Hello ACSM learners, and welcome to the PT Pioneer FAQ page.
All in all, this article will answer the most popular questions that people have regarding these ACSM CPT study materials.
The basics covered in this article will be:
- Frequently Asked Questions
- General ACSM Certification Information
- Exam and Other ACSM Material Costs
Get your copy of the ACSM CPT exam cheat sheet and our study plan. It helps immensely in studying for the exam.
Make sure to check out Trainer Academy for premium ACSM CPT study materials. They will reduce study time by 50% and have an exam pass guarantee. Read my full review of them here. You can save $100 on their MVP study system with the code: PTPSUB.
Let’s dive into the Frequently Asked Questions for the ACSM CPT!
ACSM CPT Study Series
- ACSM Exam Prep Home Page
- ACSM Study Plan
- ACSM Study Guide
- ACSM Practice Exams
- ACSM Flashcards
- ACSM Cheat Sheet
- ACSM Exam FAQ
ACSM FAQ In Video Form
ACSM FAQ in Audio Form
ACSM Exam Breakdown
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “How are the domains and materials broken down within the ACSM CPT?”
So, it is beneficial to throw this information into this article.
The 2024 ACSM test is comprised of 4 performance domains. It is a multiple-choice test with 150 questions (120 scored and 30 un-scored) in which participants have 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to complete the test.
So what the ACSM test actually contains is 150 multiple-choice questions, where only 120 will count for the final score.
The rest 30 questions of the test serve as un-scored trailer test questions designed to narrow down the range of the questions’ accuracy in future exams.
You will have no way of distinguishing between the real exam questions and the “fake” integrated questions, so you will have to answer each question with your full abilities and set the intention for every question counting in your final score.
You will have 165 minutes to complete the whole test.
The content of the ACSM test revolves around four main performance domains, where every domain covers a set of topics separated into cognitive levels, recall application, and synthesis.
The outline above will give you a clear idea about the domains, calculated percentages per domain, cognitive levels, and the overall topics covered:
Domain 1: Initial client consultation and assessment; (Represents 25%)
Cognitive levels: Recall, application, synthesis
Covering: client consultation, successful communication, fitness examination, overall program design, physical testing, behavior readiness, risks included, typical physical structures (i.e., skeletal, muscular.), specific measurement, assessing physical goals, and other similar subjects.
Domain 2: Exercise programming/implementation; (Represents 45%)
Cognitive levels: Recall, application, synthesis
Covering: The customer’s medical records, assessment results, exercise instructions, exercise modalities, FITTVP (frequency, intensity, time, type, volume, and progression), exercise presentation, and client feedback.
Domain 3: Practice leadership and client learning; (Represents 20%)
Cognitive levels: Application, synthesis
Covering: communication, behavioral exercises, motivational powers, client education, and other related topics.
Domain 4: Legal and professional Aspects: (Represents 10%)
Cognitive levels: Application, recall
Covering: Working hand in hand with healthcare specialists, minimizing risk factors, designing a comprehensive risk management plan, the ACSM Code of Ethics, industry-accepted business, ethical and professional minimums, copyright standards, intellectual property, and customer confidentiality.
ACSM Test Difficulty – How Hard is the ACSM Exam?
The ACSM exam can be quite challenging for some and could be extremely easy peasy for others. It is known to be one of the highest strength certifications ever.
The difficulty of the test makes sense taking into account the level of development granted for those who will receive the certificate and the level of credibility it holds to the successful candidates. This is why I highly recommend picking up a fantastic study guide and some practice exams.
The ACSM test was designed to be used by the best-performing athletes in the world. It is more concentrated than just a regular personal trainer-level certification.
Due to this, it is a real accomplishment if you ever intend on getting into the professional athlete training game, and the exam tests you accordingly.
The ACSM exam focuses on separating the weak and average from the excellent. This test requires a high level of technical aptitude to drive college and/or career-focused athletes to the podium. As a professional trainer, it is best if you aim for a similar top-tier level.
To further help candidates ace the exam, The ACSM Facebook Support Group was created as an avenue for all and sundry to ask questions and get answers to some of the most pressing issues concerning the certification.
Presently having over 13,000 participants in the community, users get answers to challenges they may have with both academic and practical aspects of the certification.
In addition, these are the minimum requirements before getting approval to sit for the exam:
Master’s degree in CEP (Clinical Exercise Physiology) or equivalent
At least 600 hours of the hands-on exercise experience
Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science or equivalent
To sum up, it’s definitely not impossible to succeed! It is all about how ready you are and how well you prepare for the final test.
Those who have sat for the ACSM exam and failed mostly didn’t put in the time or effort to prepare beforehand, which is why I want to help you.
I believe that the best way to prepare for ACSM is to adopt a new, unique, and fresh perspective of exercise training and/ or personal experience. I recommend applying for a degree in exercise science and passing it, which will present a perfect platform for the preparation for the ACSM exam.
In addition to regularly preparing for the exam using the study material, you should also:
Pass the test when you’re fresh off a degree
Have any experience working with athletes
Be a participant in or have completed an athlete training internship
Possess a generally decent tested and applied knowledge of high-level exercise science.
Be strict about studying the exam material for at least 2 to 3 months.
So, in conclusion, the ACSM exam can be challenging, but with the right amount of prep and indulgence in the world of on-ground exercise science, you will certainly succeed.
ACSM Exam Pass Rate
As you may now have already noticed, the ACSM can be quite a challenging test, but the good thing is that the pass rate has jumped through the roof in the last 3 years. As a fitness professional, becoming ACSM certified is a great step in your career.
This exam is meant to be somewhat difficult, which will prepare you for a challenging career. As challenging as it might be, the pass rate revolves around 68%. That means you’re most likely to pass on your first try.
As of 2024, the exam statistics were as follows:
- 66% Pass rate for the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
- 72% Pass rate for the ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist
- 65% Pass rate for the ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist.
It would be best if you aimed at a pass mark of a minimum of 65%, which can be considered a generous percentage.
With that said, even with a 32% fail rate, you cannot take this exam for granted and sit back and enjoy the experience! I can’t stress enough how important it is to thoroughly prepare for the ACSM so that you don’t only have a chance at passing the first time but you guarantee it.
One of the biggest reasons people tell me they fail is that they have not tried a practice exam. I suggest checking out the five full 150-question practice exams over at Trainer Academy. Their practice questions are developed with test developers and experts and individuals who have all passed the ACSM exam. Trainer Academy is highly worth the price if you want to get your ACSM credential as quickly as possible.
Topics Covered on the ACSM Exam
Topics on the ACSM exam items include:
- Flexibility and balance training
- Activity guidelines for special populations including adults, children, and adolescents
- Resistance training and strength training
- Aerobic training
- Advanced training concepts
- Alternative forms of exercise
- Fitness assessments
How do I register for an ACSM CPT exam?
You can register for the ACSM exam by clicking on this link and registering directly from ACSM and their associated Pearson VUE testing Affiliate. You need CPR certifications and skills in order to sit for the exam.
Can I take the ACSM CPT Exam Online?
The ACSM online proctored exam is administered via Pearson VUE. It provides more than 5,000 computer-based testing centers spread all over the world.
In effect, ACSM will organize online prep sessions for students by utilizing the webinar option, thus ensuring that candidates can be well prepared for the proctored exams.
What should I expect when taking the ACSM CPT exam?
You should expect a challenging (68% pass rate) exam that tests you on all of the essential materials spread throughout the ACSM textbook, ‘Resources for the Personal Trainer’-6th Edition. Expect to take a 2.5-hour test with 150 questions that will challenge you.
How will I know what is on the exam?
There are Four (4) Domains of ACSM with the weightage and number of questions as such:
1. Initial client consultation and assessment [15 Questions] – 25%
2. Exercise programming/implementation [27 Questions] – 45%
3. Exercise leadership and client education [12 Questions] – 20%
4. Legal and professional responsibilities[6 Questions] – 10%
Can I cancel/reschedule my exam?
You can, but it will depend on many factors. Note that all requests to cancel or postpone your exam must be made by calling Pearson Vue or logging into the account you used to subscribe to or apply for the test. You must remember NOT to call ACSM to cancel or reschedule your test directly.
How can I find a list of places to take an exam in my area?
You can find the list of the nearest places to sit for the ACSM exam by checking Pearson VUE’s website at www.pearsonvue.com/acsm and locating a testing center near you. You can also try dialing their number for more information.
What is the ACSM re-test / retake policy?
The participants taking the test again will get a voucher number on their score report, which can be extracted at the Pearson VUE. They have the right to re-sit for the exam in a fifteen days period after an unsuccessful attempt.
After completing the ACSM CPT exam, when will I receive my results?
The participants of the ACSM exam will be able to access their exam results immediately as soon as they complete the test. In addition, in less than two weeks after you pass the test, you will get a welcome email from the ACSM and a follow-up email from the American Registry.
How are the exams scored?
ACSM exams are scored on a 200-800 score scale.
All candidates must meet the standard passing score of 550 to receive a ‘Pass’ on any ACSM certification test.
The standard passing score is determined according to the expectations of the subject experts throughout all subjects of the competency range in coordination with each credential’s exam blueprint.
ACSM Exam Cost Breakdown
The ACSM exam has different cost structures depending on your ACSM membership status and whether you’re sitting for the exam for the first time or retaking it.
The costs are as follows:
- Exam Registration fee: $279
- Retake fee: $175
- Exam Registration: $349
- Retake fee: $475
Extra pricing info
- ACSM’s three test preparation resources bundle: $135
- Three different workshop options for preparing for the ACSM exam: in-person 3-day workshops: $375
- In-person 1day workshop: $129
- Online webinar series: $240
- Practice exam fee: $50
- Recertification: $45
Recertification fee: ACSM personal trainer certification must be renewed every 3 years. Thus, you must complete the required Continuing Education Credits and an additional fee for the re-certification.
If you’re an ACSM member and you want to take the ACSM Personal Trainer Certification exam, it will cost you $279, while if you’re a non-member, it will cost $349. To retake the test will cost you $175.
ACSM Test Conclusion
Well, we’ve reached the end of my article. I highly suggest checking out my free study resource for ACSM, which contains a practice test and a full study guide. Also, if you want to guarantee that you pass the exam, check out Trainer Academy for premium study materials.
And that’s all for the ACSM exam breakdown. It must be said that this is probably one of the most challenging exams you can ever take in the personal training field. It’s designed to be complex and challenging because it isn’t directed toward the regular PT.
The ACSM is for the big dogs of the personal training field. It is the key to a successful professional but high-quality career in the domain of professional athletics training and fitness.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and its personal trainer certification program are designed to shape some of the world’s best athletic personal trainers of all time.
It’s why this exam can be the beacon for entering the realm of personal training, as it has over 50,000 International members alongside a fairly large number of certified professionals whose goal is to promote a healthier lifestyle for everyone.
Find out more about the ACSM here, and remember to leave a comment with your ideas below.