For those of you who haven’t heard, I passed my CDR exam and am now officially a Registered Dietitian!
This was the culmination of 4 years of school and 1200 unpaid internship hours. I am now able to practice dietetics as a full professional and get to sign my name with an ‘RD’ after it. Credentials! I have credentials!!!!
For the past couple of years, I have been hearing about how hard this exam was and honestly, I was freaked out. I had heard of what seemed like tons of very capable people people failing the exam. We also had our director hammering it into our skulls how important it was to study for this thing, recommending 2 hours a night for 6 weeks.
Well, as a success story, I am here to tell you how I prepared for the exam. I know that not everyone learns the same way, so what I did may not work for you, but I’m hoping that everyone can take away some helpful nugget.
Schedule Your Test
This was the most nerve wracking part, but I knew I had to do it. I had started studying very passively prior to scheduling the exam, but it was so easy to put it off. After all, I had just moved back to CT and had friends to catch up with. Thanks to Eric, I got the courage to just go for it and signed up for a date a little over a week away. From that point on, there was a fire under me and I new I couldn’t slack, not even for a day. I didn’t want to be that intern that failed. I studied for 7-9 hours a day for 7 days straight. Eric was the only person who knew I had scheduled it. I didn’t tell anyone else, which seems pretty common among the RD’s I’ve met. This helped me to just focus, without added pressure from others.
Make a Study Schedule
The first thing I did when I sat down with all my books and resources was make a schedule. I wrote out what material I was going to do each day and how I was going to do it. Built into the schedule was a confidence check. If you need to reschedule your exam, you have to do it 2 business days prior to the test. 3 days before, I knew that I needed to make a judgment call. If I felt totally unprepared, I could reschedule it. Better to reschedule than to fail.
Get Jean Inman’s Study Guide
Just do it, you will be glad you did. She has content broken into 4 domains that comes in a binder with CD’s of her reading through all of the material. Her program is very expensive, so I would recommend buying a used copy off of a friend or splitting up the cost between a few of you and sharing. If I didn’t have her guide, I think I would have been a bit overwhelmed and had a much more stressful time.
Now, how do you use it?
- Read through a section. Break it up into manageable portions (I did between 3-10 pages, depending on how tired my eyes were).
- Listen to the corresponding section. Listening to her reading it immediately after helped to solidify the information. And doing it in small chunks helped keep me focused.
- Take notes. In the audio, she will frequently say “Note” and then read a section. Every time she did this, I jotted that piece of info down.
- When I finished a domain, I read through all of my notes once or twice.
This gets you familiar with everything. If there is a concept that I didn’t understand, I went back through my text books or to the internet to make sure I knew it inside and out.
Its scary, but it’s the best way to see if you are prepared. In addition to testing your knowledge, it gets you more familiar with test taking. I haven’t had to take an exam in over a year, so there were a few cobwebs to brush out. To do this, I used 3 methods.
CDR Study Guide from the Academy
This is about $30 from the Academy, but I got it second hand from one of the RD’s at the Baltimore VA (thanks Cathy!). The best thing about this is that it comes with a CD program that mimics the testing format. I was able to see how I was going to answer the questions, where to click and fully understand the instructions. The way it is set up is that you cannot go back to a question, making each answer final. The more guess work you take out of exam day, the calmer you will be. I just ran through it once, but it helped to calm some nerves.
Jean Inman’s Study Questions
She has over 1,000 questions and answers in her guide, some of which are on the exam itself. After I completed a domain, I did all the questions in each section. Afterwards, I graded myself, and I usually got between 70-77% correct. For every question that I got wrong, I wrote out the correct answer and an explanation. Again, if I didn’t understand something, I looked it up.
Have Others Quiz You
I employed 3 of my friends, Emily, Henry, and Peter to go through my notebook and ask random questions. This ensured that I covered all the material, not just what I understood. This also helped my confidence a ton because I was able to answer most of the questions correctly without too much deliberation. And confidence is almost as important as knowledge. If you know the correct answer but second guess yourself, you can easily psych yourself out on a test.
My exam was scheduled for 1PM and all I did the day of was read through my notes once in the morning. After that, I watched some Netflix, stretched it out and did a bit of cleaning. When it was time, I gathered up all my paperwork (that I had printed out the night before) and headed to the testing center, allowing PLENTLY of time to get there.
By the time I took my test, I felt ready. I was still anxious, but I honestly felt as if I had done everything I could have to prepare. I went through the test very slowly, and still had 45 minutes left at the end, so DO NOT RUSH! Use the time, breath and rock it.
What was your test experience like?