How I Passed My RD Exam

Hi Friends!

I promised I would write a post about how I studied for and passed my RD Exam to become a Registered Dietitian, so here we are! I realize this post will be incredibly boring for some of you….so feel free to come back tomorrow if this isn’t your thing!

Are you a dietetics student, dietetic intern or thinking about getting a degree in nutrition and dietetics? See how I passed my RD exam and became a Registered Dietitian!

First things first….a couple pieces of general advice about studying for the exam:

  • Schedule and take your test as quickly as possible after completing your internship: I was told it would take a month for my paperwork to process after completing my internship and that I wouldn’t be able to schedule my exam until then. Turns out it only took a week for the paperwork, which was awesome…and then I scheduled my test for two weeks after that…so I was able  to take my test just 3 weeks after finishing my internship.
  • Study the way you know works for you: I’m going to show you guys how I studied…but that DOES NOT mean that everyone should study this way. I know myself, I’ve taken a million tests and I know what I need to do to study effectively and pass.
  • Don’t overstudy: The test is hard, don’t get me wrong, but I promise you’ve taken harder tests if you’ve made it to this point. This exam is not any harder than a biochemistry or anatomy exam. It may seem overwhelming because there is so much information…but trust me, trying to overstudy and memorize every single detail will only make things worse.

Here’s what I used to study:

RD study materials

  • The Inman Study Guide with practice test – My girl Elle sent me her study materials after she passed bc she rocks!
  • Visual Veggies – I used VV to study for my Diet Tech exam and loved it so I knew I wanted to use it to study for this exam as well

Here’s what I did:

1. Spent time going through the entire Inman binder– The only way I can remember stuff is if I write it down myself. So that’s what I did. I took notes as I reviewed the Inman binder. Once I got through each doman, I condensed the notes down based on what I did and didn’t know at that point. Then after I went through the whole binder, I condensed my notes again.


Yes, those pages are all filled front and back with notes. Like I said before…if this isn’t the way you study, DON’T STUDY THIS WAY. Believe me, I wouldn’t spend time writing and rewriting if I could remember stuff just reading it from the binder. But I know from past experience that I can’t…so I did what works for me. Once I had condensed all I could, I ended up with a much more manageable set of notes to review over and over again.

2. Did all the practice questions on the Visual Veggies software– Visual Veggies has multiple sets of questions for each domain, plus full length practice tests. All the answers have explanations if you get a question wrong. This is the perfect study tool for me because I love practice questions. I did over 600 practice questions using the VV software. Here’s what it looks like:

Pick your domain:


Or pick a mixed set or practice test- they have full length (125 questions) or short versions:


Start your practice set. They’re 25 questions and you get 30 minutes to complete them:


You see whether your answers are correct or not right after you save your answer. If you answer incorrectly, it shows you the correct answer and if you click “show answer” it will give you an explanation:


It saves the data from all your practice sets and tests. You can run reports that will show you the ones you answered incorrectly and provide the correct answers and you can print out those reports if you want:


I loved it! They also added a fun Hangman game that they didn’t have when I took my DTR exam:


I didn’t use this a ton, but I did use it a couple nights before my exam when I was starting to feel pretty confident. It was a fun change of pace from a regular practice test and another helpful study tool.

3. Worked through a whole Inman practice test  The Inman practice tests have 300-400 practice questions per domain, so there’s over 1000 practice questions total…and yes I did them all. You don’t have to. You could just go through and pick out the ones you didn’t know how to do, or just do half of them, whatever works. I like to see as many possible questions that could resemble what I’ll see on the test before I take it…which is why I LOVE practice tests.

inman practice

4. Studied my condensed notes. I had a page or two for each domain, plus a page of equations and a page of other random notes. For the last two days I focused solely on those notes. I read and re-read them, practiced using the equations, etc until I felt comfortable with everything.

RD study notes

Overall, I spent about 9 days studying and I think that was plenty. By the end I was getting pretty restless and I knew I’d be ready to take the exam on the day I was scheduled to.

 Post-Exam Thoughts

Here’s how I felt after the exam:

  • It was hard. I felt confident going into the test but while I was taking it, I was about 80% sure I was going to fail.
  • A lot of the questions were different than the practice questions. Which sucked. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were just the same?
  • The test only covered about 40% of what I studied. Which means I knew WAY more than was actually on the test. And that’s frustrating. For every question I knew I was missing on the exam, I felt like screaming “why can’t you ask me this, this or this…I know all that!!”

Bottom Line

The test is hard, but passable. Choose your study materials wisely based on your own study habits. Study hard. Take the test with confidence. Trust that your study materials will prepare you, even though it might not seem like it when you’re taking the actual test. Don’t freak out while taking the test. Remember you don’t need to get 100% of the questions right. It’s ok to miss some.


Celebrate when you pass.
You freakin’ earned it!!!!!

Let me know if you have any questions.

I was provided the Visual Veggies software for free. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian and new mom from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!


  1. So proud of you! You must feel so accomplished 😀 I study by writing things down, too. That and mnemonic devices…soooo many mnemonic devices!
    Paige @ Your Trainer Paige recently posted..Ramp it Up Boot Camp Workout + Why HIIT Makes You Smart + Pin-able Workouts

  2. These are great tips no matter what test you are studying for! I used very similar methods when preparing for the GRE’s years ago.
    Erica { } recently posted..Weekly Workout Wrap Up & Closet Peek

  3. “It was hard. I felt confident going into the test but while I was taking it, I was about 80% sure I was going to fail.” <–that's how I felt taking the NASM CPT test. Thankfully I passed but it wasn't easy!
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..To Fly

  4. Congratulations to you! :)

    I’m about to start 3.5 months of studying for the MCAT…I’m SO scared and not excited for it at all, haha. :)
    Beth @ Mangoes and Miles recently posted..Creamy Marinara Pasta with Mushrooms and Scallops

  5. Rachel @ A Balanced Palate says:

    Thank you for the tips! I’ll be allowed to take the RD exam in August and am extremely nervous (nervous test taker :/). I’ll have to look into Visual Veggies. Congrats on passing!

  6. Amelia says:

    So happy and proud of you! Thanks for all the great tips and advice. I’ll be able to take the test in June. Do you want to sell any materials/ software? Would love to connect and buy from you if you do. :)

  7. I had the same thoughts regarding the test itself… Much tougher than expected but passable, very frustrating at times! Congrats on officially being an RD!!

  8. I’m not studying for it but loved this anyhow!
    amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..Branching Out – Lucy Pants with Running Belt Loops

  9. I plan on doing a lot of writing when I study for the RD exam too! It helps it stick in my head. I also condense things down! I would always do that in college and it helps focus on the material you don’t know as well.
    Jane | Not Plain So Jane recently posted..Eating Out Tips: Cinco de Mayo!

  10. This brings back memories! Great advice. :-) I too have to write everything down to learn it, so I took lots of notes and made hundreds of note cards that I took with me everywhere! Inman’s study guide was so helpful. Congrats again on passing!
    Deb @ Dietitian Debbie Dishes recently posted..Foodie Finds Fitness: Check Out Body for Tomorrow!

  11. So much good information! I would like to do that one day, but after getting my Masters in Com, I just don’t know if I can handle any more school right now :)
    Beth Sheridan recently posted..CrossFit Inspired

  12. Having just taken the test yesterday and passing it (!!!), I really liked your Post-Exam Thoughts. I felt exactly the same, more or less, but I felt the test wasn’t a good reflection of all the knowledge I’ve accumulated since I returned to school.
    One up side of reviewing EVERYTHING is regardless of a test, it helps and reinvigorates you, showing your your strengths and weaknesses. I LOVE Nutritional BioChem, did well in the class, but I can’t wait to reread my textbook and notes again!

  13. You can’t believe (well, maybe you do!) how much I appreciate this, you’re a RD2be-god-sent! It’s bookmarked and I’ll be reading and re-reading this post for a long time. Thank you so much Lindsay, for sharing your experiences of the journey becoming a RD and all the tips and tricks! You’re helping many more RD2be like me for the future. <3
    Josie recently posted..Homemade Sunflower Nut Butter

  14. I’m not studying to be a RD but as a current student I think its SO important to learn what study techniques work for YOU! In undergrad it took me awhile to figure out that I need to study differently for different subjects. I also write, rewrite, summarize and rewrite my notes again.
    Nicole @ FruitnFitness recently posted..Derby Day

  15. Thank you for this post! I’ll be referring back to it for the next year!

  16. Congrats, Lindsay! You obviously spent a lot of time preparing for this exam, and it shows through your passion and knowledge. :)
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Friday’s Five

  17. I study the same way – take lots of notes! I think rewriting something helps it sink in better. Anyway, I really just want to say congratulations!! I think you’re going to be an awesome RD!
    Victoria @ Reluctantly Skinny recently posted..Outdoor Running and Strength Workout

  18. I’m so stinking excited for you! I would so want you as my RD! I’m serious…. lets get together after Blend and celebrate! :)

  19. I used Inman too! And had a bunchhh of practice tests from older gals in my program!
    Katie Heddleston recently posted..Pin it Party!

  20. Thanks for posting this. Lindsay! These are great tips. I have a couple years to go until I graduate with my bachelor’s in Dietetics but this gives me a heads up of what I’ll have to do in the future. Thanks!
    Congrats on passing the RD exam. =)
    Helen recently posted..No Body is Perfect

  21. Very helpful post, thank you! It makes me feel better that you said if you’ve gotten to the point of the RD exam, you’ve already taken harder exams. I aced my biochem exams (with strenuous studying), so I’m a tiny bit less terrified, heh :)

    Congrats on passing! I look forward to reading more posts from you.

  22. I completely agree with your confidence level taking the exam. There were only about 10 questions that I was 100% certain I got correct. Compared to other exams where I was confident on 80-90% of the questions, this was terrifying. It seems to be a common theme though, so to any future RDs don’t panic if you feel like you’re getting everything wrong!

  23. Congratulations on passing your RD exam! That’s a HUGE accomplishment! I hope you did something fun to celebrate :) I’m with you on using the Inman guide – so helpful! – and your post is a great resource for those looking to prepare for the exam.

    Congrats again!

  24. Such wonderful advice, It’s so generous of you to share!

  25. Cristina says:

    Do you think studying an older version of the Inman is good for the current exam? I think the one I have is from 2005 or so ;(

    • i think it’s better than nothing. i’m sure some of the questions have been updated since then…but if you don’t have the money to get the new one or something then i’d def say it’s worth studying!

  26. Kristen says:

    Thanks for these tips, I’m about to take my exam in July and have no idea where to start. I too have to repeatedly write down things in order to remember, I’m glad that worked for you too.
    Everyone suggests the Inman, but it’s so pricey.. :-( I have started by reviewing my notes from classes but I’m worried I’m missing things. Just how helpful do you think having that book was? I’m considering just buying it
    Thanks, love your blog!
    (Also just joined you foodie penpals and am SO excited, what an awesome way to link foodies across the country!)

    • I definitely think Inman was helpful. I don’t think I would have felt prepared if I’d just studied my class notes. Maybe you can find a version that’s a few years older that would be cheaper?

  27. Congrats! I learn best by writing a rewriting too! Did you only study the “NOTE” portions of Inman, or everything?
    Liz C recently posted..Father’s Day: What I Wore

  28. Congrats on passing the exam! Also, thank you for the great tips. I recently took the Breeding and Associates review course and find the practice online exams to be very helpful. It breaks down each domain separately, then you can take the larger exam with all domains included- as many times as needed. The questions will be different each time you take it too, which is nice! I’m taking the exam at the end of July and definitely appreciate your tips! I love the picture of the screen after you passed!! :) I’m going to visualize that when I take it! Thanks again!

  29. This blog really helps me alot im also going to take my rd exam this coming august. This post help me to inspire that if you guys can do it ! I can do it too!!! Congrats to you job well done!!!

  30. Thanks for the great tips! I will be putting them to use in two years since I am entering my junior year.

    One question – did you use your old textbooks as study tools? I am lamenting over renting or buying some of my textbooks for this semester. Using them to study for the RD exam seems to be the only argument I could come up with for buying them since I generally use the library and don’t like to hang on to books!

  31. Hi Lindsay,
    Thanks for all the great tips for studying for the RD exam. When you say you wrote notes from the Inman book, what did you rewrite in your notes? Words or concepts you didn’t understand, or did you rewrite the outline in your own words? I’m just now starting to use the Inman guide but find myself just reading and reviewing it. I tend to memorize, which I don’t want to do for this test so I’m trying to find a way to study.

    • I kinda rewrote the outline in my own words the first time, leaving out stuff i was sure i already knew. then i went back and did it again, condensing it down again. good luck!

      • Thanks! I am so impressed with how well you prepared in just 9 days. I know some of the questions are “test” questions, but it’s a shame that only 40% of what you studied was on the exam. Sounds like some things on the exam may not have been taught in classes.

    • hello jenny, would you be intersted in selling your inman review and cds?

  32. Glad I found this website, I am taking the exam real soon and I am getting nervous for taking it. I have been studying but it seems like I get no where for the material. I guess it is that I have some test anxiety. It was not this bad when I took the Diet Tech exam a few years ago.

  33. Taking the exam tmrw! I found your blog post awhile ago and purchased visual veggies after reading it. I hope I pass tmrw!! :)

  34. Hi!!
    I have to write things down to remember, but unfortunately I haven’t pass the test after 11 times. What other things will you recommend me??
    I have Inman’s, Breedings (which have practice tests too) and RD in a Flash. I have make notes so many times. Do you think will be helpful to focus on just the questions?
    Thanks for your post I like it.

  35. Awesome job and very inspiring!
    Kimberly recently posted..Jeremey’s One Pan Meal (Breakfast!)

  36. I am around late 40s. Am I too old to become a dietian?

    • You’re never too old to become whatever it is you want to become. :) I went back to school to change careers a few years ago and just completed my dietetic internship. I’m 45. I’ll be taking the RD exam soon. Also, during my internship I met a dietitian working in a LTC facility that went back to school at age 50 to become an RD. Do what you’re passionate about in life because life is short! Best wishes.
      Natalie recently posted..You Cannot Out-Exercise A Bad Diet

  37. Jessica Pineda says:

    This is very helpful! It is always good to know new ways to study even if its trial and error at first. Did you know you were going to pass it, were you feeling confident? Was tests and getting good grades something easy for you in your Dietetic bachelors?

    • No, I didn’t think i was going to pass the first time. i was very nervous. But I knew I studied enough. Getting good grades in class wasn’t easy…i had to work for it..but i got straight a’s.

  38. I heard from a lot of people that there was a lot of foodservice questions on their tests…so i spent a lot of time studying that stuff. I had a fair number on mine, but overall it was pretty balanced. But I was definitely glad I studied the foodservice.

  39. Hi…

    A question to those who have taken the R D exam. Are the RD and CCN – certified clinical nutritionist the same exams. Are these two different exams ???

  40. Natalie says:

    Lindsay, great article! Thanks for much for the tips. I’m actually scheduled to take my exam next week and I am FREAKING out. I feel so overwhelmed and feel like I know nothing. Vitamins, equations, NCP are all haunting me and I feel as if the whole exam will be one giant guessing game. Can you help? Please e-mail me! I need some advice. How specific do I study? Are majority of the questions situational where I can figure it out if I don’t necessarily know the answer right away? Do I have to know EVERY vitamin and blood level?? AAAHHHH!!!

  41. Hi! How did you get the DVD’s for free? I am in need of them as well but dont have the money for them.



  42. JJ Jacobs says:

    Thank you Lindsay. Its the foodservcie equation that gives me fits. I’m using Inman’s and VisualVeggies. I’ve noticed that from time to time you can catch someone selling their used Inman Guides on eBay.

  43. I am starting to prepare for the RD exam after being out of school for 2 years. I have the Jean Inman review but I don’t feel like it is very helpful. I’m looking for something that is more comprehensive and maybe provides more interaction. What do you know about the review? What other resources would you recommend?

  44. Hello Lindsay, am an International Certified Nutritionist, I plan to take the CDR exam to practice in USA. My question is, I’d like to get the materials and CDs of the Inman’s seminars course, cheaper, Would you sell me yours?



  45. Jenny Even says:

    Sure! I also have flash cards from Breeding & Associates that I’ll give you if you’re interested. My materials are from 2013 but I doubt much has changed. Email me at

  46. How much did you study per day? I am going to be starting to studying and I don’t want to burn myself out with studying. So I am trying to set up a feasible schedule and to study for like 1 or 2 months.

    • i just wanted to get it over with, so i studied about 8 hours a day for 8-9 days and then took the test. If you’re studying over a period of several weeks then i’d say an hour or two a night would probably be fine.


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