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ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-CEP) Practice Exam

ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-CEP)

About ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-CEP)

ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification has the most rigorous educational and practical experience standards in the health and fitness industry. ACSM-CEPs utilize prescribed exercise, basic health behavior interventions and promote physical activity for individuals with chronic diseases or conditions; examples include, but are not limited to, individuals with cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, orthopedic, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, neoplastic, immunologic and hematologic diseases. This provides primary and secondary prevention strategies designed to improve, maintain or attenuate declines in fitness and health in populations ranging from children to older adults.


Prerequisite for the exam

This is designed for allied health professional with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in exercise science or equivalent and 1,200 hours of clinical hands-on experience or a master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology and 600 hours of hands-on clinical experience.


Course structure

1. Domain I: Patient Assessment

Assess a patient’s medical record for information related to their visit.

Interview patient regarding medical history for their visit and reconcile medications.

Obtain and assess resting biometric data (e.g., height, weight, ECG, arterial oxygen saturation, blood glucose, body composition, spirometry).

Determine a sufficient level of monitoring/supervision based on a preparticipation health screening.

Assess patient goals, needs and objectives based on health and exercise history, motivation level and physical activity readiness.

2. Domain II: Exercise Testing

Select, administer and interpret submaximal aerobic exercise tests (e.g., treadmill, step test, 6-minute walk).

Select, administer and interpret tests to assess musculoskeletal fitness, mobility and balance.

Select, prepare and administer maximal, symptom-limited exercise tests.

Evaluate and report results from a symptom-limited maximal exercise test to medical providers and in the medical record as required.

Identify relative and absolute contraindications for test termination and report to medical personnel as needed.

3. Domain III: Exercise Prescription

Develop individualized exercise prescription to support patient needs and goals for various exercise environments (e.g., home/community based, facility based, virtual).

Communicate the exercise prescription, including the use of exercise equipment,and the importance of promptly reporting any adverse reactions or symptoms.

Explain and confirm patient understanding of exercise intensity and measures to assess exercise intensity (e.g., target heart rate, RPE, signs/symptoms, talk test).

Evaluate and modify the exercise prescription based on the patient’s compliance, signs/symptoms and physiologic response to the exercise program, as needed.

4. Domain IV: Exercise Training and Leadership

Discuss and explain exercise training plan, patient and clinician expectations and goals. 

Identify, adapt and instruct in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, coordination and agility exercise modes.

As indicated, provide patient monitoring (e.g., pulse oximetry, biometric data) and supervision during exercise.

Evaluate the patient’s contraindications to exercise training and associated risk/benefit and modify the exercise/activity program accordingly. 

Evaluate, document and report patient’s clinical status and response to exercise training in the medical records. 

Discuss clinical status and response to exercise training with patients and adapt and/or modify the exercise program, as indicated.

5. Domain V: Education and Behavior Change

Continually evaluate patients using observation, interaction and industry-accepted tools, to identify those who may benefit from counseling or other mental health services using industry-accepted screening tools.

Assess patient’s understanding of their disease and/or disability and conduct education to teach the role of lifestyle in the prevention, management, and treatment of the disease.

Apply health behavior change techniques (e.g., Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy [CBT], Health Coaching) based upon assessment of readiness to change according to Transtheoretical Model (TTM).

Promote adherence to healthy behaviors through a patient centered approach 

6. Domain VI: Legal and Professional Responsibilities

Evaluate the exercise environment and perform regular inspections of any emergency equipment and practice emergency procedures (e.g., crash cart, activation of emergency procedures) per industry and regulatory standards and facility guidelines.

Follow industry-accepted scopes of practice, ethical, legal (e.g., data privacy, informed consent), and business standards.


Exam Pattern 

  • Exam Name: ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist® 
  • Exam Code: ACSM-CEP
  • Number of items: 125
  • Time Duration: 225 minutes
  • Exam Cost: ACSM Member Candidate: $279

                     ACSM Non-Member Candidate: $349

                     Re-Test: $175


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