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July 16, 2014 | Exam Preparation Blog

Do I Need to Switch to the new ACE Personal Trainer Manual (5th edition)?

ACE Personal Trainer Manual 5th editionAs you may have heard, ACE recently announced the release of the new ACE Personal Trainer Manual (5th Edition). Individuals studying from the 4th edition of the ACE Personal Trainer Manual and associated materials may be wondering if their current materials will still be sufficient to help them prepare for the ACE Personal Trainer Certification exam. Here is some information that can help you feel comfortable about being able to successfully prepare for the exam using the 4th edition manual and associated study materials.  

Can I still use the ACE Personal Trainer Manual (4th edition) and associated study materials to prepare for the exam? Yes. Those of you who currently have the 4th edition materials can prepare for and successfully pass the ACE Personal Trainer Certification examination. If you’ve been working with these materials for a while, I’d encourage you to finish up your studies and sit for the exam. As time goes by, more of the updated science-based exercise programming and health-behavior change strategies in the new manual will appear on the exam.

When will the exam change to reflect the new manual? The exam does not make a dramatic switch from one manual to another. New questions are rotated into ACE certification exams on a regular basis each year, even when the manual remains unchanged for several consecutive years. This is something ACE does with all of our certification programs. As we move into 2015 and beyond, more questions will be rotated into the certification exam that reflect the updated standards, guidelines and science-based assessments and practical-training solutions referenced in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual (5th edition) and associated materials.

How do new exam questions get selected for the exam? ACE certification examinations are built according to the domains and tasks in the exam content outline for that specific exam. The current ACE Personal Trainer Certification exam content outline is published as Appendix B in both the 4th and 5th editions of the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, and is also available as a downloadable .PDF on the ACE website. ACE certification committees write new exam questions throughout the year. The questions are edited and validated by other certification committee members, and then they are rotated into exams as experimental (unscored) items. Questions that perform well are then used in place of older and outdated items on new exams. These new questions may focus on updated industry guidelines, evidence-based findings in exercise, nutrition or health-behavioral sciences, or they might simply be new questions on existing topics in the ACE Personal Trainer exam content outline.

In summary, you can still prepare for and have success on the ACE Personal Trainer Certification exam using the ACE Personal Trainer Manual (4th edition) and associated materials. Continue with your current study plan using all print and online study materials that you purchased, including any sample tests. Once you feel prepared for the exam and a career as a personal trainer, log into your My ACE account to register for your examination. If your study materials included an exam voucher, you will want to make sure that you schedule your exam date and use the voucher before it expires. You will need to have current a CPR/AED certification on file to register for the examination.

Do you still have questions about the exam or your preparation? Contact the ACE Resource Center at 888-825-3636, Ext. 796 or

By Todd Galati, M.A.

Todd Galati holds a master’s degree in kinesiology, a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, and all four ACE certifications. Galati’s experience includes directing youth fitness programs focused on reducing obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, teaching courses in biomechanics, applied kinesiology, and anatomy at Cal State San Marcos and San Diego State University, conducting human performance studies as a research physiologist with the U.S. Navy, personal training in medical, nonprofit, and commercial facilities, and coaching endurance athletes to state and national championships and other goals once felt to be out of reach.

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