NASM Certified Personal Trainer

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The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) was founded in 1987 by Dr. Michael Clark, a doctor of physical therapy.[1][2] The NASM administers the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification program, which is based on NASM's proprietary Optimum Performance Training program. The Optimum Performance Training program is an evidence-based training, reconditioning, and rehabilitation program supported by scientific research at the NASM Research Institute at the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill.[3]

The NASM-CPT certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).[3]

Function of the Test

NASM Study Guide

The NASM-CPT certification program is designed for individuals who wish to become personal trainers. Candidates must be at least 18 years old and have up-to-date certification in Emergency Cardiac Care (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) use.[4]

The examination covers several dimensions of a personal trainer's career, including anatomical knowledge, exercise technique, nutrition, client relations, and professional development.[5] Candidates who pass the NASM-CPT are considered qualified to perform individualized health and fitness assessments of clients and develop an effective, personalized exercise and conditioning program which is based on clinical scientific evidence.[5] The primary benefit of obtaining certification is to enhance career prospects; NASM provides a "60-day job guarantee" on some of its more expensive NASM-CPT enrollment packages.[6]

The NASM does not appear to publish official statistics regarding the pass rate of the NASM-CPT. Third-party sources provide widely differing figures for this statistic ranging from 50% to 70%.[7][8] Similarly, the NASM does not appear to publish any statistics regarding how many individuals have received NASM-CPT certification or how many individual members maintain active certification year to year.[9]

Test Administration

NASM Flashcards

In order to take the NASM-CPT examination, candidates must enroll in a CPT exam package. There are seven packages ranging from $599 for the exam by itself up to $2,399 for a deluxe package including the examination, a textbook, several types of preparation materials, a live workshop, an eight-week externship, and a free retest.[6]

The NASM-CPT is administered at PSI Exams testing centers.[4] Candidates must schedule an examination with PSI within 180 days of enrollment in the certification program.[5] Candidates must bring their current CPR/AED certification cards and photo ID to the testing site.[5] The exam has 120 questions, and there is a two hour time limit.[10]

Candidates receive a score report immediately following the completion of the examination. If successful, the candidate receives a certificate from NASM by mail within approximately four weeks of the exam date.[5]

Candidates who fail to pass the exam may purchase a retest after 24 hours for $199. After purchasing the retest, candidates must wait two to three business days before contacting PSI to schedule the exam.[10] Candidates who fail the exam three times in a row must wait one year before taking the examination again.[4]

Candidates requiring special accommodations must complete a Special Exam Accommodations Form and submit it to the NASM Board of Certification (BOC).[5]


Sections of the NASM Test
NASM Test Subject Areas # of Questions
Basic and Applied Sciences 15
Assessment 15
Exercise Technique and Training Instruction 20
Program Design 25
Considerations in Nutrition 12
Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching 10
Professional Development, Practice, and Responsibility 8
Pretest Questions 20
Total Questions 120

Test Environment

Testing for the NASM takes place at PSI Testing Centers. For admission, candidates are expected to bring photo identification that contains their signature, as well as up-to-date CPR and AED certification. Bags, electronics, books, coats, and other personal items are not allowed in the exam rooms. The exam is computer based, so the results are recorded instantly after the test is completed. There is a two hour time limit to complete the exam.[11]

Test Structure

The National Academy of Sports Medicine is an examp made up of 100 questions. There are also an additional 20 unscored, pretest questions. All 120 items have to do with 7 major domains: Basic and Applied Sciences; Assessment; Exercise Technique and Training Instruction; Program Design; Considerations in Nutrition; Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching; and Professional Development, Practice and Responsibility.[12]

Sample Questions

More free NASM practice test questions.


The NASM-CPT examination contains 120 questions, of which 100 are graded. The remaining 20 questions are randomly-placed pretest items being assessed for inclusion on future versions of the examination.[5]

Because several forms of the examination exist, candidates' raw scores are converted to a statistically scaled score which accounts for the slightly different levels of difficulty among the forms of the exam. A scaled score of 70 is necessary to pass the examination.[5]

The NASM does not appear to publish any statistics regarding typical score ranges or pass rates.


  1. ^ NASM Leadership Team May 21 2014
  2. ^ Michael Clark May 21 2014
  3. ^ a b NASM History May 21 2014
  4. ^ a b c CPT Exam Information May 20 2014
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h CPT Certification Candidate Handbook May 21 2014
  6. ^ a b Become a Personal Trainer May 21 2014
  7. ^ How to Pass the NASM Exam May 21 2014
  8. ^ NASM vs NSCA May 21 2014
  9. ^ Compare Certification Organizations May 21 2014
  10. ^ a b Frequently Asked Questions May 21 2014
  11. ^ NASM FAQ 14 July 2014
  12. ^ NASM Handbook 14 July 2014

External Links