Medically reviewed by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
How to study for the RD exam? How hard is the registered dietitian exam? Here are my top tips on how to pass the test and become a nutritionist once and for all!
If you're wondering about test prep for the RD test, use my best tips and prep suggestions for becoming a dietitian!
That's me in my happy place about a year ago, eating figs in Italy days after passing my dietitian test. Want to become a dietitian? Here are my top tips for RD exam prep, the best RD exam study materials, and my registered dietitian exam review.
My one-year RD-aversary was a few days ago, on September 24, so I thought what better timing to write a post about how I passed my registered dietitian exam and how life has changed oh so much since then!
Here's the story of how I passed my registered dietitian test and became an MS, RDN. Plus, I'm sharing my best tips on how to pass the RD exam on your first try!
My RDN Exam Prep Tips
I'll start with how I passed my RDN test! Without any further ado, here's my RD exam review. Here are the top resources I found helpful:
And here are my top ten tips on how to study and get prepared.
1. Give Yourself Enough Time
Wondering how hard it is to pass the RD exam? It's hard. But preparing for it is very doable. After spending six years in night school to finish my DPD classes and then seven months in my dietetic internship, I wanted to be an RDN as soon as possible.
But I scheduled my RDN exam about four weeks after finishing my internship. I studied full-time, and this was just enough time for me.
Other people told me they needed anywhere from two weeks full-time to six months part-time, so it all depends on how much time you have, as well as your study habits.
2. Make a Study Schedule
I'm a big scheduler. I use my Google calendar (you can also use a paper planner!) to mark down every task I need to do in a day, and I block out chunks of time to complete them.
So I did the same thing when creating a schedule to study for my exam. I determined what days I'd be covering which domains, and which RD exam practice questions I was slated to take.
You could even make a registered dietitian exam syllabus! My schedule for that month was eat, sleep, study, and go to Pilates!
3. Start with the Domain That's Most Challenging
I have a natural interest in food science but not one in food service management. So with my Commission on Dietetic Registration) (CDR) prep, I started with the domains that I needed the most help in, such as nutrition care.
I wanted to get to everything, but my theory was that if I ran out of time, then I'd be shorting the material I was already somewhat comfortable with.
4. Get Helpful Study Materials
I had many RD study materials, including a RDN exam model question paper with answers and a RD study guide for the registered dietitian exam!
I used a mix of Jean Inman's printed and audio study materials, the Review of Dietetics from Hess & Hunt (aka the Hess and Hunt Review of Dietetics), Visual Veggies RD Hanging with Nutrition, Visual Veggies RD Practice Exam, and the Registered Dietitian Exam Prep app.
The Inman materials are expensive, but you can usually buy a used copy from a classmate or on ebay. And the Inman guide is by far the best registered dietitian exam study guide.
From what I've seen, there are only small differences between the previous and current version, so you can save a few dollars by buying not-the-newest version, and the RD exam questions it contained were incredibly helpful. It's very comprehensive but not too overwhelming. It was my most essential study tool.
When it comes to studying for the RDN exam, I used the Hess & Hunt guide as a more in-depth reference when needed, but given my study schedule I found that I didn't have time to use it very enough.
I also think there's absolutely no shame in getting registered dietitian exam tutoring if you need it. Hire a registered dietitian exam tutor if you think the one-on-one attention will help you!
5. Make Studying Fun
I liked the audio version of Jean Inman because it allowed me to mix up how I studied. I uploaded it to my phone and listened to it while I was putting on make-up in the morning.
I'd also play it while taking a study walk for an hour or two every day. Then I played the hangman-style game on RD Hanging with Nutrition when I needed a break from studying that was for the registration examination for dietitians. It was a fun dietitian studying guide for the CDR exam.
6. Start Testing Yourself Early
How to pass an exam for dietitians? Testing yourself early RD exam 2020 with registered dietitian exam questions is one of the most helpful things you can do, and this is also the major thing I would have started on earlier.
I waited until I'd studied a good amount to start testing myself, but I wish I'd started on day one—since I didn't get close to completing all the review questions. You can start with completing a certain number of questions each day.
I took many a registered dietitian practice exam. I used the questions provided by Jean Inman, as well as the interactive questions on RD Practice Exam and Registered Dietitian Exam Prep. RD Practice Exam was really helpful because I got feedback on all the different answer choices.
7. Test Yourself on the Go
I liked having the Registered Dietitian Exam Prep on my phone because it allowed me to answer study questions when I had a few moments waiting for a train or a doctor's appointment.
The RD practice exam questions it contains are very helpful. It was a useful registered dietitian study guide. I also mixed up where I studied, going to different coffee shops every day to get out of my apartment.
8. Study How You've Always Studied
If you've gotten this far, you know what works for you and what doesn't. I know that a study schedule is ideal for me and that I need to get out of the house to make the most out of my time.
9. Pack a Fueling Test-Day Breakfast
This is a no-brainer for anyone studying nutrition, but sometimes stress makes your forget important things!
I scheduled my RD test for first thing in the morning and took a Greek yogurt parfait with me. I had a few minutes to relax outside, eat breakfast, and review my notes prior to the test.
And honestly, I looked at all the possible test centers and chose a PSI exam center in an area that I thought would have a decent view out the window!
I had to head out of town the same day I took my RD exam, so I celebrated with a Jamba Juice smoothie and a chair massage on the way home. Then I went to Europe for a month-long celebration.
Make sure you treat yourself for all your hard work. I'm glad I took a vacation before I started working, since there's no way I could take a month off right now! Celebrate that RD exam pass rate that you just contributed to!
Becoming a Nutritionist
I have a part-time private practice in the New York City area, focusing my nutrition counseling in weight management, vegetarian and vegan eating, and general wellness.
I also write a lot of nutrition-focused articles for websites and magazines like WeightWatchers.com, , Women's Health, and Runner's World. ,
And I work with brands I love to do spokesperson work and recipe development. I also have a media coaching business, which allows me to work with RDs and other health professionals to help them get their writing published and be more comfortable with the media.
And I co-run the Master the Media e-course, which helps other RDs get their names in the news! My business has grown so much that I've even hired a social media virtual assistant! Bottom line: All that studying for the RDN exam is SO worth it!
I completed my nutrition degree programs at New York University and Utah State University. My education in nutrition even includes some master's degree classes.
While I don't have a degree in nutrition, but I do have a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Visual Art Studies from the University of Florida, as well as a master's degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Becoming an RDN requires the completion of a dietetic internship from one of many accredited programs, 1,200 supervised practice hours and the passing of the Commission on Dietetic Registration's dietetic registration exam.
To maintain the RDN credential, a registered dietitian must complete 75 continuing-education hours every five years. Amy is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Food & Culinary Professionals Didactic Practice Group, and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Didactic Practice Group.
More Dietitian Resources
I often get asked about how my second career as a media dietitian, so I put together these primers just for you!
Disclosure: I received the Visual Veggies software to review but was not compensated for my time. So you'll see a Visual Veggies review here!
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What are your best study tips for how to pass the RD exam? What's your RD exam study schedule? What are your top RD exam tips? Did you hire an RD exam tutor for help with retaking the exam?
Do you have any tips to add for studying for RD exam? Tell me: Why are you interested in becoming a nutritionist or dietitian, and what are your health care career plans?