Overseas educated dietitians – Examination stage

DSR Examinations

The purpose of the examinations is to assess the competence of overseas qualified dietitians to practise dietetics in Australia. The examinations are based on the National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians in Australia (NCS) (2015). Dietitians who pass both the written MCQ and oral examinations will be eligible to join Dietitians Australia and the APD program. Both the MCQ exam and Oral exam can only be sat a total of 3 times each by any one candidate.

A DSR assessment is valid for 3 years, failure to join the APD program within this period will result in the applicant having to re-complete the DSR process including any examinations they have previously passed. Any prior sittings will be counted in the limit of 3 sittings per exam.

The next MCQ exam will be held Wednesday 2 March 2021. Applications for the March MCQ will close 24 January 2022.  To be eligible to sit the exam your stage 1, application for assessment, must be submitted by 13 December 2021.

Applications for the March MCQ examination will be closed for a period of time while the DSR process is migrated to a new database. For those eligible to apply, applications for the March 2022 MCQ will reopen mid November 2021.

The October Oral examinations have been scheduled for 27, 28 & 29 October 2021. Applications will close 8 October 2021. All Oral examinations will now be conducted via Zoom under a revised process. Please be aware you may be needed on 2 of the dates listed above.

Please see sections:

Written Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) Examination

Once you are assessed as eligible to sit the examination you will be able to apply from the Apply online section of this page.

The MCQ examination sittings are organised by an external examination provider, therefore late applications cannot be accepted and a cancellation fee will be applied if candidates withdraw from an exam.

The MCQ Examination in Dietetics will be offered as a secure online examination delivered to your personal devise using WebLock browser proctoring. It will be available to all DSR candidates eligible to sit the MCQ examination. The MCQ exams are offered twice a year in March and September.

Applications for the March 2022 MCQ exam are currently closed but will open mid November 2021. Once open applications will close Monday 24 January 2022. To be eligible to sit the March exam your stage 1 application (desktop assessment) must be submitted to Dietitians Australia by 13 December 2021. The MCQ exam will also be offered 7 September 2022.

Oral Counselling Interview Examination

On successful completion of the written MCQ examination you will be eligible to sit the next available sitting of the oral examination. Oral Exam sittings will be available to all candidates that have passed the MCQ exam and will conducted via Zoom. Sittings will be over several days and will be determined according to demand. You may be needed on both days so please ensure you are available. You are able to apply by logging onto your DSR Dashboard via the DA Website and selecting DSR Application.

A major review of the Oral examination process has just been concluded and new procedures implemented. All Oral examinations will be conducted via Zoom and will include 3 stage where you will be moved through different 3 examination (breakout) rooms to complete 3 separate tasks.

October 2021 Oral exam venues and dates
Applications are now being accepted for the October 2021 Oral examinations. The exams have been scheduled over 3 days, 27, 28 and 29 October 2021. Candidates will be scheduled on one of these dates. Applications will close Friday 8 October 2021.

There are two separate dietetic examinations.

  • 150 minute written Multiple-Choice Question examination; and
  • 90 minute oral examination.

You must pass the written examination to be eligible to sit the oral examination at a later date. Both the written and oral examinations must be passed within a three year period or before the expiry of your assessment.

Copies of examination papers are NOT available for study. However, the following sample questions and answers are available, they will provide an example of the examination style and format and indicate the depth of knowledge required.  They do not necessarily represent the degree of difficulty of the examination or the issues to be covered.

Format of exam
The Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ) Examination in Dietetics is a 150 minute written examination consisting of 120 questions.

  • All 120 questions are to be answered.
  • All questions are of equal value.
  • There is only once correct answer for each question.

The examination is a ‘closed book’ online examination and candidates are not permitted to refer to any reference materials during the examination. You will be allowed a blank piece of paper and a non-programmable calculator during the exam.

The online exam will be conducted by an external provider, EPEC. Candidates will be required to download the required visual remote proctoring software to their personal device, as well as complete a short 15 minute trial exam around 2 weeks prior to the date of the actual exam, you will be contacted by EPEC directly.  The trial exam has a dual purpose, it will allow you to familiarise yourself with the interface and also to test the installation of the secure browser WebLock. Your device must be equipped with a camera function and have internet access to be able to complete the exam. All candidates will be monitored via the virtual proctoring during the exam to safeguard against dishonest behavior, if detected their exam will be terminated and the the DA will be notified.

In order to pass the MCQ stage of the dietetics skills recognition process you must achieve a pass across the domains of practice. Once candidates have passed the MCQ stage they can then progress to the Oral examination stage.

Scope of exam
The multiple choice questions within the exam may be drawn from all areas of dietetic practice and cover all aspects of the NCS for Entry Level Dietitians. The examination is designed to assess the minimum level of competency required to practise dietetics in Australia. The questions have been validated against entry-level practitioner standards. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate competency across a range of practice settings.

Assessment of exam
The questions are validated against the performance of entry-level practitioners in Australia. Candidates must demonstrate sufficient competency in all areas of practice and in all aspects of the dietetic process to pass the examination. The pass mark is based on the difficulty of the questions on a particular examination, and therefore can vary between exams, in order to represent the same standard of competency.

Reading multiple choice questions
Candidates should read all questions carefully. There are no trick questions. Incorrect answers (known as distracters) are designed to reveal lack of knowledge, incorrect knowledge or incorrect application and a lack of critical thinking. There is only one correct answer for each question based on the information provided.

Types of multiple choice questions
There are different types of multiple choice questions used in the exam.
i) Stand-alone MCQs – each question covers a specific topic
ii) Case-based MCQs – case-based questions provide a more detailed scenario and require the candidate to consider all aspects of the case to make a judgement based on the information which is provided.
iii) Extended matching questions – involving several questions based on a common list of options.

Frequently asked questions – MCQ

An MCQ asks a single question (the stem) and provides multiple options for an answer. Candidates must choose the correct answer. There is only one correct answer in the options provided.

Questions are designed to test competency across a range of settings including individual case management, food service management and community and public health nutrition. Questions will cover all aspects of the dietetic process in Australia from assessment and planning through to implementation and evaluation.  Some questions test a single concept or item of knowledge while others will test the application of this knowledge.

Properly constructed and carefully validated MCQs are better able to cover a wide range of competency areas and practice settings. Validated MCQ questions also ensure that there is no subjectivity in the marking of correct answers. This means that the questions have been developed and reviewed by a team of experts, and extensive marking is subsequently not required.

You will only need to be familiar with and interpret those ranges which an entry-level dietitian would be expected to understand (e.g. blood glucose levels, lipids etc). You will be provided with specific reference ranges for less common tests.

Candidates are requested to bring a silent, battery operated non-programmable calculator without an alphabet keyboard.

Questions are designed to determine competence across practice domains and across the DA National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians. There may be fewer areas of practice for an entry-level practitioner and this limits the complexity of practice areas which can be assessed.

The timing for the exam is determined on the performance of entry-level practitioners with similar question types and numbers. Allowance has also been made for adaptation to an Australian language system used in the exam which may contain minor references requiring more careful reading by candidates not familiar with the Australian food supply or the Australian health care system.

No, each question has only one correct answer. The exam questions are based on the ‘single best answer’ format widely used in health professional education. This means that an expert panel has determined that each question has a single correct answer, or in some cases, an answer which is clearly ‘most correct’. Of course, the remaining options are designed to sound ‘plausible’ if the incorrect interpretation of the facts presented is made. If you are worried that a question has more than one correct answer, carefully re-read the question and select what you consider to be the best answer.

Candidates will only receive notification of a pass or fail for the written examination. If a candidate fails based on substandard performance in a particular practice area, they will be alerted to the poor performance in that practice domain.

Questions developed for the examination are owned by Dietitians Australia. A candidate who passes the written exam is eligible to sit the oral examination in dietetics and if subsequently successful may become a DA Member with dietetics qualifications and be eligible to apply to join the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) program. Maintaining confidentiality is included in the DA Code of Professional Conduct and DA Statement of Ethical Practice and it is an expectation of candidates that this occurs. Sharing of questions based on recall of the examination is considered a breach of confidentiality and therefore DA requires candidates to make a declaration prior to sitting the exam in order to maintain confidentiality. Furthermore, there is a large bank of questions available to be used to develop multiple unique exams and exam questions are continually developed and refined.

Examinations are not available for review. Candidates can appeal the examination outcome at two levels. All appeal applications must be in writing. Please read the DA Dietetics Skills Recognition By-Law – Appeals to ensure your application for an appeal is lodged correctly and within the required time frame. Applications must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.

Format of exam
The Oral Counselling Interview Examination is a 90 minute examination consisting of three virtual standardised oral clinical tasks (simulations) each with an actor. There will be a separate examiner and actor for each of the simulations. The entire exam will be conducted via Zoom and will be available to all eligible candidates. The tasks may be separated over the scheduled dates so please ensure you are available.

You will receive relevant scenario information and instructions 30 minutes prior to your sitting. There will be 3 stages to the exam where you will be moved through different 3 examination (breakout) rooms. You will be assessed on;

  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Education and Counselling and
  • Interprofessional practice

In total, the exams will take around 1.5 hours which included short breaks in between stages. Your final task may be on the day after your first sitting.

Scope of exam
The oral examination is designed to assess communication skills necessary for nutrition assessment, education and counselling and interprofessional practice. It will imitate a telehealth consult and performance criteria are developed from Dietitians Australia Dietitian Competency Standards. The Oral Examination consists of three consecutive virtual standardised oral clinical tasks each with an examiner and an actor.

The three key tasks allow a candidate to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Structure an interview or conversation
  • Understand the problem from the client’s point of view and respond with empathy to cues given by the client
  • Decide how to gather relevant information
  • Explain relevant diet-disease relationships
  • Identify and prioritise the client’s health problems
  • Negotiate nutritional management goals with the client
  • Give relevant, practical dietary advice that is accurate, correct, complete and easily understood by the client
  • Recommend an appropriate evaluation and follow-up plan
  • Engage in conflict resolution, negotiation and advocacy for patient care with other stakeholders
  • Communicate in a professional person-centre manner in a virtual setting

Assessment of exam
Each examiner will complete an assessment form for each task against predetermined criteria. To pass the oral exam the candidate must demonstrate competency in all three simulations,

Task 1 – Performance in data gathering for nutrition assessment
Task 2 – Performance in Education and Counselling
Task 3 – Performance in Interprofessional practice

TASK Assessment Focus Task Characteristics
1 Information Gathering for Nutrition Assessment & Diagnosis – 20min YOUR TASK is to interview the client (actor) and gather appropriate information in order to understand the client’s priority nutritional issues and make a nutritional diagnosis. You do not need to provide interventions with the patient during this task.  Imitates a telehealth consult.

 

2 Education & Counselling -25min YOUR TASK is to provide education and counselling with the client under the assumption that he will have access to see you again in a month’s time. Assessment information is provided including nutritional diagnosis. Imitates a telehealth consult.

 

3 Interprofessional practice – 15 minutes YOUR TASK is to identify and engage in a professional conversation with another health professional or stakeholder that attempts to resolve/advocate/clarify an issue relevant to a client’s nutritional problem.

Imitates a telephone conversation.

Candidates must be assessed as Competent across each task to pass the exam.

Frequently asked questions – Oral exam

You will only need to be familiar with and interpret those ranges which an entry-level dietitian would be expected to understand (e.g. blood glucose levels, lipids etc). Any other reference ranges will be provided.

No. You will have the opportunity in Task 2 to verbally indicate what resources you maty share with the client via email after the session or you can us screen share if you deem it feasible.

Given each of the simulations only includes part of a full initial consult, the time allocated (around 20 minutes per task and 5 minutes in between for reading time) is considered adequate. If you run overtime the examiner you will be prompted to close the consult.

Conducting a dietetic counselling interview in a logical and well structured sequence is important. However if you feel you are close to the end of the task, don’t hesitate to communicate something to the client you consider important. Although structure is an assessable component it is not the only one.

The examiners are unable to give you any specific feedback on the day of the exam. The ARS General Manager will write to you once the exam results have been finalised. Unsatisfactory Candidates will receive a copy of their Oral Exam Assessment Summary which will include the following:

  • Overall Assessment – either Unsatisfactory or Competent
  • Assessment Grid – listing overall result in each part of the exam

Successful candidates will also be provided with a letter detailing the membership process.

Case Information and Role Play scenarios developed for the examination are owned by Dietitians Australia. A candidate who passes the oral exam (and who has already passed the written exam) may become a Dietitians Australia Member with dietetic qualifications and is eligible to apply to join the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) program. Maintaining confidentiality is included in application form as well as the DA Code of Professional Conduct and DA’s Statement of Ethical Practice and it is an expectation of candidates that this occurs. Sharing of case information/role play scenarios is considered a breach of confidentiality and may result in candidate not being able to continue with the DSR process or forfeiting their eligibility to join the APD program. Dietitians Australia requires all exam candidates to make declaration prior to sitting the exam to maintain confidentiality.

The exam will be digitally recorded (audio and video) to assist the assessors to provide a fair and equitable assessment of each candidate. The recording of a candidate’s performance is kept by Dietitians Australia+ and can only be accessed by the ARS General Manager or the Australian Dietetics Council.

Examination assessment forms and examination recordings are not available for review. Candidates can appeal the examination outcome at two levels. All appeal applications must be in writing. Please read the DA Dietetics Skills Recognition By-Law – Appeals  to ensure your application for an appeal is lodged correctly and within the required time frame. Applications must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.

The Exam application forms are available on the Dietitians Australia website by loging onto your DSR dashboard and selecting My Account then DSR Application, a register of suitable DSR Mentors is available from the DSR Administrator.

The examination questions are based on the NCS for Entry Level Dietitians and are benchmarked to that of entry level (new graduate) dietitians practising in Australia. The examinations assess a candidate’s competence to practise in the Australian setting and this is an important consideration in preparation for sitting the examinations.

The following range of resources are provided to support overseas qualified dietitians who have applied for recognition of their dietetic qualifications by Dietitians Australia. These resources may be useful in preparing for the professional examinations in dietetics.

All candidates are strongly encouraged to undertake some self-guided study to refresh their knowledge in the core dietetic areas, especially focusing on areas they have not recently practised in.

It is the responsibility of candidates to familiarise themselves with the practice of dietetics in Australia as part of their preparation for the professional exams in dietetics. DA encourages candidates to engage with a mentor.

Exam Preparation Resources

DA NCS for Entry Level DietitiansThe Professional Examinations in Dietetics will test competence against the nine national competency standards detailed. The required knowledge, skills and attitudes related to the Standards are summarised in the Core Fields of Study. The Range of Variable Statements and Evidence Guides for Standards may also provide useful information on the range of settings which may be assessed as part of the examinations.

Mentoring – The DA encourages all DSR candidates to enter a mentor relationship to assist them with how to plan their preparation for the DA Professional Examinations in Dietetics. See the DSR Mentoring Guide.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines give advice based on eating for health and wellbeing. They are based on the latest scientific evidence and descript the best approach to eating for a long and health life.

PEN – Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition Subscribe to a fully searchable dynamic database designed as a series of knowledge pathways, each focused on a topic from the diverse practice areas of dietetics. Each knowledge pathway includes practice questions and evidence-based answers with links to tools and resources consistent with the evidence.

DINER (Dietetic Information and Nutrition Education Resources). Members and DSR candidates have access to this database of professional development and client education resources. *Please note: Access to these resources is provided under the condition that you do not share, disseminate, or plagiarise any of these resources; they are provided to you for individual study purposes only.

eNCPT The eNCPT Reference Manual, 2014, is a comprehensive guide for implementing the Nutrition Care Process using a standardized language. You can access this manual and other NCPT resources by typing ‘NCPT’ into the keywords search field on DINER.

DA Endorsed Practice Guidelines and Practice Recommendations A range of guidelines and practice recommendations are available to you through DINER. Guidelines published in the DA journal can only be accessed by non-members by library or personal subscriptions to Nutrition & Dietetics.

Smart Eating For a Healthier You With links to over 300 webpages this section of the DA website provides access to a comprehensive range of nutrition resources including NHMRC Nutrient Reference valuesAustralian Guide to Healthy Eating and Dietary Guidelines for all Australians. This is a valuable tool to assist with Australian food and product knowledge.

Nutrition and Dietetics Journal Subscribe to Nutrition & Dietetics  – the Journal of the Dietitians Australia.

DA Centre for Advanced Learning The Centre for Advanced Learning (CAL) is an initiative of DA offering innovative short courses in high-demand topic areas, designed to build and develop skills and knowledge for both dietitians and other health care professionals. CAL will help meet the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) demands of health professionals now, and into the future. You will need to create separate user details for this section of the DA Website, these can then be used to access the Members Portal once you have completed the DSR process. DSR candidates are eligible for the member prices of all CAL programs.

Hot Topics  Access DA comments and responses to a range of popular nutrition topics such as childhood obesity, health claims, and popular weight loss diets.

Dietitians making news Accurate, evidence-based and practical nutrition messages communicated by DA and DA members through a range of media communication channels.

Formal Study Australian universities may offer non award units in human nutrition and dietetic education programs. Contact the universities directly.

Upcoming Events a listing of all DA and non DA continuing professional development events.

Candidates will be notified in writing of their result in the written or oral Examination in Dietetics as soon as possible. Please note that results will not be given by telephone.

Written MCQ exam results will be reviewed and ratified by the MCQ Standard Setting Committee once they are received by the Exam provider. MCQ exam results may take up to 6 weeks to process.

Oral exam results should be received within 4 weeks of the exam.

Once candidates have passed both the written and oral Examinations in Dietetics they will be issued with a formal letter of confirmation and may apply to become members of DA with dietetic qualifications and apply to join the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) program.

If applicable, candidates who pass the written Examination in Dietetics may request a formal Assessment of Dietetics Qualifications and Skills for Migration Purposes document.

Candidates are allowed to resit an examination if they fail (oral or written). Please see ‘Resitting the MCQ or Oral Examination’ in the tab below.

A formal appeal process has been established whereby candidates can appeal in writing to DA against the outcome of the examination. See Appeals Process.

If an examination cannot be offered in the candidate’s preferred city, and an alternative location acceptable to the candidate cannot be offered, the fee will be refunded in full.

Once candidates have applied and been accepted for a particular examination session, withdrawal will result in a cancellation fee being charged.

The examination fee will be forfeited altogether if withdrawal is less than two weeks before the examination unless a medical certificate is provided, in which case the cancellation refund of 20% will apply.

Additional information can be found on our Fees page.

The written and oral Examinations in Dietetics can each be attempted up to three times per candidate. Both the written and oral examinations must be successfully completed (passed) within the same three year period.

To be eligible to resit an exam your assessment for eligibility to sit the examination must be current,

  • your original assessment for eligibility (three years from letter of confirmation)
  • English language tests (valid for two years)
  • Recency of practice (requires employment in a dietetic position for at least 13 weeks in the 3 years prior to resitting the examinations).

If your original assessment for eligibility is out of date you will be required to reapply for an assessment for eligibility to sit the examination and pay the appropriate fee.

If you decide to resit either the written or oral Examination in Dietetics you will need to lodge a new exam application form and pay the required fee.

Candidates who have been significantly affected by illness or other serious circumstances just prior to taking the exam may be eligible to apply for special consideration. Before lodging a special consideration application you should consider the following:

An application for special consideration will only be considered if:

  • you were adversely affected to a substantial degree by illness or other cause on the day of or just prior to taking the exam, and/or
  • the circumstances were beyond your control.

Examples are if you were hospitalised, if there has been a death in your immediate family or you have a life threatening disease.

If you have an ongoing medical condition, you should contact DA, prior to sitting the exam, as we may be able to help make special arrangements for sitting the exam(s) if appropriate.

You are strongly advised to attend your examinations unless you are physically incapable of doing so. Missing an examination does not automatically entitle you to a special consideration. If you do not attend an examination, you must supply a doctor’s certificate or documentary evidence that states that you were physically incapable of attending the exam on that day.

To apply for special consideration, you must write to the DSR Administrator submit a report written by an appropriate professional who is familiar with the reasons for your application for special consideration and is able to provide an evaluation of the severity of the circumstances that may have caused disadvantage. An administration fee is payable on application (see fee schedule on the DA website).

You must submit your written application for special consideration no later than three working days after the date of the exam. This may be submitted as an attachment to an email.

You have five working days from when you lodge your application in which to submit the supporting report from an appropriate professional. Applications lodged without supporting documentation cannot be considered.

Applications lodged after these time limits will be considered late. Please note: late applications may not be considered.

You must provide supporting evidence of the circumstances for which you seek special consideration. It is unlikely that your application will be approved without supporting documentation. A medical practitioner, or another health professional that you are consulting, can provide this report.

In order for DA to make an assessment of how your circumstances have affected you, we need to know the impact, severity and timing. It is in your interest to provide us with this information in a full and complete manner.

All applications for special consideration will be considered by the General Manager, Accreditation and Recognition Services.

The decision will be based on the criteria as listed in this document.

One of the following recommendations will be made:

  • examiners to be advised to take the special consideration application and accompanying report into consideration when marking
  • candidate to be offered the opportunity to resit the examination at the next scheduled sitting at a reduced cost
  • no action is to be taken

If the incident occurs during the examination it will be counted as a sitting, the candidate will be allowed two more attempts. If it occurs prior to the examination and the special consideration request is approved the re-sitting will not be included in calculations of the three opportunities to sit the examinations.

You will be advised in writing of the outcome of your application for special consideration once your applications and supporting documentation has been assessed and a recommendation made.

If you are awarded a re-sit of the examination, the DSR Administrator will liaise with you to arrange for you to sit the next scheduled exam.

There is no formal appeals process for the outcome of an application for special consideration. If you wish to appeal the outcome of an examination result refer to the Appeals Process.