20 Things to Know About the CSCS Exam

May 24, 2023

If you're thinking about taking the CSCS Exam, or you're currently in the process of studying for it, you might have some questions about the exam including how to study and how to be successful the first time, so we've compiled a list of the Top 20 Questions we get related to the CSCS Exam in this article. 

The first question you might have is, What is the NSCA CSCS anyway?

The CSCS stands for Strength and Conditioning Specialist. The CSCS is a certification by the national strength and conditioning association that demonstrates a high level of knowledge in working with athletes. 

What is on the CSCS Exam?

the NSCA CSCS Exam is broken down into 2 sections:

  • Scientific Foundations
  • Practical Applied

Is the NSCA CSCS Exam a multiple choice?

Yes, the CSCS exam is all multiple choice questions with 3 answer choices.

What does a CSCS Exam question look like?

The questions are designed to get you thinking critically, meaning you may need to recall several concepts from the book and combine them to form the best answer. 

Here's an example of a potential CSCS Exam question you might see:

  1. When phases of training shift from general preparatory to phases of sport-related training, before the first transition, these phases, categorically, are referred to as what?
    1. Specific preparatory phase
    2. Strength phase
    3. Power phase

The answer here is #1 because although we might be programming strength & power closer to the in-season, we are categorically training specific training adaptations, so therefore, it would not be general preparedness any longer and would shift to specific preparedness. 

How to study for the CSCS Exam program design section?

Being successful on the practical applied section of the exam that includes program design comes down to establishing an eye for detail when it comes to program design decisions. We need to look at the volume, intensity, number of exercises, type of exercises, proximity to repetition max, and more. This is covered in detail in the Movement System CSCS Study Course, click here to check it out.

How to study for the CSCS Exam Exercise Technique?

You need practice seeing athletes move and spotting technique errors. This is the best way to learn to spot errors and know what you need to correct. This will take practice. 

What is the CSCS Exam pass rate?

Typically the first-time pass rate is around 56% however recently it was reported that only 40% of students passed the Practical Applied section on their first try. The CSCS exam is a very challenging exam. 

What book do you need to study for the CSCS Exam?

The Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning 4th Edition textbook

Are there prerequisites for the CSCS Exam?

Yes, you must have a bachelor's degree or higher or currently be enrolled as a senior in college at an accredited institution. You must also have a current CPR/AED certification. 

Is the CSCS the gold standard?

The NSCA CSCS is the gold standard in strength and conditioning for working with athletes. 

Is the CSCS Exam online?

The exam is online, but you have to take the exam in person at an approved testing center. 

How long is the CSCS Exam?

The exam consists of 95 questions in the first section of the exam, the scientific foundations portion, and 125 questions in the second section of the exam, the practical/applied section. 

How to study for the CSCS Exam?

You need to read the book. It might seem like it's too much, but the book covers all of the topics you will need to know for the exam. Although the book can be overwhelming, which is one of the main reasons we created The Movement System CSCS Study Course to help simplify & condense the main points from the book that you're likely to see covered on the exam. The course has a full 24 Chapters and covers everything from both sections, plus detailed explanations and practice questions. Click here to check it out. 

When is the CSCS Exam offered?

The exam is offered through a number of approved testing centers around the world. Each testing center sets the dates and times when the exam will be offered. 

How to schedule your CSCS Exam?

Once you create an account with the NSCA and register & pay to take the CSCS Exam you will be emailed an Authorization to Test email & will be prompted to choose an exam location and at that point you'll be able to see each testing center's available dates and times. 

Can you reschedule a CSCS Exam testing date?

Yes, once you schedule your exam you will have the option to reschedule your testing date, time, & location if you need to. However, the exam must be completed within 120 days of registering for the CSCS exam before you have to register & pay again. 

What are some CSCS Exam tips?

Our best advice is to read the book, study the key concepts, and practice exam questions. Practice questions give you a chance to test your knowledge of the concepts and help you narrow down sections of the exam you may need to study more. We also have a 150-question practice test you might find helpful, check it out here. 

Are all the questions on the CSCS Exam scored?

No, each section has exam questions that are scored and non-scored. The first section, Scientific Foundations, includes 80 scored questions and 15 non-scored questions. Whereas the second section, Practical/Applied has 110 scored questions and 15 non-scored questions. 

Do you get any breaks during the CSCS Exam?

Yes, you will be offered a break between the first section and the second section. Our recommendation is to take the break, go to the restroom, get something to drink, or walk around. An even better plan would be to have some food with you to help you stay energized & fresh for the second half of the exam. 

When do you get your CSCS Exam results back?

You'll get the results of the exam as soon as you finish. Once you're done with the second section of the exam, you'll notify the test proctor and he or she will usher you out of the exam room and provide you with a printed report of how you did on each section. 

Support & Courses Available

Ready for more support to help you prep for the CSCS exam? Join our Facebook Group, “Strength and Conditioning Study Group,” here. Ready for even more? Our 24-module CSCS Prep Course covers concepts from both sections of the exam, plus has chapter quizzes & practice questions to help you pass the NSCA exam; click the link here to check it out.


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