My Path to NASM CPT Certification


Why I Chose NASM

I promised you a post about why I chose NASM and my study tips for the CPT, and here it is. My journey with NASM started in August 2012 when I took their Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS) course. I enjoyed the course, wanted more nutrition and health info and signed up at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

After graduating in Sept 2013 from IIN, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting my personal training certification (CPT). I started doing online research, reading why bloggers had chosen the path they had, and looking at all the different associations out there. I quickly narrowed it down to NASM and ACE. Those seemed to be the most respected for the CPT certificate. If you are going for your group exercise certifications, there are different organizations that seem more respected for that.

I wound up choosing NASM because I had my FNS already through them and I just kept going back to them. They are highly respected in the industry. There are definitely cheaper ways to get your CPT, but that wasn’t the route I wanted for me.

Which NASM Package Did I Select?

Currently NASM offers 6 packages to choose from ranging from $699 to $2399. I chose the cheapest option that came with the CPT eTeach enrollment. All of the packages come with the online CPT materials. This might be plenty for you. Personally, I liked the structure and video aspect of the eTeach. Each week there were reading assignments, viewing assignments, a discussion question, and a quiz. Since you only have 180 days from the time you enroll to take and pass your exam, I wanted to be kept on a schedule. I was afraid that trying to do it myself I might put off studying (have seen a lot of people say they did that).

There was another bonus for signing up with the CPT eTeach option – a guarantee. Per NASM:

Complete all CPT eTeach requirements and if you still don’t pass your exam, we’ll refund you the cost of your CPT eTeach program! Guaranteed.

Apparently 94% of the people who complete all the CPT eTeach requirements pass the exam. SOLD!

How I Studied For The NASM CPT

I signed up in October and my eTeach class started mid-November. We had a few weeks off for the holidays. I did not open the book until the class started, but when it did, I followed the schedule they sent almost to the tee. The syllabus they give has you doing something every day. Sometimes I combined a day or two, but mostly I followed the schedule.

I will say that I don’t understand why the eTeach class doesn’t follow the chapters in order. To me, a book is written to be read from start to finish. We were all over the place. That was a little odd to me.

After the eTeach course was finished, I scheduled my final for 3 weeks out (to get the guarantee you have to take the exam within 4 weeks of finished the eTeach course). This is when I started studying my way. By this point I knew what I knew and I knew what I needed to study.

The first time you take the unit quiz, mid-term, and practice final the grades you get count toward your guarantee (if doing the eTeach option). After that, you can take the tests as often as you want. I did this multiple times. Since you also have access to the basic online CPT materials, you can review their modules and take that practice exam. Again, I did this MULTIPLE times.

At night, while watching TV, I played on the NASM Personal Trainer for CPT app on my iPad. I forget how much it was and I also purchased ALL of in the in-app upgrades. This was a HUGE help to me. The app is in form of game shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Tic Tac Toe, and Jeopardy. Again, I cannot say enough about how much this app helped me.

The week leading up to my exam I took time off from working out. My plan was to go to work then go home and study. And I did this every day. I also stayed in a few lunches and studied during that time. The first day I made flashcards of what I was really struggling with. I think you can buy pre-made flashcards, but I liked having just what I need in my handwriting. I used the flashcards multiple times per day right up until the day of the exam.

The Day of The Exam

The day of the exam I woke up early, looked through the book one more time, and then worked on my flashcards. I ate a decent breakfast and headed over to the exam location. NASM does not administer the exam themselves – they use PSI. You cannot take anything (and this includes even bottled water) into the exam room. You must bring a valid form of ID (like a driver’s license) and the card showing you are CPR certified.

The exam is all multiple choice done on a computer. You have 120 minutes to answer 120 questions. 20 of these questions are research questions. You need to go in knowing that these are there. They may or may not be anything you are familiar with or have studied. Don’t let them throw you – they don’t count toward your final score. You have to get a 70% to pass the exam.

I went through all of the questions from 1 to 120. I will say after the first 10 I relaxed a bit knowing that I knew the information and would most likely pass – my studying paid off. When I finished question 120, I went back to question 1 and reviewed every question again. I read the question out loud in the head and looked at each possible answer. I maybe changed two of my answers (when I second guess myself a lot I tend to guess wrong). After the second time through, I knew there was no more I could do. I finished the exam and left the room.

Immediately upon walking out, the proctor told me I passed and gave me a sheet of paper stating so. WOOHOO!!!! I love that you find out immediately, I hate that you never learn your score or even the questions you got wrong. The next day, I was able to print this:


So, that’s my NASM CPT story. Have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email!



20 Responses to “My Path to NASM CPT Certification”

  1. CONGRATS!!!
    I recall back in the DAY when I took the test we had to wait weeks to find out (!).

  2. Congrats! I know you worked hard to accomplish this goal.

  3. Congrats! I just passed my test to get my massage therapy license and the testing area was a lot like that. They were so hard core they took these crazy photos of your wrist & veins to verify it was you before and after the test. I want to specialize in Sports massage and think I would like to add a personal training cert to my credentials. I’ve been considering NASM as well but haven’t gotten into it too much – gotta get a job with my college education first 🙂

  4. So they didn’t have a practice part in the exam where you work with actual people?

    • Glenneth

      No, there is no hands on training – only the book.

  5. Hello! I just finished eTeach and take the real test on Monday. I earned a 92% on the eTeach final practice exam but was disappointed that so many of the exam questions were the same as the quiz questions because I felt like I was memorizing specific questions rather than learning concepts. Can you tell me if you felt that the real test questions were similar to the practice test?

    • Glenneth

      The exam questions are very similar to the practice exam and the quizzes. And make sure you know ALL the assessment info.

  6. Thank you! That’s such a relief. I’m getting pretty nervous, but if they are similar, I should be ok. I will definitely review the assessment chapter. Best wishes!

  7. Joe Hempel

    I’m currently on Unit 3 of the eTeach course. How close were the quizzes and tests of the eTeach course compared to the actual test? I’ve heard the practice tests outside of eTeach are no where NEAR as hard as the actual test.

    I always keep looking at these because I’ve got extreme test taking anxiety.

    • Glenneth

      keep taking the practice tests and the practice quizzes – they are VERY similar to the real test. also, NASM has an app in the iTunes store that had quizzes set up like game shows. that also helped me tremendously. good luck!

      • Joe Hempel

        The app I don’t think is that great for the price, it’s $7.99 for 100 questions, then $7.99 for each pack….that’s quite a bit of coin to drop for each portion.

        I’ve been going through the Upward Mobility App and that’s what’s scaring me, because those questions are crazy, and nothing like the eTeach tests or Practice tests….so far I’ve only missed 1 on the eTeach.

        • Glenneth

          The app may be pricey, but I am telling you that it was EXTREMELY helpful. I wouldn’t do any other practice tests or questions from apps that weren’t from NASM. I looked at some of those. Don’t do it. I did all NASM practice tests and exams (over and over) and the NASM app over and over and over. And when I sat down in front of the exam, after the first two or three questions, I knew I had it. Just keep doing the NASM provided questions. And know all the assessments!

  8. Joe Hempel

    I’ll have to re-look at the NASM app. I bought it, played for 10 minutes and got the same question FOUR times so returned it. Maybe it was a fluke?

    The Upward Mobility app is $7 and is considered the “gold standard” for apps for testing and has over 500 questions I think, and is most in line with the certification exam.

  9. Thank you for this post – took the eteach course, have done the quizzes and practice exam with higher passing grades each time- I feel reassured now!

    Thank you so much!

  10. Janine Rivera

    Hi Glynneth! I cannot thank you enough for posting your information. I am taking the eteach like you did and so far I’ve only taken one quiz. I Was Shaking like a leaf! Having never done online education before, I was really nervous. I passed it though! The First quiz that is. I am on here looking for just what you described, games to play to ‘get it’. I’ll be back and thanks again!