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How I Passed My RD Exam

Posted Oct 22 2013 8:00am
Since I have spent that last 48 hours at the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo , which is basically the national conference of RD's, I thought it was fitting to finally share with you my take on studying for and passing the RD exam.  It is humbling to be in the presence of such rockstar RD's and I can't wait to continue to grow and learn from them.

The word that comes to my mind most often when I think about passing my exam to become a Registered Dietitian is relief.  Graduation was exciting, but the anxiety of the upcoming RD exam made it hard to celebrate.  If you’re an RD-to-be or thinking about starting that journey then I wish you the best of luck.  Here are my tips for successfully studying for and passing the RD exam.

Once you officially graduate and finish your internship it will take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to find out you are eligible to take the exam.  From that timeline I had a rough idea of when I wanted to take the exam and planned my studying around that.  I didn’t really kick my studying up until about 2 weeks before the exam and then I spent 3 full 8-hour days studying.
Note:  We all study and learn differently.  We all also had different school and internship experiences.  This is just what helped me the most.

The main material I used to study was the Jean Inman study review.  Jean Inman is legendary in the RD world for her amazing study guide.  I was able to do the review with Inman in person.  There’s also a CD version.  Listen to the review and highlight in your notebook certain points to remember.  The entire book is 150 pages.
After the review I set up a calendar of how many pages of the Inman review I wanted to go over each night.  My goal was to review and make flashcards for 10 pages of review material per night.  I learn very well with flashcards, so everything that was highlighted on the Inman review that I thought I needed to study, I put on a card.  There were A LOT of cards.  I kept them divided out by the 4 domains.  I also made a sheet of formulas, government agencies, and clinical lab values (sodium, prealbumin, etc to memorize).
Flashcards really help me to memorize things.  Once the flashcards were complete I kept them in my car and would go over them at stoplights and when doing cardio at the gym.  When I was very familiar with a card I would add it to a separate pile and focus my energy on the ones I didn’t know as well.

The Inman review also comes with 1000 review questions.  The two weeks before the exam I started to do the review questions.  My advice – Do every, single Inman question.  Yes, some of them were on the exam and it felt great to know the answer 100%.  The night before the exam I went and worked every food service math problem and reviewed the questions I got wrong the first time.  I didn’t review questions (besides math) that I got right the first time.  Inman advised, “If you got it right once, then you’ll get it right twice”.
Our school also signed us up for the sTEP review program that’s done along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  It provides review questions for each domain of the exam.  What I liked about this is that it gives you an explanation of why you got a question wrong and it was in the same format as the online test.  However some of the things on this review were not on my version of the RD exam at all. It also was not very heavy on the math portions of the exam.  I’ll be honest and say by the time I was done studying I was still only getting about 80% on these tests.

The third tool I used to study was the Visual Veggies software .  The folks at Visual Veggies are wonderful and they sent me a copy of both CD’s to review.  They are constantly updating their study tools to insure they cover the latest material.  Once I had reviewed all the Inman material I would alternate with the sTEP and Visual Veggies review questions.  It was good to hear the questions asked in a different way.  It also gave me an idea of what I needed to study more.
The final thing that helped me on my exam was my clinical internship experience.  The one area of the exam that was the least like the Inman review was the clinical area, however I felt I had a strong background to pull information from.  I didn’t have to calculate any enteral feedings, but you should know what goes into that and in what disease states enteral nutrition is supported.

The day of the exam I was nervous.  Very nervous.  I couldn’t take the exam until 1pm, so I spent an anxious morning trying to study.  I would recommend getting an early exam time if you can.  I also highly recommend taking your time when you start.  Take deep breaths and read the first few questions very, very slowly.  This will help calm your nerves.  I had plenty of time for the test and finished in about an hour.

Everyone’s version of the exam is different, but I can recommend knowing how to do all of your food service math problems and knowing the government agencies like WIC, USDA, FDA, EFNEP. When questions were long and management related it helped me to remember that in most situations you have to “assess and understand” the problem before you can act.  Inman explains this in the back of her review.

You will most likely know way more than you need to when you sit down to take the exam.  I sure feel like I did, but I’m happy I studied as much as I did.

Good luck to all your future registered dietitians out there! 

Love and edible portion,
Carissa & Kyle

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