2022 Edition

CSCS Test Guide

The CSCS Test Summary
What: This exam grants certification for strength and conditioning coaches.
Who: Candidates must have completed a bachelor’s degree or chiropractic program and be certified in both CPR and AED.
Where: The test is offered at locations in most major US cities. Test locations vary.
When: The exam is offered year round.
How: The exam is multiple-choice.
Type: exam is offered in both computer-based and paper-and-pencil formats.
Why: The exam is a way for personal trainers to boost their credentials with a professional certification.
Time: Exam sessions last four hours.
Language: English
Preparation: Many test guides and preparation materials are available for purchase.
Cost: Exam fees for the computer test are $310 for members and $445 for non-members. For the paper test, the fee is $260 for members and $395 for non-members.

By Erin Hasinger, Tests.com

Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) are athletic or personal trainers who wish to specialize in strength and conditioning or wish to establish themselves as knowledgable and skilled in the subject area.  Certification demonstrates to peers and clients one’s high-level knowledge and skills in safe and effective strength and conditioning programs. Since the credential was created in 1985 by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, more than 21,000 professional trainers have earned this certification.

Certification exam candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree or a chiropractic degree. College seniors may take the exam, but certification will not be officially granted until successful completion and verification of the bachelor’s degree program. An exam candidate’s educational program must include hands-on training and skills performance. Candidates must also be certified in CPR and AED.

The exam is comprised of two sections: Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied.

Scientific Foundations includes 90 multiple-choice questions, 10 of which are not scored. Fifty-eight questions cover exercise science and 22 questions cover nutrition. An hour and a half is given for this section.

The Practical/Applied section includes 120 multiple-choice questions, 10 of which are not scored. This section includes questions on:

  • Program design (39 questions)
  • Exercise techniques (39 questions)
  • Testing and evaluation (22 questions)
  • Organization and administration (10 questions)

 Two and a half hours are given in this section.

The exam is offered both in a paper-and-pencil format as well as a computer-based format. The paper-based exam is offered in different United States cities throughout the year. Candidates who wish to take a paper-and-pencil exam can consult nsca-cc.org to view the schedule and see when the test will be offered in their local area. Each test date and location has its own registration link.

The computer-based test is offered throughout the United States year-round. Candidates will be able to enter their zip code on the website and find the test locations nearest to them. Many test sites are located within H&R Block offices.

Exam candidates may register for the test at https://www.nsca-cc.org/exam_registration/. Registrants must be a member of NSCA, though non-members can pay for temporary membership at a reduced rate in order to sit for the exam. The exam fee for the paper-and-pencil test for members is $260 and $395 for non-members. For the computer-based test, members pay $310, and non-members pay $445. NSCA recommends that candidates spend three to nine months preparing for the exam, which test takers should keep in mind when selecting a test date.

For paper-and-pencil test takers, score reports will be mailed three to five weeks following the exam. For candidates taking the computer-based exam, score reports are provided immediately following the exam at the test center. Scores are scaled from 1 to 99, and a 70 is required to pass.

Certification is valid for three years.

For more information on the CSCS credential and to find study materials, please see our CSCS Test Directory.

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