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

Hello NASM learners, and welcome to the PTPioneer FAQ page.

All in all, this article will answer the most popular questions that people have regarding these NASM CPT study materials.

The basics covered in this article will be:

Frequently Asked Questions
General NASM Certification Information
Exam and Other NASM Material Costs

Get your copy of the NASM 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 NASM CPT study materials. They have a guarantee of passing the exam, or your money back. Read my full review of them here. You can also save $100 on their MVP study system with the code: PTPSUB

Let’s dive in and look at our study hub first, and see how you can get started with your studies to become a NASM certified Personal Trainer.

NASM CPT Study Series

NASM CPT Exam FAQ In Video Form

NASM CPT Exam FAQ 2023 - NASM exam pass rate, Test difficulty, and Info ✔️


This is the final page of our PTPioneer NASM Study hub, and it is going to answer all of the remaining questions and reiterate some of the important topics that may have been touched on in the other 6 study hub articles.

In the article will be two FAQ sections, one for general NASM and CPT questions, and one for specific exam-related questions.

All of these questions are the most frequently requested questions on the internet, and from readers within PTPioneer.

Let’s dive in with some of the more general questions for the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s amazing fitness certification.

General NASM FAQs

NASM CPT Exam Breakdown

Currently, in 2023, the NASM Certified Personal Trainer test is comprised of six separate domains. Out of the 120 multiple-choice questions on the exam, each of these six domains occupies a certain percentage.

Here is a list of the six domains of exercise science, the percentages on the test, the chapters each domain covers, and a quick summary.

The domains for the real NASM personal trainer exam and this practice test are:

  • Domain I: Professional Development and Responsibility (15%)
  • Domain II: Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching (15%)
  • Domain III: Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts (20%)
  • Domain IV: Assessment (20%)
  • Domain V: Exercise Technique and Training Instruction (12%)
  • Domain VI: Program Design (8%)

Domain 1 is made up of chapters 1 and 2, and it really lays down the foundations for the NASM and Personal Training business and career expectations.

Domain 2 is represented in chapters 3 and 4, and this works to introduce the proper ways to interact and enact change with clients through coaching.

Domain 3 is found throughout chapters 5 through 10, and this lays out all of the exercise science information and some focus on one chapter of nutritional sciences. This is one of the harder domains for those without knowledge in exercise science going in.

Domain 4 is found within chapters 11 and 12, and this deals strictly with assessing clients and the proper technique and skills for this.

Domain 5 is found throughout chapters 13 through 20, and this is the second most important section of the book as it looks at the meat of personal training with exercise technique and instruction for training clients.

Domain 6 is found in the final 3 chapters, chapters 21 – 23, and this wraps up the textbook with detailing program design and the NASM OPT model.

NASM Test Difficulty – How Hard Is The NASM CPT Exam?

I get asked all the time by visitors to my website, “How hard is the NASM CPT exam?”

To be honest, I’ve seen test-takers that have failed the test over three times, and I have also seen test-takers say they feel like they did not miss one question.

Overall, the NASM certification has been notorious for being one of the more difficult in the industry over the last decade.

NASM has made their test difficult on purpose because they are trying to raise the standard for the knowledge required for personal trainers.

Sometimes, it seems like NASM reached deep into the textbook to pull out one single sentence of information and then test you on it.

Other questions seemed like they are trying to trick you with the vague wording that they use. Plain and simple, this test is hard, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t strategies you can use in order to successfully pass it.

The best way to gauge the NASM test difficulty is to look at the stats from previous years. Also, make sure you go in as prepared as you can be.

NASM Exam Pass Rate

Although the NASM exam is constantly being changed, the average pass rate for the last few years is approximately 65%. In 2015 the NASM pass rate was 67%.

In 2016 the NASM CPT pass rate was 61% (one of the lowest years).

The most recent data released by NASM is the passing percentage between the dates of August 2017 and August 2018, which reveals that in that timeframe, 18,115 students passed and 9,550 failed.

This equates to exactly a 66% pass rate between those two dates.

It’s safe to say that one in three people will fail the NASM personal training exam.

NASM exam pass rate

In general, this personal training certification is difficult compared to the average personal training certification.

That being said, it is still the most well-recognized and prestigious certification out there so don’t let these statistics scare you.

You just need to be prepared, that’s all.

NASM practice test vs real test

NASM Practice Test vs Real Test

Another popular question I get is what are the differences between the NASM practice tests and real tests?

This is a very good question in general because there are a lot of websites that provide practice tests for the NASM exam as well as NASM test tips on how to pass NASM CPT exams.

In general, the NASM CPT practice tests are created by people who don’t work for NASM, while the real test is.

The NASM practice tests are compiled from people’s experiences of the test, whereas the real NASM test is constantly changing and never static.

Overall, you will not find the exact NASM personal training exams online compared to the official test.

This is because NASM is constantly switching the questions that they have on the exam.

Imagine if all the NASM CPT exam answers and NASM practice exam answers are always the same.

My guess is that every few months they take out some old questions and throw in some new ones.

They probably change the wording on a lot of the questions and NASM test answers, too.

If they had one static test of 120 questions that never changed, people would figure it out very easily and this test would be spread across the Internet within months.

“NASM final exam answers, get your NASM final exam answers. Come one, come all.”

It would reduce the legitimacy of the NASM brand and would result in a ton of personal trainers that are not equipped with the knowledge needed.

Although you will not see the exact same question (written word for word the same) on the real tests compared to the practice tests, they are still useful for learning different ways in which questions can be worded.

These practice NASM tests will still cover the same information that you will see on the real test.

In my experience with the thousands of people I have helped pass the NASM certification exam, if they receive a passing grade from my practice tests, then they have no problem with the real NASM exam.

Many of them have even told me that they saw some of the exact same questions on the real test compared to my NASM certification practice tests.


Here are some specific NASM exam frequently asked questions I get.

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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34 thoughts on “NASM Exam FAQ 2023 – Pass Rate, Costs, and More”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler! Nice review on NASM. I just passed my exam today 3/14/2019 on my first try, that test had me sweating bullets. The test is worded different, but the practice exam that NASM offer is a good resource as well as other online practice test. The only thing I can say is to make sure you understand the material and you will do fine on the final exam. Good luck!!!!!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Willie,

      Super awesome that you passed the NASM exam! Congratulations and good luck starting a fantastic career in the world of personal training. I absolutely agree, study study study and you should do fine on the exam. People get very nervous before it, but if you come in well prepared you should do just fine.

  2. PTPioneer User

    I just finished th guided study course, after receiving a 30 day extension form my expiration (thank you NASM). I still feel I need more time to study for the actual cpt exam. Will purchases the retest give me that time?. And will I be able to schedule my exam in the time the retest gives?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Nicole,
      The retest is just for people that have failed on their first try. If a 30 day extension is all that NASM is willing to give you, I would take the test at the latest possible date to make sure that you are the most prepared. Then, if you end up failing it you can purchase the retest fee. Although the retest fee is pretty steep costing approximately $200. I recommend picking up some of my study materials to help focus your studies on the most important things you need to learn in order to pass the exam. You can check these out here:

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Lydia,
      The NASM CPT exam is all multiple choice questions. Overall there are 120 questions on the exam and you need to score approximately above 70% on the exam in order to pass. I say approximately because some exams are harder, while some exams are easier. The exams are graded on a scaled grading system. I hope this helps answer your question!

  3. PTPioneer User

    Hi, I’m not from an English speaking country, is it possible to pass the test with limitted English ? And where can I take the test if I’m from Vietnam

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Randy,
      Yes it is totally possible to pass the exam. Capital depends on how well you feel like you know the textbook. If you are going through practice tests or go into the textbook in can fully understand all of the content that NASM has, you should do fine on the exam. The most important thing is to take practice tests. I know that the national Academy of sports medicine does offer multiple testing locations but I’m not sure about the exact locations outside of the United States. You will have to check with them for that. I hope this helped.

  4. PTPioneer User

    This may be a stupid question but assuming that the final exam is not open book? Is it all on a computer or on a scanteon?
    Also I purchased the nutrition and the weight loss as well as the CPT are these separate test or is it all included in the CPT final exam?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello, yes the National Academy of sports medicine requires you to go take the exam in a test-taking facility. The test is not open book and you will get the results of your exams immediately after taking it. It’s great that you got the weight loss certification as well as the nutrition certification. You will need to take these exams separately as well as they are all not bundled into one test. I hope this helps.

  5. PTPioneer User

    Hello Tyler.
    I have my CPR/AED credential from American Health Academy. Do you know if NASM will accept my certificate or do I have to retake the course in facility recommended by NASM?
    Thank you

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Renee,
      that is a great question. I’m not sure of the full list that is accepted by the National Academy of sports medicine. I would definitely give them a call or shoot them over an email to see which CPR/AED certifications they accept. They probably have a long list.

  6. PTPioneer User

    Is it necessary to memorize all of the overactive and underactive muscles for each static and dynamic postural assessment when preparing for the NASM CPT exam?

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hello Emily,
      memorizing the overactive and underactive muscles especially for the overhead squat assessment is one of the most work things you will need to memorize for passing the national Academy of sports medicine exam. Sometimes people can see between 10 and 20 questions out of the 120 just from the overactive and underactive muscles alone.

  7. PTPioneer User

    Hi. I have taken the exam twice and had 59% both times. Do you have a suggestion on what I can do to pass this exam? Thank you.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Nikkolas,
      I’m sorry to hear that you have failed the exam. The test from the National Academy of sports medicine is no joke and a lot of people feel it. I actually have a very strong recommendation to take a look at Trainer Academy. They have the best study materials for NASM on the market. They even provided in exam pass guarantee meaning that you would receive a full refund if you fail at your third time. Check them out here:

  8. PTPioneer User

    Just passed my test. Started studying about 3 weeks ago. Memorizing the assessments and the muscle anatomy is an absolute must. Also, for some reason I keyed in on exercise Cues and a good thing I did, because I had about 10 questions on this.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey Paul,
      I’m super excited that you passed the exam. The National Academy of sports medicine is no joke of a certification. Good thing that you focus on those areas and I will definitely keep this in mind while recommending additional study tips for my other students. Good luck with your personal training career.

  9. PTPioneer User

    Does your 25% off code expire? I’m working with a sales rep to buy my materials, but I need more time than what he is willing to give me for a coupon offer.


  10. PTPioneer User

    Hi Tyler, do you happen to know the pass rate for those who go through the entire NASM CPT study guide? I have just finished this morning. I am taking the exam this week. I am very nervous. Also I know that a 70% is needed to pass and that 20 of the questions don’t count for/against you…… is the actual grading out of 100 questions? 70/100 or 85/120?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      You need to get approximately 70 out of the hundred real questions correct. Yes it is definitely possible to pass using my free study guide for the National Academy of sports medicine. Good luck studying and good luck with your personal training career.

  11. PTPioneer User

    Hi, I am taking the test June 5th and I have been doing really well on the study guide through NASM. I have been getting 100, 105, 108 out of the 120 questions on the test. Do you think the actual test will be similar to the practice test?

  12. PTPioneer User
    caitlin alfano

    I am currently trying to figure out which certification to take. I have a background in exercise science as well as nutrition. I want a future as a sports nutritionist. I had my mind set on the CSCS but wanted to know what you thinks best.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      If you have a four-year degree, the certified strength and conditioning specialist certification is probably the most recognized route you can take. You are lucky to have a four-year degree And have the ability to get this credential.

  13. PTPioneer User

    I am getting ready for the NASM-CPT Exam and was wondering, how close/similar are the practice quizzes/exams to the actual exam?
    I have taken the practice exam twice now and have received a 80% and an 87%; if that is any indication on how I may perform on the final, I’ll take it!
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      Hey there, if you can score between 80 to 90% you should feel pretty confident. But these practice test on my website are fairly short. I would definitely suggest picking up some other practice exam such as the ones over at trainer Academy.

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