Exam Content Outlines
Why should I care about the ACE Certification Exam Content Outline?
Only because the Exam Content Outline is the blueprint to passing the exam! Each manual – Personal Trainer, Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist, Group Fitness Instructor, and Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant – has a Certification Exam Content Outline in Appendix B. You can also access these on the ACE website for each certification:
So what makes up the Exam Content Outline? First is an identification of the major categories of responsibility for the professional; otherwise known as "Domains". Each certification currently has four Domains. Professional Responsibility is Domain IV for each certification, but beyond that each certification is unique. Group fitness instructors need to know about Group Leadership Methods, while Personal trainers are asked to understand Client Interview and Assessment, and so on.
You’ll see a chart near the beginning of your Appendix B which indicates the total number of questions in each domain – a big clue as to where you should spend your studying efforts. In the Group Fitness Instructor Exam Content Outline, Domain I (Exercise Programming and Class Design) is 61 of 125 items, while Domain III (Group Leadership Methods) is 17 of 125 items. From this information, it looks like Domain I topics should receive a lot of attention during your studies. (But don’t forget that all topics/Domains are important!)
Within each Domain are Task Statements, which detail the job-related functions under that domain. Task Statements are the nitty gritty everyday things you need to do or know to be successful. For example, under Personal Trainer Domain II (Program Design and Implementation), Task 2 states ‘ Establish specific client goals using the interpretation of interview and assessment results and current standards to provide program direction’ (whew).
But how are you supposed to do Task 2? Well, right below each Task is a list of areas you need knowledge of…such as anatomical positions (anatomy & biomech pt.2), behavior change principles in goal setting (psychology pt.5), and areas you need skill in…such as assisting the client in setting personal goals based on the SMART framework (psychology pt.1)
Domains, Tasks, and Areas of Knowledge/Skill all work together to help ensure you are focusing your studying in the right direction. And yeah, some things like knowledge of general anatomy repeat in several of the tasks. But that repetition occurs because those topics influence so much of what we do as fitness professionals.
No matter where you are in your studies, take a moment to glance at Appendix B. Check out what your Domains are called. Check out what each Task is for those Domains. Maybe look under the Knowledge/Skill areas if you are ready. Refer back there occasionally to make sure you are on the right track for a successful exam. It might save you from spending four weeks on professional liability, when you should have spent three of those weeks reviewing client assessment.
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