Good morning, you guys!
Yesterday was quite a day. First, I took a spill while on a run around the neighborhood. Luckily, it was nowhere near as epic as my last fall and I was able to laugh it off with a couple friendly witnesses and run home with minimal pain. In my mind, taking a spill first thing in the morning meant that the rest of the day was destined to be better.
Without getting too ahead of myself, I’ll just say that the rest of the day did get a whole lot better with some major advances on the job search front. But more on that at a later date.
A week ago, I took the NASM CPT Version 4 exam… and PASSED! Hearing that I’d passed was a great feeling. I’d spent 6 months studying my butt off, making flashcards, taking practice tests, and trying to re-teach everything I learned to Andrew.
Something that I found to be extremely helpful along the way were the test recaps and study guides posted by bloggers who’d already been through the same certification process. The study guides posted by Heather of Life in Leggings and Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers were two particularly helpful resources. I must have referenced Heather’s study guide 20 times. So in an effort to pay it forward, today I’ll be sharing my own test-taking experience.
Setting the Scene
Last Wednesday, I drove into a sketchy part of town where I had a terrible time trying to find parking. After what felt like forever, I parked and finally found the tiny Cal America Education Institute – where I was to take my exam – tucked behind a building with bars on its windows.
I wasn’t allowed to bring my phone or purse into the testing center with me, so I locked them in the trunk of my car. Being without my phone totally added to the shadiness of the scene, but you get it, I’m just being dramatic at this point. I was expecting a big group of NASM test-takers to commiserate with, but as I mentioned last week, I was the only personal trainer-in-training at the test facility.
I was ushered into a small classroom that had ten computers set up around the periphery of the room. There were elaborate privacy panels separating each computer, just in case there had been any people for me to cheat off of. The administration of the exam took place entirely on the computer. I doubt the test proctor even knew what test I was taking. She left the room, and I went to work. When I reached the last question, I had the option to go back to any questions that I had “marked” (basically anything I was unsure of, I marked) and then “end” the test when I was finished.
As soon as I hit “end”, the test proctor came in and asked if I was through. I said I was, so she logged into the master computer at the front of the room and announced that I had passed. Of course I’m curious to know my final score, but apparently that information wasn’t even available to her.
The Test Itself
Honestly, the test was harder than I expected. I felt like there was an emphasis on some fairly insignificant details just to see if I had read all the chapters, rather than a focus on the most important concepts. Like others have stated, many of the test questions are worded in a confusing way, and more than one answer often seems correct.
Some specific things I remember seeing on the test:
- Planes of motion (and examples of exercises in each)
- Prime movers
- Reciprocal inhibition vs. Altered reciprocal inhibition
- Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) vs. muscle spindles
- Structure of a neuron (I was surprised by this one)
- Stroke volume vs. Heart beat
- Types of levers
- Body composition assessments (specifically for obese clients)
- Blood pressure (systolic vs. diastolic)
- Overhead squat, pushing, and pulling assessments (so many questions about these!)
- Shark Skills Test (number of seconds deducted for each fault, .10)
- Lower extremity strength assessment (number of pounds added with each set, 30-40)
- Working with special populations (specifically elderly and pregnant clients)
- Specifics about lung diseases
- Types of flexibility and the OPT model stages they correspond to
- General Adaptation Syndrome
- Benefits of Periodization
- Ways to take pulse (radial pulse is preferred)
- Durnin formula’s four sites of skinfold measurement
- Benefits of the cool down phase
- Supplements with the highest risk for overdosing
- Number of calories in 1 gram of protein, carb, fat (4, 4, 9)
- Stages of Change model (several questions on this)
- SMART goals
- FITTE cardio training
- SAID principle
- Muscles of the core
- Benefits of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) training
- Know the regressions and progressions for any exercise
- Carbohydrate content of popular diets (Table 17.12, page 493)
- I remember this question verbatim because it stumped me at the time: “Under what circumstances should a client follow a 800-1000 calorie diet?”
A. Under the supervision of a certified personal trainer
B. Under the supervision of a medical professional
C. Under the supervision of a nutritionist
D. When trying to slim down quickly
If I Had To Do It Again
If I hadn’t passed and had to take the test all over again… I’d be super bummed, for one thing! But now having seen the test, there are a few things I’d do differently.
- I’d focus more on the textbook and less on the Upward Mobility app. While the app was a good way to review on the go, I eventually started to memorize the questions and their answers from seeing them over and over, not because I really knew the concepts.
- I would also suck it up and purchase an additional practice test or two from NASM. The one official practice test I took used wording that closely resembled the actual test.
- I would have learned the overactive/underactive muscle compensations and corrections much earlier and allowed more time to really commit them all to memory.
Even though I thought the test was hard, you only need a 70% to pass. That meant that I could miss 36 out of 120 questions and still pass. If you put in the time and energy to study and really learn the major concepts, you should do just fine.
Question: What’d I miss? Do any other recent NASM test-takers have any tips to add?
Have a good rest of your Thursday, everyone. It’s almost Friday!!