Your AITP Account

Level 2/3 Diploma Practitioner in Personal Training. Student Practical Assessment Guidance.

You are a student on the Level 2/3 Personal Training Course, and you are preparing to complete your practical assessment.


The FIRST thing to get into your head is that this is NOT like a regular PT session. You’re going to do a PT session with someone, but all the time you are going to be demonstrating to an examiner who watches the video that you know what you are doing.

Think of it as putting on a show called, “Why I’m a Good Personal Trainer”.

The SECOND thing you need to do is to look at the Practical Observation form where there is a list of competencies that you’ve got to demonstrate.

It’s a formidably long list and you’ll probably want to run away and hide when you’ve read it but don’t panic! A lot of them are repetitions (because this is covering Level 2 as well as Level 3) but ALSO they all come under a few main areas.

Practical Observation Form

Now you’ve had a look at the list of competencies you’ve got to cover, let’s break it down into FOUR main areas. That way, you’ll see it’s far more manageable than you thought.


Because you are demonstrating that you are good enough to pass, you’ve got to talk, probably much more than if you were taking a regular PT session. Explain things to your client, induct them into the session, explain why you are doing a particular exercise and what it will do for them. Ask them whether it’s too easy or too hard, ask them at the end how they found it.

Tell them what you’ve planned for the session and check whether they think they’ll be able to do all the exercises or not.

During the session, or in rest breaks, chat to them about themselves, what job they do etc. Even if you know your client very well, pretend you don’t. Talk to them about what exercises they could do at home.

If you do that, it will cover nearly half of the competencies on the list.


We’ll be looking at this in detail further down, but it covers a lot of the competencies on the list


This is probably the easiest for you because that’s what you DO as a PT. But when you demonstrate, use the opportunity to tell the client the techniques to do and the things to avoid (eg. keep your back straight and draw your shoulders down – don’t hunch forward etc). And when they come to do the exercise, you can repeat these things (by TALKING!) - which will tick off a whole lot more competencies.


You’ve got to show that you can adapt your exercises to suit your client and if you’re smart, you’ll choose the right client. If for example you choose someone who is not used to exercising, then you can easily demonstrate how you can adapt exercises. Ask them to do an exercise and when they find it difficult, have an easier version up your sleeve. On the other hand, if you have an elite athlete, give them an easy exercise and when they tell you that it was easy, have a more difficult version ready.

So now let’s get down to the nitty gritty

Have a look at the practical observation form and once you have reviewed this document the following information will help to make sense of it and how to use it to properly plan and complete your practical.

This is the official version of what you have to do.

“The student is to plan a 60-minute session ensuring their session includes all the skill set elements detailed in the table. Although you are instructed to complete a 60-minute session you may go over this time frame to demonstrate all competencies”.

During your learning on the course you will have been exploring the resources available on the Student Hub. You’ll also have been practising training clients as part of your Reflective Case Study and in addition, practising your PT skills in between your taught sessions at a gym with a colleague or friend. So you will have formulated an idea about how to train clients and structure a training programme and design a session.

As we said above, the assessment guidelines may differ from how you normally run a PT session. It is important to understand that during your assessment the examiner will be looking to see whether you possess all the skills required to be a qualified personal trainer.

So whether you are training a client in the local park, home, office or a fully equipped training facility, the following assessment guidelines are to ensure you can demonstrate all those necessary skills sets.

This is the official version of what you have to do.

1. Three elements of cardiovascular training that is completed on at least two different pieces of cardiovascular equipment.

Your session plan needs to be valid, purposeful, and your design choices should be appropriate for the client you are training.

Questions to consider

  1. What exercises are you going to do?
  2. Think about timings and choice of resistance and cardiovascular elements.
  3. Do these choices appropriately match the training session aim? Think about if you are doing a power or strength session - should you do continuous training or interval? What intensity should the client be training at?
  4. Can you justify all your cardiovascular exercise choices and session designs?

Don’t forget what we said at the beginning about TALKING. Find an opportunity during rest breaks etc to tell your client what you’re doing and why. The examiner will hear this and tick off the appropriate competencies on their tick sheet.

You can plan your session for any case study you have in mind. This may not match the person you choose to train in your video evidence and therefore you will have to make some adjustments, progressions, regressions, and adaptations. And these will all go towards achieving criteria.

Remember it doesn’t matter if the session doesn’t go to plan or if the client cannot do what you initially planned for them to do. You’ll be judged on whether you can adapt and change the session design, always ensuring what you are doing is safe and effective.

For example, you might have designed the session for your friend Robert, 23, who’s very keen on football. But he’s ill, so you have to use your Dad. TALK to your Dad at the beginning and tell him what you are doing and why.

After the cardiovascular warm up and the mobility exercises, you will need to plan and consider when will the main cardio and the following cool-down cardio take place. And why.

Second Key Element of the practical assessment.

As part of the practical assessment criteria, you need to:

As an example, remember you are to complete four exercises - not necessarily on four pieces of equipment. For the free weight exercises you could choose to complete a deadlift, dumbbell bench press, squats and overhead press all using dumbbells as the resistance methods.

For the fixed resistance element, you could complete two exercises using a cable pulley system such as bicep curl and tricep pull-down and the final two exercises on two separate pieces of equipment, such as a seated leg press and leg extension.

Finally, you will have to plan and effectively schedule a cardiovascular cool down, mobility and final stretches and bring the practical session to a close.

Common themes as to why students fail the practical assessment.

Students often fail the practical assessment because they're going to be training somebody who's already experienced in the fitness world - it could be a friend or somebody else on the course.

Students failed the course because they don't give adequate demonstrations and introductions specifically for the cardiovascular equipment. They also fail for not giving adequate coaching points to the resistance equipment and not having a clear design and structure to their session.

By the end of the practical session.

After completing the course and final practical assessment, you’re learning journey has only just begun.

You are not expected to be as effective as your tutor or any other trainer / coach you are aware of. You only just completed your Level 2/3 qualification; you are only just a Level 2/3 personal trainer at the end of the course.

When reviewing and marking the practical assessment we (the assessors) need to be confident that you are a safe and effective practitioner. If you make any errors during your practical assessment depending on what specifically and how many you make you may be questioned additionally by an assessor and if you give an adequate response you could be passed.


You are scored on a scale of one to five.

You could achieve a score of one across the board, however if you do so and attain one score of five in one category, you have failed.

If you achieve fours across the board in every criteria you still pass.

The purpose behind this is to think not just about completing and “passing” a practical session for a course. Be reflective in all that you do, Consider, would you pay for the session you just delivered?

As commercial trainers we need to be positively challenging ourselves to make sure we are commercially viable not just the idea of “passing” in an assessment or qualification.

Final summary of the practical assessment

Needs of the practical assessment include:

There are example videos to watch,

If you have any questions about your assessment and/or the results of the assessment, speak to your tutor as the first point of call and if you require more assistance or clarification, you can email questions directly to a Wellbeing Fitness Education Centre representative.

Here’s the link to the Practical Observation Form again

Practical Observation Form

Good luck.