NASM Personal Trainer Exam

This resource will help you prepare to take the NASM Certified Personal Trainer exam. As you read on, you’ll discover a number of helpful details, including information on exam eligibility, how to register, where to find testing times and locations, exam fees, things to keep in mind on the day of the exam, an overview of the material you can expect to be covered on the exam, and more.

Exam Background

The Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) designation from the National Academy of Sports Medicine represents a comprehensive effort to uphold the highest standards of qualified personal training. The test, which is certified by The National Commission for Certifying Agencies, covers a wide range of topics to ensure a high level of competency, representing real-life situations to accurately assess your knowledge and preparedness to meet client needs.

Prerequisites and Exam Eligibility

To be eligible to take the NASM exam, you must:

  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Have both a current CPR and AED certification. NOTE: Both of these certifications must be valid and in effect prior to the date you sit for the exam.

Registering for the Exam

You can register for the exam online at

Costs/Payment Options

The cost to take the NASM exam is $599.

Exam Times/Locations

Once you’ve completed your online registration, you can find available exam times and locations at

Test Duration

The exam testing period lasts two hours.

What to Bring

  • One current government-issued ID with you showing your name, photo and signature.
  • Your current CPR and AED certification cards.

What Not to Bring

  • Personal items such as mobile electronic devices of any kind, including phones, computers, tablets, electronic readers, cameras, MP3 players, pagers, radios, watches, electronic translators, calculators, etc.
  • Reference materials of any kind

What to Expect During Your Exam

Format/Number of Questions: The test consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, and is given via computer.

Content: Performance Domains

When you take the test, you’ll be assessed in six different areas, known as Performance Domains. Here’s an overview of each domain area, including the approximate percentage each area represents as part of the overall exam.

Domain 1: Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts

Looks at the structures of human anatomy, including the skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, cardiorespiratory system and endocrine system. Also reviews the various categories of exercise physiology, including all systems of the body and functional biomechanics. In addition, this part of the exam assesses human movement science, motor development, macronutrients, micronutrients, hydration, caloric intake and expenditure, energy measurement, dietary reference intakes, portion sizes, types of diets, common supplements, supplement label review and weight management factors and considerations.

Domain 2: Assessment

During this portion of the test, you’ll be asked to perform tasks, such as selecting, performing, interpreting and documenting assessment results. You’ll also be asked to select, perform, document and interpret results related to static postural assessments and movement assessments, along with strength, muscular endurance and power assessments, speed agility and quickness, cardiorespiratory assessments and physiological assessments. You’ll also be tested on your body composition assessment techniques and knowledge. During this section, you’ll also complete a knowledge assessment related to the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire, personal occupational and family medical history, risk factors, lifestyle influences, cardiorespiratory and physiological assessment, kinetic chain checkpoints, body composition, performance, movement, body composition calculations, assessment and outcome standards, client condition indicators and reassessment criteria.

Domain 3: Program Design

During this section you’ll be asked to complete tasks related to flexibility, resistance, cardiorespiratory training, core training, balance training, plyometrics and Speed/Agility/Quickness (SAQ) training. You’ll also design and apply program modifications based on elements like space, time, client abilities, and current condition. During this segment, your knowledge will also be reviewed in several areas, including flexibility, resistance systems and training, cardiorespiratory training, core training, balance training, proprioceptive manipulation, plyometric techniques, Speed/Agility/Quickness (SAQ), exercise progression and regression, general adaptation syndrome, the principles of specificity, overload and variation, acute variables, risk vs. rewards of exercise types, overtraining, rest and recovery, current trends, fitness technology and exercise program design.

Domain 4: Exercise Technique and Training Instruction

Reviews knowledge related to correct technique and setup of flexibility training methods, core exercises, balance exercises, plyometrics, Speed/Agility/Quickness (SAQ), resistance, warm-ups and cool-downs. Also includes a review of concepts around kinesthetics, auditory and visual cueing methods, safe training, exercise regressions and progressions, spotting techniques, proper breathing, kinetic chain checkpoints and adverse signs and symptom identification.

Domain 5: Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching

During this segment, you’ll complete tasks related to establishing and enhancing an optimal client-certified personal trainer (CPT) relationship, reviewing short- and long-term goals, and enabling lifestyle change through monitoring, education and communication. This section also looks at your knowledge in the areas of communication, goal development, goal management, behavior change, psychological responses, behavior change barrios and expectation management.

Domain 6: Professional Development and Responsibility

This section will ask you to complete tasks related to professional standards, business development, CPT scope of practice, and emergency response techniques. Also, this area of the test reviews your knowledge of professional and ethical guidelines, business basics, marketing, sales, equipment maintenance, professional limitations, maintaining professional credentials, CPT rules and regulations, health and fitness education sources and professional growth opportunities.

Passing Score Calculation: The score required to pass the exam is calculated by subject matter experts and varies from test to test. You will receive your score results before you leave the testing center.

How Can I Prepare for the NASM Personal Trainer Exam?

We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success. We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market. Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!

Top Study Guides: 

Best Flashcards: 


Last Updated: July 31, 2019