CPSS exam Description

The Certified Performance and Sport Scientist® (CPSS®) exam evaluates a candidate's knowledge to apply scientific processes for improving athletic performance while also decreasing injury risk.


The CPSS exam consists of a single section that includes a combination of multiple-choice case studies and independent items emphasizing research and application.​ The exam evaluates competency in the application of a broad range of knowledge areas. The content covers scientific disciplines, assessment, training theory and process, needs analysis, monitoring, communication, and education with the primary goal of safely and effectively improving athletic performance. Learn more about the Scope of Practice and Job Task Analysis of the Certified Performance and Sport Scientist. 


Learn more details about the content you will find on the exam by reviewing the official Exam Content Outline.

Download the Exam Outline

Exam Scoring

To pass any NSCA certification exam, you must earn a scaled score of 70 or higher. More information on scaled scores can be found on the exam scoring page

The CPSS exam was launched in 2021. In 2022, 65% of first-time candidates passed the CPSS exam.


The CPSS exam evaluates fundamental understanding within four content areas, also called domains. These domains cover three crosscutting concepts and are weighted according to the following percentages. 

CPSS Exam Domains 
and Crosscutting Concepts

Scientific Disciplines 

Assessment Technology

Research Process

Training Theory and Process (23-29%) 10-14% 3-6% 9-12%
Needs Analysis (24-30%) 11-15% 3-6% 7-11%
Acute and Chronic Monitoring (25-30%) 5-8% 10-14% 7-11%
Communication and Education (19-24%) 3-6% 3-7% 10-14%


The CPSS exam consists of a combination of case studies and independent item questions. Additional unscored pre-test items are included as part of the exam development and scoring process. See below for a breakdown of exam questions.

Exam Question Breakdown

Athlete Scenarios 
(5-6 Case Studies)

Research Review
 (2-3 Case Studies)

Independent Exam Questions

Scored Exam Items 45-50 Questions (5-7 Questions Per Case) 50-55 Questions
Total Exam Items 100 Scored Exam Questions, 15 Pretest (115 Total)
Total Exam Time 165 Minutes (2 Hours, 45 Minutes) 

Start Preparing for the CPSS Exam

To begin preparing for the CPSS exam review the Eligibility Requirements and see what's recommended for your preparation.

Prepare for the CPSS

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