Categories of The CSCS Test

  • November 5, 2014
  • / By Tom

There are two main categories to the NSCA”s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist examination. The two categories are Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied. The questions are presented in multiple-choice format.

The fact that there are 2 different categories is important, because they are presented as almost separate tests, though taken back-to-back, and you must pass both sections to receive the CSCS designation. The 2 categories of  the CSCS test are:

  • Scientific Foundations – This consists of 95 questions, of which only 80 are scored. You are allotted 1.5 hours to finish this section of the exam. The subcategories of this section include Exercise Science and Nutrition. This also includes things like anatomy, physiology, and basically everything you would need to know about an athlete’s bodily structure and function.
  • Practical/Applied – This consists of 125 questions, of which 110 are scored. You have 2.5 hours to complete this portion of the test. The subcategories of this section include Exercise Technique, Program Design, Organization and Administration, and Testing and Evaluation. Some of the questions for this category include video to help better demonstrate examples. This is the “fun” section for coaches or trainers with an athletic or training background. You will get into the nitty gritty details of how to plan and evaluate programs.

What is the purpose of non-scored questions? They are effectively practice questions that may be used on future versions of the examination. These questions are mixed in with the scored question, with the only difference being that they have zero impact on your final score.

Again, you have to receive a passing score on both categories of the CSCS test in order to became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, as well as completing your other prerequisite requirements. For more detail information on the categories and questions, including a Detailed Content Outline, you can download the NSCA’s Exam Candidate Handbook Manual or check out this guide to the CSCS Certification exam.


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