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How I Passed the NASM CPT Exam

Well, it’s been over two months since I passed my NASM Certified Personal Trainer’s Exam and I am just as excited about having passed today as I was on March 24th. With no background in sports medicine, exercise physiology, or nutrition, I was worried about passing. BUT, I did it and you can too. Here’s what worked for me and what I’d suggest doing if you’re studying for the exam. If you have dyslexia, be sure to check out this post where I give tips for studying for the NASM-CPT when you have dyslexia too!

I Passed the NASM CPT Exam and You Can Too!

What I Bought from NASM

I have my degree in education and am a self-taught Social Media Manager for a large education company, so learning new things and being disciplined enough to study on my own comes naturally. I couldn’t stomach the thought of paying for anything other than the basic package that NASM offered and hemmed and hawed about it for weeks before taking the plunge. It came with the textbook, online videos, flashcards, and the practice test. I understand now that they’ve added an additional component to what you get (with an additional price tag, of course), but that wasn’t an option when I registered in late October 2015.

NASM provides a study suggestion guide that I followed as I went through the material. The video explanations from NASM, as well as the short practice quizzes at the end of each section were helpful, but I wished they were presented in a manner that was a bit more…non-NASM speak. The practice quizzes could have also been meatier than they were. I found all of the NASM material challenging to access from my phone, so I broke out my laptop for each lesson. I printed out and studied the flashcards that came with my bundle, as well.

Other Study Materials That I Used to Pass the NASM CPT Exam


In addition to the text, I watched videos on YouTube about everything from Golgi tendon organs and muscle spindle fibers to under- and over-active muscles. Seeing the explanation after reading about it in the book was a huge help. Just search YouTube for the topics you’re struggling with and there are sure to be video explanations.

How to Pass the NASM CPT Exam

Affiliate links below.

Fitness Mentors

Since my background was not in exercise or sports medicine though, I still felt like I needed more of an explanation – preferably one that was explained in simpler, easy to understand terms. On Valentine’s Day, with just a little over a month before my exam, I ended up ordering the audio lectures and study guide from Fitness Mentors. They are amazing!

The audio lectures follow the book and actually walk you through the material. There are also tips for common trends of test questions and the things that NASM wants examinees to focus on while studying. I listened to the lectures while reading along in the book, but also while walking on the treadmill, driving in the car, and in any free moments I had by logging in to the site from my phone. They were absolutely invaluable and I’m confident that they played a huge part in passing the exam, but, more importantly, in understanding the material.

The Fitness Mentors study guide was also a great help. It challenged me to really think about the answers and the reasoning behind things vs. simply memorizing the material. If I had to pick though between the audio lectures and the study guide, the audio lectures would definitely win.

They also have a new NASM Online Course with a Pass Guarantee that would have been fabulous when I was studying for my exam!

iPhone Apps for the NASM-CPT

I had a few key apps that I used daily for studying too. The NASM-CPT by PocketPrep was the most helpful and actually had questions in it that appeared on the test. I did multiple practice exams every day from October through the morning of the exam itself. It’s definitely worth the cost.
The iMuscle2 and Essential Anatomy apps were also great for studying muscles and bones. iMuscle2 is fascinating in that you can actually see the muscles that are worked with each exercise. Sobotta Atlas was also helpful with anatomy.

Time Spent Studying for the NASM-CPT

Anticipate needing a lot of study time. A lot. From November through the holidays, I studied about 3-4 hours each week in small sessions. By January, I realized that I needed to step up my study game, so I devoted about 8 hours every weekend and 5 hours during the week to studying. I studied that way through the morning of my exam on March 24th. The more time you spend studying, the more comfortable you’re going to be with the material and, ultimately, with helping your clients. Don’t skimp on studying time.

The Day of the NASM-CPT Exam

The day of the exam, I woke up early and spent about 2 hours going through the NASM-CPT PocketPrep app doing practice exam after practice exam. I was nervous, but felt well prepared. When I arrived for my 9am test, I discovered that for the CPT there is no paper or pencil given for the exam. I was, however, given a set of ear plugs and wishes good luck by the testing center staff.
I finished my exam in about 80 minutes. I took my time, flagged questions I didn’t immediately know the answers to, and then double-checked my answers at the end. The relief of seeing “Passed” pop up on the screen after the testing proctor submitted the exam was huge. The exam is not easy, but it’s also not impossible if you study hard and focus on understanding the material vs. memorizing it.

And that’s it, folks. That’s how I studied and passed my NASM-CPT exam. With CEUs and my NASM Youth Specialist Certification now under my belt, as well, I can confidently say that studying for and passing the CPT certification exam was well worth it.
Questions about any of the things I used or how I studied? Feel free to reach out via email or send me a message on Instagram. I’m happy to help!





Saturday 18th of April 2020

I am so glad I found your blog! I am a special education teacher with only an education degree. I always played sports and loved fitness but have been terrified about passing the NASM exam and fear it being too difficult since I have ZERO background in these subject areas (other than the fact that I teach 7th grade Bio LOL). However, I bought the package today and as scared as I am your post gave me hope that I can learn this even with only having a background in education. THANK YOU


Friday 12th of June 2020

Yay! So happy to hear that, Lex! I hope it's going well!! I actually also got my Youth Fitness Certification, Kids' Yoga Instructor Certification, and am currently half-way through my 200 Yoga Teacher Training Certification! If I can help in any way, don't hesitate to reach out! =) ~Brandi

Carol Giba

Friday 5th of July 2019

Brandi Hi and thank you for writing this. I would not have thought to look to apple for apps on this so once again thank you. Also you mentioned that your bundle came with flash cards? I just purchased the online only course from NASM and I don't see where there are flash cards to download?? Can you help with this. I also will be ordering the audio lectures. I just ordered like 3 weeks ago and I am now on CH 5 going into 6, but definitely think that they would help

Thank You


Sunday 27th of October 2019

Hi Carol! I hope your studying is going well! I'm not sure where the flashcards are currently located within the course as I took my exam a few years ago. Mine were part of the additional material that was associated with the videos. Sorry that's not much help!! =( Let me know how your studying is going! =) ~Brandi


Tuesday 15th of January 2019

Hi Brandi, My girlfriend and I both just started studying for our NASM test that we signed up for two weeks ago. While we have been sitting and reading the first two chapters and writing notes, we began talking about finding a better way to study. That's when we found out about fitness mentors study guide. We felt that we were just reading a bunch of information and not really being able to differentiate what is important and what isn't. My question for you is, do you still recommend reading every page of the book if Fitness mentors gives you the important information and vocal lectures. Thank you.


Sunday 27th of October 2019

Hey Sam! Wow, your comment got buried for months! I apologize for the delay! Yes, absolutely, I do recommend reading the book. Remember, you're studying so that you become a better trainer - not just to pass the test. The information in the book is your foundation and without a strong foundation, it's going to be difficult to integrate future learning/training. I hope you and your girlfriend both did well and passed the exam!! ~Brandi

Delanie B

Monday 3rd of April 2017

Hi, my name is Delanie and I just want to say congrats on passing the NASM CPT exam! So I studied most of the material from the practice quizzes, mid exam and final practice exam and made little flash cards to study with and even though I studied at least 6 hours a week for a whole month, I did not pass the NASM exam my first time around :( You think me purchasing the fitness mentor's audio lectures and study guide will help me pass on my 2nd try?


Monday 10th of April 2017

Hi Delanie! I'm sorry you didn't pass on your first try. That stinks! I'd actually recommend that you study for A LOT longer than what you did. I studied for five months - about 10-12 hours at least a week. There's a lot of information and it's better to take it slow and really understand what they're asking instead of rushing to take the exam. Slow and steady and focused will definitely help! =) I loved the lectures, so if they're within your budget and something you're on the fence about, I'd say go for it. =) Let me know how it goes! I'm rooting for you! ~Brandi


Sunday 15th of January 2017

Hi Brandi,

I really like your tips and thank you for posting! I am currently taking my nasm online course and I think it would also help me out to hear the course contents explained out loud. I have been looking for legitimate sites to access or purchase audio lectures and study guides, such as 'fitness mentors' to use in addition to the textbook and study materials provided with the course. Can you give me some insight and your opinion on 'fitness mentors' before I make a decision to purchase? Thank you Brandi!


Wednesday 18th of January 2017

Hi Anna! Congratulations on studying for your NASM exam! It's challenging, but you CAN do it! =) I get asked about Fitness Mentors a lot and my answer is really always the same - without the audio lectures, I wouldn't have passed. Eddie does a FABULOUS job of walking you through the chapters and really highlighting what's important, why things are important, and how you can apply it to your daily practice either with clients or on your own. For me, reading the terminology and watching the short NASM videos (I understand it's a bit different now than it was last year at this time), just wasn't enough. I needed that extra instruction centered around the text and I needed to hear someone really explain it in a way that I, as someone not coming from a science background, could understand. I listened to the lectures while I was on the treadmill, while I was washing dishes, and, for about 4 hours straight on a drive home from Connecticut two weeks before my exam. If you're feeling like you just need a bit more, then go for it. I can't say enough good things about them. And no, I have no affiliation with them and am not getting paid or compensated in any way to tell you how much I love them. =) Hope that helps! Good luck on your exam, Anna! Let me know how it goes!! xoxo, Brandi