What’s on the exam?

exam chart

The exam consists of 5 main categories. Each category is specific to an area of working knowledge and skill set of the personal trainer. The certification exam validates your understanding of these subjects. Use the NFPT Exam Content Outline as a checklist for exam prep, it is a breakdown of the subjects that you will be tested on.

Each of the 5 categories are broken down even further into specific skill sets and/or knowledge areas. For example, the 1st of the 5 categories is ‘Principles of Human Anatomy’. The detailed outline for this category looks like this:

1. Principles of Human Anatomy

Identify the components of the following systems:

  • Muscular
  • Skeletal
  • Nervous
  • Respiratory
  • Circulatory
  • Endocrine
  • Digestive
  • Immune
  • Identify types of joints

Recognize muscle types (i.e. skeletal, cardiac, smooth)

Recognize skeletal muscle structure and components

Anatomical positioning and reference points


How long do I have to prepare for the exam?

One year. After you choose and purchase your certification package, you are officially enrolled and provided immediate access to your NFPT online account. You have one year from enrollment to successfully complete the NFPT – CPT exam.

The average prep time is 60-90 days, but because schedules differ and you may have more or less time (or education & experience) than the average, we give you one year to prep and we will even provide you with an extension, upon request, so that you have enough time to feel confident about your exam readiness. So, take your time, review each section of the exam content outline carefully and then schedule your exam appointment when you feel comfortable.

What score do I need to pass?

750 out of 1000 possible points are needed to pass. The NFPT-CPT exam consists of 120 multiple choice questions. 100 of these are graded, 20 are not. The 20 non-graded are ‘pre-test’ questions that we may use on future exams depending on how they perform statistically. You will not know which 100 questions are graded versus which 20 questions are not graded, so it is important to answer all of them.

Generally speaking, since the pass score is 750 out 1000 points, this would be approximately 75 questions (out of the 100 graded) that you should answer correctly to pass. However, it is important to note that all questions are not weighted equally; each section of the exam has a different weighted value. So, it will not always be a hard and fast 75 questions correct to pass. Your final score is scaled across all sections of the exam. Since scaled scores are not exact percentages, the number of questions answered correctly to pass will not be exact (it will depend on the type and number of correctly answered questions from the various weighted categories). NFPT works with a team of test developers and psychometricians to ensure that each exam form is equated based on respective difficulty and then scaled for a pass score of 750 points. On average, NFPT-CPT exams have an approximate passing rate of 72% (meaning that 72% of those who take the exam will pass the first time). This pass rate may vary slightly for each newly published exam form, but no matter the pass rate %, the score needed to pass is 750 points.

Can I re-take the exam?

Yes. You can retake the NFPT-CPT exam one (1) time. The fee for this is $119. Your retake must be done within your one (1) year exam eligibility period, so it is important to keep this in mind when scheduling your first exam attempt.

With good study habits, and if you take the exam while the experience of test-taking is still fresh in your mind, it is more likely that you will pass on your second attempt. We encourage you to retest, if needed, and to thoroughly review the NFPT-CPT Exam Content Outline again with a fresh and experienced perspective. If you do not pass on the second attempt, you must wait 18 months from the date of your first exam attempt (or for a new test form to publish, whichever comes first) and re-apply to the certification program (at a discount). We want you to stay determined and renew your confidence while you go back to your studies and spend positive energy on preparing for a retest. You can do this!

How is the exam developed?

The NFPT Personal Trainer exam has been developed and is regularly updated under a carefully managed and strictly executed process. This process is conducted under the approval and oversight of the NFPT Certification Council. The NFPT-CPT exam is developed using an established test development process guided by nationally accepted best practices for certification programs under the regulatory authority of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

NFPT’s test development process is facilitated by the psychometric staff of Schroeder Measurement Technologies, SMT. For detailed information regarding SMT business and test development practices, visit www.smttest.com.

The NFPT-CPT exam has been developed in accordance with the following process:

  1. Job Analysis/Role Delineation Study
  2. Validation of Job Analysis
  3. Item Writing
  4. Exam Construction
  5. Pass Point Selection
  6. Exam/Item Monitoring
  7. On-going Test Development

For More on Exam Development, Stats and Details: see Certification HandbookExam Activities and/or Job Analysis Executive Summary

Do exam questions come straight from the NFPT Trainer Manual?

personal trainer manual

Yes and Not Exactly. The NFPT exam is not developed specifically around the manual or your ability to memorize it. The CPT exam is developed to assess the skills and knowledge that you, as a trainer, need in your daily profession. The exam outline is most representative of the knowledge that is being assessed. Therefore, it is the most valuable study tool available. Of course our manual will help you to understand and retain information that is needed in the trainer profession; and it is a great tool for learning and emphasizing the skills that you need to know, so the subjects on the test will be subjects that are also in the manual. Our manual is a reference source for exam development, but don’t use the manual to memorize formulas or the small print in charts and tables, these things will not help you on the exam. Use the exam content outline as your main prep tool and cross-reference these subjects with the NFPT Trainer Manual (as well as other texts and your own personal knowledge).

We are happy to send you a preview of the Trainer Manual. We’ll email you the Table of Contents and the first 3 Chapters!


When I’m ready to take the exam, what do I do?

Login to your NFPT Account and find the ‘Schedule My Exam’ section in the main menu. When you click on the link to schedule your exam, you will be taken to the test scheduling portal to search on test sites, dates and times that are available for appointment.

Pick the location and date that works for you and set up your appointment at that site. You will receive a confirmation email to print out and bring with you, along with your photo ID, on the day of your exam.

If you require specific accommodations due to any physical or mental disability, please review the ‘Accommodation Request Packet‘ for more information.

500+ Test Sites to Choose From:


Test Tips


Remember, the NFPT-CPT Exam is a multiple choice test. There are 120 questions, 20 of those are not graded because they are pre-test questions. Use these strategies to help you with studying and to better take a multiple choice test.


  • Pace yourself, commit to a realistic time per week and stick with it. Maybe 20-30 minutes each day is all that you can give to your studies, that’s okay. Set a time during the day that works best for you to be able to sit down and concentrate on your studies for that amount of time. Realistically pacing yourself is the best way to keep on a steady track and reach your goal.
  • Break up the exam outline and work through each category as a separate study section. Read the category and find the subject matter in your NFPT manual or other sources to make sure that you understand it. Stop frequently as you read to ensure that you understand. Go back and reread those things that you are having trouble with.
  • Make note cards. Read, Write, Repeat the subjects that you are studying
  • Apply what you are learning to your existing clients, family or friends. The best way to learn is to use what you are learning in a practical way. Repeat the concepts, say it out loud and teach it to someone else with every opportunity.

Get More Tips for the Best Ways to Prepare for the NFPT CPT Exam >>


Questions are derived from the 5 content domains, which require 750 points (out of 1000 possible) for a passing score. This is a closed-book exam with a 2 hour time limit. Remember some strategies for multiple choice exams:

  • Read each question carefully before choosing the single best response.
  • Pace yourself; sometimes it helps to answer the easiest questions first.
  • If you are not sure about an answer, don’t spend too much time on it. Skip the question and come back to answer it at the end.
  • Your score is based on the total number of correct answers. Responses are in random order. Looking for patterns won’t help you.
  • For paper exams: Be sure to use #2 pencil and mark your answers neatly, clearly, and in the correct space. Fill in all bubbles on the answer sheet for identifying yourself and your test booklet.
  • For computer based exams: It is easy to see any questions you may have skipped and return to them.


shh_gestureRemember, you are responsible for maintaining professional codes of conduct, and this extends very specifically to your responsibility for keeping the test questions to yourself. Any unfair advantages to you or other NFPT Test Candidates as the result of accepting or giving test question assistance will make your test scores invalid or your certification revoked. Don’t do it!

Here are things that you are responsible for in order to assure that your test score can be appropriately validated for certification:

  • Arrive on time for test appointment
  • Provide photo ID
  • DO NOT bring personal items or printed material, i.e. handbags, PDAs, cell phones, books, notes, dictionaries, etc. – these are not allowed in the test room.
  • DO NOT assist others. This includes but is not limited to: the impersonation of another test candidate, sharing information of any kind, giving or receiving advice or other help, having prior knowledge of the test questions, recalling test questions after the test has concluded.
  • DO NOT disturb or distract others in any way through the test process

If you see anything that disturbs you or that you believe to be suspicious in any way, please contact us, your certification may depend on it!

Get Your Cert

Certificate and cardWhen using a NFPT computer based testing site, you will receive instant test results as soon as you complete your test! Approximately 2-3 weeks following a successful exam completion, you will receive a detailed score report, your professional NFPT certificate for display, and a wallet-sized ID card.

Now get out there and put your skills to the test! (when you’re ready!) Certification is the validating step that you’ll take in your successful personal training career. Just remember, it’s not only the passing of this test that will make you a great personal trainer – that is all you! You are more than a walking textbook, you are a professional mentor, life coach, motivator, and the health and fitness rock that your clients will look to for reaching goals. You can do this! You were meant to do this! You started with getting certified because you were smart enough to take that first step…now it is up to you to take the next. We will support you in whatever way that we can. Contact Us anytime for any reason, we will do our best to help.

We wish you success on the NFPT – CPT exam…but, much more so, we wish you success in your personal trainer career, and every step that you take to make it great! Thank you for choosing NFPT to help you get there!