Failing My ACE Fitness Test

Well first off, it sucks ass.

Big time.

I mean, I’ve spent practically a year studying for this thing. I decided to go at my own pace so that I didn’t feel rushed. Granted, I wasn’t consistently studying every single day over that length of time, but I still studied. I felt ready. You could read a question off from the sample test or the review questions, and I’d know the correct answer most of the time.

Only, the week leading up to today was plain silly. I started to feel uncomfortable. Anxious. Nervous. On edge. My heart felt like it was pounding, and my brain felt as though it was being filled to max capacity.

People would tell me it was no big deal, that I was going to “ace” the ACE test with no problems, which only added to my crazy anxiety. What if I didn’t? What if I FAILED? What would people think about me, and my capabilities?

My husband calls this “performance anxiety”. You’d imagine something like this for an individual who has stage fright, or an anxiety dealing with people, which I have neither of those.

No, mine seems to come from left field, and pertains to tests. See, being almost mid-30’s, I’d assumed I had rid myself of those demons. Yet it was there in full force, slowly building up energy leading up to this morning, as I drove to the testing site with my heart pounding irrationally in my chest. I tried to calm my nerves, and take deep breaths, but it felt impossible while sitting in the waiting room. I felt a flush creep over my neck and face as I sat down in front of one of the testing computers.




From the get go, I found the test to be difficult and I had a hard time comprehending. I was reading the sentences but unable to put them together so they would make sense. I literally felt PANIC. I had to get up and use the restroom a few times during the test, just to close my eyes and attempt to center myself, to chill out. Reassure myself it was just a test, and there wasn’t any pressure related to it. I am sitting here while typing this, shaking my head, dumbfounded at the way I reacted today, because it just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m the girl who previously in her employment would  meet with random strangers, take their information and show them apartments as though we were long lost friends (or cordial, professional acquaintences). I was never nervous or felt out of place with someone. I never had “stage fright”. Yet this test made me downright SCARED. I was second-guessing everything.

Is that extension? Flexion? Golgi tendon? Bicep brachii?


It was as though most of it didn’t make sense to me anymore. I couldn’t even picture what the words were trying to relay to me.

I took  nearly the entire 3-hour time allotted to me, and decided it was time to submit the test for scoring. ACE gives you 150 questions, and then randomly selects 125 for scoring. The remaining 25 are used as test questions for potential future tests.

And I FAILED. Not by much. I actually did better than I thought I would, given the circumstances, but I still felt the weight and terribleness of failure.

On the drive home, I contemplated just throwing in the towel and flipping ACE the bird. I know of someone who went and got certified in barbell by attending a weekend workshop and then learned the routine choreographed by the company she went through. She did her practicals and is now instructing. Why did I have to go this route, pay more money, only to flunk the test? Do I really want to go through this hell again, which made me cry, and not because of failing. Lord knows I have failed plenty in my life. No, because of the torture I felt at being put through the testing experience. I understand that I wasn’t put under duress by anyone (and not ACE, I sought out ACE of my own free will) but the way I felt in that small room for three hours was just awful.

But then it occurred to me that I always do OK the second time around. I failed my first driving test at 16 due to this performance anxiety. I was all over the place and just a mess! I waited two years before I took the test again, and I passed with a 95% (which anyone who has seen my driving would not believe me, but it’s true). It was almost as if knowing what to expect helped to alleviate my fears, and I was able to come out more confident and in charge. I was trying so hard to find a silver lining to today, and I am still clasping onto that one as tightly as I can. I’ve now gone through this. Really, if I take away the emotional turmoil that I put onto myself, the experience wasn’t bad at all. I just go on a computer and select the correct responses. How hard can that really be?

And do I really want to just give up?  Not really. I want to just pass the damn test! And that means I need to work harder and work on overcoming my anxiety.

But not today.

Today, I’ll be at home, moping around if anyone needs me. Definitely a sundae or slice of pie kind of day.

Information about performance anxiety: read here






10 thoughts on “Failing My ACE Fitness Test”

  1. Pingback: momarock
  2. I just took mine today an failed as well. Most of my choices were guessing cause they didn’t make sense. I missed the 500 mark by 35 points. Believe me I know how ya feel. I kinda feel like giving up too but I think I’ve worked to hard to quit. It just pisses me off cause I was so close to passing

    1. I know someone who currently owns his own gym- has his degree in fitness and does personal training on top of group fitness. He failed the ACE test twice! He said he felt it was almost set up to fail you- might explain why 50% fails the first time they take the test. He ended up going to AFAA to get his group fitness. AFAA does practicals along with the test, which I think helps to make the test easier since you are seeing what you are learning. Then he went to college. No matter what you choose to do, I wish you the best of luck!

  3. Ugh, I’m heading to take this test in an hour. I am so nervous. I studied harder than I have ever studied for any test in my life! I was actually trying to find out which math equations I need to have memorized- BMI? THR? Any others?

    1. I don’t know, you are probably testing right now! I just saw this… I am going to try and attach the ACE sheet with equations. I went for my group, and we did BMI, THR, calories from fat.

  4. I took the Ace exam yesterday, and I was flabbergasted ! With the exception of the anxiety factor, I feel much like Momarock…her story above. I studied my ASS off for 3 1/2 months to prepare myself for this exam. I read the manual, completed all the Online courses and reviews, and took all the quizzes, passing each one. When I was done with that, I re-read the manual, taking notes along the way. I even took their course outlines and did a 30 page Word Document (also for studying purposes) on each part of the outline. My husband told me I was nuts; I said I was just being very anal because I did not want to fail. Well, I did….by 27 measly points. Much like Momarock, I felt defeated by the very first question. I also found the test to be way more difficult than it should have been, and also had a hard time reading the sentences and putting them together to make sense. A few times, I just sat there in utter amazement, saying “WHAT??” Other times, I was wondering if some of the topics were even actually in the course manual that I had just read…TWO TIMES!!! ! completely understand where Momarock is coming from when she said “It was as though most of it didn’t make sense to me anymore. I couldn’t even picture what the words were trying to relay to me.” I started to think I was given the wrong test, maybe the one for becoming a brain surgeon, not a fitness instructor.
    From the moment I walked into the tiny training room, with only the person who would “set the computer up for me” I wondered if all of my months of HARD studying was actually going to pay off.

    Half way through, I knew I wasn’t going to pass, and my time was already getting shorter by the second, so I ended up flying by the seat of my pants, clicking the circle that I hoped MIGHT be somewhere close to the right answer….on quite a few of them. There were words in some of those “questionable” questions and answers that NOBODY would understand, much less get right. I really felt ready for this exam, and had no initial qualms going in. I now honestly believe I was set up to fail, and the Ace program is a money grubbing operation. I paid $500 for the whole study package, and feel like the 125 “random” questions they selected were NOT randomly selected. When I submitted my exam, and the words on the screen were “we are sorry to inform you that you did pass the exam”, I wasn’t even shocked. I KNEW I wasn’t going to because of the way the exam was written. However, I CAN apply to retake the test at a reduced cost. Are you kidding me ?!? There is NO way I will give them another dime of my money to be harassed and humiliated like I was yesterday. Unlike Momarock, I flipped Ace the bird on my way home.

    I will never recommend anyone taking this course through Ace. I have heard from numerous people that AFAA is the way to go. They are less expensive, and they hold a workshop and go over the exam the day of. There wasn’t even an Ace representative anywhere in the vicinity when I took the exam.

    To sum this up in a few words, I did gain knowledge through the program, which I can use in the future, but THE EXAM WAS A JOKE !

    1. I thought it was interesting that they choose certain questions/answers from the test. As you said, “random” questions. Nearly everyone I’ve talked with, even a former boss of mine who went on to become a personal trainer and own his own gym, failed that test two times! And, he knew his stuff. Like you, he decided to go through AFAA. I ended up distancing myself from the gym scene in recent years. I’ve gone back to running and doing my own thing. I may find my way back again, and if I do, I will for sure go through AFAA. I hope the best for you, and that you do well on that AFAA exam. It sounds as though you’ve already got it down pat and will be doing what you love to do in no time!

      1. Thank you for the vote of confidence, coversaralea. I am already leading kick boxing and strength classes, and I do know my stuff, but I also wanted to have that certification under my belt. It was just very defeating to study SO hard and miss out by 27 points. I will continue on my journey to get that certification (my decision as of today, anyway, not so sure about tomorrow 🙂 with AFAA. I will think of you when I PASS that exam !!

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