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Examination Processes and Procedures

Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Exam Format

The IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Exam is designed to assess the readiness of candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities in order for candidates to train future clients safely and effectively. The exam is paper based and candidates are given 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the exam. The exam consists of 105 questions; with 100 scored and 5 experimental questions. The 5 experimental questions are not included in the candidate’s score. They are spread throughout the exam and are used for statistical purposes only. An 80% is required to pass the exam.

The IFPA conducted a Job Analysis Survey that identified the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) necessary for the entry level Personal Trainer. The information obtained from the Job Analysis Survey formed the blueprint for the content of the Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Exam. The Job Analysis Survey (JAS) determines the seven (7) domains that are the categories for the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that were determined to be essential for the personal trainer (the 7 domains are listed in the charts below). The JAS also determined the importance frequency of the KSA and therefore, what percentage of questions should come from each domain.

Administering the Exam

The IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Exam, is a closed book, proctored exam. The exam must be taken at a designated IFPA Approved Testing Site.

Exams are administered by proctors trained by the IFPA Certification Commission. Be sure to bring proof of payment. A valid ID with your name, signature and photograph is required. Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment for check-in procedures. If you arrive later, you may not be admitted, and your test fee will be forfeited. No cell phones, smart phones, PDAs and other electronic, listening, recording and photographic devices are permitted. No study materials of any kind will be permitted with you during the examination.

Exam must be taken within six months of registering for the certification exam. All correspondence regarding proctors and proctored exams will be conducted via e-mail or fax.  Any additional questions can be sent to


Do not set up your proctored exam if you are not ready to test. Sign up for testing if you are ready to test within 2-3 weeks. Proctors are not permitted to hold IFPA Exams.

You must submit proper paperwork to sign up for a proctored exam 2 weeks prior to testing.

Some testing locations may require a proctoring fee to be paid at the time of testing directly to the proctor by the candidate.  Candidates will be notified prior to taking test with confirmation of test location, date and time.  If this occurs submit receipt of payment to the IFPA for a credit of the amount to be made to your IFPA account.

Please allow 10-14 business days for receipt and processing of exam.

What to Bring to Your Examination

  1. Plan to arrive at the certification site 20 minutes early. Be sure to bring a photo ID and pen/pencil. All students must provide proof of payment and have a valid photo ID to gain admittance to the certification examination.
  1. No visitors are allowed in the exam room at any time.
  1. Candidates may not bring any other personal items (other than those listed in (1)) into the exam room. This includes, but is not limited to: books, book bags, briefcases, papers of any kind, cell phones, coats, electronic devices (including calculators), pagers, purses, phones, etc.
  1. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Any inappropriate behavior will be cause for immediate removal.
  1. All candidates are required to conduct themselves with the highest level of ethics and professionalism. Cheating will not be tolerated.  The IFPA Certification Commission will fully investigate any and all allegations of cheating.
  1. All candidates are required to maintain the integrity of the IFPA Examination Process. Copying, memorizing, discussing, or in any way attempting to steal questions from the IFPA Exam is an ethical violation and a violation of International Copyright Laws.  The IFPA Certification Commission (IFPA-CC) goes to great lengths to develop IFPA-CC Exams.  Any attempt to steal questions from the exam will be thoroughly investigated by the IFPA-CC and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
  1. Once the exam begins, a candidate is not permitted to talk or look at any other person or their exam. A candidate must not question the proctor.  The proctor is responsible for administering the exam and guaranteeing the integrity of the IFPA Certification Commission Exam process by ensuring that there will be no cheating.  The proctor is not permitted to answer any questions once the exam has begun.
  1. The candidate is advised to listen carefully and follow all the instructions given to him or her by the proctor. The candidate should read all the directions in the test booklet thoroughly.
  1. If a candidate believes that a test question (or questions) was misleading, confusing, or inaccurate in any way, he or she may request an “IFPA Certification Commission Exam Discrepancy Form” after the exam time expires. The candidate is advised to list the nature of the discrepancy using as much detail as possible.  The Exam Committee reviews each and every comment, and where necessary, appropriate action will be taken.  Individual responses will not be provided to the candidate.  A candidate’s decision to submit a discrepancy form will not affect his or her exam score.
  2. A candidate must ask for permission to leave the exam area during the exam. The candidate will be allowed seven minutes to return to the exam, during which time the candidate is not permitted to discuss the exam with any other party.  Delays beyond the time limit may preclude a  candidate’s re-admission to the exam.  The candidate will NOT be granted additional time to make up for his or her absence.

Notification of Results

Each candidate is sent a results letter that includes the percentage scored on the exam. Candidates may also request a breakdown of subject areas missed on the exam in order to better understand their strengths and weaknesses in the topics assessed. Complete processing of certification exams and notification of results may take six weeks from the date the IFPA receives the examination(s). Individuals who achieve passing scores will receive their certificates and wallet cards when they are notified of their results.

Rush Processing is available upon request for a fee of $25. With the Rush Processing option, results will be faxed or e-mailed to the candidate within three business days of the IFPA receiving the exam. This option must be selected before the candidate’s examination is received for grading. Results will then be mailed (along with a certificate and wallet card, if applicable) within two weeks.

Scores are only official once assigned at the IFPA headquarters. Proctors are not allowed to review candidates’ examinations on site.

Exam Appeals

  1. Rescoring

Exams are graded at IFPA headquarters. For security reasons, candidates will not be able to review their exam or obtain information on particular test questions. Feedback is welcomed so that the IFPA can review current test items; however, in order to protect the integrity of the exam, no responses will be given to feedback. Quality control measures are in place to monitor the reliability and validity of test scoring. Any candidate who feels that there was an error in test grading and wants his/her exam rescored must submit a written request with reasoning and $10 to:

IFPA Appeals

14509 University Point Place

Tampa, FL 33613

It is likely that the score will not change. Tests will be regraded one time only no later than 60 days after receipt of original exam.

  1. If there are any deviations from standard testing policies or improper behavior by a proctor or anyone or anything at your examination site, notify the IFPA Appeals Department in writing. Include an explanation of the incident and how it negatively impacted your performance (example: air conditioning/heating failed or was inappropriate). The IFPA will need verification of the event to render a decision. Notification must be made within thirty (30) days of testing to:

IFPA Appeals

14509 University Point Place

Tampa, FL 33613

Transfer Policy

You may transfer certification registration to another individual. Verification of payment, a written letter stating who the program was originally sold to, who it will be transferred to and a $50 transfer fee is required. The new candidate must meet eligibility requirements and submit registration form.

Rescheduling the Certification Examination

Any individual who wishes to reschedule his or her certification examination (this includes re-takes) to a different date or location may do so for a rescheduling fee two (2) weeks prior to their exam certification date. (Contact the IFPA for current charges.) The IFPA Policy on retaking examinations is subject to change at the discretion of the IFPA.

Extension Fees

Candidates are allowed to reschedule exam dates; however, the exam must be completed within 6 months of registration. After 1 year the candidate will need to pay the full registration fee to take the exam. Three- or six-month extensions are available for a fee. Contact the IFPA for current prices.

No Show Candidates

Any candidate that wishes to reschedule to a different exam date should do so at least two (2) weeks prior to their original exam date. If the candidate does not reschedule two weeks in advance and does not attend their scheduled exam, the candidate will fall under the classification of “No Show” and your test fee will be forfeited.


Individuals who do not receive a minimum score of 80% on the exam will be notified in writing. If a retest voucher was purchased along with a study program, an email notification will be sent informing the candidate a voucher has been added to their account.

If a retest voucher was not purchased along with a study program, candidates may retake the exam for a fee of $99, for a period of 6 months from the date of candidate’s test results.

Candidates who do not pass the certification exam on the first attempt will be allowed to retake the exam after a 10-day waiting period. If the candidate is unsuccessful after the second attempt, he/she will be required to wait 30 days before retaking the exam. If the candidate is unsuccessful after the third attempt, he/she will be required to wait 3 months before retaking the exam. For each repeated failure after the 4th attempt, candidates will be required to wait 1 year before attempting to take the exam again.

IFPA Fitness Career Advisers can provide candidates with study and exam preparation suggestions before they retest. Although exams scores and answers cannot be discussed over the telephone, candidates may request a breakdown of the subject areas that they missed so that they may better focus their study efforts. Candidates should contact their IFPA representative at 1-800-785-1924 if they have any questions.

Verification of Certification Status

The only information the IFPA is allowed to share with the public in the event that someone specifically enquires about your Certification Status is limited. Enquiries can be made by phone to the IFPA Corporate Headquarters by phone: (813) 979-1925, email:, or mail IFPA 14509 University Point Place, Tampa, FL 33613.

Enquires will ONLY be told your current IFPA Certification Status: (1) Currently Certified; (2) Not Currently Certified; (3) Never Certified. All other information is confidential and will not be shared.

*Note: When you pass the IFPA-CPFT Exam, you will be IFPA Certified for 2 years. Prior to your two year anniversary deadline, you must complete a minimum of 12 CEUS to re-certify for one (1) year or 24 CEUs to re-certify for two more years. The same process must be followed before your certification expires to remain current and a Certified PFT in “Good Standing.” Any enquiries of your Certification will be informed of your current status.

Inappropriate Usage of IFPA-CPFT Designation

The IFPA provides a Certification Certificate only to those who pass The IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Exam. When the IFPA receives an enquiry as to the credentials of someone claiming to be IFPA Certified, or if there is any other reason to suspect that the IFPA-CPFT credential is being used inappropriately, IFPA personnel are authorized to confirm if the person in question is currently Certified or not.

If the person in question is not IFPA Certified, the IFPA will gather as much information on the person and the false claims they are making as possible. The person will be contacted by email, mail or phone to cease and desist their fraudulent claims immediately and that they are currently under investigation for making false claims, illegal use of the IFPA Name, Logo and other IFPA Property. This property is Federally Protected under International Copyright and Trademark Law.

If the individual does not respond to our enquiry, ensuring us they have immediately removed the infringing material from IFPA Designation of being a Personal Fitness Trainer, the IFPA will move forward and take legal action against the individual.