CSCS Practice Exam Questions

The CSCS exam, formally known as the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist examination, is a challenging and comprehensive assessment for men and women looking to enter this rewarding and rapidly growing field of health care. In order to take this exam, candidates must have either a bachelor's degree or a chiropractic medicine degree from an accredited school. In some cases, college seniors are allowed to take the exam.

The CSCS examination is developed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association in consultation with an expert team of test administrators. It has two sections: Scientific Foundations and Practical/Applied.

The Scientific Foundations section takes one-and-a-half hours to complete and consists of 90 multiple-choice questions on two subjects: exercise science (57 questions, 71 percent of the exam section) and nutrition (23 questions, 29 percent). The questions on exercise science relate to anatomy, bioenergetics, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and acute and chronic adaptations to anaerobic and aerobic exercise. The other questions cover nutritional factors that affect health and sports performance.

This section of the exam also includes 10 unscored questions on these subjects. These questions do not contribute to the candidate's final score but are included to help develop future versions of the exam.

The Practical/Applied section of the CSCS exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, a third of which relate to a video depicting exercise techniques, functional anatomy, and testing procedures. This section also includes unscored questions used to develop future versions of the exam (20 of them). The Practical/Applied section of the CSCS exam takes about two-and-a-half hours to complete.

Topics include exercise technique (39 questions, 36 percent of the exam section); program design (40 questions, 36 percent); organization and administration (11 questions, 10 percent); and testing and evaluation (20 questions, 18 percent). In this section, exercise technique questions relate to flexibility, conditioning, plyometric, and resistance training. The program design questions ask about the development of anaerobic and aerobic training programs based on sport, strength, conditioning level, and training goals. The CSCS section on organization and administration questions relate to the policies and procedures, staffing, layout, and safety guidelines of a strength-and-conditioning facility. Testing and evaluation questions relate to the proper selection, administration, and evaluation of results based on the subject's sport, strength, conditioning level, and training goals.

For those who take the computer version of the CSCS exam, scores are available immediately at the testing center after completion of the examination.

Practice Questions

1. In a muscle, what is the outer connective tissue layer called?

a. Epimysium
b. Perimysium
c. Sarcolemma
d. Endomysium

2. According to the sliding-filament theory, which of the following does NOT occur during contraction of a muscle?

a. Release by the sarcoplasmic reticulum of calcium ions
b. Elongation of the I-bands and H-zone
c. Cross-bridging of actin and myosin
d. Myosin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) hydrolysis of ATP to ADP and phosphate

3. What is the major function of a Golgi tendon organ?

a. Increasing force production
b. Preloading
c. Activation of a pathway via the spinal cord that causes muscle contraction in response to muscle stretching
d. Activation of an inhibitory pathway via the spinal cord that reduces tension in the muscle and tendon

4. Which of the following is NOT an acute cardiovascular response to aerobic exercise?

a. Increased cardiac output
b. Increased venous return
c. Significantly lower heart rate
d. Increased oxygen uptake
5. Where in the respiratory system does the diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules occur?
a. Trachea
b. Bronchioles
c. Alveoli
d. Anatomical dead space

5. Where in the respiratory system does the diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules occur?

a. Trachea
b. Bronchioles
c. Alveoli
d. Anatomical dead space

Answers

1. A: The outer connective tissue layer of a muscle, which leads to the tendon, is the epimysium. The perimysium (B) is the connective tissue surrounding a bundle of muscle fibers, which are called fasciculi. The endomysium (D) is the connective tissue surrounding individual muscle fibers, which is bounded by and continuous with the sarcolemma (C).

2. B: During contraction, the I-bands and H-zone are shortened, not elongated, making B the correct answer. All the other actions do occur during either the excitation-contraction coupling phase (A and C) or the actual contraction phase (D).

3. D: Golgi tendon organs (GTOs) are proprioceptors, or specialized sensory receptors, which in this case are situated in tendons near their junction with muscles; if a tendon is stretched, GTOs are stimulated and connected sensory neurons lead to inhibitory interneurons in the spinal cord, which in turn lead to motor neurons back to the tendon and attached muscle, reducing tension. Response C refers to the action of proprioceptors in muscle spindles, which follow a similar type of neural pathway to cause contraction if the muscle is stretched. Preloading (B) is one way of increasing force production (A), but neither is directly related to GTOs.

4. C: Generally a person’s heart rate increases, not decreases, during aerobic exercise; the exception would be in a person who has done aerobic endurance training during submaximal work. The other parameters all increase during aerobic exercise.

5. C: Alveoli, which are the small terminal pockets within the lungs, are where diffusion (exchange) of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs due to differences in pressure and concentration in each of these molecules within and outside the structure. Gas diffusion does not occur higher up in the respiratory system, which includes the first-generation passage called the trachea (A) and the second-generation passages called the bronchioles (B). Anatomical dead space (D) is a term that refers to these larger passages, whereas physiological dead space denotes alveoli that cannot perform proper gas exchange due to factors such as poor blood flow.

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Last Updated: 07/28/2014

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