POST UPDATED 11/8/2017
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the RD Exam has a lot on it!
I spent a lot of time as a TA in undergrad, where I hosted study sessions for students, helping them hone in on their best study method, how to think like the test writer, etc. and I also spent a lot of time writing hard exams.
I reached back into the depths of my experiences pre-dietetic internship to come up with a study method for tackling the RD Exam.
There are four steps to make sure you are as prepared as you can be:
1) Know what's on the test
2) Use your best study method
3) Focus on what you don't know
4) Review before the test
Let's talk about the RD exam in general, and then dive in to studying.
Check out my RD exam resources, read what past students have to say, and explore other blog posts about the test.
About the RD Exam
The RD Exam is a computerized test that you take at a testing center, similar to how the GRE is administered. It is a specific type of testing format, called computer adaptive testing. This means that each candidate's exam has a different number of questions, but each person will receive at least 125 questions - 100 scored and 25 pilot questions (unscored). You will not know which questions are piloted. You can receive maximum 145 questions (120 scored).
You will have 3 hours: 2.5 hours for the exam, and 30 minutes for introductory material to familiarize you with the computer program, nondisclosure agreements, and surveys.
Each question is multiple choice, with 4 answer options. Once you answer a question, you cannot go back and change it. You cannot skip questions and flag them for later. You cannot move on until you have answered the question.
You find out if you passed right after taking the test - it will have your scaled score and scaled sub-scores. The scaled score to pass is 25 on a scale of 1 to 50.
Know What's on the Test
Go through the full CDR outline to familiarize yourself with what topics are on the test.
Use Your Best Study Method
If you've made it to studying for the RD exam, you've been successful in school. You probably have some idea of what type of learning style you have and what study methods work best for you. If you're not positive, though, here are some resources for you.
Take this quick (2-5 minute) learning styles quiz, and then learn more about which one you are.
Here's a quick summary of each learning style and the best study methods for each.
Remember, you're likely a combination of different learning styles.
1) Kinesthetic learning: you think in movements and retain information better when it's associated with an activity.
> Show the action of the idea you're trying to learn, make a skit or a game, apply concepts to practical examples, stay active while studying -- squeeze a stress ball or walk around while reading.
2) Interpersonal learning: you retain information better when you are interacting socially.
> Form a study group, talk out concepts.
3) Intrapersonal learning: you are great at self-management and setting goals for yourself, and retain information better when you are able to connect with yourself.
> Create a quiet study place that you can go to.
4) Logical learning: you ask questions and find solutions, but also enjoy the problem-solving process on the way.
> Think about your concepts as a puzzle or equation, ask yourself questions and work through the solutions, create an outline to make logical sense of the concepts.
5) Musical learning: you enjoy listening to and making music, and you often retain information better when associated with music.
> Listen to music while you study, and replay that song before the test.
> Create rhymes or songs for material you are trying to memorize.
6) Naturalistic learning: you feel in touch with nature, and find yourself yearning to be outside.
> For studying, try to think about the topics as an ecosystem, and connect each part together.
> Apply your ability to recognize and classify different plants and animals to your studying, but classifying different materials together.
7) Verbal learning: you are a good writer, fast reader and good listener.
> Ask questions particularly through the Socratic method whether with someone else (if interpersonal) or with yourself via practice quizzes or flash cards. Make a story out of the material to better remember it.
8) Visual learning: you can see and manipulate things in your mind without having it in front of you.
> Use projects to represent what you're learning, draw related images and charts summarizing the facts, organize with color, and imagine the concepts you are learning in a practical and everyday setting.
No matter what learning style you have, utilize active learning techniques while you study to make your studying more efficient. Want some ideas? Check out my 8 study tips.
My RD exam study resources utilize a variety of active learning techniques. You can find out more by clicking on the photos, or by visiting my resource page.
Review Before the Test
Give yourself the week before the exam to lightly review key topics. Limit yourself to 30-60 minutes per day (maximum!!!) and do not bring study materials to the testing center.
Focus on What You Don't Know
Maybe from skimming the CDR outline you already have an idea of some topics you may need to spend extra time on. If not, I promise a few topics will come to light as you start studying. Whether it's memorizing food borne pathogens or types of foodservice systems, it's important to give them the time they need.
(1) Keep a sheet of paper or computer document with a running list of topics to focus on.
(2) Make a document with equations and definitions you'll need to remember for the test. Organize them by domain so it will be easy to go back later.
(3) Depending on Your Learning Style: Use or make flashcards that ask sample quiz questions for tough concepts. Take practice quizzes on that topic. Rewrite your notes, make charts or pictures. Explain the concept to someone else.
Questions? Leave me a comment.