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How many questions do I need to get right to pass the exam?

How many questions do I need to get right to pass the exam? | American Council on Exercise | Exam Preparation Blog | 6/28/2013


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Pass examFor some of you preparing to take your exam, it can be helpful to know exactly how many correct answers you need to successfully pass your exam. In this blog post, we’ll go over the types of questions you can expect to see, which ones will be graded and how many you need to get right.

What kinds of questions can I expect to see on the exam?

All four ACE certification exams--Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist—consist of 150 multiple choice questions. The three types of multiple-choice questions you can expect to see on the exam are recall, application and analysis. Application and analysis questions make up the majority (70 to 85%) of the questions on ACE multiple-choice exams. These questions assess problem solving and decision-making skills through realistic scenarios that require candidates to apply their knowledge in circumstances they can expect to experience in the field. The remainder of the questions on an ACE multiple-choice exam are recall questions, which are cognitive in nature and test the candidate’s ability to recall knowledge.

Will all of the questions be graded?

On each exam there are 25 sample questions that will not be graded. These questions are considered field or experimental items and are analyzed for possible inclusion in future ACE examinations. They do not count toward or against the scored 125 questions. Please note that they are mixed in so you will not be aware which ones are the sample questions, so make sure to answer all 150 questions.

So how many do I have to get right to pass?

Out of the 125 graded questions, you must correctly answer approximately 90 questions to lead to a passing score of 500. That said, scaled scores are not exact percentages and the number of possible questions correct is scaled across a range from 200 to 800 points. This methodology is similar to what is seen with SAT and GRE exam scores, where each section is scaled from 200 to 800 points.

ACE works with psychometricians to set appropriate passing points for each exam, then equate them based on level of difficulty, and finally scale the scores so that the passing point on each exam is scaled to 500 points. As a result, the passing point for each ACE certification exam is equated and then scaled to a score of 500 points, making the level of competence required to pass the exam statistically equivalent across exam forms.

The scaled score and the PASS status that you received are your official score and pass/fail status for this exam. The domain percentages are provided as a guide for candidates who fail the exam and want to study to retake it.

For more information on exam content and passing and scoring criteria, please refer to pages 9 and 16 of the Certification Exam Candidate Handbook.