ACE Exam Content Outline

150 Multiple Choice Questions

There are 150 multiple choice questions on your final exam, only 125 questions are marked. The other 25 questions are mock questions in review which may appear on future exams. Do not let this concern you - what it can tell you though is that you may not know everything on your exam, and that is ok. While your exam consists of a 150 questions it is worth 800 points, so some questions will be worth more points than others. You have a maximum of 3 hours to write your exam, you may apply for an additional hour if english is not your first language and/or you have a documented learning disability. YOU MUST APPLY FOR THIS WHEN PURCHASING YOUR EXAM - NOT AFTER! Allocate your time accordingly and do not spent too much time on questions you do not know - you may flag the question and review again at any time.

Your exam is broken into 4 domains

Most of the information required to pass will be found in your ACE Personal Trainers Manual, however some foundational anatomy and physiology basics will be necessary from ACE's Exercise Science Manual. Below is a list of the 4 domains in your final ACE Personal Trainers exam and their relative weight to your final mark. 

Domain I:;
Client Interview and Assessment


Domain II:
Program Design & Implementation


Domain III:
Program Progression & Modification


Domain IV:
Conduct, Safety & Risk Management


Domain I: Client Interview & Assessment - 31%

The first domain is incredibly important since it makes up 31% of your score for your ACE Personal Trainers certificate. As the name states this domain is all about the initial interview process and assessments personal trainers can use.

Relative Chapters in your ACE Personal Trainers Manual 5th Ed. include:

Chapters 2, 3 & 4 are all about psychology and behavior change and an understanding of this is crucial for personal trainers if you are to help motivate clients towards change. Think of these chapters as honing your leadership skills.

Chapter 5 is going to be an all around important chapter for 3 of the 4 domains. ACE''s Integrated Fitness Model provides a great means for initially identifying whether a client is poor functioning or poor health, or ready for fitness, or ready for high performance. The model also helps trainers understand that resistance training and cardiovascular training require different evaluation and while one component may excel the other may not.

Chapters 6, 7, & 8 include many different types of tests and assessments that a trainer could use to evaluate their client. Such as necessary training forms, assessment of risks, diseases, and or other contraindications. Also included are body measurements & fitness testing (of which the list is quite big).

Chapter 14 is pretty important as it details all the higher risk populations personal trainers could work with. Since North America is littered with high risk populations it has become ever more important that personal trainers understand how these various conditions affect the body.

Domain II: Program Design & Implementation - 33%

Personal trainers must understand how to design programs for clients of all different abilities, including what ACE calls Special Populations (Chapter 14), or high risk clientele. Trainers must know how to properly assess a client and then design and implement a program for both cardiovascular and resistance training programs. From understanding basic principles of training, proper percentages of 1RM, heart rate calculations, and much more. Not only is this an extremely important aspect to your final exam but it is also crucial for your career. Initial job interviews will often test your program design skills, and your clientele will require programs both when they see you but also when they may be exercising on their own. Domain III is also inclusive of program design so I will include relative chapters there.

Domain III: Program Progression & Modifications - 19%

Personal trainers not only have to create programs for their clients but they have to create new programs when the client has adapted. This is called  program progression & modifications.

Imagine the scenario:

You are applying for a job as a personal trainer at a new personal training studio and as part of your interview process they ask you to develop a program for a mock client. You are given one week to design the program. The program is to include a detailed breakdown of each week for the next three months.


Your client is a 35 year old female who is relatively fit. She would like to train for a half marathon that is in 5 months, she would also like to increase her muscle mass for the entire body. She is willing to workout in the gym 3 times per week for up to 60 minutes and run everyday for whatever is required for her race. She currently runs everyday except weekends around her neighborhood for 30 minutes and works out in the gym 3 times per week. Recently she has noticed a little bit of pain over the knee while running, usually towards the end of the run. She stretches after her gym workouts but often forgets to after the running.

Design a program that will allow her to run the half marathon by the end of the year but also focus on increasing lean muscle mass for the entire body. The program must pay attention to her knee pain and show an understanding of proper exercise modifications and proper program design skills.

Relative Chapters in your ACE Personal Trainers Manual include:

Chapter 5: The Integrated Fitness Model

Chapter 9: Functional Programming for Stability-Mobility and Movement

Chapter 10: Resistance Training: Programs and Progressions

Chapter 11: Cardiorespiratory Training: Programs and Progressions

Chapter 14: Exercise and Special Populations

Chapter 15: Common Musculoskeletal Injuries and Implications to Exercise

Domain IV: Professional Conduct, Safety, & Risk Management - 17%

This domain is all about what you are allowed to do as a personal trainer and what you are not allowed to do. It includes legal aspects to personal training.

It also includes a basic understanding of business principles. They might ask you the difference between a C Corporation and an S Corporation, but more likely to ask the difference between a sole proprietor and a corporation or the employee model versus the independent contractor model.

Also you are required to have your First Aid, CPR, and AED prior to registering for your exam so you may just be quizzed on emergency procedures.

Relative Chapters in your ACE Personal Trainers Manual include:

Chapter 1: Role and Scope of Practice for the Personal Trainer

Chapter 16: Emergency Procedures

Chapter 17: Legal Guidelines and Professional Responsibilities

Chapter 18: Personal Trainer Business Fundamentals

Be sure to check out this pdf version of ACE's Exam Content Outline which is also in the appendix of your ACE Personal Trainer's Manual.

Last modified: Monday, 25 February 2019, 3:07 PM