Mastering the NASM CPT Exam: Strategies and Practice Questions

Do you dream about helping others achieve their personal fitness goals? If so, you might be preparing to become a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). NASM is the #1 certification provider in the industry. In addition to offering training and certifications, NASM is partnered with gyms and training centers, potentially connecting you to a network of clients, industry leaders, and influencers. Former Olympians have even become certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, so if you can pass the CPT exam, your clients will know that you’re qualified.

What is the NASM-CPT exam?

In order to become a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, prospective trainers must pass an exam. According to NASM’s handbook, candidates are only eligible if they have a high school diploma or GED and are also certified in Adult CPR and AED.

The NASM-CPT exam includes 120 questions. Candidates are given a 2-hour time limit and must pass with a score of 70% or better. Candidates are encouraged to study for the exam given the wide range of topics on it, but fortunately, you can find study guides and practice tests online to help you prepare.

It usually takes 3-6 months for someone to study for the NASM-CPT exam if they study one chapter each week.

Before taking the exam, you’re expected to have in-depth knowledge of topics such as basic and applied sciences, nutritional concepts, client relations, behavioral coaching, exercise technique, training instruction, professional development, and safety procedures. You will also be expected to assess clients and design client-specific programs.

Practice Questions

The best way to ace the NASM-CPT exam is to prepare ahead of time. Check out this NASM study guide from Trainer Academy complete with sample questions in each category. A question in the applied sciences category might be “Define the components of the muscular system” and a question in the professional development category might be “What are the 4 P’s of marketing in fitness?” In the program design section, you will be expected to identify different types of set training and match them with clients. The National Academy of Sports Medicine is a great way to get certified because the certification is so comprehensive, but the official NASM study guide is expensive. Trainer Academy’s study guide is a great alternative.

Test-Taking Strategies

Tests can be intimidating, especially if it’s been a while since you were in school. Practice tests are a great way to get yourself back in test-taking mode. While it’s okay to re-take the test if you fail it, the NASM-CPT does cost $600 and requires you to sit in for a proctored exam, so it’s best to pass on your first try.

On exam day, there are a few test-taking tips that you should keep in mind.

Track Your Time

First and foremost, focus on managing your time while taking the exam. Complete questions at a steady rate. Keep in mind that the end of the exam may be more difficult than the beginning, so you should give yourself more time to answer those questions. With 120 questions and a 2-hour time limit, you’ll have exactly one minute per question. However, the first few questions might only take you a few seconds to answer if you’ve studied carefully. Keep this in mind and don’t waste time second-guessing the “easy” questions.

Process of Elimination

If you really don’t know the answer to a question, and you have four different choices, start by eliminating two answers that are definitely wrong. When you’re left with only two answers, you have a 50-50 chance of guessing correctly. Of course, this method won’t work with every single question, but it might help with some of the trickier ones. Also, keep in mind that 20 of the exam’s 120 questions are “research questions” and don’t count toward your final score.

Use All of Your Time

You may remember your elementary school teacher telling you to “Check your work” when you finish early. There’s no harm in doing the same on the NASM-CPT exam. Once you have completed the entire exam and answered every single question, you should re-evaluate those tougher questions with fresh eyes.


If becoming a personal trainer is your passion, then you’ll want to put in the hard work and discipline necessary to become certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. While 120 questions might sound intimidating, the exam is probably shorter than many of the ones you took in high school. Besides, in studying for this exam, you’ll be learning about more than just fitness. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have general knowledge about science, nutrition, business, and communication.

All of the best, most qualified trainers are certified, and as long as you practice for the exam using these strategies and tips, you will soon become an inspiration to fitness lovers far and wide.

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