RD Exam Prep: The Top 2 Shortcuts to Avoid as you Study for the RD Exam

“Would you cram at the last minute while training for a track meet?…your brain is like a muscle and can only handle a limited amount of exercise on one topic at a time.” -Dr. Barbara Oakley

There are so many ways to study for the RD Exam, but are you avoiding some of the most common shortcuts that people take when they study? The solutions to these shortcuts may seem obvious, but I see students make these studying mistakes all the time! 

Here are the top two shortcuts to avoid as you study for the RD Exam

  1. Lack of planning
  2. Cramming 

1. Lack of a plan. One of the main shortcuts that people take when they study for the RD Exam is lack of planning. When they start the studying process by opening a textbook, grabbing a highlighter, and passively reading 50 pages, they get overwhelmed and don’t understand why they can’t remember what they just read.

The very first step you should take to study for the RD Exam is to plan. If you are stuck and have no idea how to plan, check out our blog post “Crafting a RD Exam Study plan that works” that outlines the following planning steps: 

  1. Pick a date for your RD exam – even just a placeholder
  2. Make a list of all of your topics you need to study. Get specific. 
  3. Decide what methods to use – quizzes, retrieval worksheets, exams, group study
  4. Plug it into a monthly calendar overview
  5. Keep track of daily activities with a comprehensive weekly worksheet.

For more tips, methods and free downloadable templates, check out our blog post, Crafting a RD Exam Study plan that works”

2. Cramming

Cramming for a comprehensive exam, like the RD Exam, is a huge no-no! While it may have worked for your undergraduate courses, cramming does not work for high-stakes comprehensive exams. Why? It all comes down to your brain’s ability to analyze, understand, and memorize a vast amount of knowledge. Do you remember the majority of the information you crammed into your brain for those Biochem exams? The answer is likely NO! 

The solution to cramming is to train for the RD Exam like you are training for a marathon, a slow and steady daily approach, with rest in between.

You can train your brain by using the “study cycle” method adapted from Frank Christ’s work by Sandra McGuire. 

  1. Preview: Take a look at what you’ll be studying for that day. Identify the texts and resources you will be using to study and write out any questions you may have about that topic area. 

Example: Today I’m going to study diabetes. I am going to use my Sage RD Exam review guide, my copy of Krause, and notes that I took in my Advanced MNT class.

  1. Go to class! Attend live classes and engage actively with the information. You will gain an understanding of what to expect and areas of focus for the RD Exam. This will help you determine what you need to study later. 
  2. Review: After you attend classes, take time to review the notes that you took during your sessions. Make sure you keep the studying process active by reading the information out loud, asking yourself questions, clarifying any questions with your peers and instructors, and thinking about the big picture.
  3. Study: Schedule the times that you are going to study (dates, times, and topic areas) and set a goal for each session. Plan to study distraction-free for at least 20-30 minutes, and set a timer so you can focus. 
  4. Check: Make sure that you are checking your knowledge after each study session. Take a quiz, explain a concept to your study buddy. Ask yourself questions like “am I meeting my study goals?” “is there another way I can approach this question?” “what questions will I ask myself next time I study this topic?” By testing your knowledge and asking yourself these questions, you are determining if your studying techniques are working. If your techniques aren’t working, it’s time to ask for help from classmates or your instructors.

So as you study for the RD Exam, remember…..

This is a recommended study cycle, so this process can be repeated until you know your topics like the back of your hand! To check out more tips for rd exam prep, check out our other blog posts!

So, try out one of the tips mentioned above and let me know how it goes for you!

Study hard,


rd exam prep
Lauren & Laura of Sage

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