Registration exam for Dietitians – Tips for preparation and passing

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We all know how crucial it is to complete this last step of passing the RD exam in order to earn the credentials of Registered Dietitian. You all have worked hard and come a long way, this is the last stop before you reach your destination. I recently passed the exam and therefore, wrote this post to help others with some guidance before they take the exam. Each individual is different and so is the way they think. Some of us might clear by referring to just one resource while many of us might have to use a few different resources. I had to use a bunch of resources to prepare for the exam. Below in the article, I have mentioned all the resources which were helpful to me for my preparation. I have also mentioned a few tips for before and on the day of the exam which were helpful to me. Remember, you can retake the exam after 45 days of your last attempt and several attempts are allowed.

How is the exam structured:

If you already know, skip this section and go to the next. The distribution of weight for each domain has changed since January 2017. The new distribution as per CDR is:

Domain I Principle of Dietetics 25%
Domain II Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups 40%
Domain III Management 21%
Domain IV Foodservice Systems 14%

The exam is structured for 150 minutes (2 ½ hrs). You will be asked minimum of 125 questions and maximum of 145 questions maximum in those 150 minutes. It is wise to keep a time check during the exam. To learn more on it refer to the subsection of time management (under the section “on the day of the exam”). As you can see from the above chart, Domain I & II make up to 65% of the exam and Domain III & IV make the rest 35% of the exam. So it’s logical to say that you will have more questions from Domain I & II and therefore, you should focus more on those two domains as they carry more weight. The domains III & IV are equally important but they carry less weight (35%) comparatively. During the test, you will have questions randomly thrown at your screen from different domains. Out of 50, your total scaled score should be 25 or more in order to pass the exam.

Resources

There are a lot of different resources to help you prepare for the exam, but not all of them do the best job, because they may have different format of questions than the ones asked on the exam. Other than my DI program resource, I used the following resources for my test preparation.

Jean Inman:

Price: $385

Pros: Great comprehensive study guide for all domains, includes huge question bank. You can use it as a base for test preparation. I had attended her 2-day class and bought the review course. On the last 2 pages of her guide, she mentions about the steps you can use to answer a subjective question which is pretty helpful.

Cons: Not enough practice on subjective questions. There is no online test version, so it does not simulate the real exam setting. The current exam is a computer-based test. Also, when you solve the question bank, you are only solving one domain at a time whereas in test, the questions are randomly thrown on your screen from different domains in a random order. Jean Inman’s question bank does not give you a direct practice to a complete exam.

Recommendation: Recommended to use as a comprehensive study guide.

 

Eatright Prep Practice:

Price: $199

Pros: It is very close to the current testing setup and gives a thorough practice of individual domains. Includes 3 complete practice tests where the questions are thrown on your screen randomly from any domain similar to what you will find at the actual test. Gives you an update of where you stand in terms of percentile and also, gives domain-wise breakdown of your performance. Therefore, if you are weak in any particular domain, you can work on it more and get stronger.

Cons: It is a good idea to space the repetition of the tests because If you give the same test very next day, there are high chances that you might have memorized the answer. 

Recommendation: Recommended because it tracks your progress and gives you an idea of how well you are prepared for your exam. Also, it has a huge question bank. Its a good combination when clubbed with Inman’s study guide. 

 

Visual Veggies software: It has many different products for selection e.g.: flashcards, RD exam study suite (RD study guide), practice RD exam to go app and more. I used their RD exam study suite, which is a complete guide to help you prepare for the exam.

Price: $199.99 (RD exam study suite)

Pros: Over 900+ questions set to practice, you can select a particular domain or give complete test including all domains. It mimics the test setting since you practice it on your computer/laptop. It tracks your progress. Also, at the end of each test, you get a result including breakdown of time utilization and scores for individual domains plus tips to improve on next attempt.

Cons: When I used the software, it had more direct questions. I was scoring over 90% in the practice tests. My problem was subjective questions and therefore, this software was not very helpful to me.

Recommendation: Not recommended, because it has more direct questions and not enough practice on subjective-style questions.

 

CDR study guide: The study guide is just an outline of different topics on which the questions can be asked in the exam. It comes with 3 practice tests (1 manual test and 2 online redeemable vouchers).

Price: $60

Pros: The format of questions on practice tests is very similar to the ones on the exam. In my opinion, the tests were a helpful resource.

Cons: The study guide is just an outline, so you have to refer to your textbooks and other resources in order to answer the different sections which is very time consuming.

Recommendation: Recommended, because the practice tests are similar in format to the ones you get on the exam. Also, with the study guide outline, you can make sure that you covered every topic for the exam.

 

Preparation for the exam day

On the day of exam: You know yourself best. Do what works for you either no studying and chiling or going over your last minute notes that you have prepared for your exam day. When you are ready to leave for the center, leave everything, take a deep breath and ride to the test center. You might think that you don’t remember a lot of stuff and you want to look over it but don’t worry, you will remember it when you are asked about it. You have been preparing for this day since a long time, its time to be confident now and apply all that you have learned.

Arriving at the center: Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your exam time. Once you arrive at the center, you will be checked in and allotted a locker to keep all your things. No studying is allowed inside the center. Once you are settled, you will be called and led to your exam seat. Make sure to use the restroom and also drink some water before you are called in. Just so you know, we are not scheduled for any break time in between the exam, so if you need a break, it will cost you some time of your exam.

Time management:

Following guideline for time management during the exam, was helpful to me:

  • When you are at 50th question, you should have 100 minutes remaining.
  • When you are at 100th question, you should have 50 minutes remaining.
  • When you are at 125th question, you should have 25 minutes remaining.

Exam Prep Tips:

Below are a few tips that helped me during my exam prep:

    • While studying, prepare index cards for all the information you would want to go through at the last moment before the exam. This is very helpful because these will be the concepts that you might just want to glance at for one last time before the exam.
    • Give one practice test daily for at least 2 weeks in a row before the exam.
    • If possible, give the practice test daily at the same time as your scheduled exam time. It helps to develop focus at that time which will be very helpful on the day of your exam. Practice, Practice, Practice……that’s the key!!!
    • When repeating the practice test, try not to memorize the answers, instead understand the reason behind each correct as well as wrong answers. Remember!!! If you know the concept, then you can answer any question related to that concept.
    • Pace yourself well until at least first 100 questions, even if you run a little behind on the time, don’t panic and don’t rush.
    • Read each question at least twice, maybe even 3 times before answering it and pick the keywords.
    • Answer only what is asked, do not assume any information not given in the question.
    • If the question is too wordy, then read the last line of the question first to understand what is being asked, read the answer options and then go over the entire question, because then you will have an idea regarding what is being asked and you will only have to comprehend what is given in the question.

Feel free to comment on this post or ask questions. Wish you all good luck on your exam!!!

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