Registered Dietitian Exam

Registered Dietitian (RD)


The American Dietetics Association (ADA) was formed in 1917 as a professional association devoted to incorporating research knowledge into dietary education, therapy, and outreach. In its first decade, the ADA grew from 39 founding members to over 1200. Despite early work at setting standards for education and experience, it was not until the 1960’s that dietetics became a registered profession. In 1969, the CDR (Commission on Dietetic Registration) was formed and the first Registered Dietician (RD) credential was bestowed on those who met education and experience requirements.[1] 19,457 dieticians were grandfathered in 1969 before the first RD exam was given. In the first five years of the exam, from 1970-1975, 3,062 candidates took and passed the RD exam to become registered dieticians. As of 2013, the number of RDs grew to 89,385.[2] The exam has continued to evolve over time. In 1983, the first “role delineation study” was performed to assess the knowledge and skills most useful to actual practice in the field, and the results of this study were used to update the scope and content of the exam. Since the first evidence-based updates were made in 1988, these studies continue to be used to insure that the exam is structured in a way that reflects current professional practices and skill requirements.[3] In January 2012, the ADA changed its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).[4]

Function of the Test

RD Study Guide

Registered dieticians (RD) provide professional nutritional counseling, nutrition status assessments, meal planning, and related services in a variety of settings, from hospitals to private practice. Unlike nutritionists, dieticians are usually licensed by the state in which they practice and their activities are regulated by state law.[5] According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for registered dietitians is expected to grow well into the next decade. The average salary of an RD in 2012 was $56,170.[6] To be eligible for the exam, candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited US college or university, must have completed the didactic portion of an ACEND (Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics) accredited program, and have at least 1200 hours of supervised practice. Foreign students who have achieved certification in Canada, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Ireland will be granted reciprocity for these requirements. Graduates from other international dietetics programs that have been considered “substantially equivalent” by ACEND will also be allowed to register for the exam for a limited time, even though no explicit reciprocity agreement exists. However, this is set to change in 2019 (see the “Recent/Future Changes” section below for more information).[7] Historically, the exam has a high pass rate. Among first-time test takers, 75% or more pass in any given exam period. Those who fail the first attempt have a lower pass rate on subsequent attempts; approximately one-third of repeat test takers pass each exam period.[8]

Test Administration

RD Flashcards

Candidates who are approved to take the exam will have a one-year period in which to do so. Candidates register, schedule and pay for exams directly with the testing vendor, Pearson VUE, via their Web site. An exam fee of $200 must be paid in full via credit card at the time of registration.[9] Exams are given throughout the year at more than 250 Pearson VUE testing centers across the United States. [10] Candidates who require special accommodations for disabilities must request them through Pearson VUE prior to registering for and scheduling their exam. Request forms for different disabilities are available on Pearson VUE’s Web site. Forms must be downloaded and completed by an appropriate health care professional, then faxed to Pearson VUE for review. Supporting documentation, while not required, may be helpful in evaluating special accommodations needs.[11] Candidates who do not pass the exam may retest after a 45 day waiting period by applying to the CDR for authorization to retest.[12]

Test Format

Sections of the RD Test
RD Test Subject Areas Percent
Principles of Dietetics 12%
Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups 50%
Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services 21%
Foodservice Systems 17%
Total 100%

Test Structure

The RD will include questions in the forms of multiple choice, seequenced items, key feature questions, and multiple drop down lists. These questions will be over four major domains of knowledge: Principles of Dietetics; Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups; Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services; and Foodservice Systems.[13]

Test Environment

The RD Exam is administered one period a year in the Fall by the Board Certification in Advanced Practice. There, candidates must pass two different sections. The first section has to do with the Nutrition Care Process, and the second has to do with Supporting and Managing Systems of Nutrition Care.[14]

Sample Questions

More free RD practice test questions.


A number of exam forms may be used for the exam, each containing a different combination of questions of varying difficulty. To accommodate differences among exam forms, the number of questions that a candidate must answer correctly in order to pass may vary among candidates such that easier forms will require fewer correctly answered items than forms containing more difficult questions. Based on a form’s difficulty, raw scores (number of correct answers) are converted to scaled scores that are then used to determine a candidate’s pass/fail status. On a scale of 1-50, the passing score is 25. The “Score Report” sent to candidates after completing the exam will show the overall scaled score, and the scaled score achieved in each of two content areas: Domains I and II, and Domains III and IV. [15]

Recent/Future Developments

The next scheduled update of exam content based on CDR’s periodic practice analysis will be effective January 2017 and will incorporate results from the 2015 practice audit. [16] As of July 1, 2019, international candidates from countries that do not have a reciprocity agreement with CDR will not be eligible to apply for the exam, with the exception of graduates from overseas ACEND-accredited programs with supervised internships located inside the United States.[17] Effective January 1, 2024, first-time candidates for the RD exam will be required to hold a minimum of a master’s degree from a U.S. ACEND-accredited program. This is consistent with the increasing complexity of the field and advances in research and technology, and the need to remain on par professionally with other health care specialty occupations.[18]


  1. ^ Introduction to the Profession of Dietetics June 22, 2015
  2. ^ Setting the Standard Since 1969 June 22, 2015
  3. ^ Setting the Standard Since 1969 June 22, 2015
  4. ^ American Dietetic Association Officially Becomes Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics June 22, 2015
  5. ^ Distinguishing Between Dietician vs Nutritionist June 21, 2015
  6. ^ Registered Dietician Career Overview June 21, 2015
  7. ^ Registration Eligibility Requirements for Dieticians June 22, 2015
  8. ^ Registration Examination for Dieticians Group Performance Statistics October 1987- December 2014 June 22, 2015
  9. ^ Registration Examination for Dieticians Handbook for Candidates June 22, 2015
  10. ^ Registration Examination for Dieticians Handbook for Candidates June 22, 2015
  11. ^ Request test accommodations for Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) June 22, 2015
  12. ^ Registration Examination for Dieticians Handbook for Candidates June 22, 2015
  13. ^ Test Specifications 10 June 2015
  14. ^ RD FAQ 10 June 2015
  15. ^ Registration Examination for Dieticians Handbook for Candidates June 22, 2015
  16. ^ Registration Examination for Dieticians Handbook for Candidates June 22, 2015
  17. ^ Registration Eligibility Requirements for Dieticians June 22, 2015
  18. ^ Graduate Degree Registration Eligibility Requirement June 22, 2015

Last modified on 26 September 2018, at 13:47