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 1 September 2021. Applications for the September 2021 MCQ will close 23 July 2021. To be eligible to sit the exam your stage 1, application for assessment, must be submitted to the DA by 14 June 2021. For those eligible to apply, applications for the September 2021 MCQ are now open.
2021 Oral examinations have been scheduled for 29/30 April 2021 depending on the venue. 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 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 September 2021 MCQ examination, applications for the September exam will close Friday 23 July 2021. To be eligible to sit the September exam your stage 1 application (desktop assessment) must be submitted to the DA by 14 June 2021. The MCQ exam will also be offered 2 March 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 in most Australian capital cities (Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Wollongong), as well the UK. All sittings will be determined according to demand. You are able to apply by logging onto your DSR Dashboard via the DA Website and selecting DSR Application.
Applications are now being accepted for the April 2021 Oral examinations. Applications will close Thursday 15 April 2021. To be eligible to apply to sit DSR Oral examination you must have sat and passed the MCQ component of the examination process.
Please note: Due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions, some oral examination will be conducted via virtual video conferencing. You will be notified if this is the situation once applications have been received.
April 2021 Oral exam venues and dates
Adelaide – Thursday 29 April 2021
Brisbane – Thursday 29 April 2021
Canberra – Friday 30 April 2021
Melbourne – Thursday 29 April 2021
Perth – Monday 21 June 2021*
Sydney – Thursday 29 April 2021
Surrey – Thursday 29 April 2021
Wollongong – Friday 30 April 2021
*If you are in WA and would like to sit the oral exam earlier than June please contact the DSR Administrator for other options.
October 2021 Oral exam venues and dates
The October oral exams have been scheduled for Thursday 28 October 2021 except for Melbourne which will be Tuesday 26 October 2021.
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, 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 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 cues given by the client
- explain relevant diet-disease relationships
- prioritise the client’s health problems and negotiate nutritional management goals with the client
- give relevant, practical dietary advice that is accurate, correct, complete and easily understood by the client
- encourage client to make any necessary diet changes
- recommend an appropriate evaluation and follow-up plan
- speak clearly and concisely and to use appropriate language
To pass the oral exam the candidate must demonstrate competency in all three parts of the oral examination.
Part 1 – Performance in Phases of the Interview**
Part 2 – Performance in Overall Communication Skills
Part 3 – Safety of Practice
**Please note that Part 1 includes 4 phases. Each phase must be assessed as Competent Overall.
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 at the end of the exam to mention what kind of resources, if any, you would typically use with the client ie: wall charts, food diary, information sheets etc.
The timing for the role play is based on the average length of an initial counselling session. However since the basic diet history and medical history are provided this has been estimated at being no more than 45 minutes. If you run significantly overtime the moderator may prompt you to close the interview.
Conducting a dietetic counselling interview in a logical and well structured sequence is important. However you will be provided with an opportunity at the end of the examination via the candidate self-critique to correct any omissions or clarify topics you believe may not be clear from your performance.
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
- Examiners’ Comments – specific comments about the candidate’s performance
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 DA 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 therefore DA requires candidates to make declaration prior to sitting the exam to maintain confidentiality.
The exam will be digitally recorded to assist the two assessors to provide a fair and equitable assessment of each candidate. The recording of a candidate’s performance is kept by DA 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 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 DA. 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 Dietitians. The 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 values, Australian 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.
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.
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.