ACE – Personal Trainer Exam

The American Council on Exercise offers the ACE Personal Trainer Certification Examination for people who want to train in a one-on-one setting or with just a few people at a time. Becoming certified demonstrates a candidate’s commitment and expertise in the field.

This test is in two parts, which is broken down as follows:

Multiple-choice items – 75% of the final results will come from this portion. There are 150 items to complete. For all of the topics, candidates will need to use what they know about applied sciences in anatomy and biomechanics, physiology, nutrition and psychology. Of these, 25 items are not scored; these are pre-trial items which may be used on future exams. Candidates will not know which items are scored and which are not. The items cover these topics:

  • 40 questions on client interview and assessment
  • 41 questions on program design and implementation
  • 34 questions on program progression, modification and maintenance
  • 10 questions on professional roles and responsibilities

Case studies – 25% of the final results will come from the two case studies given. Candidates will need to apply their knowledge and understanding by using the case to evaluate, put a solution into practice and adjust a training plan. For this portion, candidates will get a problem booklet and an answer booklet. Each case study in the problem booklet first has the situation, and then a group of choices to make in that situation. In the answer book, candidates will use the latent pen (provided) to make the choices. This special pen will make the outcome of a candidate’s choice show up. After a candidate highlights any particular choice, he or she cannot change it. In this section the answers are scored as being in one of the following:

  • Clearly indicated – the choice that is most essential; the most possible positive points given
  • Indicated – a good choice; positive points given
  • Neutral – would not harm or benefit; no points given
  • Contraindicated – harmful; negative points given
  • Clearly contraindicated – very harmful; the most possible negative points given

The ACE Personal Trainer test assessment is available in both paper and pencil or computer formats. The raw score (the number answered correctly) will be converted to a scaled score in a 200-800 range. Candidates need a scaled score of at least 500 to pass.


Last Updated: June 3, 2019