I recently passed the ACE Personal Trainer certification exam, but not without a little stress and figuring out the hard way how to study smarter, not harder. My education does not include an exercise science background nor had I ever trained or had a personal trainer in my life—I had a couple years of experience teaching group fitness, but that’s it!
So, in May 2012, I set out to study for the exam with my textbooks, study guide and flashcards. I dove into the Essentials of Exercise Science Manual first, motivated and ready to learn, but after getting through the first few pages, my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. How was I supposed to remember all this information? I slowly made my way through the first two chapters, feeling very apprehensive. Am I studying for medical school? What had I gotten myself into? Well, weeks went by and the Essentials of Exercise Science Manual became a nice paperweight on my desk; I had put my studies to the side.
A few weeks went by and just as I was thinking of getting back into my studies, ACE launched the ACE Academy Elite interactive study guide. This was just what I needed to motivate myself and start fresh. ACE Academy Elite was such a helpful tool, and allowed me to not only be successful on the certification exam, but more importantly, feel confident going into the test!
Here is how I used Academy Elite to prepare for the exam:
- Course Syllabus: Every time I sat down to study, I logged into my account on www.acefitness.org and viewed my course syllabus. It tracked my progress so I knew what to do every step of the way.
- Videos: The videos were immensely helpful to me as I am a visual learner. It also broke up the monotony of reading the manual. I would view the video while taking notes as if I were sitting in on a lecture. Then I would view the video again and add anything I missed. The videos are especially helpful as you can watch them over and over again.
- Master the Manual assignments and assigned readings: I used these two items together. I would open my manual to the chapter I was working on and also have my Master the Manual open to the same chapter. Looking at the next question in the study guide, I would read the ACE Personal Trainer Manual with the goal of finding that specific answer in my mind. I found that my mind would be very active and, again, it broke up the reading in the manual as some the chapters get quite long!
- Online practice exams: This is my favorite study tool. About two weeks prior to my exam, I took the first practice exam. Once I finished, I took notes on the feedback provided after each question. For the questions I was unsure about, I copied down the page number listed and read up on that section. Two nights before the exam, I took the second practice test and repeated the process. I reviewed the notes a lot before the test.
The process of using the ACE Academy Elite allowed me to feel confident on the morning of my exam, because it broke up the test preparation in smaller chunks, which made it less overwhelming and much more attainable. Since we have launched this program, we have found that candidates who use the Elite have a higher test-passing rate than those who do not use it. Most of the people using the Elite study for about eight to 10 weeks prior to taking the exam, which is about 10 hours of studying each week.
Finally, another saving grace for me was the ACE Resource Center. We have two individuals devoted to assisting candidates by providing test-taking techniques, and study advice and answering questions about the material. I had the luxury of working with them in the same room, but you can call anytime and set up an appointment to speak to them. They saved me a ton of time!
Best of luck in your studies and keep moving forward!