Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: Visual Veggies DTR Exam Prep Program.

My name is Tony Scornavacco.  I graduated in January of 2016 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.  In order for me to become a Registered Dietitian I need to undergo a 1200 hour supervised internship, and then sit for a registration exam.  An individual  in my position has about a 51% chance of being matched to a Dietetic internship, which occurs in early April with start dates usually in August or September.  In order to gain more experience in the field of Nutrition and Dietetics I want to work as a Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR), which is an individual who performs many of the same tasks as a Registered Dietitian apart from prescribing Medical Nutrition Therapy as well as a few other tasks. 

 In order to become a DTR I must pass a registration exam similar to that which a Registered Dietitian must pass.  One of the biggest problems with becoming a DTR is the lack of resources available to use to study.  Very few organizations compile and sell study materials for this exam because it is a small niche field.  One company that has gone to great lengths to provide a comprehensive set of study materials for the DTR exam is VisualVeggies from Ryan T Hartz MS, RD, CSSD.  This program covers each of the five domains that DTR hopefuls will be tested on and does so in a way that mimics the DTR exam itself.  It it chalk full of features that help students adequately prepare for the DTR exam in as efficient a way as possible.  I was fortunate enough to speak with Mr. Hartz and receive a copy of the program in order to prepare for the DTR exam.  Below is what I found through completion of the 800+ question program.

What I Liked

Pre Test: Before delving into the meat of the program you have the option of taking a pretest composed of questions from each domain of the exam.  This is excellent for two reasons.  First, it allows the student to see which domains are his/her strengths and weaknesses.  Second, it gives the student a glance at what to expect from the DTR exam because it mimics what the exam will be like.  This is a great feature for individuals who like to see how far they have come since the beginning of studying.

Test Timer:  Each test has a timer with a set amount of time depending on how many questions are being taken.  This is great because it allows the student to feel the pressure of being timed, which primes him/her for the DTR exam.  Test taking skills are an important part of taking the exam.  Content is not the only aspect that is important.  Also, the timer can be stopped if you want to read the logic behind why the correct answer is the correct option, or need to take a break.  This is a handy feature for studying and preventing burnout.

Full Random Test:  If you want to experience something similar to the pretest and the actual DTR exam you can take the DTR “Full Random Test”, which is composed of 130 random questions from each of the five domains.  This test has a 2.5 hour time limit (the same as the actual DTR exam), which drives home the idea that this program mimics the actual exam.  Again, this is great for building test taking skills and increasing testing endurance.

Progress Tracker:  The program will keep track of how many questions you have gotten correct and incorrect from each of the five domains so you can see where you need to focus your attention most.  It will display your percentage correct each time you take a set of questions regardless of how many times you take it, which allows you to see how much progress you have made.  Furthermore, when you click on each domain or test you can see all the questions you answered incorrectly, what your answer was, what the correct answer should have been, and the explanation for why it was correct.

Different Domains:  The program is broken down into the five domains of the DTR exam and allows you to tackle them one at a time and by sub domain.  This is especially helpful when you know what domain on which you want to focus.  

What I Loved

These three features of the program make test prep significantly easier and allow the student to completely understand the reasoning behind why each answer is the correct one.  The program truly shines because of these three features. 

Incorrect Answer Redemption:  When you take any of the tests and incorrectly answer a question the program bookmarks that question into a separate section called “redemption”.  Here, all your incorrectly answered questions are stored for you to go back to in order to correctly answer and analyze.  This saves countless hours of writing down questions or searching though previously answered questions to find the ones you answered incorrectly.

Correct Answer Explanation:  This aspect of the program is beyond helpful.  First, after you answer a question, whether it is right or wrong, you will see the explanation for why the correct answer is the right one.  This allows the student to receive a full understanding of the content.  Furthermore, this description often gives additional information related to the question.  For instance, one question asks about how many cups of dairy a fully grown adult needs per day.  The answer is 3 cups per day.  The description goes on to reveal that children 2-3 years old need 2 cups/day and those 4-8 years old need 2.5 cups per day.  So really this question gives you 3 pieces of pertinent information that may come up on the DTR exam.  This occurs repeatedly throughout the program, which means that the 800+ question program truly gives 1000+ questions worth of information.

Just Math:  Outside of the five Domains of this program exists another section titled “Just Math.”  Here, the student can take 171 math dedicated questions from across the 5 domains to practice basic to complicated mathematical equations needed to complete the DTR exam.  I personally feel math is one of those areas that many students struggle with so this is an absolute gem in the world of studying for this exam.

What Could Be Improved

Randomized Answers:  If I would change one single thing about the program it would be that the answers to each question became randomized each time the exam is taken.  The answers correlating with A, B, C, D are always the same, which serves as a mental cue for which answer is the correct one.  I personally feel that this impedes absolute material comprehension and makes the program a bit easier.  However, this is simply my opinion, and not everyone will find this to be a negative aspect of the program.

Formula Bank:  An addition to the program that I would have personally found helpful would be a section that lays out all the formulas covered on the DTR exam.  I went into the program without much of a background in the business/management aspect of nutrition so I found Domain 5 (management) very difficult because it is formula heavy.  As I took the exam I became familiar with the formulas because they are given in the description of why the correct answer is the right one, so the formulas are in fact given.  However, unless you write down each formula (like I did) as you go through the questions you will need to retake the exams in order to see the formulas.

Final Thoughts

This program is an excellent tool for preparing for the registration exam to become a DTR. I will definitely be purchasing the program for the RD exam when it comes time for me to take it.  It was truly difficult to find anything I would change about this program because it was so well designed, and had so much thoughtfulness put into it.

I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to Mr. Hartz for the opportunity to review his program, and for offering my readers a $20.00 discount on his program.  Visit the Visual Veggies website for more information and use the discount code.

$20.00 Discount Code: SNUGHARBORBAY

4-3-16 update - Tony took the DTR test and passed on his first try!!!   Way to go Tony.


  1. Yay for passing! I plan to take the test by the end of this year. In the exam, did you have to know the math formulas? Also, did you use anything else to study with? I currently have this program and also love it.


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