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Personal Trainer

Policies and Procedures

Eligibility Requirements

  • Personal Trainer Certification Examination candidates must be at least 18 years of age, and possess a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Although not required, it is beneficial if you have a minimum level of practical experience working in the health and fitness field.
  • Certification candidates are not required to participate in an NCSF educational program to qualify to sit for the Board Examination. Although the organization offers education courses and preparation materials for the exam, candidates may choose to engage in primary education offered by other organizations, colleges or universities. In addition, the Board Exam is based on universally accepted exercise theory, principles and guidelines, which allow candidates the option to choose to utilize study materials not offered by the NCSF. Some additionally recommended text can be found in the Portfolio Review Handbook for the Personal Trainer Certification Examination.

Appeals for Denied Eligibility

NCSF reserves the right to reject any application that in the organization’s view does not meet eligibility requirements. If your application for the NCSF exam is not accepted, you can request that your application be reviewed again. You must send a written appeal to:

NCSF Exam Registration
5915 Ponce de Leon Blvd., #60
Coral Gables, FL 33146

Your written appeal must include a detailed explanation of why you think you should be eligible and provide all supporting and helpful documentation. All matters will be reviewed within 10 working days upon receipt of correspondence. Candidates will be notified immediately in writing of approval or denial of their appeal.

Examination Fees

  • First-time candidates $349.00
  • Re-take candidates $99.00

Paying for the Examination

  • The NCSF will only register candidates that submit a COMPLETED application and payment in FULL.
  • The NCSF will return all incomplete applications and/or applications with a declined credit card or returned check.
  • Exam fees are subject to change without notice.
  • The NCSF accepts checks, money orders, and credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).
  • The NCSF does not accept cash, purchase orders, or invoices.
  • Check or money order should be in U.S. funds, drawn on a U.S. bank, and payable to the NCSF.
  • NCSF Certification Exams approved for VA benefits: Active military, veterans and eligible spouses and dependents can receive reimbursement for their NCSF exam fees. This benefit applies to Personal Trainer Certification Exams taken on or after January 1, 2004, and includes both first time and retake fees. If you are entitled to military benefits and have been considering taking the Personal Trainer Certification Exam to broaden your scope of practice, now is the perfect time. To learn more about your VA benefits, visit
  • If you pay by check, your canceled check will serve as your receipt. If you pay by money order or bank draft, you may request a receipt for income tax documentation by writing to the NCSF when you register.
  • In the United States, an income tax deduction may be allowed for expenses related to education necessary to maintain or improve professional skills. See your tax advisor for details. International registration fees must be payable in U.S. funds by U.S. bank draft. You may also pay by VISA, MasterCard, or American Express.

Examination Content

The NCSF Personal Trainer Certification is designed for trainers providing any form of one-on-one fitness training instruction. Personal Training is the fastest growing segment of the fitness industry. According to market research, Personal Trainers are confident in the future of the industry and the growth of their businesses. The majority of trainers (68%) plan to continue working as fitness trainers for 10 or more years. Plus, 65% feel their revenue will increase compared to last year.

Once you successfully pass the NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam you will have demonstrated your knowledge of basic anatomy, exercise physiology, health screening and evaluation, nutrition and weight management, exercise prescription, and special populations.

The Personal Trainer Certification Exam is broken down as follows:
Functional Anatomy12%
Exercise Physiology8%
Physical Activity and Health Promotion11%
Screening and Evaluation13%
Weight Management9%
Exercise Prescription and Programming Considerations19%
Training Instruction15%
Considerations for Special Populations3%
Professionalism and Risk Management3%

Certification Sample Test

Taking the Certification Exam

After the candidate registers for an exam with the NCSF they will be sent an exam confirmation notice containing their eligibility number and all related documentation required to sit for the Personal Trainer Certification Exam. Once a candidate has registered with the National Council on Strength and Fitness and has received their exam confirmation notice they can then schedule an appointment to take the Personal Trainer Certification Examination. Scheduling as well as rescheduling if necessary is handled directly through Prometric.

Your exam confirmation number will be valid for six months. If you have not scheduled and tested with Prometric you must re-register with the NCSF. Your re-registration is subject to the same policies as the exam retake.

If you cannot make your exam appointment and fail to contact Prometric within 72 hours of your scheduled appointment time you must re-register under the exam retake policies.

Exam Center

The first room you will visit when entering a Prometric Testing Center is usually the waiting area. Upon entering, you will be asked to sign-in. The test proctor will call you when it's time to test.

You will then begin the check-in process. First, the proctor will check your ID;a government issued, signature bearing photo ID (ex. driver’s license or passport) is required.

The Test Center Administrator will provide you with all appropriate items prior to the beginning of the exam.

The Test Center Administrator will then lead you to a test workstation. Each workstation has a computer, monitor, mouse and an adjustable chair so that test takers can be as comfortable as possible. The computer format is as easy to use as the traditional paper-and-pencil exam. You will be given a short tutorial at the onset of the exam telling you when to press a key or when to click a mouse. Think of it this way, with the traditional exam you fill in the blanks with a pencil, while with a computer-based exam you click on the appropriate key or click the mouse.

You will have three hours to complete the 150 question multiple choice exam.

Technical assistance will also be provided during the examination itself if any problems should arise.

Once you have completed the exam, the proctor will escort you out of the room, where the check out process will begin. This process includes signing out and the collection of any exhibits and scratch paper. In the event you do not meet the minimum passing score you must contact the NCSF to register for another examination. Retake fees are $99.00 (see Retake Policy).

Online Testing

Your pretest system check will verify whether your computer can install and run the ProProctor Application so that you can take your exam. Once your computer has been validated, you are ready to download and install the ProProctor application that delivers your exam. To launch your exam, please enter your appointment confirmation number and the first four (4) letters of your last name/surname. You should launch your exam 15 minutes before the scheduled start time so that you can complete the inspection of your testing environment.

On the day of your exam, please make sure you allow 15 minutes to prepare your testing environment. When you are comfortably sitting at your workstation go to the Prometric ProProctor site at and launch your exam.

The Prometric Readiness Agent will greet you and capture your image and identification. Then they will walk you through a checklist to ensure you have everything required to take the exam including candidate detail confirmation, environmental check as well as person check.

Now you are ready to take your online proctored exam. Although you will not see your Prometric Proctor, he/she will monitor you throughout the testing process and will be available to provide assistance at any point during your exam.

You will have three hours to complete the 150 question multiple choice exam.

In the event you do not meet the minimum passing score you must contact the NCSF to register for another examination. Retake fees are $99.00 (see Retake Policy).


You may be disqualified from taking or continuing in the examination process, or from receiving exam results, if the NCSF and/or Prometric (the organization administering the exams on behalf of the NCSF) have determined through either examiner observation or statistical analysis that you were engaged in collaborative, disruptive, or other unacceptable behavior before, during or following the administration of the NCSF exam.


If for any reason you are unable to take the exam on the date and time for which you registered, you must reschedule to avoid forfeiting your entire exam fee. You have up to 72 hours before your exam appointment to reschedule through your Prometric exam location. Note: You must take your exam within six months of your original registration. If you do not you must re-apply to take the examination.

Rescheduling can be done online, over the phone or by visiting your local Prometric testing center. In order to reschedule you will need your confirmation number. This number was provided to you upon your initial appointment scheduling.

If you cannot make your exam appointment and fail to contact your Prometric exam center within 72 hours of your scheduled appointment time you must re-register under the exam retake policies.

Missed Appointments

Under no circumstances will Prometric Testing or NCSF waive testing fees, regardless of the situation. If an exam candidate is unable to attend a scheduled test appointment for any reason, they are required to reschedule outside of 72 business hours. If the appointment is rescheduled or cancelled within 72 business hours or the appointment is missed, the full re-testing fee(s) will be assessed in order to schedule the exam at a later date. To assist candidates in relevant circumstances, the NCSF Board for Certification reserves the right to implement a price reduction to the published re-testing fee(s) on a case-by-case basis with required written documentation in the event of an uncontrollable, emergency situation.

Qualification of Scores and Appeals

All NCSF Personal Trainer Certification Exam Score Reports are reviewed by an authorized NCSFBC representative for problems or irregularities including, but not limited to, computer errors, suspicion of cheating, suspicion of security breach, exam proctor reports, questions of candidate identity or eligibility and questions of conduct. A score report that does not show any problems or irregularities will become an official score report and used to approve or deny certification. If a problem or irregularity is identified in any part of the score report, the score report will be investigated. The NCSFBC will contact the test center for information in connection with the irregularity or problem. The NCSFBC reserves the right to disqualify any certification exam score that has been determined as invalid by just cause. Applicants may appeal a decision of exam score disqualification. Applicants must submit an appeal in writing within 30 days of the post mark on the official score report. An appeal may be denied if sufficient evidence has already been collected during the investigation that led to invalidate the report. Appeals that are accepted will be reviewed by a board administrator. Applicants must respond with appropriate evidence to the reported allegations or reasons for invalidation within 30 days of the committee request. The NCSFBC reserves the right to accept or deny appeals based on just cause.

Appeals of a failed exam attempt may be made under the following circumstances: 1) The test facility was unable to provide a suitable test environment, 2) the exam administration failed due to technical problems during the scheduled exam time. A candidate must submit an appeal request to the NCSFBC within fourteen (14) days of the date of the examination.

An NCSFBC administrator will review the test report and contact the test facility to determine if any irregularities existed. If an irregularity is identified the NCSFBC administrator will communicate with the Executive Director, who may consult with the NCSFBC , to invalidate the assessment score and approve a retest for the candidate. The Executive Director has the discretion to accept or reject the appeal based on the allowable circumstances for appeal.

Refund Policy

If you decide for any reason you cannot or do not wish to take the exam after registering, you may request a refund in lieu of rescheduling. To request a refund you must contact the NCSF in writing within 30 days (electronically date-stamped or postmarked) of original exam registration. If the request is received within the 30 days of original registration, refunds will be 50% of your exam registration fee. There are no refunds after 30 days of original exam registration.

Exceptions to the refund deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis for documented cases of medical, bereavement, or other emergencies. In these instances, candidates must electronically date-stamp or postmark their refund request no later than 60 days after the exam date and provide any and all supporting documentation.

No refunds will be given for rescheduled examinations. You can expect to receive your refund or notice of denial within six weeks of your request.

All examination registrations are non-transferable.

Special Exam Accommodations

Special arrangements can be made if you have a visual, sensory, physical, or other disability that prevents you from taking the exam under standard conditions. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), documentation of the disability must be made by a professional qualified to diagnose the disability at the time of registration.

Written requests and completed registration information from disabled candidates must include a description of the accommodation requested. The NCSF reserves the right to determine the reasonableness of the accommodation requested. Requests for special accommodations must be made at the time of registration, additonal fees may apply.

Retake Policy

If you do not meet the minimum passing score on the exam you may re-apply to take the exam again. Retake Exam fees are $99.00.

Candidates are required to wait thirty (30) days between exam attempts.

To re-apply to take the exam contact the NCSF directly at 1-800-772-NCSF(6273). A $99.00 Retake Exam fee will be payable to the NCSF. After your request has been processed, you will receive another confirmation number in the mail. No refunds are given for re-take exam applications.

You are eligible for the Retake Exam fee for a period of six months after you have taken your first exam. After this six month period, you must submit the first-time candidate exam fee.

There is no limit as to the amount of times you may take the exam.

Exam Score Information

Prometric Testing uses state-of-the-art testing and scoring to administer and evaluate your responses. A Pass/Fail status will appear on screen upon exam submission and a Score Report will be emailed to you. Your exam results will automatically be sent to the NCSF.

General Policies and Procedures

Confidentiality: No information submitted to the NCSF and Prometric will be released to a third party without authorization from the candidate.

Disclosure: To maintain the integrity and security of the NCSF exams, exam questions, answer sheets, answers or other source materials will not be released to candidates under any circumstances.

Fair and Equal Treatment of NCSF Candidates: NCSF does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of religion, gender, ethnic background, age, national origin, or physical disability.

Marketing Your Certification Status

You may only market yourself as NCSF certified during the two years that your certification is current. If you do not renew your certification by earning the necessary continuing education credits and paying the appropriate renewal fees, or by retaking and passing the NCSF certification exam, you may not claim to be NCSF certified. False certification claims may prohibit your ability to renew your certification or retake an NCSF Certification Exam.

Awarding of the Personal Trainer Certification

Only candidates who achieve the minimum passing score of 70 or greater will be awarded the NCSF-CPT Certification. Should you meet the minimum passing requirements your certificate and ID card will be sent to you within 2 weeks of passing the examination. Internationally based students will typically receive their certificate and ID card within 3-4 weeks. Should you fail to meet the minimum passing requirements you may retake the exam (see retake policy).

NCSF Examinations are scored using the scaled scoring method. The minimum required passing score is 70 which represent a conversion of the candidate’s raw score. Exam scoring can range from 0 to 100 ensuring a consistent scale across the multiple forms of the certification exam. Regardless of which exam form taken, the same level of performance is required by candidates to pass the certification examination.

NCSF Professional Practices and Disciplinary Procedures

The professional practices and disciplinary procedures of the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) are intended to assist and inform certificants, candidates for certification, and the public of the NCSF Application and Certification Standards relative to professional conduct and disciplinary procedures. The NCSF may revoke or otherwise take action with regard to the application or certification of an individual in the case of:

Code of Ethics

As an NCSF Certified Professional, you are expected to adhere to the professional standards embodied by the NCSF Code of Ethics. You should print out a copy of this for reference.

  • Ineligibility for certification
  • Irregularity in connection with any certification examination
  • Unauthorized possession, use, access or distribution of certification examinations, score reports, trademarks, logos, answer sheets, certificates, certificant or applicant files, or other confidential or proprietary NCSF documents or materials (copyrighted or otherwise)
  • Material misrepresentation or fraud in any statement to the NCSF or to the public, including but not limited to statements made to assist the applicant, certificant, or another to apply for, obtain, or retain certification
  • Any physical, mental or emotional condition of either temporary or permanent nature, including, but not limited to substance abuse, which impairs or has the potential to impair competent and objective professional performance
  • Negligent and/or intentional misconduct in professional work, including, but not limited to, physical or emotional abuse, disregard for safety, or the unauthorized release of confidential information
  • The timely conviction, plea of guilty, or plea of nolo contrende in connection with a felony or misdemeanor, which is directly related to public health and/or fitness instruction or education, which impairs competent and objective professional performance. These include, but are not limited to, rape, sexual abuse of a client, actual or threatened use of a weapon of violence, the prohibited sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, of a controlled substance
  • Failure to meet the requirements for certification or recertification

Discriminate Policy

The NCSF Board for Certification does not discriminate on basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap, sex or gender, gender identity and/or expression (including a transgender identity), sexual orientation, military or veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER CANDIDATE HANDBOOK NATIONAL COUNCIL ON STRENGTH & FITNESS 13 protected under applicable federal, state or local law. Individuals who require special accommodations may request assistance at any time by contacting the organization at 800 772 NCSF.

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