10 Tips to Help You Pass the NASM CPT Test




I’ve been promising this blog post about the NASM CPT test for what feels like AGES now, but life got a little more hectic after gaining my personal training certification than I anticipated. Truthfully I was just going to post an IGTV (if you don’t know what that is, it’s like a little mini youtube video on Instagram) with my study tips, but I wanted something a little more permanent feeling and tangible for ya’ll to learn from.

I officially gained my certification after passing the NASM CPT test about a month ago and since then have started working fulltime at a very big (and might I add, luxurious) gym near where I live and it’s been such a learning experience already. I’m not sure what my future holds, but for now I’m just enjoying soaking it all up, learning as much as I can and trying to figure out this adulating, full-time job thing.


As someone who wasn’t a kinesiology or exercise science major in college, studying for my certification was no easy walk in the park. And it’s funny because I had wanted to be a personal trainer for quite some time (you can ready about my journey to finally take the leap here) but didn’t truly have respect for the profession until I started studying. Because holy moly ya’ll… it’s A LOT. So first thing’s first, if you’re wanting to get your personal training certification, know that it isn’t easy and it will take hard work.

But did I let my lack of a related degree stop me? Heck no. I knew what I wanted so I simply worked my a** off to get me to where I am today. Did it probably take me many more hours of studying than someone who did have a related degree? Heck yes. But I never let that slow me down.


Quickly, before getting into my tips, here’s a little rundown of how the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) program was set up: I did the 10-week self-guided program. Essentially it was like taking an online class for 10 weeks. There were modules laid out for us online, letting us know which chapters to reach each week. Each week there were also corresponding videos to watch, activities we had to pass, a discussion question that got posted to a forum with all the other “students” (and our advisor would reply/grade them) and a quiz that we had to pass. There was also a midterm and final test online! It was nice because although you were studying it all on your own, you still had guidance and access to resources.

Okay, now onto the tips:

  1. Commit and stay focused: When you start your program, since it IS pretty much all on your own, you have to just buckle down and COMMIT. Know that it’s going to get tedious and times and it’s going to be hard to continually self-motivate to study but keep your eye on the prize. Know that it WILL be worth it. So stay committed throughout the entire program.

  2. Ditch the notes, write notecards instead: I started the first week writing notes as I read the textbook, only to have to go back and write a million notecards after reading through the chapter (never once glancing at my notes again). I started just writing my notecards as I went through the chapter, essentially using them as my form of taking notes. Of course, you don’t have to write notecards but I 1000000000% advise it. Although I had probably over 1,000 notecards by the end they were extremely helpful while studying and helped me keep my brain organized. I wouldn’t suggest doing no form of note taking, because writing things down as you go keeps you engaged and helps solidify the information in your brain.

  3. Study as you go: I would make sure that I gave myself at least the weekend to actually study the information I had learned that week. That usually meant I would read the chapter Monday-Thursday and do the activities/quiz/discussion question on Friday. This allowed me two full days to review and go through my notecards so that when the midterm and finally came around it wasn’t like I had to learn and study ALL of it as much. I had already solidified a lot of the information in my brain. PLUS a lot of the information builds on each other, so it’s so important that you truly understand each week’s material before moving on.

  4. Read, read and read again: I read and reread sections of that textbook like it was my damn job. It’s definitely not one of those textbooks you can skim (unless you already know all of the information from your major or something like that!). I would read and highlight as I go to truly keep me engaged. And if I didn’t seem to fully understand a section as I did the activities or took the quiz? I’d reread that section.

  5. Research on the side (YouTube videos, articles, etc.): Going off of that, I’d also do a lot of outside If the textbook just wasn’t helping it click, I would seek out other articles from reputable sources and try to figure it out that way. If I was still confused I would turn to videos on YouTube which were usually more visual and that always helped a ton.

  6. NASM study guide booklet: I got a NASM study guide booklet on amazon and it was a life saver!!! Although NASM creates a study guide for you and I had my thousands of notecards, this was just one more resource that really helped prepare for the NASM CPT test. It laid out exactly what you need to know for the test and groups it in a super logical way. It also has 50 study questions in the back which helped greatly. I wrote my answers on a separate sheet of paper so I could go back and do the questions as often as I wanted! I made sure to, once again, highlight as I went through the booklet, drew pictures to help myself, etc. NOTE: beware of this "NASM practice test" booklet. It's complete crap and the tests don't even have correct information or information that corresponds to the NASM book LOL

  7. Take practice tests: I took every practice test I could get my hands on. Whether that meant redoing all of the quizzes and tests online in my program, also redoing all of the designated practice exams or finding practice questions on quizlet, I did them ALL. The more you practice with the formatting of the questions, the more prepared you will be for the actual NASM CPT test.

  8. Redo the weekly activities: Each week there are little activities to do online that help teach you that week’s material. I went back and redid each activity until I felt comfortable with the topic.

  9. Apply what you’re learning: The best way to learn is to apply your knowledge. Every time I was at the gym I would try to think through things as I lifted and worked out.

  10. Know the muscles like the back of your hand: Honestly you HAVE to know the basics of the human body in order to succeed. If you truly understand the muscles and their functions, the rest will much more easily fall into place.

If you’re studying to be a personal trainer, just know it’s so worth it. It’s a job that will help you give back to others and change their lives, helping them be their healthiest selves. How cool is that!?

XO nat

Related: Overcoming Rest Day Anxiety, Taking a Leap of Faith and Changing my Life Plan, 5 Ways to Grow Your Weight Room Confidence