Flash back to one of the happiest days of my life:
The day I passed the Registration Examination for Dietitian Nutritionists!
I know there are some “RD to be”s who read, so I wanted to share my experience for them… and for everyone, because I think it gives a better understanding of what all goes into becoming a registered dietitian (and further distinguishes between an RD and a ‘nutritionist’)
I finished my internship the week before Thanksgiving in 2013 (definitely something to be thankful for!) and there were a few things I had already decided about taking my exam:
~I wanted to take a full week off of EVERYTHING and just relax. So the week of Thanksgiving that’s what I did. I slept. I caught up on my favorite TV shows. I read a book for fun. I spent time with my family. It was awesome and refreshing.
~I knew I did not want to wait too long to take my exam. My internship director recommended 30-40 hours of studying with no more than 2 hours at a time. I figured if I studied ~10-12 hours per week then I should be good to go in a month or so.
~I didn’t want to tell anyone I was taking the exam (except K, of course) because I didn’t want the added pressure on myself. I definitely don’t regret this.
I’m going to be completely honest with you. The thought of taking the RD exam made me want to dry heave.
I am t.h.e.w.o.r.s.t. test-taker ever and my test anxiety is through the roof. Becoming an RD was something I felt like I put my life on hold for to pursue, so that just added to the pressure.
Despite all of this, I felt very prepared (and oddly calm) on the day I took my test. I attribute this to creating a study plan and sticking to it. Here’s what I did:
- I knew that most of my school work would be winding down at the end of my last rotation, so I ordered the Inman Review and RD in a Flash in October. The Inman Review came with CDs and I casually listened to them at times during my commute to my rotation. I kept the RD in a Flash in my bag at all times and pulled them out whenever I had a free moment. This wasn’t serious studying… just getting my feet wet.
- After my week-long break over Thanksgiving, I began my study plan where I studied most nights for 1-2 hours.
- I started by listening to the Inman Review CDs all the way through with no written material in front of me…. only listening.
- I went back through and listened to the CDs with the Inman study manual. I highlighted any concept that seemed unfamiliar and/or confusing to me.
- I went back and reviewed everything in the Inman study manual that was highlighted.
- I took all of the Inman practice tests with no help from outside material. I reviewed which questions I missed and studied those concepts.
I will forever remember our “Christmas Vacation” last year… I studied every chance I got.
The big question amongst RD students is what materials to get. I cannot recommend the Inman Review enough. Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Did I sell it for the same price I paid for it? Yes If money is tight then I think you could pass on the RD in a Flash cards. They were helpful and convenient, but I see them more as an ‘extra’ study material rather than a necessity.
Here are some tips for studying for the RD exam:
- Don’t start studying until the end of your internship. You are already going to have a lot on your plate with internship work.
- Give yourself a small break after you finish your internship. You have earned it!
- Make a clear plan of how you are going to study and when you will should feel ready to take the exam. Like I said, I was aiming for 30-40 hours of consecutive study times in 1-2 hour increments, so I felt around a month was about enough time.
- Register for your exam as soon as you are eligible. I think this was a key motivator for keeping me on track with studying. If I had waited until I felt ‘ready’ then I would have probably kept putting it off.
- Study concepts instead of just memorizing material.
- Instead of studying in long blocks, study in short increments for 1-2 hours at a time.
- Don’t wait too long to take your exam. Everything will be fresh in your mind right when you finish your internship so use this to your advantage. Plus, you will already be in the habit of doing school work from when you were in your internship so you might as well stick with that routine and study.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before the test. I know this is easier said than done but at the very least, please do not stay up all night studying. You have been through 4 years of school and 1800 hours of an internship. I promise you that you are not going to absorb any extra information in 1 night.
- Wear comfy clothes when you take the test.
- CELEBRATE when you pass
Everyone learns differently so what worked for me may not work for you. Do you learn best studying in a group? Gather up some fellow classmates for a study date. Do you primarily learn by reading material? Maybe you should skip the Inman CDs and focus on the study guide. It’s really up to you, and you probably know by now which study method works for you.