Help with the NASM personal training exam


First Post
Has anyone taken the NASM Exam and passed it? I just took it for the first time a few days ago and failed it. The problem is they don't tell you by how many points you failed the exam so I have no idea if I was close or if I was way off. I am looking for anybody that has passed the exam. I would like any sort of tips or tricks people used while studying for it. I'm going to give it a second try, but I do not know if I can stand feeling it two times in a row. Any help would be appreciated :)


Level 5 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Hey Tyler,

Were there certain types of questions/topics that gave you issues?

To be fair, I was surprised I passed the first time. The exam was pretty confusing to me.

Are you just entering the industry?

Janne Karhunen

Level 3 Valued Member
Hello. I passed the NASM exam last week.

One thing that helped me a lot was an app called Pocket Prep. They have a version specific to the NASM exam. I like the fact that it not only gives practice questions in the same format as the exam, but gives the rationale behind the correct answer and the source (module and page number) from the material.

Do the practice exams in each module of your NASM online course several times, and the big practice exams at the end. If you feel unsure about an answer, make a note of it and go back and read the material again.

Don't forget to watch the lectures in the modules and the recorded webinars in the study guide.

Know the OPT model well. Know the programming (sets, reps, intensities) for each stage of the model. Know the assessments, especially the Overhead Squat Assessment, the overactive vs underactive muscles.

The Study Guide at the end of the course contains almost everything you need in a very condensed format.

I had to learn to read the question, read the answers and then read the question again. I made a lot of silly mistakes on the practice questions because I was rushing myself.

I hope any of all that will help you.

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Hi @tylerpc73

I passed it but I don't recall if they told me a score. The good news is once you pass it you never have to do that again :)

I studied the book a lot, and took whatever online practice exams I had access to, and re-studied any material on questions I had trouble with on the practice exams. I think I purchased the program that included some of those. I seem to recall it was a fairly standard multiple choice test, and I tend to be pretty good at those -- I read the question very carefully to pick out the key words of what they're asking, try to remember if I already know the answer before reading the options, then pick the best answer from the options and quickly rule out the others to make sure it is truly the best answer. I go back to the handful of questions I'm really not sure on to re-read and see if anything else has become clear since I read it the first time.

They seem to want you to know the order of things, particularly... like, here's a client situations, what do you do next... with all of the things being correct things to do, but they want you to know systematically what order to do them in.

How much of the material seemed familiar to you as you read the questions, and how many questions did you feel like you got right?


First Post
Hey everybody, Thank you so much for the in-depth responses!
Zack: To be honest, there's not one type of question that really stood out to me as being difficult. Overall, I do realize that the test was difficult as I wasn't 100% sure on a lot of the answers I was putting down.
Janne: I will definitely check out the pocket prep application. In fact, I just purchased the practice test from them right now. I have also heard people on other forums talking about how this helped them. Must be good stuff! I made sure that the overhead squad assessment was a big part of my studying before, but even then, I feel like I was still having difficulty memorizing the overactive and underactive muscles. I will make sure to go back and revise this.
Anna: I do agree with you that I should definitely make sure I spend more time rereading the questions and answers before making my final decision. I am sure that I might have missed maybe three or four because I did not use this technique. They could have been all of the difference in passing or failing! Thanks for the tips

So far, I have the pocket prep app, the textbook and I am creating flashcards for the more difficult topics.
I have also been using the free study guide here: FREE NASM Practice Test + NASM Study Guide + Flashcards for 2019
The owner of this website highly recommends using what are called spaced repetition flashcards. I might try this as well.

Well, I guess I just need to study harder this time around. Hopefully, I won't have as difficult of time on the test next time. Thanks for all of your input


Level 2 Valued Member
@tylerpc73: I can't speak about the NASM exam but if you have trouble memorizing things you might want to revise your study strategies. A good book about this topic that I have read is called "Make it Stick" that you could check out if you want to learn more. But in general you want to stick to 3 principles:

1. Self testing/active retrieval are some of the most effective learning methods you can use. So practice tests, write down questions that you have to answer on your own and don't just read through the material.
2. Spaced repetition is much more effective than endless repetition! You have to put some effort in retrieving information to make learning effective and all endless repetition does is make you familiar with the material and give you a false sense of mastery. So just work on a question long enough to be able to answer it right once or twice and then move on to the next one. There are many different protocols that can help you with this process. But if you are not working with a lot of material you can probably memorize which topics are harder and which ones are easier for you.
3. Interleaving makes learning more time efficient and more effective. This means you should learn a topic for a relatively short period of them, then move to something different before switching back. This is not all that important if you study for very short periods of time. But if you have set aside 60 minutes a day for studying in the long run you will do much better if you split this time to cover several topics.

The free study guide you linked is a good start. But these learning techniques are universal and are useful for pretty much everything you want to learn.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your exam and if you want to find out more I highly recommend the book I mentioned at the beginning.
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Level 6 Valued Member
@tylerpc73 I passed it a few years ago but I don't remember much about it. As I recall, questions were worded to seem unfamiliar ("They never taught us that!" was something I heard from a lot of the other students) so the key was taking the time to read every question carefully and really think about it rather than get panicked and take a guess at the answer if you didn't immediately know what the question was asking.

Re-read all of your course material, copy out key sections or anything you have trouble remembering (I ended-up writing out pretty much everything included in the course material in my own notepad to help me recall it but that's probably overkill) and you should be able to go into your exam confident that you're familiar with everything you need to know. Just don't let the questions throw you and use all of the time they give you; you don't get any bonus marks for finishing early.

If you've done the homework, all it takes is keeping a cool head in the exam and you'll be fine. If you've not done the homework, you'd better do the homework.

Good luck on your second try!
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