Passing exams hasn’t always come easily to me. Yet, I recently studied and passed the NFPT Certified Personal Trainer Exam! I hit some roadblocks along the way and want to share some suggestions with those of you who are on this journey.

I’ve learned that regardless of the task or goal at hand, project management is essential. Having a start date, a target completion date, steps that need to happen in between, and resources it will take along the way to complete the project are key components to success.

When I started studying for my National Federation of Professional Trainers – Certified Personal Trainer (NFPT-CPT) Exam, I set up my study start date and chose my target exam date. The most important part was consistently studying over time and taking those in-between steps while keeping on schedule.

Steps to Studying Success

I was given access to NFPT’s online portal and set up a username and password. Upon entering the NFPT platform, I found the link that took me to the CPT Manual and CPT Study Guide. The Manual was over 300 pages and the Study Guide was over 100 pages.

I immediately got focused on reviewing the manual and study guide. For months, I read and took notes from the two documents and broke my studying down into blocks.

This method of studying is referred to as, “chunking.” It’s when you “chunk out” or group portions of a project that are similar and work on them. I also followed the practice materials in the study guides after each chapter, testing myself on how much knowledge I retained.

When I lead workshops and instructional events myself, I teach the following Effective Learning Equation (ELE)© which reflects a process for effective learning:

[Education + Knowledge = Application + Implementation]©

What I found, after a few months’ time of studying the NFPT literature, is that I got bogged down with the Education + Knowledge part of the equation. I became hyper-focused on studying the manual and taking the practice exams, I realized I needed to come out of my tunnel and do some Application + Implementation.

I reached out to the NFPT staff and asked about some other resources as my testing date neared.

Application and Implementation

NFPT put me in touch with their live-workshop partners, Global Fitness Educators. I learned that there happened to be a workshop in my area a few days after I contacted them.

The workshop instructor, Mark Smith covered the NFPT manual and additional workshop materials along with a great instructional video that helped me with understanding cellular nutrition and physiology. This supplemented all the knowledge and education I had in my head.

I appreciated the use of layman terms as opposed to clinical science and I enjoyed the down-to-earth approach which made the words in the manual and study guide come to life for me.

The personal trainer workshop also gave me a chance to practice what I learned in the text, such as practicing skin-fold caliper techniques, being on the gym floor and performing the physical assessments such as the strength tests, 3-minute step test, and endurance testing. The collective team and the others in the workshop helped me finish preparing for the exam.

As a bonus, I advanced my network, made new friends and felt a part of the NFPT FitFam, all while gaining confidence in what I learned. Taking the workshop helped to build a bridge from the left side of the equation to the right side of the equation.

[Education + Knowledge = Application + Implementation]©

I’m glad I went to the workshop and proud to say I passed the exam on my first attempt! It’s a pretty rigorous one and covers many topics, but all of the topics that are covered are found in a list on the exam outline that NFPT gave me.

If you cannot attend the hands-on workshop, you can close this gap in other ways too. I suggest finding a ‘study buddy’. Maybe a friend or family member who will let you practice things like client consultation and assessments on them.

Find someone who you can run terms, definitions, and methodologies by. Saying these things out loud to someone else is a helpful study technique. If you want to have the workshop material and instruction in an audio/video presentation, it is available to watch and learn just like you were there!

Taking the Test

The test consisted of the same exam outline subjects that were on the list (it included the same subjects but you won’t know exactly what questions are going to be asked in those subject areas until it’s time to take the real thing).

I didn’t go into this with an expectation of knowing exactly what would be on the test (I advise the same … don’t expect to memorize word for word Q&As to regurgitate come exam time, you won’t see the exact questions from the study guide or practice tests that are on the real deal).

The test itself is timed for 2 hours and completed at a monitored testing facility. Like I said, I didn’t always pass these exams. But I also didn’t always have my ELE equation formulated in my head, nor was I ever interested in asking for help along the way.

I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and I want to make a living doing it. That’s where NFPT and GFE helped me to bridge the gap between my passion and my purpose … now I’m officially certified and I’m ready to do me!

Shay Vasudeva

Shaweta “Shay” Vasudeva, MA (Psychology), MS (Kinesiology), NFPT-CPT, NASM-CPT-CES, THSA-CNT, and Tai Chi & Black Belt Karate Instructor is a teaching professional, speaker, author, coach, and cat lover! Her passion is to help people become the best version of themselves by using an interdisciplinary and holistic approach, bringing 10+ years of experience in Psychology, Personal Fitness Training, Corrective Exercise, Nutritional Coaching, Cranial Sacral Work, and teaching Karate & Tai Chi classes to her business, ShayTheCoach. Shay teaches classes at Maricopa Community College District as an Adjunct Professor. For more information visit her personal webpage: