How to Pass Your RD Exam on the First Attempt

I hope you were able to catch my IG Live. As promised, I wanted to talk about how to pass the RD Exam on the first attempt.

According to the Academy, in 2020, 67.3% of dietitians passed their RD Exam on their first attempt. Before you get too caught up in the statistics remember, you aren’t playing the odds. You are a willing participant in the outcome of passing the RD exam. You CAN pass the test on your first attempt! While much of the exam is about understanding and knowing the material, knowing how to take a standardized test is equally as important!

The RD exam is a challenging exam, but so was your DPD-program, Dietetic Internship, biochem, organic, food science, food law, and life in the COVID-era. You can do this! I promise. You have and you will do harder things.

The questions are not there to trick you. The exam tests your attention to detail, ability to assess the most important information given, and critical thinking. My hope is that these tips will not only help you prepare for your RD exam in the best way possible but also help you go into your exam with a sound mind and confidence that you deserve to and can pass this exam!

Are you seeing a trend? You can pass your RD Exam on the first attempt!

Peep this tweet from 8 years ago when was still in my DTR program.

How to Pass Your RD Exam on the First Attempt

Narrow Down Your Study Resources

I passed the RD exam after studying consistently for about 8 weeks using primarily Jean Inman, Visual Veggies, and Pocket Prep.

This leads me to my first bit of advice- narrow down your study resources.

My internship program provided each intern with Jean Inman. Due to campus restrictions during COVID, I purchased Visual Veggies software on my computer. I also purchased Pocket Prep app on my phone. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Jean Inman walks you through each domain. I could listen to the USB in my car. I downloaded the audio to my phone so that I could listen to it at the gym or on walks. Jean Inman covers each domain while noting key topics.

Visual Veggies software helped me track my progress over time. I loved the whiteboard videos and rationales provided for answer choices. I also liked the ability to take full practice exams that simulated the RD Exam. That helped me get into the right frame of mind while studying.

I love Pocket Prep because I was able to take it with me everywhere. I would answer questions while waiting to get my oil changed, on an airplane, or just on the go. Similar to Visual Veggies, Pocket Prep provided rationale and references to find follow-up information.

While resources named above were my main, everyday resources, I still found it useful to check into study groups on FB, study groups with NOBIDAN, and my weekly study group with those from my cohort. Additional supplemental study resources included Chomping Down the Dietetics Exam Podcast and occasionally YouTube videos.

The key point is to find what works for you based on your budget, your style of learning, and the amount of time you have to study.

Create a Realistic Study Schedule

During this season of my life, I was incredibly fortunate I was able to focus solely on school and not have to juggle work at the same time. I feel for those of you on the grind! It’s not easy, I know! I realize this is a privilege and was largely how I was able to study.

This is the time, you need to sit down and be honest with yourself about how long and when you will be able to study. I initially wanted to dedicate 8-10 weeks to study. For the first 3 weeks, I studied for about 15-25 hours a week. After this week, I assessed my progress (motivation and concentration) and reduced my study time to no more than 20 hours per week (4 hours a day).

Can you study 5 hours a week? Great! 20 hours? Awesome! Make your schedule realistic to your season of life, because my schedule may not be realistic for individuals who are working, juggling family, and other responsibilities. Self-care during this time (in the form of eating well and resting) is equally, if not more, important than getting the study time in. 

This is where I want to “note” (Jean Inman voice), CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF, and adjust your schedule accordingly. As you approach your exam date, your studying will probably begin to taper.

Schedule Your RD Exam (you can always change your date)

Unpopular opinion: Don’t line up your dream job with the RD Exam hanging over your head.

Congratulations! Schedule your exam.

You don’t have a job lined up? One will come, schedule your exam!

If your goal were to run a marathon, wouldn’t you schedule your race before putting in all the training? That’s the only example I got. You’re not Forrest Gump. You have motivation. Schedule your RD Exam! (And then watch Forrest Gump, if you haven’t already).

Treat Practice Tests as Study Material

Memorizing answers will not do you any favors. I’ve heard many people say things along the lines of, “I only got 2 questions from Jean Inman on my RD Exam.” Quite honestly, I couldn’t tell you if any question I studied was actually on my RD Exam, and here’s why:

Aside from my weekly full-length practice test on Visual Veggies, I made a spreadsheet and started adding questions from my practice tests. Then, I looked up the rationale for every answer- even the wrong answers.

This forced me not to memorize answers. This also forced me to know what EVERY answer meant so I could get future questions correct. While this is incredibly time-consuming, it was a lifesaver. After answering the question correctly, I would then rephrase the questions by adding the word “not,”  “most,” or “least” to see how other answers could be correct if asked a different way.

Manage Stressors

You need to find a way to manage stressors. For me, planning meals was a point of stress. The time it was taking to plan meals, go to the store, and cook was valuable time I could be use to study but was not all that enjoyable as I was studying all this stuff. With great advice from my friend, Dawn, I decided it was a good time to try out a meal delivery service and not think about meals for a little while.  I know this may not be an option for everyone, I would just say, this is the time to take advantage of people offering to help. Whether it’s running an errand for you, cooking dinner, or babysitting the kids for a little bit, TAKE UP THE OFFER.

Write Down Affirmations

I know this seems cheesy and unnatural, especially if you’re not used to being your biggest supporter. I wrote a list of seven affirmations on my whiteboard, which I read EVERY DAY before I studied. I mean, EVERY DAY! 

When writing affirmations, I think it’s important to remember why. Your “why” comes from looking at past experiences, not future ones. With the exception of #3, my affirmations were written based on my journey to this point. If you don’t have affirmations, borrow mine. Write them down on a whiteboard or on your phone. Just be sure to look at them daily.

  1. I am a dietitian
  2. I know this information
  3. I will pass my RD Exam on the first attempt
  4. I am intelligent & capable
  5. I am determined
  6. I have done harder things
  7. I deserve this

Take Breaks and Get Some Fresh Air

You can’t be all work and no play. But, also don’t be all play and no work. Take breaks that don’t involve studying. Go for walks or runs. Meet a friend for coffee. Listen to music! I made an awesome playlist if you need a break to bake cookies! Find a way to be human. Get some sunlight, you won’t regret it.

Nourish Yourself Kindly

I don’t want to hurt your feelings; coffee is not a meal. We both know this. We know food can serve two functions: nourishment and pleasure. We need food for both. Don’t forget to choose foods that provide enough nourishment to be able to study and function with clarity. Don’t let yourself get too hungry during your sessions. When your body feels nourished, you will be able to concentrate.

Trust Your Gut

Unless you know with ABSOLUTE certainty your first answer is wrong, trust your gut. Don’t change your answer. The majority of the time when you change your answer, you were right the first time. I STRUGGLED HARD WITH THIS taking practice exams, then I had to stop. You know this information, trust you know it.

BELIEVE YOU WILL PASS! (I changed CAN to WILL)

On exam day, you’ve done everything you can do, you just have to show up. Yes, there may be topics you didn’t cover or things you still don’t quite understand, you are still more than prepared for this exam.

This is not the time to cram. You pose more of a risk of misremembering. Wake up (or sleep in), enjoy your first meal, go get your nails done, or treat yourself to your favorite lunch spot. You’ve made it! Today is the day you get to become a Registered Dietitian! Be sure to nourish yourself appropriately before your test.

Before you answer your first question, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, and say to yourself, “I’m here. I’ve studied. I know this. I am smart. I’m going to be a Registered Dietitian today.”

There may be questions you don’t even know where to start. Make sure to read the complete question. Then, read it again. Write down keywords such as most, least, best, effective, etc. Look at the action verb in the answer choices- more often than not, dietitians will make decisions that offer the least amount of risk and requires us to EVALUATE and ASSESS the situation.

If you still are struggling with narrowing down answers, take your best guess. I decided ahead of time, that if I came to this point, my answer was going to be ‘D’ every time unless I was certain ‘D’ was not right. Choose an answer and let it go. Don’t dwell on it. 

At the end of the day, the RD Exam is just that, an exam. Yes, it’s important, however, it will always be there. 

I wish you the best of luck and I know you got this! Message me if you have questions.

How to Rock your Dietetic Internship during Uncertain Times

On March 6, 2020, I had an in-person interview for the one and only dietetic internship program I had applied to.

The truth was- I withdrew my application from two other programs after my brother passed away.  My dream program was at the University of Houston. The school my brother had planned to attend after his treatment. I can’t fathom returning to that city without him.

Talks about the coronavirus had already begun in the US by late January, but there was no pandemic when I sat in my interview.

The next week changed everything.

I began my one-year internship and master’s program in May 2020. Directors, interns, and preceptors swiftly shifted gears while being mindful of daily COVID numbers. 

I’ll say it again.

Getting into a dietetic internship is a big deal.

Getting into a dietetic internship during a global pandemic is still a big deal.

I would’ve never imagined the challenges a COVID-internship would entail. So many aspects of my day-to-day were at the mercy of COVID.

How to Rock your Dietetic Internship during Uncertain Times

Be Flexible

My rotations were both in-person and remote during the pandemic. Not all of my rotations sites were able to accommodate interns. With that being stated, I was still able to complete my hours and competencies for the program and perhaps gain skills I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I was able to intern virtually with the ONIE Project where I was able to utilize my nutrition communication skills to contribute to a blog post about summer salsas.

While many of my community rotations were virtual, my in-person rotation was at the OSU County Extension. There I learned more about food preservation through canning. I was able to attend a canning class with local students.

Some of my favorite rotations were with the Oklahoma Beef Council and Dairy Max. I find excitement in critically challenging some of the myths and misinformation about foods such as dairy and beef. These two rotations helped me challenge my own beliefs about agriculture.

Be Creative

Some days working from home was difficult. I found myself dreaming of the ambiance of a coffee shop — which was closed due to shelter-in-place orders. Creating a routine was the best way for me to stay on track and focused.  Video calls and Facetiming with fellow interns definitely helped maintain the sense of community to combat some of the isolating feelings. We also used it as a way to hold each other stay accountable and motivated.

During my virtual rotation at the Oklahoma Indian Clinic, I created nutrition education videos for the summer youth camps. I had never filmed and produced a video on my own, so I figured, why not now? If there is a time to learn (and possibly mess up) it would now.

I created seven videos covering the topic of MyPlate and Parts of a Plant to be used at the virtual summer camp.

Be a Leader

Sometimes leadership involves a change in mindset and saying yes to opportunities while figuring out the details as you go.

Working remotely gave me the opportunity to take charge of how I wanted to experience my dietetics internship. I was able to work independently and use time management skills to accomplish what needed to be done.

COVID truly tested interns at any chance it could. The 2020-2021 cohort of healthcare practitioners I may never be able to put into words.

We’ve hit the ground running and I believe these experiences will make each of us successful dietitians!

I am happy to be on the other end of the internship!

I wish you luck in completing yours!

Dietetic Internship Must-Haves

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Edited January 18, 2021

So, you’re about to start your dietetic internship? I am sure several dietitians and RD2Bes have given you ideas of what you need to be successful.

Between the immunizations, internship handbooks, eNCPT, and everything else in between, I wanted to share some of my dietetic internship must-haves with links.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. I recommend you read or listen to this one before you start. While it takes the whole book to see how everything is tied together, I thought this was an important read to learn how to communicate with people who are from different backgrounds than myself.

Clever Fox Planner Premium Edition. This is seriously the last planner you’ll need. I’ve ALWAYS been a pen & paper type of gal. I like how Clever Fox has un-dated calendar pages so you can start your planner any time of the year. During clinical rotation, I like to write down how many patients I see each day so I can see how much I’ve improved day-to-day. Clever Fox helps guide you to set goals every quarter, reflect each month, and track progress.

Clarks Women’s Sharon Dolly Loafer. Do you like walking on clouds? Because the only answer is yes. The style I purchased is out of stock, but these are my everyday clinical shoes because they are equally comfortable and functional! I get so many compliments wearing them.

The Essential Pocket Guide for Clinical Nutrition” target=”_blank”>The Essential Pocket Guide for Clinical Nutrition. This is a great reference guide for interns. I keep this on my desk and it helps guide my ADIME notes. It fits perfectly in my lab coat pocket and I love that each chapter includes sections on disease process, treatment and nutritional intervention, and patient education.

Lintelek Smart Watch. You need a watch! Don’t rely solely on your phone because… you’re the intern and being on your phone is kind of a faux pas. So, just get a watch and save yourself the trouble. This is not as fancy as an Apple Watch, however, if you’re on a tight intern budget, it’ll do. This watch gives you the capabilities to receive text notifications and calculates your steps.

Fruit Lanyard. Who doesn’t need a cute fruit lanyard?

Hydro Flask Tumbler Cup. I need coffee every morning to get me going, and my Hydro Flask keeps my coffee hot for up to 6 hours.

Other Essentials:

Calculator

Uni-ball Signo Inks Pens

Face Masks depending on the hospital, these may be provided, but sadly, I wouldn’t count on it (interns aren’t always privy to “employee benefits”)

Notebook – You won’t remember everything. May I suggest, writing it down? I like to use the notebooks with blank pages so I can draw pictures and diagrams, if I need to.

Shoe In-soles – You need these for management rotation.

Best of luck on this fantastic journey! What are some items you would add?

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