The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

ACSM Health and Fitness Specialist Exam

on June 25, 2014

Well this past week has just flown by, and usually my days last longer than I’d like!

Most of my week was spent cramming my brain with as much information as I could!  Energy metabolism, cardiovascular disease, the effects of exercise on your physiological processes, and legal responsibilities when training a client.  At times my brain felt like mush and it literally would just stop processing information.  Brain overload!

At about 9pm Monday night my brain had enough of reading and repeating.  I shut it off (as best I could) and tried to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for my exam Tuesday morning.

I arrived super early to the testing center.  Partly because I’m an early bird and also because I had fears of not being able to find a parking spot on the college campus I was taking the test.  I arrived so early they wouldn’t check me in until about 20 minutes after I stepped through the testing center doors.  But I did get to sit down for the test earlier than my assigned time, which was what I was hoping for.  I just couldn’t wait to get this exam behind me!

The quick run down on the exam.  It is 150 questions total.  Some of the questions are not actually counted but they are just “testing” them out to see if they’d like to include them on future exams.  So that is really frustrating to have to stress over questions that don’t matter!  And apparently some questions are weighed more heavily into your score than others.  But of course you have no idea which questions are the more important ones.  So really, it’s impossible to guess whether you are doing well or not.

The most frequent questions were:

  • business models/legal questions
  • first aid
  • interpreting health questionnaire data and classifying clients into the proper risk factor
  • using metabolic equations (the metabolic equations are given, but none of the conversions are provided)
  • determining calorie burn for specific exercise/time
  • health coaching questions

The test was hard.  It started off with tons of business questions, which worried me a lot.  I’m not good at management and budgeting terms.  I can create and follow a budget, mission statement, marketing plan, etc. but for some reason the terms for these items just don’t stay in my brain.  However, I can keep terms like sphygmomanometer in my brain and bring them out at the drop of a dime (fancy word for blood pressure cuff!).

Finally the questions got more scientific and exercised based, which started to calm me down.  By the end of the test I was feeling pretty good.  I  did check all my answers to make sure I didn’t misread anything.  I changed just a few I was doubting.  I always allow myself a few changes, but most answers need to stay at that first instinct.  First instinct is usually the right one!

I did change one that even today with a clear head I still have trouble digesting.  It was a question about exercising without properly hydrating and one of the selections was a decreased time to fatigue.  That is just such an odd way of putting something, that it takes me a while to process.  A decreased time in exercise usually means good in my mind – you ran that mile faster than before!  So a decreased time to fatigue at first glance seems like a good thing.  But really, it’s not.  It is a weird way of saying you get tired quicker than normal.  So they definitely had questions that seemed to try to trip you up a bit!

But I’m excited to say I completed and passed my exam yesterday morning!  Yay!  I am now an ACSM Health and Fitness Specialist.  And I’m giving myself a break from studying or reading scientific fitness materials for a while.  I will be back on that train soon enough (gotta get CEU’s) but the brain need some time to rest and recover!

Have you ever taken a certification exam?

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