ACE is one of the most popular and widely recognized personal training certifications. That’s why there are so many searches performed for, “tips for your ACE Personal Training Certification exam.” While it’s possible to retake the exam, there’s also a charge for each new attempt, making it more desirable to “ace” the exam on the first try. At Special Strong, our sister company, we have several trainers with ACE certifications, so we can help! Here are 7 important tips for passing your ACE Personal Training Certification.
1. Buy (and Read!) the Textbook
Oftentimes, the textbook will be included in the study packages offered by ACE — at least a digital copy, if not a physical one. But because reading takes time, you might feel tempted to just skim the text in the book or skip reading altogether, thinking that the practice quizzes or videos will offer the insight you need to pass the ACE exam. That’s not the case! Actually reading the textbook is going to help you understand the material better. The concepts will be clearer to you, which will help you retain what you’re learning more easily.
2. Take (and Review!) Notes
Yes, we know: Taking notes makes studying take twice as long. You likely already have a full-time job and other time-consuming responsibilities, so you don’t want to spend that much time taking notes, on top of taking the time to read and review the study materials. We get it, but listen: Handwriting notes on what you’re reading really does help you retain the information better. Just the acting of writing out what you’re reading will help, but going back and reviewing your own handwriting will help even more.
3. Learn the Lingo
You’re going to be tested a lot on definitions — and not simple, “What is the definition of [blank]?” terms. You’ll need to understand the definitions of terms relating to the body, to exercise programs, to theories, to science, to the industry, and more, so that you can understand what the questions on the exam are asking you. Image being asked, “Which of the following functions help most with homeostasis?” without knowing the definition for “homeostasis”? That’s why it’s important to learn the lingo before sitting down to take the exam.
4. Be Body Positive
To pass the ACE exam, you need to be so familiar with anatomy that you’re positive (not “pretty sure”) about your answers to body-related questions on the exam. The good news is: This should be the easy part. Anatomy is complex, but since fitness is your area of interest, you should more easily retain this information. Plus, knowing the anatomy will do more than help you pass the exam. It will help you be a better personal trainer. Once you know why an exercise improves overall health, you’ll be able to get better, more accurate advice to your clients.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
When you purchase your study package with ACE, you have a number of excellent materials at your disposal, ones that, if utilized, will help you pass the exam with no issues. The practice quizzes are particularly helpful. They’re not exact replicas of the exam, but they’re pretty dang close, and they’ll give you a good idea of how the exam will go on the Big Day. The more often you take these practice quizzes, the better you’ll feel about taking the test, for two reasons:
- You won’t be as intimidated by the exam when you sit down to take the real deal. You’ll already be familiar with the format, and there won’t be anything scary about it.
- You’ll have had a chance to test your knowledge before the exam, which will let you know areas that you need to keep studying in order to do well on test day.
6. Take Your “Toolbox”
Obviously, we’re not saying that you should bring a box of tools with you to your ACE exam. But you do need to be prepared for your exam by bringing certain things with you to the testing site. You’ll need to present your admission ticket (your proof of purchase, essentially) and a photo ID. You won’t need to bring a pencil, paper, or even a calculator, as the testing center will provide all these things for you. Not only does this free up literal room (in your backpack or in your arms) for you, but it also frees up some mental room — meaning, you don’t have to worry about remembering anything else besides the two items mentioned above and the exam material.
7. Relieve Test Anxiety
Many people have testing anxiety, which makes passing an exam difficult: a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if people study diligently and thoroughly, testing anxiety (or the worry that they’ll perform poorly on the exam) can still interfere with success and produce a bad grade.
Don’t do all that studying for nothing! Relieve your test anxiety before you get to the testing center and while taking the exam:
- Power stance: Taking up more physical space boosts your confidence and self-esteem. (Hey, we don’t make the rules. It’s just science.) In the morning before your exam, stand up really tall with your feet wide apart. Reach your arms up and out. You should look like a giant X at this point. Stand like this for a few minutes to get more confident.
- Breathing exercises: A racing mind also leads to a racing heart, which can make you feel rushed when you’re taking the exam — which can lead to silly, avoidable mistakes. Steady your heart rate by steadying your breathing with breathing exercises. You can meditate, which involves simply observing your breath, not controlling it at all. You can also try “square breathing,” where you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, and then hold the exhale for the same count.
- Positive affirmations: If you’re new to affirmations, this is going to sound silly, but you should say nice things to yourself — out loud — on the morning of your exam. You can say things like, “I am smart,” “I am capable,” “I have a great memory,” “I am confident,” etc. to stave off testing anxiety.
- Don’t rush: It’s a test on your knowledge, not a race! Don’t get tripped up by others getting up and finishing before you do. Take a deep breath and take your time. You have three whole hours to review and finish the exam.
- Review the questions: The exam is online, but even the digital format enables you to review all the questions (with options to click “previous,” “next,” or “skip”) before submitting your exam. Go through the test, answering all the questions you know for sure, then go back and answer the other questions you needed more time on.
- Zone in: Testing sites should offer headphones to test takers. Ask for some, so you can drown out the cacophony of cleared throats, sneezes, and deep, aggravated sighs.
Bonus Tip: Take Your Certification to the Next Level
After you pass your ACE Personal Training Certification exam, you’ll need to consider how you can stand out from the competition. One way to do this is by getting niche certifications to boost your expertise. While ACE includes several niche certifications, they’re lacking in one that focuses primarily on special needs (both physical and cognitive).
When you get a Special Needs Fitness Trainer Certification through Strong Education, you not only widen your clientele reach, but you also expand your opportunity for earning CEUs with ACE. (Each year, you’ll need to renew your certification, and in order to do so, you’ll have to prove that you’ve kept up with the latest news in the fitness industry by earning education credits.) Our Special Needs Fitness Trainer Certification is affiliated with ACE, so you can kill two birds with one stone when you get certified with us.
Strong Education teaches personal trainers and service providers on how to adapt fitness and nutrition for children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down Syndrome, and other disabilities through our online adaptive special needs certification course.