Taking the RD Exam is the last major hurdle before officially becoming a registered dietitian. If you’ve gotten to this point, congratulations!
You’re probably wondering how you’re going to get through studying and the stress of taking an exam that will determine whether or not you become a registered dietitian. Before we get started on the RD Exam prep tips, let’s reflect on the major achievements you’ve accomplished thus far to prove you can pass the exam!
- Getting into college (and grad school)
- Every chemistry class you’ve ever had to take
- Memorizing the Krebs Cycle…for the fifth time
- Completing your DICAS application
- Acing your dietetic internship interview
- Fulfilling 1,000+ supervised practice hours needed to graduate from your dietetic internship
- And so much more….
So now that you’ve refreshed your memory on all of your wonderful accomplishments to date… let’s get started on the 10 tips the Be Well Solutions Faculty Advisor team recommends for passing the RD Exam:
BWS DI Alumni after passing the RD Exam
1. Set a date
After graduation, you will officially be able to register for the RD Exam. You may be wondering when you will feel ready enough to do so. Our recommendation is to schedule a date for your preferred exam location and time of day (are you a morning person or are you at your best in the afternoon?), then create a study plan working towards that date. Whether it’s two weeks out, 1 month, or even 3 months away, only you can determine how much you can realistically study for the RD Exam and how prepared you are for it.
Don’t forget to set a reminder on your phone a few days from the exam date in case you need to reschedule. You cannot cancel within 48 hours of your exam date. There is no shame in rescheduling if needed. It is better to reschedule than to fail your exam since the Commission on Dietetic Registration requires individuals to wait at least 46 days before retaking the exam. Read the Handbook for the Registration Examination for Dietitians and/or check out these FAQs from the CDR to learn more.
2. Practice for the day of
Chances are you will have exam day jitters and that is completely normal. While it may not be easy to totally eliminate your stress in regard to taking the exam, we recommend reducing stress where possible.
Before your exam day, scope out the testing site so you know how to get there, where to park, and where precisely the testing center office is. We also recommend doing this test run around the same time as your appointment time to get a feel for traffic conditions and how long your commute will be. You want to avoid adding unnecessary stress before your testing appointment and this is one simple thing you can do to manage your mindset going into the exam room.
3. Create your study strategy
Approaching the RD Exam with a study strategy is an efficient way to prepare. Before you dive into your study resources, first take some time to plan. Think back to your undergrad and/or graduate school days and try to answer a few of these questions to create your study strategy:
- When are you an effective studier (AM, mid-afternoon, evening)?
- What resources do you plan on using? Do you do best with a live review course, pre-recorded content, an outline of exam content, etc?
- Do you need a study group or tutoring, or do you study best on your own?
- What environment is optimal for studying (library, coffee shop, home office, etc.)?
- How much time every day will you have time to study?
Your study strategy will be unique to you and may not be what others in your cohort are doing. That is okay! Studying in an efficient way for your learning needs is a good approach to passing the RD Exam.
4. Study like it’s your job
Treat studying like it’s your job because passing the RD Exam will help you get a job. Establish a routine by scheduling time to study every day (or as it makes sense for your schedule). You don’t have to study 40 hours every week, but committing to a study schedule or a set number of hours each week like you would a job will allow you to follow through on your exam prep while balancing other responsibilities in your day.
This is your last major hurdle to becoming a registered dietitian, and although studying takes self-discipline and perseverance, you’ve demonstrated thus far you are more than capable and can push yourself to achieve your goals. By taking your studying as seriously as you would a job, you will set yourself up for success.
5. Stay off Google
Googling pass rates and other stats about the exam will not actually prepare you to take the exam. If you need a break from studying, rather than sneaking in a Google search on the RD Exam, go for a walk outside, make a healthy snack, call a friend, or do something else besides obsess over someone else’s RD Exam story. We can guarantee the CDR is not going to ask what percentage of RDs pass the exam so don’t you worry about it either!
6. Keep your exam date a secret
If announcing to friends and family when you’ll be taking the exam will add more stress, we recommend keeping your exam date a secret. Only telling 1 or 2 people for support leading up to your exam may be enough and will not add additional pressure. Plus, it will be that much more fun when you get to surprise everyone with the news that you passed your exam and are now officially a registered dietitian!
Of course, you can always tell your BWS DI faculty advisor if you’re in need of support!
7. Use practice questions properly
Practice questions are a great way to study and quiz yourself on RD Exam materials, but there is a better way of using practice questions to your advantage. Don’t just go through practice questions to guess the right answer, but understand why the other answers were wrong.
Too often, individuals studying for the RD Exam will go through practice exams repeatedly, nearly memorizing the answers and not learning WHY the answer is right and the others are incorrect. By taking this new approach to practice questions, you will optimize your study resources and better learn the materials you may see on the RD Exam.
8. Only use 1-2 resources
There are many RD Exam preparation resources on the market, but just because there are many doesn’t mean you need to try them all. We recommend using only 1 or 2 resources which can help save your time and money. Having too many resources at your fingertips can cause overwhelm and is generally not a good study strategy.
BWS DI provides all interns the Pass Class from All Access Dietetics and a subscription to the Pocket Prep App. We chose these resources based on feedback from past interns who successfully passed the exam.
9. Study during the downtime
Not every study session has to be 1 or more hours at a time. Sometimes, doing quick study sessions like while you’re waiting in line at Target, between commercial breaks of a show, sitting in the waiting room at a doctor’s office, etc. can be just as effective for retaining information. Carrying around a short stack of note cards or using the Pocket Prep App will come in handy for these quick study sessions.
10. Create balance in your daily schedule
Studying for a credentialing exam can be a lot of work and it will likely consume your mind as your exam date nears. While it may seem like a good idea to study and do nothing but study, we strongly advise against this. Burnout from studying too much is very real and studying for this exam is a marathon, not a sprint.
Add other planned activities into your daily routine to avoid burnout like a part-time job, working out, cooking healthy meals, reading a non-nutrition-related book, hanging out with a friend, or anything else that will bring some distraction and a little happiness.
Hopefully, these exam tips will help get you started in studying for the RD Exam. Just remember, you are more than capable of passing! As always, remember to notify your BWS DI faculty advisor when you pass…we want to celebrate your success!
Have a question? Check out our FAQs, leave a comment below, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!