CSCS Practice Exam – Volume 1

Posted by on Jan 6, 2013 in Exam Preparation, Practice Exams | 0 comments

In a previous post, I outlined the percentage breakdown of topics that the CSCS Exam covers.  This should give you a good idea where you need to be knowledgeable.

But what if you are already somewhat knowledgeable?

That’s where practice exams come in.

CSCS Practice Exam Volume 1

CSCS Practice Exam Volume 1

The practice exams are sold through the NSCA website here for a member-only price of $75.60, non-member price of $184.50.  (Read more about NSCA membership here).  This is a pretty steep price for non-members, and it’s clear they are making a good deal of money for a few booklets and a DVD.  I bought these after I bought the book because after a few chapters of the book I knew it wouldn’t be enough.

Although I was skeptical at first, after completing Volume 1 it’s clear this purchase was a good one.  The booklets are very well organized, and have clear & concise directions (with a flow chart) that you should read & follow closely.  The practice exam consists of two parts, including a section where you watch the portions of the DVD that correspond to questions in the test.  Nothing extraordinary about this portion, just your standard multiple choice questions plus video.

The real value comes from the self-scoring reference sheets.  After completing the test, you copy your answers into the self-scoring reference sheet to determine your score, and are given a specific chapter, page, column, and paragraph to review and study.

Before I share my results, let’s share a little bit of my testing strategy.  I consider myself a pretty good test-taker, and multiple choice especially so.  These might seem rather obvious, but my general strategy is as follows:

  • Read the question thoroughly, sometimes twice or three times
  • Check the answers to see if anything pops out at me
    • If one does, confirm this choice by eliminating the others as possible answers
    • If one does not, eliminate choices until I have to make a guess between two
  • Make a final selection
    • If not, and I feel confident in my answer, mark it and move on

Marking that I guessed is extremely important for a few reasons in any test, but for a practice test it is especially so.  I don’t want correctly guessed answers to make me think I know a topic when I really don’t.  I will demonstrate this below.

Furthermore, on an actual test I can go back and double check these answers.  Sometimes the answer to a question is revealed in the text of following questions, either by implying information or confirming that certain facts are true.

Now, let’s see how I did on my first practice exam.  Remember, this list is ordered by total exam content per this post, not sequentially.

  1. Exercise Science – 14/20 – PASSING
  2. Program Design  – 7/13 – FAILING
  3. Organization and Administration  – 2/4 – FAILING
  4. Exercise Technique – 7/13 – FAILING
  5. Nutrition  – 3/7 – FAILING
  6. Testing and Evaluation  – 5/7 – PASSING

By the looks of it, I’m not terribly far off with 38/64 or 59%.  I actually passed two sections, and for someone who had a completely unrelated major in college and has only read/skimmed 2 chapters of the book…I’d say that’s pretty good.  But the raw score is deceiving…let’s add in my guesses.

  1. Exercise Science – 14/20 – Guessed 12 (6 correctly)
  2. Program Design  – 7/13 – Guessed 3 (1 correctly)
  3. Organization and Administration  – 2/4 – Guessed 1 incorrectly
  4. Exercise Technique – 7/13 – Guessed 1 correctly
  5. Nutrition  – 3/7 – Guessed 3 (1 correctly)
  6. Testing and Evaluation  – 5/7 – Guessed 4 (2 correctly)

I guessed a total of 24 times, 11 times for almost a 50% correct guess rate.  If we deduct all my correct guesses and chalk those up to me just having a good test taking strategy, my actual knowledge coverage for this exam is more like (38 – 11)/64 = 42%.  About a third as good as 59%, so you can see that a good guessing strategy can make a huge difference, but can also artificially inflate your numbers when you are taking practice exams.

Next step for me is using the booklet’s self-evaluation section to guide my next study topics.

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