The NASM PTC is known for being one of the harder exams in the health and fitness industry to pass. This exam covers a wide breadth of information with six domains, 120 questions, and a time limit of two hours to complete. While this is considered one of the more difficult personal training certificates to acquire, the good news is that there are tools and methods of studying that can improve your chances of getting a passing score. In general, hard exams are always going to be challenging and even a little daunting. There is no ‘easy’ way around a tough exam. No matter how many people try to devise ways around it, the number one way of passing an exam is by committing to hard work and using your study time wisely. 

What Does the NASM Cover?

The NASM personal training certification exam covers what is known as six domains. Each domain itself has a heavy amount of information, and the 120 questions are divided into percentages of each domain. Here is a rough breakdown of the six domains and what percentage of the test they represent. 

  • Domain 1: Professional Development and Responsibility - 10%
  • Domain 2: Client Relations and Behavioral Coaching - 15% 
  • Domain 3: Basic and Applied Sciences and Nutritional Concepts - 15%
  • Domain 4: Assessment - 16% 
  • Domain 5: Exercise Technique and Training Instruction - 24%
  • Domain 6: Program Design - 20%


This is a lot of information to cover in one exam, and the textbook itself is around 700 pages long. For anyone wanting to pass this exam, the biggest challenge isn’t going to be learning the concepts, as much as it will be structuring your time to focus on the concepts and information that will have the biggest yield. With so much information to cover, it can be intimidating to begin studying. Where do you begin? What do you focus on? Is it even possible to learn every single bit of it? 


While the best way to pass an exam is to have a mastery of the knowledge, sometimes the sheer volume of information can present a problem with accomplishing this. This is where learning how to study ‘correctly’ comes into play and can be the difference between being discouraged, and getting the exam score you need to pass. 

Best Ways to Study for the NASM CPT Exam

While a good attitude and hard work will take you far in studying, you also need to be sure that you are using the right kinds of tools that will help direct your time and effort. This is because with every exam there are two kinds of information that are important to study - high yield, and low yield information. Both types of information are important to be aware of, however, they do not merit the same kind of attention or effort to learn. 


For example, a low yield concept is something that you will most likely see on the exam, however, it will take a general understanding in order to get the correct answer and most likely will be a small part of the exam. High-yield concepts or information are going to be found more prominently on the exam, and they may be asked in ways that challenge your knowledge more than low yield. 


When it comes to studying for the NASM exam, you have to be careful about how you use your time so you don’t get to exam day and realize you aren’t prepared, despite putting in a lot of hard work. An incredible tool that can help you do just this is a NASM study guide. A study guide helps to direct your attention and efforts in a way that will have a big payoff on exam day. Acting as a road map, a high-quality NASM study guide is a great way to ensure that you don’t waste precious study time focusing on areas of information that won’t have a high yield on the exam. 


One of the hardest parts of studying for the NASM exam is simply finding out how to use your study time efficiently leading up to the exam. Whether you are taking a few months, or a matter of weeks to prepare for this exam, you want to be sure that every hour you spend preparing for it will be worth your effort. A study guide can help you do this and give you direction to structure your efforts around. 


Learning how to prepare for a challenging exam isn’t easy. You have to be sure to plan out your study time well in the weeks or months leading up to an exam. This includes taking care of important things like your physical, emotional, and mental health, as well as being sure you are getting enough study time to have a chance at the score you want to achieve. A study guide can help make this daunting challenge make more sense, by giving you the structure and direction you need to conquer the NASM exam and get the score you want.