Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Exam

Prepare with our CSCS Study Guide!

In order to be eligible for this certification, you must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university (or degree in Physical Therapy or Chiropractic Medicine) and certification in CPR/AED. You must also pass the Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied sections of the CSCS Exam.

If you require special testing accommodations for conditions that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can make this request in writing. You must receive approval of your accommodations before scheduling your exam.

Some available accommodations are wheelchair access, reader, recorder, extended testing time, a separate testing area, and zoom text font size. The request for additional accommodations may be made on the standard request form.

The questions of this exam are based on what cognitive levels?

The first is recall. This is the ability to remember previously learned material.

The second is application. This is the ability to use previously learned material in new ways.

The third is analysis. This is the ability to break down information to find relationships between different components.

What domains and topics are covered on this exam? How many questions are there for each domain?

The two sections covered on this exam are Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied.

Within the Scientific Foundations section, the domains are:

  • Exercise Science – 59 questions
  • Nutrition – 21 questions

Exercise Science

The topics of this domain are muscle anatomy and physiology, neuromuscular anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, bone and connective tissues, bioenergetics and metabolism, neuroendocrine physiology, cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology, physiological adaptations, anatomical, physiological, and biomechanical differences, and physiological techniques.


The topics of this domain are knowledge and factors that affect health and performance, food choices and training to maximize performance, signs, symptoms, and behaviors of eating disorders, and performance-enhancing substances and methods.

You will be allotted 1.5 hours to complete the 80 multiple-choice questions of exercise science and nutrition, as well as 15 multiple-choice questions that are not scored.

Within the Practical/Applied section, the domains are:

  • Exercise Technique – 38 questions
  • Program Design – 39 questions
  • Organization and Administration – 13 questions
  • Testing and Evaluation – 20 questions

Exercise Technique

The topics of this domain are resistance training, plyometric exercise, speed/sprint, agility, metabolic conditioning/energy systems development, flexibility exercise, and spotting procedures and techniques.

Program Design

The topics of this domain are using diverse training methods and modes, choosing exercises, principles of exercise order, exercise intensities, training volumes, work/rest, recovery & unloading, and training, exercise progression, periodization, and programs for injured athletes.

Organization and Administration

The topics of this domain are design, layout, & organization of a facility, duties & responsibilities of facility staff, policies & procedures of facility, and safe training environment in the facility.

Testing and Evaluation

The topics of this domain are tests to maximize test reliability & validity, protocols & procedures to ensure reliable data collection, and test results.

You will be allotted 2.5 hours to complete the 110 multiple-choice questions of exercise technique, program design, organization & administration, and testing & evaluation, as well as 15 multiple-choice questions that are not scored.

What is the most convenient way to register?

Apply and pay for your exam online. Once you’ve applied, you will receive an email with your customer ID. You will also be assigned a 120-day period in which you are allowed to take the exam.

Part of the registration process is to submit an affirmation document. Some of these affirmations include:

  • The acknowledgement that a revoked certification will be the result of submitting false registration data.
  • Agreeing that all NSCA written material is covered by U.S. Copyright.
  • Understanding that breaching U.S. Copyright law concerning NSCA written material will result in losing registration fees paid and/or certification revocation.
  • Subscribing to the fact that there are specific policies in place for re-certification, that must be followed by all.
  • Acknowledging that certification holders have received and comprehend all certification policies.
  • Agreeing that all NSCA policies, procedures, and codes will be adhered to.

What is the cost of taking this exam?

The cost of taking this exam as a student or professional member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association is $340. Non-members must pay $475.

What are the testing dates and locations?

Testing for this exam is offered on a continuous basis. There are many worldwide test centers and dates to choose from.

What should I do the day of the exam?

Report to the testing center on time. Arriving 15 minutes late could prevent you from being able to take the exam.

Bring a form of identification that includes your name, signature, and photo. This identification must not be expired. A government-issued driver’s license, passport, or military identification card as examples of forms of ID that are acceptable.

You are prevented from bringing personal items into the testing area, such as a cell phone, calculator, hat, backpack, paper, or pens and pencils.

Can I take a break during the exam?

Between the Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied sections of the exam, you will be given a 15-minute break. The exam clock will stop during this time. If you need to take a break outside of this scheduled break time, you are allowed to do so, but the exam clock will not stop.

What happens after I take the exam?

Within 24 hours of taking the exam, you can download your score.

What is the minimum passing rate on this exam?


What happens if I don’t pass the exam?

You may take this exam as many times as you need to pass. However, you must wait 90 days between each attempt.