Free NSCA CSCS Study Guide. NSCA CSCS textbook and study guide laid out on table in preparation for the CSCS study session.

Welcome to the PT Pioneer Free NSCA CSCS Study Guide, your ultimate resource to help you master the details you need for completion of the difficult NSCA CSCS exam. This study guide covers the topics and areas of knowledge and understanding you need to pass the CSCS test, even with no background in exercise science.

You can utilize this study guide on any exam study schedule, but I recommend starting as soon as possible. Before we dive in, I want to let you in on my secrets to passing the CSCS exam.

Secrets to Passing the CSCS Exam

Secret #1:

Get your copy of the CSCS exam cheat sheet and our study plan. It helps immensely in your ability to study for the CSCS exam.

Secret #2:

My PTP students report cutting their CSCS study time and effort in half with Trainer Academy.

Benefit from the Exam Pass Guarantee and Retake Fee Guarantee. Plus, take advantage of my current discount code PTPJULY for 35% off the MVP Program (Ends July 19th, 2024).

Try it out for free here to see if it’s right for you, or read my detailed review for further insights.

Secret #3:

There are a ton of CSCS practice questions here on PT Pioneer. I don’t expect you to knock them all out in one shot. With that said be sure to bookmark this page to ensure you can find it for your next CSCS Study Session.

Becoming an NSCA certified strength and conditioning coach is a major milestone, but you will need to put the work in.

NSCA CSCS Test Study Series

FREE CSCS Study guide: 4th Edition 2024

Free CSCS Study Guide 2023 - PTPioneer

Using the PTPioneer CSCS Study Guide

This study guide for the CSCS and all study guides found throughout PTPioneer will contain each chapter simplified for readers to study easily.

It is not a perfect test prep substitute for the book, as learners should, ideally, still read and utilize the chapters in the textbook at least once. There are many things you can do and products you can buy to increase your pass rate.

Consider watching the NSCA workout and lifting technique videos to ensure you know how to use exercise to work all the muscles in your body. Additionally, mastering the principles of cardio training is one of the requirements for all people workout through the CSCS courses.

The current CSCS textbook is the Essentials of Strength Training, 4th Edition.

Essentials of Strength Training, 4th Edition. - CSCS Practice Exam

For the most optimal study experience, readers will go through the chapter in the official CSCS textbook and the more condensed version of our chapter-by-chapter study guide here on this page.

Our flashcard system also follows chapter-by-chapter and should be utilized to keep everything fresh for learners on a daily or semi-daily study basis, training your mind on each of the different sections.

Regularly studying the CSCS materials can help create some optimal study habits that translate well to future endeavors.

Make sure to check out the PTPioneer study plan for the National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, as well.

In the study plan, I break down the study guide’s chapters to fit each of the four main calendar time frames seen by learners. This can help you set goals, a vital skills for all professionals and individuals in the fitness industry.

CSCS  Practice Test Breakdown

The NSCA CSCS Test, and subsequently the practice test we offer, are broken up into two daunting tests.

The first CSCS test will be the Scientific Foundations Exam. The Scientific Foundations exam holds questions from the first three domains (out of seven total) from the CSCS textbook.

  • Domain 1 Exercise Science: (55% of section score/44 questions)
  • Domain 2 Sports Psychology: (24% of section score/19 questions)
  • Domain 3 Nutrition: (21% of section score/17 questions)
  • Non-Scored Questions: a total of 15 questions are not scored

The second CSCS test is the Practical/Applied exam. The practical and applied test will contain questions from the remaining 4 domains

  • Domain 4 Exercise Technique: (36% of section score/ 40 questions)
  • Domain 5 Program Design: (35% of section score/ 38 questions)
  • Domain 6 Organization and Administration: (11% of section score/12 questions)
  • Domain 7 Testing and Evaluation: Percentage of section (18% of section score/20 questions)
  • Non-Scored Questions: a total of 15 questions are not scored

CSCS Practice Exam Study Tips

yler Read from PTPioneer holding a sign saying NSCA CSCS Test Tips

The CSCS certification study guide located on this page is meant to supplement the full 4th edition Of the essentials of strength and conditioning. This is the primary textbook for the CSCS test.

I will go over some additional study tips and techniques I have for you guys so that you can easily ace the CSCS exam.

How to Prepare for the CSCS Exam

Here are some excellent CSCS study materials/study techniques that I like to use with my students and have implemented into the Study Hub pages for the CSCS.

CSCS Practice Tests:

I have practice tests with legit CSCS questions included in this study hub, and they come next in the sequential order of the study materials for the CSCS.

I also suggest picking up additional practice tests and practice quizzes for each of the individual domains of study in the CSCS (there are seven domains).

I only have one practice test and domain quizzes for each of the 7 domains, and someone may want even more practice for this challenging certification exam.

Practice exams and practice questions are extremely important because they let you know if you are 100% ready to take the real exam. Hundreds of students came to me asking me why they failed the CSCS exam.

It turns out that most of them never took one full practice exam and thus did not fully go through exam prep for the NSCA CSCS Exam. How can you know if you are ready if you have never returned from a practice exam?

Personally, I recommend checking out the CSCS practice exams over at Trainer Academy offered in their premium study programs.

Benefit from the Exam Pass Guarantee and Retake Fee Guarantee. Plus, take advantage of my current discount code PTPJULY for 35% off the MVP Program (Ends July 19th, 2024).

Try it out for free here to see if it’s right for you, or read my detailed review for further insights.

Premium CSCS Study Guide:

Although this study guide here is a great place to start, it really covers a lot of content but doesn’t hold up to more focused and premium models.

This might seem counterintuitive, but the shortest study guides are the best. What I mean is that the best study guides will point out exactly what you need to study to pass the exam. My study guide, on the other hand, basically goes over everything but does not pinpoint the most important parts to study.

Once again, I suggest picking up the Trainer Academy CSCS study guide if you want to save the most time while studying for the CSCS.

Spaced repetition flashcards:

The old-school way of using flashcards is done. Physically writing down the information on hundreds of flashcards is tedious and time-wasting. In addition to this, the flashcards you study after you create them are not nearly as effective as they could be.

What you need to use are spaced repetition flashcards. This is the flashcard system I have used to learn Spanish and study for all my personal training certifications. It has worked fantastic for me and all of my students who have tried it.

Spaced repetition flashcards use an algorithm to learn which flashcards you already know and which flashcards you have trouble with. The program will continuously show you your difficult cards until you know them well. The cards you already know well will show infrequently. This saves you a ton of time and really drills the difficult concepts until you have mastered them.

CSCS Cheat Sheet

A cheat sheet is a good way to keep all of the information you struggle with or find yourself forgetting on one page together.

You can either make your own or click on the button below to look at and utilize ours in your studies.

Well, that’s it, ladies and gentlemen, for all my CSCS study tips. If you utilize all of these tips that I have given you, I am sure you will have no problem passing the CSCS test. Good luck, and get to studying!

CSCS Exam Study Plan

Strategizing your CSCS studying is a must. You need a solid CSCS exam study plan to structure your study blocks leading up to the exam. You can draft your own study schedule by breaking down each section by domain. You can also check out our PT Pioneer CSCS exam study plan.

The plan will help manage your CSCS practice test taking, especially when you are taking the CSCS test with a non-exercise science bachelor’s degree.

Additional CSCS Study Resources

I highly recommend checking out additional CSCS study resources. My top choice is the Trainer Academy CSCS study system, which also includes a full CSCS exam study plan.

Start the Free CSCS Study Guide 2024

If you’re ready to study or looking for some of the information in the CSCS, check out our free study guide by clicking the button right below!

You will be beginning your road to becoming a strength and conditioning coach. If you have your bachelor’s degree, CPR, AED, and first aid, and are prepared for the CSCS, you will pass the exam.

The Best Free NSCA CSCS Study Guide - Studying Made Simple 2


What is the NSCA CSCS?

The NSCA CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) is a certification offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. It is designed for professionals who work with athletes to improve their performance through strength and conditioning programs. The certification is highly respected and requires a deep understanding of exercise science, training techniques, and program design.

Is NSCA CSCS hard?

Yes, the NSCA CSCS exam is considered challenging due to its comprehensive coverage of exercise science, biomechanics, nutrition, and program design. It requires a strong understanding of both theoretical concepts and practical applications. Thorough preparation and study are essential to pass the exam.

Is CSCS harder than CPT?

Yes, the CSCS exam is usually harder than the CPT exam. The CSCS covers advanced topics like exercise science and training athletes, while the CPT focuses on general fitness and personal training. This makes the CSCS more challenging and detailed.

Is a CSCS worth it?

Yes, a CSCS certification is worth it if you plan to work with athletes or in strength and conditioning. It is highly respected and can open up advanced career opportunities, demonstrating your expertise in exercise science and athletic training.

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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Ask me a question and I will reply ASAP

36 thoughts on “The Best Free NSCA CSCS Study Guide – Studying Made Simple”

  1. Hey man, I actually wanted to ask you if you could make the guide into a pdf so that it would be easy for us to access it offline and even print it.
    and btw do you have the CSCS ebook?

  2. hi i hold 3 year bachelor degree in computer application and currently doing 2 year master in exercise physiology ….2021 i will complete my master…… did i am eligible for cscs exam ?

  3. Hey Tyler,
    I am very much interested in this fitness training domain. Currently do not have any certification, in a rush to get one certification and get a job + start of as an online training personal coach. I’m confused with which certification is the best ACE or CSCS? I do have a 4 year bachelor’s degree in engineering.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • If you have a four-year bachelor’s, I definitely recommend the certified strength and conditioning specialist as it is the highest regarded personal training certification.

  4. Hi Tyler-

    Would you say that the practice questions included above are pretty much what the questions on the actual CSCS are going to be like? I am finding that most of the practice questions online are of similar difficulty and easier to dissect, but the practice questions that I purchased directly through the CSCS website are waaayyyy harder. Any insight would be helpful. Thank you!

    • Hey there, it’s hard to tell which questions are going to show up on the exam as they change them frequently. Also, my sample practice test does not cover nearly as many total questions that you will see on the final CSCS exam. That being said, I would definitely suggest heading over to trainer Academy as they have three full practice exams.

  5. Tyler, I recently took and passed my CSCS exam. I wanted to thank you for this overview of the chapters which helped me to study along with the textbook.

  6. Hi Tyler,

    Thank you for very helpful information. Now I’m living in Vietnam, I wonder that if I take CSCS course, can I take the exam and that exam is online test or something else Tyler?

    Furthermore, I have read on NCSA website and it say that I need to take the test at Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide, but I can find any center working in Vietnam. Can you give me some information about the Exam Registration and Scheduling Tyler?

    Thank you so much Tyler

    • This is true, you will need to find a testing center near you. I’m not sure if they have any testing centers in Vietnam or where the nearest one is. You will have to check their website for this information. You cannot take the final exam online, you will need to go into a testing facility. Good luck with your personal training career and I’m sure you will figure out the right solution.

  7. Hey Tyler,

    I recently took the cscs exam but failed because of the nutrition section e.g calculate how much protein calories does X athlete has in this diet chart.

    I also came short because of volume load questions too.

    Basically my maths was not good.

    i look forward to your reply. thank you.

    • Hello, I do believe that the certified strength and conditioning specialist certification can be done in Spanish. You will definitely need to double check with the NSCA on this. In terms of having study materials for it on my website in Spanish, I only have study materials in English but that would be a cool option to be able to have both. Thanks a lot for the suggestion!

  8. Is CSCS the best option for someone looking to become a strength and conditioning coach? I would be working in a smaller privately owned gym and with athletes in specific. I’m prepared to study as long as I need but am stuck on which certification would be best as I did not major in a related field.

    • Hey Tori,
      The certified strength and conditioning specialist certification is definitely seen as the gold standard in terms of strength and conditioning or working with athletes. This is definitely what I would go for but the only thing is that they do require a four-year college degree before you can even sign up to take the exam. It does not have to be a degree in a health-related field, just a four-year degree in any subject will do.

      • Hey Tyler. I do hold a Bachelors in Business Administration from DeVry University ( Private Accelerated University) . I looked within the NSCA handbook for 2019 and DeVry University does not fall under the accreditation for the CSCS prerequisite qualification being that it is accredited through the Higher Learning Comission. What should I do? I would really like to pursue a career in strength and conditioning for baseball players and mma fighters/boxers .

        • A four-year bachelors degree should be all that you need in order to be eligible to take the certified strength and conditioning specialist certification. I suggest that you petition it or even called them up to see if there’s anything that you can do with your degree in order to take the exam. That is pretty cool that you are wanting to train mixed martial artist fighters! That is a super dynamic sport that would be fun to train somebody in.

    • The certified strength and conditioning specialist certification is definitely one of the hardest personal training certifications out there. I would definitely start here with the free study guide in practice test but if you want a full suite of study materials and a much better chance of passing the exam I suggest checking out the trainer Academy study materials. Here is a link.

    • Hey Lais,

      I have been working with trainer Academy for about a little over a year now. They have great study materials and all of my students that I send their way always have good feedback from the experience with them. Hope this helps

  9. How we have to study for exam .language of book is very tough .
    Can you please tell me that which part of book comes under the exam.(1) scientific foundation
    And which chapter comes under the (2 )practical applied exam


100 CSCS Practice Q's