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Do This Before Taking The CSCS Exam

The CSCS Exam is way harder than it used to be. Back in 2018 when I sat for my CSCS Exam, the first-time pass rate was in the high 60% - low 70%. Today, we are in the mid-low 40%. What's changed? While the exam format remains unchanged, question difficulty has increased dramatically in my opinion. As the profession of strength & conditioning, fitness, health & wellness etc all continue to compound, there is need to ensure high caliber individuals are entering the field each year. Put yourself in the role of where you are looking to make a new hire. Do you want the individual with a certification they received over the course of a weekend, or one where it took years of education and experience to earn? I think we all lean towards the latter.

As the exam has gotten more difficult, the number of study tools and resources have grown (guilty!). I think this can result in some paralysis by analysis. In other words, with so much at our finger tips, and often a limited budget, where do you prioritize your time and money? First, you have to know the textbook, Essentials of Strength & Conditioning, 4th Ed, inside and out. That should be a given. Second, purchasing the NSCA's practice questions for the CSCS Exam. Now I know the practice questions DO NOT tell you which questions you got wrong, or any answer're only provided with your percentage score. So why do I still recommend this? To start, there are no better practice questions to learn from than the source, right? You can expect these practice questions to best replicate what you see on the real exam.

Next, I recommend you worry less about knowing the right answer to each question, and focus on studying and understanding the relevant topic presented in the question itself. You can use each question almost as a checklist of understanding. If you come across a topic, term or phrase you are unfamiliar with, it is your responsibility to do your own research to understand it. I know nothing seems affordable in today's world at the moment, and we expect a lot for what we pay, but at the end of the day you need to take ownership for what you do and do not understand. We all have the Internet at our fingertips, which eliminates any excuses.

One of my favorite phrases to use when mentoring my students is "To leave no stone left unturned". At the end of the day, you determine how ready you are to sit for the CSCS Exam.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.

With gumption,


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