2014 is starting out to be an awesome year because…
I passed my RD exam this morning!!
This has been such a long road for me, and I can’t believe I am finally ready to turn the page of this chapter of my life. I’m so excited!
I knew when I finished my internship on November 22nd that I wanted to register to take the RD exam right before Christmas. This would give me about 4 weeks to buckle down with studying, and I had already been listening to the Inman Review CDs driving to and from my rotations. I wanted to take the exam ASAP because I wanted the info to be as fresh in my mind as possible, and I immediately went back to work after my internship. I also knew that I could always reschedule the exam if I didn’t feel ready (as long as I did so within 48 hours of my exam date).
I received notification that I was eligible to take the exam ~2 weeks after I graduated from my internship program. The dates were pretty limited and the soonest I could register for was January 2nd. If I waited longer, the next available date wasn’t until the end of January. I already have several big work obligations coming up in January so I felt like January 2nd was my best option… so I registered!!
I did not tell anyone I was registered to take the test because I didn’t want to put more pressure on myself to pass. Something I found was that people asked me all the time when I was planning on taking the exam, so it was hard to keep it a secret!!!
After I finished my internship in November, I took a week off to relax and enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. I went back to work the next week and that is when I began studying. My internship director advised me to have 30-40 hours of consecutive study hours of ~1-3 hours per night under my belt before I took the exam. This was fairly easy for me to do since I was already in the habit of interning all day and doing school work at night.
Now, I know from being in school for 8 years that I have trouble studying, I am a horrible test taker and I have a lot of test anxiety. Because of all of this, I decided to make a concrete study plan and stick to it.
The study tools I used were the RD in a Flash cards and the Inman Review. I ordered these at the beginning of October and had already been through the RD in a Flash cards multiple times prior to completing my internship.
So I focused my studying on the Inman Review. I started out by listening to every CD once without any notes or distractions. This was helpful to me because sometimes when I look at notes while listening to something, I tend to tune people out and get distracted. It took me about a week to listen to all of the CDs (I think they are about 8 hours long total).
After that, I spent ~2 hours each night studying the material again. This time I spent 1 hour reviewing the manual with the CD and an additional hour going back over what I had just listened to (mainly using the manual). It helped that I had already listened to the CD once before because I was pretty familiar with what I already knew and what I needed to study more.
The next step was going through the written tests that came with the Inman Review. There are 3 tests (Domain 1, Domain 2, and Domains 3 & 4) and probably close to 900-1,000 questions. I used these tests to gauge how well I knew concepts. I completed the test, marked what I missed and then went back to study those areas. I would recommend working on each test separately on different days because they are so long. The test for Domain 2 was over 400 questions! It took me several hours to complete.
At this point, I had a very good feel for what I understood and what I was having trouble with. I also made some flash cards along the way if I realized I was not understanding specific things.
Once I reached this point in studying, we were out of town visiting family. I used our drive to and from to study and managed to carve out study time when we were there. Props to my husband for doing most of the driving, listening to the Inman CDs and allowing me to take over our rental house with my study materials.
I also skipped celebrating on New Year’s Eve because I didn’t want to feel bad the day before my test. I have a feeling I will always remember ringing in 2014 with my Inman binder in my lap :)
I pretty much decided at 9pm the night before the exam that I was done studying. I’ve been in school long enough to know that staying up into the middle of the night studying isn’t very productive for me. I laid out all of my clothes for test day, decided what I was going to eat for breakfast, set my alarm, put the testing center address in my GPS, had a nice cup of tea and went to sleep.
I am very glad I got full nights sleep before the test. I woke up nervous but prepared and ready to get it over with. I got dressed in comfortable clothes and made sure to wear long sleeves since I know I get cold easily. I was in the bathroom and saw my owl necklace sitting on the counter (I love owls). I purchased the necklace as a celebration gift when I was out shopping with my mom the day after I finished my internship. I decided to wear it for good luck!
I left 30 minutes early to allow myself plenty of time to get to the testing center. I brought all of my study materials to look over in the car but I actually didn’t look at any of them once I got there. I felt pretty comfortable and confident.
The test was 124-145 questions and had a 2.5 hour time limit. It took me a little less than 2 hours and it cut off at 125 questions because I had gotten enough right to pass the test. I knew when the test cut off at 125 questions that I had passed but it didn’t hit me until I got the paper confirmation while I was checking out. I was so happy that I wanted to cry! I immediately called my husband, my mom, my grandmother and my great aunts.
Thoughts on the Test
I thought the test was difficult but not *too* bad. There was a good mix of questions… I knew some from studying, some from my internship, and some from the overall nutrition foundation that I had already built.
If I had to recommend just one study tool, it would definitely be the Inman review. The RD in a Flash cards were useful in memorizing things but they are not really a resource if you need to go back and review specific areas. The Inman review has a whole study manual so I did not really have to go back to any textbooks to look over additional information. I also liked that I could upload the CDs into my iTunes and basically listen to them anywhere. The practice exams were also a valuable tool. I like flash cards but I found it to be more useful to create my own.
I also felt the Jean Inman gave a lot of helpful test-taking tips. One thing she said that stuck with me was that if you feel like you are guessing on an answer, remember that you are making an educated guess using all of the knowledge that you have learned throughout school and your internship. I definitely realized this when I was taking the exam. There were some questions where I wasn’t 100% sure of the answer but I could eliminate some of the answer choices based on what I knew about the topic.
So based on my experience, here are some tips if you are getting ready for the exam:
- Understand how you learn and use this as the foundation for your studying.
- Give yourself plenty of time to study. There is a lot of information to look through.
- Focus on making sure you understand concepts and processes rather than just memorizing facts.
- Wear comfy clothes and give yourself plenty of time on the day of your test
- Get ready to party hard once you pass :)
Life as a new RD :)
I am so happy that I’ve reached this point in my professional life. I’ve been a school nutritionist for 5.5 years now and becoming an RD has always been something in the back of my mind. I decided to go for it when I realized that I probably would always regret it if I didn’t. This journey has obviously made me a better nutrition professional, but it has also made me a better person. And there is nothing like the feeling of achieving a goal you have set for yourself!
Cheers to new adventures in 2014 :)