Welcome to NSCA’s new website.  If you have any feedback or experience difficulties please Contact Us and let us know.

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Welcome to NSCA’s new website.  If you have any feedback or experience difficulties please Contact Us and let us know.

NSCA Exam Preparation

The NSCA certification exams are based on the analysis of tasks needed to be competent in a specified job or role. The exams measure a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) compared to a predetermined level of competence. It is not a test that recalls information from a textbook like a college course. Before you start preparing ensure you have chosen the right certification for you.

NSCA certification exams are based upon the analysis of tasks required of an individual employed within the specified profession (CSCS, NSCA-CPT) or asked to perform a specific job (TSAC-F, CSPS). From these analyses, exams are developed to measure the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) of a candidate compared to a predetermined level of competence. To best assist individuals in their preparation, we recommend that individuals first review the environment relevant to the profession or job and then choose an appropriate path for preparation. Additionally, it should be understood that while textbooks are available for each of the certifications, they are a resource and not the sole source of information for the given exams. 

Choosing the Right Certification

With the understanding that NSCA certifications represent different work environments and populations, the chart below provides an overview of each to assist you in making the right choice 

 Certification
Population
Content Domains
CSCS Competitive Athletes; Train athletes (youth to recreational to professional) for the primary goal of improving athletic performance.
  • Exercise Science
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise Technique
  • Program Design
  • Organization & Administration
  • Testing & Evaluation

Note: Bachelor's Degree Required

LEARN MORE about specific topics in each domain.

NSCA-CPT General Population; Training clients (youth to seniors) seeking to improve their personal health and fitness goals.
  • Client Consultation/Fitness Assessment
  • Program Planning
  • Exercise Techniques
  • Safety/Emergency Issues

LEARN MORE about specific topics in each domain.

TSAC-F             Military, Law Enforcement, Fire, and Rescue or other emergency personnel to improve performance, promote wellness and decrease injury risk.
  • Exercise Sciences
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise Technique
  • Program Design
  • Organization, Administration
  • Testing & Evaluation

LEARN MORE about specific topics in each domain.

CSPS  Special Populations with chronic and temporary health conditions; Training clients with health concerns to improve their health and fitness.
  • Basic pathophysiology & science of health status, conditions, disorder or disease
  • Client Consultation
  • Program Planning
  • Safety, emergency procedures & legal issues

Note: A previous certification required.

LEARN MORE about specific topics in each domain.

Preparation Options

Your preparation for an NSCA exam should begin with assessing your knowledge, skills, and abilities relative to those required for the profession or job. Options exist from formal education to self-study and for some certifications, internships or mentorships are available.

Looking for a Formal Educational Experience?

With exercise science being the foundation to all of the certifications and practical application the basis for each exam, the NSCA provides recognition for traditional educational programs. The NSCA Education Recognition Program (ERP) recognizes and distinguishes schools with standardized, approved strength and conditioning or personal training curricula in undergraduate and graduate settings designed to prepare students for the NSCA-CPT and CSCS certifications. The knowledge gained in these programs is also applicable to the TSAC-F and CSPS, but does not often include application to the specified population.

Looking for Self- Study Options? 

There are many self-study resources available to help you prepare for NSCA certification exams. We have prepared a step-by-step guide to help aid you as you prepare for the examination. 

Need a Comprehensive Review of Exam Content Prior to Examination?

Are you looking for assistance in studying and preparing for the NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) exams? Check out NSCA Exam Prep Live Clinics! These in-person educational clinics are offered in three formats: 1.5-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day options with a blend of classroom lecture and hands-on training.

The NSCA Exam Preparation Clinic provides:

  • An overview of the content and concepts emphasized on the exam
  • Access to the NSCA’s leading education professionals 
  • Multi-day options
  • Key test-taking strategies
  • The NSCA EP Slides book (NSCA EP exclusive, not available for retail sale)

CSCS SealNSCA CPT Seal

Need Hands-on Experience?

A common challenge for many on each of the exams is a real-life practical application. Opportunities exist for internships or individuals can ask a certified professional in their area to mentor them. For those seeking their CSCS, the NSCA provides some opportunities.  

Courses

Attend a Foundation of Coaching Lifts Course.

Learn More

Assistantships

Apply for Assistantships with RSCC Coaches

Apply Today

Internships

Intern at NSCA Headquarters

Intern at the NSCA

Language Options for Exams & CEUs

The NSCA has International Affiliates and partners who provide NSCA Exams in other languages.

Learn More
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