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January 25, 2010 | DELETED

What If I Don't Pass the Exam? What Can I Do Then?

Didn't pass the exam?

(Updated May 2, 2011)

The first step is to take a deep breath. Then maybe take one more. After you take your test you will receive is your score information in what I like to call the short version. This score reports the percent correct in each domain. If you took the computer based exam, you would have received your scores before you left the testing center. If you took the paper and pencil exam, you either received your scores in the mail, or logged into your account and saw them there – whichever one comes first.

Now that you’ve taken a deep breath, the second thing to do is look at your complete score report. I’d recommend printing this out, but that’s up to you. To access your complete score report you will need to log into your ACE account, then click ‘My Exams’.  The complete score report will list your total score, the score for each domain, and then the scores for each of the tasks within that domain.  Below is an example from an ACE Personal Trainer certification exam.

Client Interview and Assessment




Establish rapport and program value using effective communication and listening techniques to build trust, confidence, and enthusiasm and to maximize program participation.




Assess client attitudes, preferences, motivations, and readiness for behavior change using questionnaires and interviews to set appropriate program goals and to identify potential barriers and unrealistic expectations.




Obtain health and exercise history and lifestyle information (e.g., nutrition habits, activity) using questionnaires, interviews, and available documents to determine risk stratification, to identify the need for medical clearance and referrals, and to facilitate program design.





This fragment of a score report indicates that the candidate got 47.50% on this domain – below the 72%+ that is recommended. The candidate got 19 out of 40 questions right in the domain. Task 1 (Establish rapport…) was 2 right out of 2 for 100% on that task. Task 2 (Assess client attitudes…) was 0 right out of 3 for 0% on that task. And Task 3 (Obtain health and exercise…) was 7 right out of 20 for 35% on that task.

By reviewing your score report, you will see the areas that need the greatest improvement.  This should give you an idea of what direction your studies need to go. For more assistance, you can contact an Education Consultant at ACE (they also work as Study Coaches!) at x782 or

So you’ve got your scores, you’ve studied, talked to ACE about resources, prepared some more, and now decided to re-take the exam.  When you have a day and location in mind, you will want to log into your ACE account, go the ‘My Exams’, then select ‘Schedule Retake’. By registering for your exam this way, you will be eligible for the discounted re-take exam fees (if you re-test within a year from your original exam).

The final suggestion, or step if you would, is to take your time in preparing for a re-take. Too often I see people who are unsuccessful at their exam rush to take another test as soon as possible.  Maybe they are worried they’ll lose all the information they studied or they think a week of intense memorization will get them through the next attempt. Instead, what does the trick is a close look at areas of strength and weakness, and focused study that considers comprehension and understanding rather than memorization.

If you’ve got questions about a retake, or about preparing in general, please contact one of our Education Consultants at 1-888-825-3636 x782. 

By April Merritt
April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach.

April Merritt holds a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Health Promotion, and several ACE certifications including Personal Trainer and Health Coach.

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