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Crossword Puzzles as a Learning Tool for the CPT Exam

Reading Time: 5 minutes 20 seconds


Date: 2022-04-05T00:00:00-04:00

There are many benefits of becoming a certified personal trainer (CPT). They include being able to work anywhere, having unlimited income potential, and doing what you love. But to earn this designation, you must pass a certification exam.

Typically, this requires studying the course material. Textbooks, video lectures, and printable handouts all enhance the learning process. Although, if you enjoy a good crossword puzzle, this is also a good learning tool. And research has confirmed it.

The Science Behind Crossword Puzzles as a Learning Tool

One 2013 study found that the use of a crossword puzzle helped students improve their vocabulary. This is helpful in personal training when exposed to a new word or concept. Maybe you’ve never heard of Fartlek training, for instance. Or you’ve heard the term ‘tapering,’ but don’t know what it is. A crossword can help improve your vocabulary knowledge. So, next time you hear these words, you know exactly what they mean.

The study also reported that students had “very favorable attitudes” toward this self learning tool. Translation? They enjoyed this method of learning. Thus, researchers concluded that a crossword can increase motivation to learn. Positive student perceptions may even promote more study time. You’re willing to do more because you’re not bored while learning.

A 2018 study found similar results. The topic of this crossword puzzle was endocrine pharmacology, which is known for being difficult to learn. Yet, more than three in four students (75.5%) said that they enjoyed the crossword. They also indicated that it helped with their overall learning of the topic. This was evidenced by all students getting the questions on hormonal contraceptives correct.

Another piece of 2018 research adds that a crossword is an active learning strategy. Active learning involves engaging with the material being learned. This is the opposite of just sitting and listening to a lecture or reading the text.

Active learning can be more fun. Studies show it also helps build critical thinking skills. This is a needed skill in personal training. If your client isn’t achieving their desired results, your ability to look at their situation critically can help identify the issue. It also enables you to come up with an effective solution. Crossword puzzles are a learning tool that can help you build this important skill.

How to Use Crossword Puzzles to Prepare for the CPT Exam

Completing this type of puzzle helps you learn common terms and essential concepts. It can also help you build your fitness vocabulary while enjoying the benefits of being an active learner.

ISSA's CPT Study Expansion Pack is a study guide kit to help students succeed in the CPT certification exam. It contains crossword puzzles, flashcards, a coloring book, audio study guides, workout templates, and practice exams.

You also can find some fitness-based crossword puzzles online. WordMint is one option. It offers a variety of fitness crossword puzzles. You can print them and use them as a learning tool to prepare for the CPT exam.

Try to guess the word just by looking at the clues. If you’re stumped on one word, move on to the next. Once you’re at the end of the crossword puzzle exercise, go back and work on the ones you skipped. By completing other clues, you may find that the correct missing answer pops out at you.

You also have the option of printing a puzzle answer key on WordMint. This enables you to check your answers. It also helps if, despite your best efforts, you don’t have knowledge of the right answer.

Some of the clues are fill-in-the-blank, such as:

  • ______ composition refers to the ratio of body fat. (Answer: Body)

  • The maximum force a muscle or muscle group can produce is ______. (Answer: muscular strength)

  • ______ calipers are another way body composition can be measured. (Answer: Skin)

Other clues are more of a definition or explanation of a term. Examples include:

  • The ability of body parts to work together when you perform an activity. (Answer: coordination)

  • The ability to use your joints fully through a wide range of motion. (Answer: flexibility)

  • The state of complete mental, physical, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. (Answer: health)

Crossword Labs also has some fitness-based puzzles. Each puzzle has 20 clues. Instead of printing it out, you do the puzzle online. This is beneficial if you like learning on your computer or electronic device. You can do the puzzle anywhere you have an internet connection.

Examples of clues provided on Crossword Labs’ puzzles are:

  • Activity using oxygen to fuel processes in the body

  • Structured exercise or activities that require energy

  • A body’s ability to respond to physical demands

  • The heart rate to aim while exercising

(We’re not providing the answers to these ones so you can add to your vocabulary and improve your critical thinking skills!)

Making Your Own Word Puzzle

Another option is to make your own crossword. The advantage of this approach is that you can include the terms you are struggling to learn most.

You can also make a crossword for each section of material covered on the CPT exam. Or you can do a puzzle for 3 consecutive lectures. It’s up to you what (or how many) topics are included.

You can find several crossword puzzle makers online. Puzzlemaker is one option offered by Discovery Education. is another. Simply enter your words and clues and these sites will create your puzzle for you. Use the puzzle to help you obtain and retain the knowledge needed to pass the CPT exam.

What About Word Searches?

Maybe you’re less of a crossword person but enjoy a good word search. Is this a good educational tool? Can it help with vocabulary acquisition and improve your fitness knowledge? According to research, the answer is yes.

One study found that students doing these word puzzles had better vocabulary achievements. Another piece of research called word searches ‘motivational learning tools.’ They can be more fun than a traditional teaching method. This makes learning something you look forward to versus being a chore.

Making the Most of Your Educational Puzzles

With any type of learning, repetition is key. So, make word exercises a regular part of your study program. Do a crossword a couple of times a week. Make your own after completing every chapter. Include the vocabulary covered in that chapter to create the puzzle.

Also, connect with others who are preparing for the CPT exam. Agree to make a puzzle for each other. By not knowing the other people’s answers, you’re forced to rely on the clues. This helps enhance your critical thinking skills.

Plus, it can be fun to create a puzzle for others. Put on your teacher hat and include terms and concepts you feel are important. Help your fellow students benefit from this effective learning method.

Of course, you can’t just do educational crossword puzzles or word searches and expect to pass the CPT exam. You must also know the material being tested.

ISSA’s Personal Trainer Certification course teaches all the information needed to work as a personal trainer. Read the textbook, watch the lecture material, and practice your knowledge with the expansion pack of study guide materials. Together, this can help better prepare you for the certification exam.


Orawiwatnakul, W., 2013. Crossword Puzzles as a Learning Tool for Vocabulary Development. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 11(2), pp.413-428.

Patrick, S., Vishwakarma, K., Giri, V. P., Datta, D., Kumawat, P., Singh, P., & Matreja, P. S. (2018). The usefulness of crossword puzzle as a self-learning tool in pharmacology. Journal of advances in medical education & professionalism, 6(4), 181–185.

Shetgar1, P. and Thalange2, A., 2018. Crossword Puzzle: An Active Learning Strategy. International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews, [online] 5(2). Available at: <http:""> [Accessed 17 March 2022].</http:>

Melisa Novianty, 2020. Using hidden message word searches method in teaching English vocabulary. Language and Education Journal, 5(1), pp.38-46.

E, d., 2017. Word Searches Puzzles as a Tool to Motivate Learning about Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Diabetes Research and Therapy, 3(1).

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