Are you a dietetic intern or #RD2be?! This post is for you! I’m sharing all of the tips, tricks and tools for how to prepare for the RD exam (and PASS)!
In case you couldn’t hear me screaming from the rooftop, I officially became a Registered Dietitian about a month ago! After yearsssss of hard work, classes, a year-long clinical dietetic internship, sweat, blood and tears ((or OK, no blood, but sorry, some sweat and tears)), I PASSED my exam!!!
So what did I do to prepare for my exam? What was the experience like? Read on, my friends, read on…
How to Prepare for the RD Exam
Before I tell you exactly what I did to pass my RD exam, I’m going to say this is what worked for ME. I consider myself a professional student, as I’ve been in school for-evvvvv-errrrr, so by now, I know how to make information stick in my brain. But if this doesn’t sound AT ALL like how you usually study (and I know you’ve studied A LOT if you’re now studying for your RD exam), then trust YOUR gut!
OK….So after I completed my 13-month long dietetic internship, which was very clinically-focused, I went straight on vacation to forget about everything for a week! So when S and I returned from Portugal I was ready to hunker down and study. Since I’m finishing up my last two classes for my masters degree I wanted to take my test ASAP so it didn’t interfere with school.
The exam contains a lot of material, but most of it will not (or shouldn’t be) new. You will have 2 ½ hours to complete 125 to 145 questions. The test is computerized and adapts based on how many questions you answer correctly and what questions you answer correctly (or incorrectly). If you’re on the borderline of passing, you will have up to 145 questions. Twenty-five questions are experimental (as in they do not count towards your score). You can read more about the test on the CDR website.
Now let’s study…
- Choose your materials.
Before studying, I was told Jean Inman’s review materials (<– not an affiliate link) are the gold standard of what to use to study for the test. Although they are pricey, I 100% believe it was worth the investment. I easily could have split the cost and shared the materials with a co-intern, but I didn’t want to have to rely on anyone else while studying (#controlfreak…I know!!).
- Make a plan and write it down!
I gave myself about 3 weeks to study, but kept in mind that we had destination weddings for the first two weekends, so I wouldn’t be getting much studying done on the weekends. I printed out a blank calendar and made a rough outline with assignments and what I wanted to get done by when for the next three weeks (see photo above). I decided that wanted to review all of the material at least twice and complete all of the review questions provided (that’s over 1,000 questions).
- Get started.
First, I reviewed the material by listening to Inman’s CDs and followed along with the written outline. I paused the CD every time she said “note” and highlighted that information because I knew it would be especially important. At the end of each topic within the domain, I went back and wrote down every “note” on a separate piece of paper. I read through these a bunch of times before the exam…and prayed to the nutrition gods a little too 😉
- Practice, practice, practice!
When I finished each domain, I did at least 50-100 review questions. Immediately after doing 50 questions I reviewed Every. Single. Question.
Even Especially the ones I got correct. With each question, I suggest…
- Make sure you know why you got it correct or incorrect.
- Understand why the other answer choices are incorrect.
- Write down any facts you need to memorize on a separate sheet of paper.
- Reinforcement is KEY!!
When I need to memorize things (formulas, temperatures, etc.), I use flashcards because then I know if I’m getting the information correct or incorrect. I brought these flashcards with me EVERYWHERE. If I really couldn’t remember something, I wrote it down on a post-it and left it on my bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, or anywhere else I would see it several times a day for reinforcement. #nerdalert
I repeated the above process until I was through all of the material one time.
For my second go around, I didn’t use the CDs because I’m not so much of an auditory learner. I read through every page a couple of times to make sure I understood the material. If I was unsure about ANYTHING, I wrote it down on a separate sheet of paper or made notecards. SO. MANY. NOTECARDS.
And then I did more questions with a similar review method as above.
The Week of Your Exam
My test was on a Wednesday, so the week of my test I skimmed through the review materials once more and wrote down facts I still didn’t know. I had about 1 page (front/back) for each of the 4 domains. I also completed the review questions I had yet to finish. Remember: It’s nearly impossible to know know know EVERYTHING in the review materials, and that’s OK!!! You’ll definitely be familiar with it, which works because the test is more about critical thinking than memorization.
The night before the test I went through questions I had reviewed before as a confidence booster. Then I ate a great dinner (duh!) and hit the hay. I thought I would be tossing and turning, but surprisingly, I slept like a rock! By preparing SO much and going through the material multiple times, I think somewhere deep down I was confident I was going to pass!
And remember…all you need to do is PASS the exam! 😉
What to Expect on Test Day
My test was scheduled nicely for mid-morning so I had plenty of time to eat a good breakfast, review some last minute notes and formulas and temperatures I wanted to make sure I knew, and walk about 30 minutes to the test center to get my blood flowing. It didn’t help calm my nerves at all.
I arrived at the test center early and they were able to take me immediately for my test (after scanning my fingerprints what felt like a gazillion times!). I sat down at the computer, walked through the tutorial [on how to use the computer] and took my time ((trying to get the shaking to stop!)). I sort of felt like I was doing the time warp ((agaaaiiinnn)) or something…it was legit an out of body experience from all my nerves. I was positive that at that moment I knew NOTHING and my previous three weeks of hard work never happened. But I think it was completely NORMAL!
When I finished the tutorial, I took a deeeeep breath and clicked next. And I couldn’t tell you another thing about the exam because I completely BLACKED OUT. But I do remember that I got VERY nervous about my time running out, so halfway through I hid the clock, because in reality, I had plennnttyyy of time.
To be honest, I thought the exam was hard. I second guessed myself all the time (don’t recommend that!) but I trusted my gut and was able to eliminate two of the choices in most cases. Remember, 25 questions on the exam are EXPERIMENTAL!
When I was approaching question 125, the shaking started again (because duh!). I knew when I got to question 125 my exam would be over…or it would keep going if I was on the border of passing. After I clicked “Next” on question 125, my computer screen froze and a survey popped up that asked me about my testing experience. Like, NO, I do not on any level want to tell you if the temperature in the room was OK.
I quickly clicked through the survey and then a message popped up automatically that I PASSED!!!!
I was so shocked and relieved and happy and giddy and proud and EXHAUSTED, so I walked around the city for a couple of hours in a daze after before coming home and collapsing on the couch (oh ya, big celebrations!!). All I wanted to do was order in sushi for dinner and lay like a log on the couch with S, so that’s exactly what we did! S came home from work with flowers and champagne and balloons and made me feel like a million bucks…
((I had to edit his snapchat for inappropriate language!))
Make sure you celebrate however YOU want to…you deserve it!!!
(PS – We went out to celebrate over the weekend!)
If you’re studying, remember, YOU GOT THIS!!! I’m always here to answer any questions!