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Best Study Tools for the Personal Trainer Exam

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Best Study Tools for the Personal Trainer Exam

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If you want to work as a certified personal trainer, you must first pass an exam. Although taking this final exam and earning your certification isn’t required to work as a trainer—like it is for a law student or medical student, for instance—becoming certified does offer several benefits. 

When you are certified, it tells prospective clients that you know how to create an effective fitness program. This gives them a level of assurance that you’re going to get them results. It also tells gyms and fitness facilities that you have the education needed to be hired. Some employers even require it.

So, what are the best study tools for the personal trainer certification exam, increasing the likelihood that you’ll earn a passing score? Answering this question begins with understanding what this test entails.

Personal Trainer Exam Basics

The exact specifics of your personal trainer exam will vary depending on the certifying agency you choose. When you become a trainer through ISSA, the final exam for this online class is a mixture of multiple-choice, true or false, and matching questions. It also requires completing a case study to show that you can apply the information learned.

Topics covered in ISSA’s personal trainer exam include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Health and physical fitness
  • Injury and disease
  • Nutrition
  • Program design

To pass this exam and earn your certification requires a score of 75 percent or higher in each of these sections. Creating a plan for studying can help you achieve a passing score.

The Importance of Creating a Dedicated Study Plan

Talk to any college student or learner in higher education and they will tell you that if you can’t pass the exams, you’re not going to pass the classes. In the case of personal training, if you don’t pass the exam, you won’t earn your designation as a certified personal trainer.

Because earning your certification increases your validity and is sometimes required by employers, it is important to take studying for the exam seriously. Exam preparation is key and begins with creating a dedicated study process.

Before even starting your personal training course, take the time to develop a system. The use of a study planner can help. This makes test prep easier because you take the same steps throughout the entire program. Your good study habits become automatic, better preparing you for the personal trainer exam.

Best Study Tools for the Personal Trainer Exam

There are quite a few study aids that can help you commit all of the information contained within the personal training textbook and lectures to memory. Here are some of the best tools available today.

Note Taking System

Open the book bag of a high school or college student and you will often find at least one notebook. This allows the student to take class notes that they can refer to later when studying for the exam.

Research shows that writing things down improves your ability to recall the information at a later date. You can either do this with pen and paper or you can use an online tool.

Evernote is one such online note-taking system. With Evernote, you can record text, images, PDFs, and more. This program also enables you to organize your notes, making it easier to find the specific information you want. 

Of course, Evernote isn’t the only option. There are other digital platforms available, allowing you to pick the one you like most.

Workbook and Study Guide

ISSA’s personal training course comes with access to an online study guide and workbook. This study material asks a series of test questions for each unit covered. 

Some of these questions ask about word definitions or require you to explain a specific idea or process. Others provide client information and ask you to formulate an answer based on your knowledge.

With ISSA, you also have access to online exercise demonstrations so you can see how each is performed. This resource provides a sort of hands-on experience to supplement your online learning.

Flashcard System

Another effective exam prep option is to use flashcards. This study tool involves creating cards that have a question on one side and its answer on the other. Repeated use of flashcards helps improve your recall ability, which is helpful when taking the personal trainer exam.

Some people prefer to make their own flashcards using index cards or small pieces of paper. You can also download a flashcard app. An app provides online access to the cards so you can study anytime you want as long as you have access to an electronic device and the internet.

Study App

If you like to use technology, a study app is a great tool to consider. In addition to flashcard app options, there are other options that can help you better prepare for the personal trainer exam.

For example, some apps help you set up a complete study system. This ensures that you will get through your study materials by the exam deadline. Other study apps help you better digest complex information or ideas via brainstorming or by doing a mind map.

All of these online study tools can help you retain and apply the information you’ve learned. Try a few to find the one that you like most. Use that app throughout the program to develop a routine.

Practice Exam

Another online tool to consider is a practice exam. Taking a practice test prepares you for the actual exam that you are required to pass to earn your personal trainer certification. The practice questions give you an idea of what to expect for your ISSA exam.

Think of a practice exam as a test run for the real thing. Take it when you have enough time to commit to answering the questions the same as you would if it were truly the final exam. Pay attention to the type of questions asked and the topic areas covered.

How to Pick the Right Study Strategies for You

Any of these tools can improve your study skills for the CPT exam. However, some may work better for you than others. The reason for this is because we each have our own learning style.

If you are a visual learner, for instance, you will retain information better by seeing it. Pictures and diagrams are easier for you to commit to memory than written words. Yet, if you are an auditory learner, you might find your recall better through sound. In this case, audio lectures can serve you well.

People also vary based on whether they study better alone or with a study group. There is no one type of study session that works for everyone. It is more about identifying and understanding your personal preferences and then developing a strategy that takes these into consideration.

Think about what worked for you at other times when you were a student learner. Implement those same techniques when studying for your personal trainer exam. At the same time, don’t be afraid to try something new—maybe you can check in with your fitness mentors to learn how they studied for their certification exam. Play around with a few of these top study tools. You may find one or two that work well for you.

If you are ready to take your fitness career to the next level, ISSA’s Personal Trainer Certification program includes the personal trainer exam. It also provides access to a number of offline and online study tools designed to help you pass this certification test.


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