I studied for probably about 25-30 hours for the 3 weeks before the test. I studied all the NSCA study materials: the book, cd's, etc. Honestly, I don't think they really helped a whole lot. The things that helped me the most:
Take your time - the test is as much about knowing how to take tests as knowing the material.
Think critically - the questions require you to think beyond just simple numbers and facts.
Take more than one practice test - this will help you a) get an idea of how the questions are worded and b) get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses.
Know how to perform lifts how they want you to know them.
Know how to determine intensity: HR, RPE, etc., especially for special populations.
I would first take a practice exam and then go from there, that way you'll get the most out of your study time. Also, try to find someone in your area that has taken the test and see if they'll lend you the study materials - you can check for certified persons at the NSCA website.
I took it October of 2005 and passed. Like the previous post, take your time. Focus on the book. I thought the test was based mainly on the text. I found the Practice DVD and both practice exams helpful. Know your muscles! Know what exercises work specific muscles. There were a few calculations on mine. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine there are many different versions out there.
Are you sure about this? I have a non-exercise-related major also. I looked on the website and it just says a BA or BS is required. It even gives a suggested study schedule for those with non-exercise-related majors taking the exam...
Definately get the Essentials book. I did get the audio tapes (they are probably CDs by now, I took the test quite a few years back). I'm not sure how much the tapes helped me on the test, but they did help me quite a bit in my training.
I took the CSCS exam 5 years ago with a BS in Communications.
I passed the written portion but failed the practical due my lack of studying one chapter of the book. I didn't study the "test order" while giving an evaluation. 40yd , Vert jump and max bp in whatever order . I knew I wouldn't be doing that kind of stuff so i foolishly ignored it and paid the price. I toatlly bombed that part and it caused me to fail the exam.
I outlined the whole book (- said chapter) and it filled up a notebook. Do the same and you'll be ok.