Passing the NASM: 6 Useful Tips

If you’re interested in becoming a certified personal trainer (PT), then you may have heard of the NASM. NASM is an acronym for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which offers an opportunity to become certified as a PT.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to consider the NASM. So if you’re certain that the NASM is the correct certification program for you and your goals as a PT, it will be helpful for you to figure out the best ways to study the NASM exam on your first try.

Would a good NASM study guide be enough? Or should you also invest in NASM practice tests and a textbook too? What makes for a good NASM study guide, as well as a good study plan for the NASM in general? Additionally, if you don’t already know, what does the NASM certification have to offer?

What Does the NASM Certification Do for You?

The National Academy of Sports Medicine aims to offer future personal trainers with scientifically accurate information, and that appears to be its top priority in offering a program for certification. And, in light of a rise in online learning, it even has an option to study digitally.

The NASM certification is one of the most highly-respected PT certifications you can get, and some would even consider obtaining the NASM certification as pretty fiscally lucrative.

However, because of the high standards that the NASM has, it does have some prerequisites that must be fulfilled before you take the final exam. You must have a high school diploma or GED to take the exam, and you must also be certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certified.

While you don’t need to be CPR and AED certified before enrolling in a NASM program, you must be certified in both of them before you take the final exam.

Know What the NASM Covers

The NASM covers a number of different subjects in its certification exam, and being strongly knowledgeable in all of them is highly advisable in order to pass on the first attempt.

The exam covers the following subjects or domains:

  • Professional Development and Responsibility
  • Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching
  • Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts
  • Assessments
  • Exercise Technique and Training Instruction
  • Program Design

Be Familiar with the NASM Exam Format

It’s a great idea to be familiar with the format of the exam, as well as the information that will be covered in that certification test. This might be found useful to some because familiarity with an exam format could help to lower levels of stress that are frequently associated with unfamiliar situations.

According to PT Pioneer, the NASM is comprised of 120 questions, and 20 of these are research questions that don’t count toward your final score. You have two hours to complete these 120 questions, giving you about a minute to answer each question on average. 

With a pass rate of 65%, it’s considered one of the more difficult PT certification exams. While it is plausible to pass the exam (which requires a score of 70% or higher in order to pass) on your first try, it is still pretty difficult. This is why it’s extremely valuable to prepare thoroughly for the exam.

It should also be noted that you have 180 days, or approximately six months, in order to fulfill any missing prerequisite certifications, organize your test date, and take the final exam. Juggling this with studying and preparing for the exam at the same time could be a bit difficult, so it’s useful to start working on the material as early as you possibly can.

Use a NASM Study Guide

By getting your hands on a NASM study guide, you will make it much easier for yourself to review the information and prepare yourself for the exam. This is largely because a NASM study guide will condense the information that is found in the textbook, making it much easier to study the most important information that will appear on the exam.

As an added bonus, some NASM study guide bundles will also come with practice tests, which could also help you prepare for the exam properly.

Complete Practice Tests

It’s also a great idea to complete as many practice tests as you feasibly can before the final exam, as this can assist you in becoming even more familiar with the exam’s format. Additionally, practice tests can help you get a better idea of the kinds of questions and question layouts that will appear on the test.

Read Your Textbook

While textbooks are pretty large and information-dense, it would still be a good idea to read through yours. This is mainly smart because textbooks are much more likely to use in-depth descriptions and examples than a study guide would. 

Additionally, if you find yourself struggling with retaining some of the key information, a textbook could be a great way to do some extra review.

Use Your Favorite Memory Techniques

If you know what study techniques work the best for helping you with memorization, it would be a great idea to utilize them while you’re preparing for the NASM exam. It’s been recommended by Trainer Academy, for example, to use mnemonics and flashcards to help you study for the pieces of information you find the most difficult.