How to Prepare for the NSCA-CPT Exam

One of the most common questions received is, "How do I prepare for the NSCA-CPT®  exam"? Preparation for the NSCA’s certification exams begins with a plan. The following checklist provides you with a series of recommendations that are fairly comprehensive and therefore may need to be modified dependent on your background: no one series of recommendations or resources can meet the needs of each individual. It is important for you to determine what steps will meet your needs and provide you with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to become a professional.

Step 1: Planning

  • Ensure you choose the correct certification.
  • Review Exam Prerequisites
  • Read the Detailed Content Outline in the NSCA Certification Handbook
  • Review NSCA-CPT Study Guide
  • Talk to people with similar backgrounds who have passed to get insights on what worked for them
  • Determine how much time you need to study & set a target exam date.
  • Create and commit to a study schedule. 

Exercise Science Related Degree

Internships or Practical Experience

Approximate Length of Time



3 to 6 weeks



3 to 6 months



4 to 6 months



6 to 9 months

Step 2: Get Your Study Materials

The NSCA-CPT certification exam is not based on recall from textbooks and materials, but an assessment of your knowledge, skills, and ability to be a Personal Trainer. However, the NSCAs textbook and official resources are valuable tools to help you prepare for the exam. Visit the NSCA Store to view the exam preparation materials that are available.

Additional Resources for gaining knowledge and experience:

Step 3: Study

  • Review the Detailed Content Outline in the NSCA-CPT Study Guide to identify your level of comprehension for each domain, sub-domain or task.
  • Develop a study schedule with an emphasis on the weaker topics, but study all topics.
  • Connect with others by creating a study group.
  • Use the Online Practice Questions to :
    • 1st time - to identify areas of weakness
    • 2nd time - after reviewing of content to assess knowledge and understanding
    • 3rd time - toward the end, Score > 85% and identify why you chose the answer and why you did not choose other answers (reminder: a passing score on exams are evaluated on a performance standard scale and not percentage based).
  • Answer open-ended questions found in the NSCA-CPT Study Guide
  • Seek topic-specific webinars, articles, or references to address areas of weakness.
  • Decide if further study of the exam preparation materials is needed; if not, register for the NSCA-CPT exam.

Additional Resources

Foundation of Coaching Lifts Course

A Hands-on Approach to Coaching Lift Progressions certificate course lays the groundwork for teaching athletes and clients how to properly perform the bench press, push press, power clean, and squat. This course covers exercise application, lift progressions, and coaching cues.
#everyonestronger #everyonestronger

has been added to your shopping cart!

Continue Shopping Checkout Now