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Evan Hobbs 04-02-2009 03:46 PM

Anyone taken the ACSM - HFS certification test?
I'm trying to figure out my plan of study for the HFS test and I must say they are remarkably unforthcoming about where the information on the test will actually come from... Probably because they want you to get confused and buy all of their different books.

Has anyone taken the HFS test and can speak to how they went about studying and what they used?

I have 'ACSM's Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription' but I suspect that a lot of this won't actually be on the test...

Scott Dyck 04-06-2009 05:54 AM

Re: Anyone taken the ACSM - HFS certification test?
I was just talking to someone about this yesterday.
I haven't taken the ACSM exam, but I have looked into it.
This is my understanding of it, and if I'm wrong I'm sure someone will correct me post-haste:
Since there is no national licensure for fitness professionals, the IHRSA recommends that their member clubs/organizations (which are plentiful) accept certifications that have third-party accreditation. Right now, really the only game in town is NOCA and their accreditation agency the NCCA. Part of the requirement for certifying agencies (like ACSM) to be accredited by the NCCA is that they cannot require any specific education to sit for the exam. I think the HFS cert has a pre-requisite of at least an associates degree in a health-related field, and that education should cover the contents of the exam. But they can't REQUIRE that you buy or study any specific text, hence the ambiguity and huge recommended reading list. And of course they want to sell as many books as possible.

Evan Hobbs 04-06-2009 01:22 PM

Re: Anyone taken the ACSM - HFS certification test?
Interesting... Thanks.

My degree was non-health related but I took all the premed classes so it's as if I have a health degree. I was just going to wing it and hope they didn't check up on me (they only check 25% of test passers) but now I'm leaning towards CSCS instead just to not take the chance...

Duane Bennett 04-07-2009 08:13 AM

Re: Anyone taken the ACSM - HFS certification test?
It's been a long time since I took the HFI and CSCS, so take my advice with that in mind.

The ACSM study kit is $125 and the metabolic calculations book is $31. The calculations book is optional but if you work through the problems you basically get a few automatic points because the calcs are very easy once practiced. This should give you all the info you would need and isn't a bad price for certification material. If you are going to take the exam you should error on the side of getting more material than necessary just so you don't have to take it again. It may seem like a chunk of money initially, but it is ultimately cheaper than retaking an exam.

For the CSCS you really only need the "Essentials" text ($80). A practice test is helpful, but not necessary.

Consider your interests and desires. If you hope to work with Crossfit athletes or or are more interested in strength training I would definitely go for the CSCS. ACSM may have changed, but they used to be focused almost solely on cardio topics and more for the general public.

Dan Crawley 04-07-2009 10:36 AM

Re: Anyone taken the ACSM - HFS certification test?
Both the ACSM and NSCA have "Certified Personal Trainer" exams that are open exams, the CSCS and Hi-Fi both require degees. Not only does the CSCS require a health related degree, but you will not be able to receive your results until you provide them with a copy of your transcripts. If your degree is not in a health field but you feel you have the course work to qualify you can apply for an exemption. As for the ACSM only checking 25% of exam takers, I was under the impression that that was an audit of continuing ed credits (as the NSCA does it), and not a random check to be certain you have a degree, although you may very well be right. I have a trainer that works for me that is ACSM certified and she had to provide transcripts before taking the exam, although that was more than 10 years ago- it certainly could be different now.

Stephen Mannino 04-07-2009 06:45 PM

Re: Anyone taken the ACSM - HFS certification test?
I am both CSCS and HFS (it was HFI back when I took it). I thought the ACSM HFI was more difficult than the NSCA CSCS exam. As far as studying for the CSCS, I used the Essentials of Strength and Conditioning text and hands on experience.

For the ACSM HFI I took a course in grad school that somewhat prepared me for the test. I also used a text entitled the Health Fitness Instructors Handbook (I think) as well as the ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Also, be sure to practice hands-on testing. You will have to take heart rate, blood pressure, skin caliper measurements, etc. You do this on human subjects usually undergrad or graduate volunteers.

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