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What to Do Just Before You Take the IBCLC Exam

Smiling wonan in front of a laptop computer.

We know you can pass the exam, and we’re looking forward to hearing your “after stories” of success. But as you count down to exam time, we wanted to share a few tips to help you just before you take the IBCLC exam.

Have your IDs ready

Read the IBLCE’s Candidate Information Guide to get details about the TWO forms of identification you need, as well as any supporting documents you may be required to produce.

A word of warning. If your name has changed since the last time you interacted with IBLCE (e.g., registering for the exam, recertifying, etc.) halt! Get further information on what, exactly, to do next. Some people have been successful in simply changing their name on their account, but check to see any and all updates on how to do that.

Whatever you do, do NOT wait to show up at the testing center with an ID that does not match the full name that IBLCE has on record for you!

Know where to go — and how

Most IBCLC exam candidates in the U.S. and Canada will use computer-based testing at the testing center. Make sure you know where you’re going and how to get there.

Just before you take the IBCLC exam, re-check the site location. Once year, I registered for the exam, and I got directions to reach the testing center. But only days before the actual exam, the testing site had moved! So be sure you confirm directions just before you head to the facility.

Plan to be 15 to 20 minutes early, considering the traffic on the day and time of the exam. If you’re late, you may not be able to take the exam. If you’re early, you can use the time to go over your notes or do some deep breathing to relieve anxiety.

Have a “Plan B” ready

A week or two before your testing date, ask a friend to give you a lift to the exam site if your car won’t start or if you encounter some other transportation problem on exam day.

Just before you take the IBCLC exam, try to plan for every eventuality. If you have an emergency on the day of the exam, you will not be able to take the exam that day, and IBLCE will not refund your fees.

Be aware of the time

Most IBCLC exam-takers are allotted two 2-hour sessions to complete the exam. (See IBLCE’s FAQ for details.)

Plan what you eat or drink accordingly

Although you may feel nervous before the exam, try to eat something. Having a little food on board will help you to avoid being distracted by hunger. That said, note at least two factors to consider.

First, although the testing center allows you to bring a snack and water bottle with you, you cannot have anything in the testing room. And, you’ll need to take time to sign in and sign out of the testing room to get your snack.

Next, avoid drinking too many cups of caffeinated coffee or soft drinks. The IBCLC exam is a timed exam, and you’ll waste precious time visiting the bathroom.

Find ways to make yourself more comfortable

Just before you take the IBCLC exam, try to anticipate anything that will make you more (or less) physically comfortable.

With rare exception, I have at least a little post-nasal drip every day of my life. I suspected the testing center would not allow me to have a tissue with me at my computer station. However, before sitting down, I simply told them my situation, and they cheerfully gave me a few of their tissues.

Also, stand up for a minute or two if you start to feel uncomfortable. That can be very helpful for those of us who have a little arthritis.

Take your reading glasses, even if you don’t usually need them. Once, I had to just guess at an answer because I couldn’t read the tiny little graph on the screen.

Get a good night’s sleep the night before

This might be one of the most important things — if not THE most important thing — to being well-prepared for performing your best.

By now, you know the material about as well as you will on exam day. Be hyperaware of what you can do just before you take the IBCLC exam and it will help you immensely!

What are your plans just before you take the IBCLC exam? If you’ve taken the exam, share your words of wisdom with first-time test-takers!

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