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What to Expect at the RD Exam

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

The RD Exam is taken on a computer at a specialized testing center

According to, up until 2021 25% of the RD exam is Food and Nutrition Sciences (AKA Principles of Dietetics), 40% is Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups, 21% is Management of Nutrition Programs and Services, and 14% is Food Service Systems. Passing the RD exam will grant the credentialing of registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist which is considered synonymous. The exam is to qualify dietitians for entry level practice.

Categories of the RD Exam

Food and Nutrition Sciences - Food Science and Nutrition Composition of Foods, Nutrition and Supporting Sciences, Education, Communication, and Technology, and Research Applications

Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups - Screening and Assessment, Diagnosis, Planning and Intervention, and Monitoring and Evaluation

Management of Nutrition Programs and Services - Functions of Management, Human Resources, Financial Management, Marketing and Public Relations, Quality Management and Improvement

Food Service Systems - Menu Development, Procurement, Production, Distribution, and Service, Sanitation and Safety, Equipment and Facility Planning

What are the RD Exam Questions Like?

The exam style is multiple choice "best" answer. This means that while there will be a selection of A, B, C, or D answers to choose from, two of the four questions may be similar and appear to both be correct. There is not only one correct answer but one best answer. To not let this catch you off guard, it is recommended to read the question and attempt to answer it before seeing the answers; therefore, going with your gut answer first. Additionally, when I took the exam there was a lot of math. I studied and prepared for this test, so I knew my calculations. On several questions, the answer I calculated wasn't even one of the answers to choose from. This is meant to mix you up! You have to know what you are doing, so you can confidently pick the "best" answer. As I was taking the test, I realized the test was intentionally not giving me the exact answer but a "close" answer. If you doubt your calculation then you might pick a different answer. If you are confident with calculating exchanges, for example, then you should pick the "closest" answer.

"Choose the BEST answer"

How many questions are on the RD exam?

The number of questions on the exam is variable! For every test-taker, the RD exam will have a minimum of 100 questions and a maximum of 125 questions. If you get a series of questions correct in one category, the questions will be fewer. If you get a series of questions incorrect in one category, the number of questions will increase. In addition to this, 25 questions are "pre-test" questions and are unscored. Questions cannot be skipped in order to come back to it. All questions must be answered in order and cannot be reviewed later.

There are 2.5 hrs to complete the test, but you will need to also allow 20 minutes to complete the introduction tutorial and 10 minutes to complete the post-examination survey. If the test is not able to be completed within this time frame, the final score is considered "inconclusive". If you have a disability such as dyslexia or distractibility, you may qualify for a government-protected accommodation that would extend the length of the test. Go to for more information.

To pass the exam, the examinee must receive a minimum score of 25 on a scale of 1-50.

What do you need to take with you to the exam?

To begin your exam, you must bring with you a government issued ID (not a college ID) with a current address that matches the address CDR has on file. You cannot bring a calculator, purse, drink, gum, cell phone, watch, or jacket with you during the test. A calculator will be provided as well as an erasable note board or equivalent. When I took the exam, I had to stand with arms out while someone visually inspected for anything that I wasn't allowed. Then I was told to out-turn my pockets to prove they were empty, and then I was told to keep them turned out until I entered the testing room (that felt awkward). They also scanned the palm of my hand with palm-vein recognition biotechnology when I entered the testing center and again when I exited. I recommend wearing something comfortable like a long sleeve shirt to keep you warm as jackets are not allowed.

Where is the RD exam taken?

Choose the most convenient CDR-approved testing center near you. When you registered for the RD exam, you will be provided a list of sites closest to you. Learn more at:

How much does it cost to take the RD exam?


How long do you have to take the test after the dietetic internship?

You will have 1 year to take the test after you receive the email from the CDR for the application to take the exam. If a year lapses and you still wish to take the exam, you must contact the CDR to request a reauthorization.

What study materials are available to prepare for the exam?

Check out this article for popular study methods from people who passed!


In 2019, there was a 30% you might not pass. Read more here!


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