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How to Pass the ACE Exam on the First Try

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Are you interested in becoming certified as a personal trainer (PT)? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could get certified with the help of one of the most legitimate and high-standard certification agencies in the United States? If you’re just getting to know about the different personal trainer exams and certifications, you may not know very much about the ACE certification exam.

ACE, also written as ACE-CPT, stands for the American Council on Exercise. You could theoretically and plausibly become certified as a PT by ACE if you pass the ACE exam. Especially if your aim is to become a certified personal trainer, working on passing the ACE exam could send you forward in your goals.

But what does passing the ACE do for you? Are there advantages to passing the ACE exam on your first try? And would an ACE practice test be enough to prepare you? Or should you do more to prepare? Also, what would a good ACE practice test look like?

What Does it Mean to be an ACE Certified Personal Trainer?

Again, ACE stands for American Council on Exercise and becoming ACE certified means that ACE has officially deemed you worthy of being a personal trainer, to the point where they’ve decided to certify you.

ACE PT certifications have been accredited by the NCCA, an acronym for the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The NCCA was originally founded in 1987, but it was then named the NCHCA or the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies. It should also be known that the NCCA is a non-profit organization.

The NCCA was also founded by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, or ICE, implying that there are multiple layers of accreditations and certifications going on when you’re becoming correctly ACE certified.

As long as becoming ACE certified aligns well with your goals, especially compared to other PT certification programs, it is a great choice for furthering your health and fitness industry-related goals.

Additionally, there are few prerequisites for becoming ACE-certified or even enrolling and registering to take the ACE exam, meaning that all you would need to do is pay for one of the ACE study packages, study the material, and then pass the exam to become an ACE-certified personal trainer.

How to Pass the ACE Exam

Passing the ACE exam will take plenty of preparation, especially because it is one of the more difficult personal trainer exams to pass. So what would be the best way to prepare for the exam? That will depend on your study style and how much time you have to learn the material.

Take an ACE Practice Test

Taking a high-quality ACE practice test may help you prepare for the exam relatively thoroughly, although avoiding using other forms of preparation for the exam is unadvisable.

Any ACE practice test is unlikely to get you well acquainted with the material that will be on the exam, though it may come with some other positive aspects that could help you prepare in other ways.

It is especially useful to use an ACE practice test because it can get you much more familiar with the different kinds of questions that will appear on the actual exam, including what kinds of expectations there will be for answer formats.

And while an ACE practice exam is pretty unlikely to be a full-length exam that you can take during your study time, it will also make it clear what kinds of information are the most likely to be prominently featured.

Unless you were unaware, there are four different subsections or domains of the ACE exam, and they’re all of the varying lengths relative to each other. These four subsections of information on the exam will include:

  • Client Interviews and Assessments
    • 23% of the exam
    • about 35 questions
  • Program Design and Implementation
    • 31% of the exam
    • about 46 questions
    • the biggest part of the exam
  • Program Progression and Modification
    • 26% of the exam
    • about 39 questions
  • Professional Conduct, Safety, and Risk Management
    • 20% of the exam
    • about 30 questions
    • the smallest part of the exam

Other Ways to Prepare for the ACE Exam

How to Pass the ACE Exam on the First Try
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom:

It’s also a great idea to study for the ACE exam in a few other ways, especially if you have the study time. Investing in an ACE study guide could be extremely helpful, especially if you want to have access to condensed key information from any ACE textbook that is the most likely to be on your ACE exam. Many study guides come with rough outlines.

Additionally, if you have the time available to you, you might want to look into purchasing an ACE textbook. While significantly longer than something like a study guide would be, a textbook is far more likely to cover exam-related information much more thoroughly. 

A great textbook to look into is the fifth edition of the American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual. A great study plan would be to read your textbook while taking notes, review an ACE study guide to help you recall key information, and then take a practice exam.

If you can find multiple practice exams, it would be a fantastic idea to take as many as possible and reflect on the information you struggle with the most afterward. Review after an ACE practice test could involve going back to the study guide and then going back to the textbook if you still find yourself struggling with the information.

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