when I was looking up ideas. It also was great the last week, so I could quickly thumb through important pages to review.




8. COLOR the Muscles

I am so visual. The under active and over active muscles were one of the hardest for me. I tried to make audio recording to listen to in the car, I drew muscle names in marker on my own body, but it wasn’t until I printed out a anatomy man sheet  to color the underactive and overactive muscles that it really made sense.




9. Make Worksheets for Yourself 


There is no way around it. There are so many numbers to memorize for this test. I was very nervous about memorizing all the acute variables for all the phases and exercises, not to mention all the other numbers that I needed to know too. And of course I have the worst memory…#truestory, just ask any of my friends! It is a huge undertaking to say the least. But I knew it would be important to spend the time and just memorize. So I made worksheets for myself so I could write the numbers in specific order over and over again. Pictured above is just one of the pages, the full worksheet packet was about 7 pages. I made the worksheets blank and printed out new ones when I needed them, on my printer. It took a long time and a lot of days to memorize all the acute variables and numbers for everything. But it was worth it, and this was the BEST use of my time! When I got into the test I had memorized all the numbers so I was 100% sure on all the number based answers.


10. Make it a Game


Some of the information I really had trouble retaining with the worksheets that I made. There was just only so much I could memorize and I felt like I was a max capacity. So I decided to play matching games to group things. Maybe I couldn’t memorize somethings, but I knew that if I saw it on the test I would be able to group it properly. This is an example of the matching game I used to learn local, global, and movement systems.


In the end, it was an intense process for me personally. But just know going in that this test IS totally doable, and you can make it happen if you are willing to put in the time.

I don’t claim to be the smartest person when it comes to science based topic, but I am a hard worker with good study skills which really helped me make it through. I finished my test and knew I had passed because I felt confident in almost all of my test answers. I am fairly certain I missed less than 10 total questions on the the test. Of course they don’t tell you, but I knew that information so well that I can say with confidence that I nailed the test by using these study skills! I hope these tips help you in your journey to complete your NASM CPT! Good luck!

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