The Answer to Improving Your Studying Skills

improving-studying-skillsYou have worked hard to complete your coursework in your chosen career field.  If you are entering the healthcare field, then you know that the work isn’t over when the courses are completed.  You will have to pass a certification exam in your chosen field in order to demonstrate your competency in a subject and your readiness for work.  In taking any exam, you will want to do your best and not “just pass.” Ideally, you want to perform very well and demonstrate your abilities.  Even straight-A students can struggle with an exam as nerves take over.  Your study habits will make the difference between passing the exam on the first attempt and struggling over time.  Taking and retaking exams can become very expensive, so you will want to be prepared on the first try.  Here are some tips to being successful as you prepare for the certification exam:

Don’t Discount Your Coursework

You have spent a great deal of time studying and preparing for this point.  All of your coursework is important and you will need the information as you move forward.  Use your textbooks, notes, and previous exams to strengthen your skills.    There is a lot of information involved in the various classes, and if you have done a good job in your classes, you will have a lot of information as your basis.

Take the Exam Seriously

You cannot walk into the certification exams with the expectation of doing well if you have not prepared.  Most exams will allow you to retake them to improve your score, but if you can score well the first time, that is success.  In order to do well, you must be prepared.  There is no way to get around thorough reviewing of the material and practice testing where available, so you will want to find the best resources to support you through the process.

Invest In The Best Study Material

Good, supportive study material does not have to be expensive.  MedPreps offers superior quality practice tests for all of your certification exam needs.  In addition to offering quality service, they offer limitless exams that will test every aspect of the course, preparing you for the real thing.  Their 100% pass guarantee is a strong indicator of the value of the practice tests.  MedPreps offers full practice exams for the duration of your subscription that will target your weakest areas and focus your time and attention on the areas where you have the most need.  This concentrated approach will get you to your goal of passing on the first try.

Study, Study, Study.

Investing in the tool alone will not get you to your goal.  The practice exams are there to help you improve your study skills.  The ease and convenience of 24/7 access is even more simplified by allowing you access from your computer, tablet, and mobile phone.  There is no excuse for not being available to study.  Ideally, you will have a quiet place to study for a set period of time, but we all know that is not a reality for most.  A lot of students have to grab the minutes available to them whenever they can.  The time spent focusing on the practice exams will be a good investment in your future.

With the practice exams available through MedPreps, you are sure to be one step closer to passing the certification exam of your field.  Use the tools to build your study skills, and you will see the results in your first attempt at your exam.

Advice From A Dietitian

Although I am now on the “other side” of the much discussed RD exam, I was in your same seat just a few months ago, busily studying my flashcards and taking practice tests.  In hindsight, the exam was rather anticlimactic.  Registration was a breeze—just waited for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) to get all my paperwork in order after the internship, sent in my $200 check, and called the toll-free number to schedule the exam at my convenience.

The exam is offered year round at over 225 test centers across the country, so I was able to find one close to my dear city of St. Louis.  After completing the internship at Saint Louis University in May 2011, I allowed myself about six weeks to study before my exam date.  MedPreps was a huge help—especially the practice tests—and I actually felt over-prepared for the exam.  In terms of how much time to allow for studying, I had friends all over the board; some crammed all their studying into the month after the internship and took the test ASAP (it takes about a month for the CDR to process the paperwork), some studied at a slower pace and took the test a few months later, and some gave their brains a nice long break and got back into study mode several months later.  Either way, you have one year to take the exam after your paperwork goes through!

In terms of the length, there is not a set number of questions.  Though each examinee will receive 125 questions (100 of which are scored, 25 of which the CDR is testing out for future use), you may receive up to 145 questions.  Imagine a pendulum going back and forth until it settles on one spot; that is similar to how the computer is determining your score.  A simple word to the wise: prepare yourself for 145 questions so that you will be in the right mindset to do your best until the end.  In other words, don’t count of 125 questions and get burned out too soon!

I mean this to comfort my fellow dietetic students: the test was straightforward.  There were no especially tricky questions, no super lengthy calculations, and no mind bogglers.  Though you are allowed three hours to take the test (which includes the introductory tutorial), my fellow test takers and I took about an hour and a half.  The more time you put into reviewing your notes and taking practice tests, the breezier the actual exam will be.

One additional note on the exam: the outline is changing as of January 1st, 2012.  The old exam used to include five topics: (1) Food and Nutrition Sciences, (2) Nutrition Care Process and Model—Complex Conditions, (3) Counseling, Communication, Education, and Research, (IV) Foodservice Systems, and (V) Management.  The new exam has four topics, which are listed below.  Make note of what percent of the exam each topic accounts for.  For example, Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups accounts for 50% of the exam, whereas Principles of Dietetics accounts for just 12% of the exam.  Both need your attention, but give time where time is due!

  1.  Principles of Dietetics (12% of exam)
    1. Food Science and Nutrient Composition of Foods
    2. Nutrition and Supporting Sciences
    3. Education and Communication
    4. Research
    5. Management Concepts
  2. Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups (50% of exam)
    1. Screening and Assessment
    2. Diagnosis
    3. Planning and Intervention
    4. Monitoring and Evaluation
  3. Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services (21% of exam)
    1. Functions of Management
    2. Human Resources
    3. Financial Management
    4. Marketing and Publications
    5. Quality Improvement
  4. Foodservice Systems  (17% of exam)
    1. Menu Development
    2. Procurement, Production, Distribution, and Service
    3. Sanitation and Safety
    4. Equipment and Facility Planning
    5. Sustainability

Just make sure you adequately prepare with practice tests and you’ll be fine!  Remember that your grade on the exam doesn’t matter; you either pass or you don’t.  Hopefully you will likewise find yourself over-prepared once you are on the other side, too.