Overseas educated dietitians – Examination stage
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 the DA 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 3 March 20231. Applications for the March 2021 MCQ will close 26 January 2021. To be eligible to sit the exam your stage 1, application for assessment, must be submitted to the DA by 15 December 2020. Applications for the March 2021 MCQ are now open.
2020 Oral examinations have been scheduled for November 2020. A full list of the dates and venues can be found under the Examination venue and dates tab below.
Ad hoc Oral exams can be arranged outside the scheduled dates by contacting the DSR Administrator.
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 and Mentoring section of this page.
The MCQ examination sittings are organised by an external online 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 are now being accepted for the March 2021 MCQ examination. Applications for the March 2021 MCQ exam will close 26 January 2021. To be eligible to sit the exam your stage 1 application (desktop assessment) must be submitted to the DA by 15 December 2020. The MCQ exam will also be offered 1 September 2021.
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 in most Australian capital cities (Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Sydney and Wollongong), as well as Canada and the UK. All sittings will be determined according to demand. You are able to apply from the Apply online and Mentoring section of this page.
Candidates wishing to sit the Oral examination in Canada are required to contact the DSR Administrator for more information.
2020 Oral examination have been scheduled for the following dates;
Adelaide – Thursday 5 November 2020
Brisbane – Thursday 5 November 2020
Canberra – Thursday 5 November 2020
Melbourne – Thursday 5 November 2020
Perth – Thursday 5 November 2020
Sydney – Thursday 5 November 2020
Surrey – Thursday 5 November 2020 (tbc)
Wollongong – Wednesday 4 November or Thursday 5 November 2020 (tbc)
Additional days may be added if needed. You will be contacted directly if an alternate date is required.
Please note: Sitting dates may change during the year due to University scheduling, please keep an eye on these dates leading up to the exams. You will be notified directly if there are any changes to dates or venues if you have already applied to sit an exam.
Ad hoc Oral examinations can be arranged outside the scheduled dates by contacting the DSR Administrator.
There are two separate dietetic examinations.
- 150 minute written Multiple-Choice Question examination; and
- 60 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, community and public health nutrition and food service management. 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 the 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 60 minute examination consisting of reading time, a role play, debriefing and self critique. There will be two assessors, one to act as moderator and the other to role-play a client.
Ten minutes will be allowed for the candidate to study the Case Information for Candidates (background information and role-play scenario). This will include relevant background information about the client including medical history and basic social information. Diet history taking is not included in the role-play, therefore a typical day’s dietary intake will also be provided in the case information. Additional information should be collected by the candidate when necessary (medical, social or dietary information).
The moderator will welcome the candidate, review the purpose of the oral examination, explain the procedures and answer any questions before the role-play begins.
At the conclusion of the interview, the candidate will be provided with an opportunity to critique their performance and add any qualifying comments that may assist in their assessment. This takes the form of an oral critique. The candidate is asked a) what they feel they did well and b) what they feel they could have done better or need to improve on.
Scope of exam
The oral examination is designed to assess verbal counselling skills, response to cues, critical thinking, insight and reflection in a dietetic counselling situation. The oral examination takes the form of a role play of a client counselling session where the client is presenting for an initial consultation.
A role-play will be set up to allow a candidate to demonstrate the ability to
- structure an interview
- understand the problem from the client’s point of view and respond to