ACSM Exam FAQ 2023 - Pass Rate, Costs, and More

Hello ACSM learners, and welcome to the PTPioneer 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 FAQ - ACSM Exam Pass Rate, Test Difficulty, and More Info

ACSM FAQ In Video Form

ACSM Exam FAQ 2023 [ACSM Exam Pass Rate, Test Difficulty, and More Info] ✔️

ACSM FAQ in Audio Form

ACSM Exam Breakdown

ACSM Exam FAQ [year] - Pass Rate, Costs, and More 3

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 2023 ACSM test is comprised of 4 performance domains. It is a multiple-choice test that has 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, hence why 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%)

Domain 1: Initial client consultation and assessment; (Represents 25%)

Cognitive levels: Recall, application, synthesis

Covering: client consultation, successful communication, fitness examination, program overall 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?

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 of all time.

The difficulty of the test actually makes sense taking into account the level of development granted for those who will receive the certificate in addition to 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, and 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:

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 prep for the final test.

Those who have sat for the ACSM exam and failed are mostly people who didn’t put in the time or effort to prepare beforehand, and that’s the reason why I want to help you.

I believe that the best way to prep 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 type of 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

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.

This exam is meant to be somewhat difficult, which will gear you up for a pretty 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 2023, 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.

You should be aiming 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 just 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 that people tell me they fail is because they have not tried a practice exam. I suggest checking out the five full 150-question practice exams over at trainer Academy.


ACSM Exam Cost Breakdown

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:

ACSM Member     

  • Exam Registration fee: $279
  • Retake fee: $175

Non-ACSM Member

  • 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 needs to be renewed every 3 years. Thus, you will need to 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

ACSM Exam FAQ [year] - Pass Rate, Costs, and More 4

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.

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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4 thoughts on “ACSM Exam FAQ 2023 – Pass Rate, Costs, and More”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Very good article. Thanks for giving me a glimps of my journey.😊. I am a mathematician and a big lover of bodybuilding. I am definate to join fittness industry and surely to stand a business model of my own . I need more information to start my journey……..

  2. PTPioneer User
    Alphiya Rajesh

    Hi sir,
    Is there any particular time period in which we have to attend exam after registration

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      I believe you need to take the exam 6 months after you sign up and pay. I would double check this with them just to be sure in the event that they changed it.

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