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What Score Do I Need To Pass the IBLCE Exam?

Woman excited about IBLCE score.

There’s no clear-cut answer to this question. The truth is a little more complicated than you might expect. The “pass-fail score” on the IBLCE exam changes each year; it is specifically calculated for each year’s exam, based on a rubric that assesses that specific exam. First, you might want to understand how the IBLCE exam is made.

How, exactly, do they make the exam? 

The IBLCE has a multidisciplinary committee that prepares, reviews, edits, and selects test items. This group also determines the pass-fail cut score—it’s based on “degree of difficulty” ratings the committee assigns to every answer choice for every test item. (In other words, responses that are “further from right” or “more wrong” are counted differently than those that are more credible or “the right answer.”) Making the exam in this way affects the passing score.

How does the IBLCE determine the passing score on the exam? 

The cut score is determined based on these factors, by applying something called the modified Nedelsky procedure. The score is criterion-referenced, rather than curve-based. It’s best to understand all of this in light of several years, rather than just one.

Looking at a few years’ reports (available on the IBLCE site), we see that:

Date “Cut score” Pass score approximately… Approximate percent of exam takers who passed
April 2018




October 2017




April 2017 125 71%


October 2016 127 73 % 74%

If you have additional questions about the evaluation process, take a look at the IBLCE site, or contact IBLCE directly.

We want to help you meet your goal. For more about how to prepare to meet your exam goals and get a passing score the first time, contact us.

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  1. Gregoire

    I took the exam in October 2019; despite more than six months of preparation with study material and course notes from different sources I found the exam questions and multiple choice answers to be convoluted and contradictory.
    I find it hard to imagine that the pass rate for candidates taking this exam is generally in excess of 70%.
    It’s hard to imagine how this organization is the international benchmark for lactation consultants.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh Gregoire, I wish I had some consoling words for you, but I don’t. Just about candidate I’ve ever met has said something similar to what you’ve observed or felt. Whether they’ve passed or failed, they have found the exam highly stressful. I admit, I’ve seen items on the IBLCE Exam that I’ve never encountered in decades of real-life practice….so I really hear you. I do. I’d like to encourage you to try it again. And, I’d like to help you. First, take a look at many posts I’ve written specific to IBLCE Exam prep. I will also be running an online course this spring that will address some of the thorny issues you’ve identified, so please, stay tuned! I’ve helped candidates who have failed once, twice, three times, and even someone who had failed four times—and all were able to pass on the next try. I feel confident I can help you, too. Let me know if you want to give it another shot.

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