The answer depends on two key subcomponents:
- How much time you have before the exam.
- How You study best.
As you’ve learned throughout school, everyone learns differently, and studying for the RD exam is no different.
How much time do I have?
Is it three weeks? three months? That answer will affect how much time you can devote to each domain, practice questions, and flash cards.
Now, make a plan. Sit down with a calendar, pick that exam date, and work backward. Ideally, you will have 3-4 months to study for this exam. At least one of those months will be free of the internship, leaving you with more time to study.
With that calendar still in hand, block out your busy times—times you work, sleep, go to remaining classes or your internship, extra obligations and activities. Then figure out the best time to study. Try to incorporate 1-3 hours/day to study. At a minimum, take the exam 4 weeks out and study each domain for 1 week, with additional practice exams. Take each domain at a time.
Your schedule could look something like the following:
Month 1: Internship, class, work, etc. Study Domain 1 and 2 for 1-2 hours every night.
Month 2: Internship, class, work, etc. Study Domain 2 and 3 for 1-2 hours every night.
Month 3: Internship, class, work, etc. Study Domain 3 and 4 for 1-2 hours every night.
Month 4: Internship/classes completed. Take a few days off to celebrate, then get back to studying!
- Week 1: Study Domain 1 for 2-3 hours every night. Take quizzes. At the end of the week, take a full practice exam.
- Week 2: Study Domain 2 for 2-3 hours every night. Take quizzes. At the end of the week, take a full practice exam.
- Week 3: Study Domain 3 for 2-3 hours every night. Take quizzes. At the end of the week, take a full practice exam.
- Week 4: Study Domain 4 for 2-3 hours every night. Take quizzes. Continue taking practice exams throughout the week and reviewing any weak spots or confusion.
- Week 5: Pass the RD exam with confidence!
Perfect! You now have a plan. But how do you study best? We all study differently. Some need a group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1024207428069820). Others need to study by themselves. Some read, others write, draw, make flashcards, or listen to podcasts. The key is that we learn best by actively studying. Reading the same text over and over won’t help sink it in. It might help you catch up on your sleep though! Instead of just reading, watch interesting educational videos, create flashcards or use the ones already created on RD Boot Camp, write down information. Draw out diagrams and practice taking quiz questions.
There are three main types of learning styles: audio, visual, and kinesthetic. Here at RD Boot Camp we combine all three of these learning styles with fun animated videos. You can watch and listen to the videos, answer flashcards, take practice quizzes, and full-length exams that mimic the RD exam. Everything at RD Bootcamp is designed for active learning, to keep you engaged in the content. If you spend a lot of time in the car, you can listen to our videos on audio with actual case study examples. The videos are full of animations, stories, and memorable content that are all based on real-life scenarios. Our flashcards are filled with important terms including medical terminology, acronyms, and vocabulary. Our practice questions are worded similarly to the RD exam.
The RD exam uses your critical thinking skills. You must often choose between two similar sounding answers. If you can’t figure it out immediately, don’t panic. Use your clinical judgement that you’ve developed. You’ve been learning this information throughout your entire internship. After every practice question comes to the explanation to help improve your critical thinking skills to help you pass the exam!
What people typically don’t mention when studying for the RD exam is that it is important to take breaks and stay active. Taking breaks helps our brains absorb information in chunks. Sleeping on some concepts that I didn’t get the night before often made the world of difference for me! Being active gives our brains and bodies a chance to engage in the world instead of sitting down. I took a lot of walks while I was an intern and would take an audio study guide with me. It wasn’t the most efficient way for me to study (I am a visual/kinesthetic learner), but it was fun and got me outside in the fresh air, while still studying the necessary material.
Overall, everyone will need a slightly different study plan for success. What I’ve mentioned has been helpful for a lot of previous dietetic interns, including myself. If you have a plan and the right tools, you will succeed!
Key items about studying are to…
- Make a plan: Know how you study best, and how long you have to study before the exam
- Ideally, take the exam about three months out, with a full month after completing the internship to study intensely
- If cramming: Take it at least 4 weeks out, so you have a week to study each domain
- Devote at least an hour daily to study
- Use active study methods: Listening, looking, doing
- Take practice quizzes and exams and work to understand what you missed and why
- Take breaks and stay active