So I passed. I can now call myself an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer. Man, it feels good—TO NOT BE STUDYING. Geeze. Six months, people. That's how long it took me. But you know what, I think it was the perfect amount of time. Because, and I'm just being honest here, there's a lot to learn. Case and point:
Now comes the fun part. The continuing education part. I have two years to rack up the right amount of points. One year to rack up the right amount of points for my Spinning certification. There will undoubtedly be some overlapping going on. Double count it!
If you're studying for an ACE exam, or if you're thinking about studying for an ACE exam...or any personal training exam, then you might find the following tips useful.
I'm not sure how other programs do it, but the ACE program comes with a 12-week study guide. Follow it, and you'll be ready to take your exam in 12 weeks...at least that's the idea. I tried to keep up, but it stressed me out, so I decided to work at my own pace. Use what they send you, but do not feel pressured to keep up. We all learn differently, right?
2) THE BOOKS ARE FILLED WITH MORE THAN YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR THE EXAM.
I'm not telling you to skim the books for the important parts, you definitely need to read everything. But remember: These books are yours to keep forever and so they're meant to be a resource you can continually go to for information as you need it. Don't freak out if you can't remember what the origins and insertions are for every muscle, but know what origins and insertions mean in the grand scheme of things. While there are recall questions on the exam, a bulk of the questions are based on application. So, always ask yourself this: How would I use this information in a real-life situation? And make sure you can answer yourself.
3) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANY RESOURCE THAT TESTS YOUR KNOWLEDGE.
Specific to the ACE program, Master the Manual provides an outline and actual test (with answers) for each chapter in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual.
4) MAKE NOTE CARDS FOR THE TOPICS YOU NEED THE MOST HELP WITH.
As evidenced above, I made way too many note cards. Like, one for each concept and then some. Towards the end, I didn't even reference them because the stack overwhelmed me. But, when I got to a point where I really needed to buckle down on some things, I was able to pull out the cards I needed. So make note cards, but don't feel like you need to make a note card for everything.
5) GIVE YOURSELF A WEEK OR TWO OF RELAXED STUDY TIME BEFORE YOUR EXAM.
I took a practice test two weeks before the real thing. I failed the first one, spent a week casually going over the concepts that threw me, then I retook it and passed. And after I passed that second practice test, I took a week to casually flip through everything I had been looking at, including the book. I didn't cram, I didn't spend hours memorizing. I just let everything sink in. It was nice.
6) ARRIVE TO YOUR EXAM ON TIME (BUT NOT TOO EARLY).
Get there ready to go. Don't get there with an hour of time to cram. You'll just freak yourself out. Wake up, have a good breakfast, put on a good outfit or whatever...and just go and get it over with.
8) BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
There will probably be questions on the test that make you go "uhhh, what the..." and you should just roll with them. Answer the best way you see fit and move on. Trust in everything you taught yourself. If you're taking the ACE exam, it lets you flag questions for later review. I found this to be super reassuring. I ended up flagging about 24 questions, and I think I switched about two or three answers in the end. It was a nice option to have. (If you can't flag on your exam, but if you can go back and forth between questions, then write down the questions you want to review. Self-flag, if you will.)
Each and every one of us takes tests differently. I, for one, suck at standardized, multiple-choice questions. But I passed. And you will, too. Just stay calm throughout the exam and do yo thang.
And then heave a big sigh of relief when it's all over.
But wait—What if you DO fail? Don't sweat it. Go home, write down some of the things that threw you off, then take a day off. Come back, do some reviewing and check the exam schedule. There were undoubtedly questions you did answer correctly, which represent concepts you do know well. So get back in the saddle as quickly as you can. Take that test again before you start forgetting things! You WILL pass it. I promise.
Question: Are you a certified personal trainer or group fitness instructor? What do you recall about taking your test? Any advice to add?