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Can You Pass the IBCLC Exam: Best Way to Prepare

To pass any exam, the first step is figuring out what will be on it. That’s true no matter what the exam. If you were taking a driver’s test, you’d want to know if you would be asked to parallel park. If you were taking a citizenship exam, you’d want to know if you’d be tested on the Bill of Rights. If you were trying to pass the Basic Life Support exam, you’d know if you would be expected to face questions about helping a choking victim, right? In fact, I’d wager that in these cases, you would make an all-out effort to find out what you’d be asked about, and you’d be sure to know the answers.

Strangely, the vast majority of Lactation Exam Review course participants seem comfortable not seeking out this information. Although the IBLCE has a Detailed Exam Content Outline readily available on its site, fewer than 5% of the attendees raise their hands when I ask if they have read it, even though I sent them the link before a few weeks before I raised the question.

Will you pass or fail? Sink or swim? Grab this lifeline!

I don’t get it. Why don’t they seek out this document, print it out, and clasp it to their heart as their lifeline to passing the IBCLC exam? (When I’m asked during the course whether something will be on the exam, I point to the Detailed Content Outline as my basis for declaring that something is or isn’t “fair game” for the exam!)

Okay, maybe the outline isn’t as “detailed” as you might hope. You’ll notice it lists “hormones,” but there are dozens of hormones, and the outline doesn’t “detail” which ones will be covered on the exam. Nonetheless, you should see “hormones” and ask yourself, “What is there to know about hormones as related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and lactation? What question might the exam ask that I don’t know?”

And this is only one example.

Topics that are convenient and interesting aren’t necessarily on the IBCLC exam

Sadly, many people accumulate the required 95 hours of the required lactation focused education by picking up an assortment of special topic sessions that interest them. However, they do so without considering that the required “95 hours” is intended to create a well-rounded education covering all of the topics on the IBCLC exam.

Recently, a woman called my office for advice. She had taken 45 hours of lactation focused education in a week-long course that awarded a credential. About two years later, she took the same course again. She wondered if that counted for 95 hours. I didn’t know; I recommended she call IBLCE. Whether they would recognize that as 45 or 95 was not up to me to say.

What puzzled me was, why would she want to sit and take in the same information twice? Maybe the course provided information she was interested in, or it was easy, or attending the course was convenient for her. I can understand all of those reasons. But there’s a lot of stuff on the IBCLC exam that is boring, tough, and inconvenient!

Here’s the thing: The woman was focused on what she had to do to become eligible to take the IBCLC exam. She would have been better off focusing on what she had to do to pass it!

Set yourself up to pass the exam — not just get the hours

It may well be that your best option — even if you’ve already had a 45-hour course — is to take a 95-hour comprehensive course. But if you have already earned 45 hours of lactation-focused education, check out our Step-Up program. In this course, you’ll cover the topics that were likely not well-covered in any 45-credit course. Our goal is to help you pass the IBCLC exam on the first try.

Believe me, it’s not just about the number of credits. It’s about the diverse knowledge you’ll need in order to pass on the first try!

Have you checked out the Detailed Content Outline?

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    • Marie

      Yes, Dianne, I tell this to people all of the time! This is not a secret, yet few people seem to use this resource! That being said, I can tell you: This document is not as “detailed” as any of us might like. I’m sitting here this morning updating my Lactation Exam Review course for the next time that I present it, and I can tell you, I do occasionally scratch my head.

      That being said, I think anyone is nuts not to at least look at it!

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