Saturday, July 28, 2018

My NASM Personal Trainer Journey - The Certifications Exam!

Welcome back to my weekly blog posts on my journey to becoming a personal trainer. Today I'm going to talk about taking the NASM-CPT Certification Exam!

If you have been on Facebook or my Instagram then you know that I passed my exam and I'm officially a NASM certified personal trainer!!!! Wooohoooo!!!

Now, on to the test day and the test itself!

The closest exam location to me was in Rutland which is just over an hour away. I'd been to Rutland many, many times but not to this exact location so the night before I programmed the GPS on my phone and also looked up the directions (because sometimes the GPS sends you very stupid directions) and images of the building and parking areas so I knew exactly where I was going and where to park.

I made sure I got plenty of sleep the night before (I might have taken an extra dose of anti-anxiety meds though) and had a healthy breakfast in the morning. I also left an an hour early because you never know what will happen with traffic, construction or trains (there are two trains that cross my road on my way and I've had to stop for them before). I figured if I got there early I can just run through a few more practice tests while I wait.

Also, I was doing practice tests for several hours the night before the exam and right up until I left for Rutland that morning.

I found the location easily enough and ended up being about 45 minutes early so, like planned, I ran through a couple final exams on the Pocket Prep app and looked up a couple of things I didn't have fully memorized, mainly the main muscles (agonist, synergist, stabilizer and antagonist) for basic exercises like squat, push up, pull up, overhead press, row and chest press.

Once I went into the building I made sure to use the bathroom because we had been warned that the test would not be stopped for bathroom breaks. There was one other woman (who looked about as nervous and sick as I felt lol) with me who was waiting to take the NASM exam and another guy who was doing a different kind of exam.

I was checked in after the other woman since she got there first and let me tell you guys, they take check in and exam security really seriously. After looking over my required documents (I had to bring the CPR/AED certification and a form of ID that had my full name and picture like my license) and asking my first and last name and what exam I was there for, I had to hand everything I had on me: pocket book, paperwork, etc.

The paperwork I had to sign (and I was so nervous I accidentally threw my pen at the lady in charge who just laughed and asked if I was nervous... um, YES, yes I was lol) said that no electronic devices could be in the exam room so I even took off my Fitbit even though the lady in charge told me I could keep it on. I wasn't about to risk it!

Then they made sure I didn't have pockets or anything like that and they had me lift up my hair (it was down because I knew if I passed I wanted to a photo and I wanted my hair to look good rofl) to make sure I wasn't hiding anything underneath it! Even tissues weren't allowed into the exam room because they counted as paper!

All of my things were put into a zippered bag and the bag stayed in my reach during the exam. The exam room had all three of us in it at separate computers (not next to each other) and we were offered earplugs in case we needed them. We were also told that the lady in charge would watch us from her desk on her computer screen and we just had to raise our hand of we needed something and then she'd come back in.

The lady explained how the test works... you get 2 hours to answer 120 multiple choice questions. Every question has 4 possible choices. There's a spot you can click if you want to return to a specific question later and there was a place that told you how many questions you had answered, how many questions you still had left, how many questions you had marked and how much time you had left.

Once you were done you had to click the complete button (and it asked several times if I was sure I was done and wanted to end the exam) and then the exam result would be printed immediately to the lady's desk, upside down so she couldn't see the results, and then she would fold the paper in half and hand it to us so we could see if we passed or not. We would not get a score of any kind and we wouldn't know what was wrong or right, we would just know if we passed or didn't pass and we needed a 70% to pass.

I can't give any specific details to what was on there or what the questions were but, honestly, my studying paid off. I was seriously nervous but I also knew that I had studied my butt off and more studying wouldn't have helped me in any way so it was time to take the last 12 weeks and use them.

So... I took in a deep breath and started reading. It definitely wasn't easy but it wasn't as hard as I expected it to be, probably because all I've done for weeks and weeks was study!

I can honestly say that out of the 120 questions I was only unsure of 15 (that I marked to return to). The way I handled it the exam is the way they taught us in the exam modules in the program; I answered all the questions I definitely knew the answers too and I marked the ones I was unsure of to come back to later.

Once I came back to the ones I was unsure of, I was able to narrow those down to about 10 unsure questions and there were, maybe five, that I was completely clueless on. This actually left me pretty confident in how I was doing because I knew that even if I got the original unsure 15 wrong, I would still pass the exam and that really helped me relax and get into it.

I did have to to do some calming breathing during some of the questions and that worked pretty well for me.

What I found with my exam (and they're all different, no one ever gets the same test with the same questions) was that there were several questions that were word for word from the NASM quizzes and tests, there were a couple that were more in line with the Pocket Prep app and there were several that asked for the exact information a NASM quiz question did but were just phrased differently. Like instead of asking for a specific answer the exam question for be phrased as an example of what you would do if a particular client had that kind of issue. Once again, all of this is generic because I can't give examples.

The test also went pretty quickly (I had 72 minutes of testing time left when I got done) especially as I knew most of the answers and was very sure of my choices. Once I had reread the 15 questions that had to be double checked (and triple checked on a few of them) and realized that no matter how many times I would reread them some answers just were not coming to me I was ready to be done. The "end" button asked several times if I was sure I wanted to be done and then had me do a quick survey and then I left the room (and took my zippered bag of stuff) and went back out front to wait for my result.

I have to admit that even though I was really, really sure of my answers, I was still stressing as they waited for my results to print (there were 3 ladies out by the main desk at that time) and of course I opened it up as soon as I had it in my hand and I had PASSED!!!! Woooohoooo!!  I might have gone "yes!!!" quiet loudly as well when I read the result lol.

I had one of the ladies take a photo (I asked them if I could ask for a weird favor and they're like "take your photo?" hahahaha) so here it is... huge smile and all! All my hard work had paid off!

After that I just had to drive home in the pouring rain and celebrate!

So, I may be done with the exam and I'm actually certified now but I still have a lot of work to do! I have an internship/CPT Development program coming up (if they can find me a NASM affiliated gym within 20 miles of my home) as well as the Corrective Exercise Specialist program (which I can start at any time but I want to give my brain a quick break) and there's also a Business Accelerator program I haven't had a chance to look at yet plus I'm doing a NASM workshop in the Boston area in two weeks, so I'm nowhere near finished with this process but I can relax a little because the hardest part is over (I hope).

I'll continue posting as I continue on in my trainer journey so keep checking back in because next week's post will be all about the details of what's next!

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