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The New 4th Edition Personal Trainer Certification Exam...

The New 4th Edition Personal Trainer Certification Exam... | April Merritt | Exam Preparation Blog | 12/20/2010


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The new "4th edition Personal Trainer Certification Exam"…

…doesn’t really exist. Don’t worry, I’ll wait a moment for everyone to start breathing again.

There have been some rumors and thoughts that as ACE launched the new 4th edition Personal Trainer materials there would be a brand new "4th edition certification exam" as well. I’ve even heard people talking about the 3rd edition test versus the 4th edition test, and discussion about how soon candidates need to sign up for their exam to still get the 3rd edition test. But no need to panic! We can clear a few things up for you.

There is not a complete revamp/brand new exam as of January 2011. Instead, updated/new questions are regularly being rotated into the certification exam as they always are. This is something ACE does with all of our certification exams. ACE certification committees are regularly writing new exam questions, which are rotated into exams as experimental items. (Remember those experimental items aren’t part of your overall score!)

If the new questions perform well, those questions can replace older and outdated items on future exams. If they perform poorly, they are retired before they ever appear as an actual scored question. The psychometricians (test designers) at our testing agency use statistical analysis to determine if a question performs well or if it bombs.

The same concept applies here. If you think about it, there is some information that hasn’t changed much from the 3rd edition Personal Trainer materials. A lot of the essentials information – anatomy, biomechanics etc. – doesn’t change much over the years. Other information – like the introduction of VT1 and VT2 and the risk stratification guidelines – changes more quickly with advances in science and research.

The further we move into 2011 and beyond, the more the certification questions are likely to reflect the updated standards and guidelines referenced in the 4th edition Personal Trainer materials.

What this means for those candidates using the 3rd edition materials is that you may need to update yourself on topics such as ACSM guideline changes,  updated nutrition standards, the new core balance principles/functional testing principles that are covered in the 4th edition materials, how to assess and design cardio programs using HR at VT1 and VT2, etc. through the use of alternate resources.  So, while you may be successful with the 3rd edition material for some time following the end of the calendar year, the greater chance for success lies with the 4th edition materials because they are the most up-to-date with exercise science research and industry guidelines/standards. Also keep in mind the 3rd edition manual is now 8 years old.

Even if you are just finishing up with the Personal Trainer 3rd edition material, it may be worthwhile to purchase the ACE Personal Trainer Manual 4th Edition Set without necessarily purchasing the complimentary study material associated with the 4th edition.  The manual set can be a helpful addition to your existing materials for purposes of preparing for the exam (and for a career as a personal trainer), as it will include the aforementioned updates. The 4th edition manual also includes many new and expanded exercise science and behavioral strategies based on research completed since the 3rd edition manual was published in 2003.  

And if that wasn’t enough reason, the 4th edition manual does represent a superior reference for practical application following the achievement of certification and the ACE Integrated Fitness TrainingTM (ACE IFTTM) Model.  It’s the book you’ll refer back to during your time as a professional.

Still have questions about the exam or your preparation? Just contact an Education Consultant at 1-888-825-3636 x782


*special thanks to Todd, our Directory of Academy, and Jessica, our Certification Director, for their help with this post!