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Streamline Your Study for a 95-Hour Course

Young woman standing up against blue wall while holding a book.

As a first-time candidate, you know you need to complete 95 hours of lactation specific education and communication to meet the IBLCE’s exam eligibility requirements. What you might not know is how to streamline your study to meet the application deadline. Let me give a few tips and a few cautions.

Get real

You might be able to shave off a few hours if you’re a fast learner. But more importantly, don’t waste time. You could end up spending 120 hours or more if you don’t use your time wisely.

Get set up to study

So many people lose time trying to get their stuff together before they even sit down to study. I’ve given some tips on how to get set up for efficiency before you submit your application.

Map your plan

Instead of sitting down and moving aimlessly, make a roadmap for yourself. Figure out how many days you have, then consider how long it will take you to move through the competencies and the disciplines (and subtopics). It’s all about backward planning.

Build in some days off.

You can comfortably do all that you need to do to meet the upcoming deadline. But you do need to step on the gas, not the brake!

Tackle the content

Just diving in and reading the words is okay, but it’s not very efficient.

I’ve suggested several ways to tackle the content. For example, I like to use the THIEVES method, but you might like the PQ4R method.   

But honestly, if you want to streamline your study, consider it a two-part endeavor. Part 2 is content mastery. Step 1 is to focus on finishing!

Focus on finishing

The IBLCE says you need to complete the 95 hours before you apply for the exam. The key word there is complete. They don’t say you need to have mastered the material!

Usually, there’s about 4-5 months from the application deadline until when you actually take the exam. Hence, you still have time to hunker down over the harder stuff and master the content.

If you’re taking my online 95-hour course, you must learn enough to answer the questions at the end of each unit. Those questions are much easier than the application-level items you’ll find on the IBCLC exam. But you won’t get credit for completing the course unless you can answer those end-of-unit questions correctly! Get going now!

Read the objectives

I know, I know, people blow by the objectives. But as a very conscientious instructional designer, I’m careful to match the objectives to the end-of-unit tests.

For example, if the objective says:

  • review, that means I’m assuming you already more or less know the material (usually from your healthcare science course.)
  • list, just be prepared to make a list; no details or in-depth description.
  • relate, you need to work a little harder; that means you need to be prepared to see the relationship between one concept and another.
  • compare, you’ll need to see the similarities and differences of two different things.
  • formulate, you’ll need to come up with a course of action for something, usually clinical management.

Need more help on how to answer the questions at the end of the unit? Great! Read my post on how to use course objectives to streamline your study. This is the most well-kept secret to moving through the course and to mastering the content!

Speed up the audio or the video

When I calculate the number of minutes/hours it takes for people to complete the course, I assume they are listening to the audio or the video at regular speed. But that doesn’t mean you need to.

You can try listening at 1½ times the speed. If you do that with a 30-minute video, you could finish listening within 20 minutes.

So the quick tips are:

  • don’t overthink the lower-level objectives (e.g., list, identify, etc.)
  • slow down a bit for the moderate-level objectives (e.g., relate, compare, etc.) and
  • hunker down over the higher-level objectives (e.g., formulate, generate etc.)   

Stop obsessing over how long it takes

IBLCE requires 95 hours of lactation specific education. I use a scientifically proven method to calculate the number of hours it will take for the reading, listening/viewing, and end-of-unit test items. Furthermore, for years, we have asked course attendees to record how long it takes them to complete the assignments.

Nearly all report 85-95 hours. There are some outliers.

There aren’t any real shortcuts to learning. But streamlining your efforts does help. Get organized with materials, content and study techniques, focus on the objectives, and keep your foot on the gas. Don’t fret about how long it will take. That just saps your energy!

Have you found other ways to streamline your study to complete your 95 hours of lactation education?? Tell me in the comments below! 

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  1. Malorie

    Hi Marie,

    Thanks for the post! I am an RN who wants to obtain my IBCLC. I have the health science credits.

    Would you happen to know if the 95 hours of lactation education must be completed before the lactation clinical hours or can you do both at the same time?


    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Hello Malorie!
      The IBLCE is clear that everyone who is interested in pursuing the IBCLC certification must complete 3 main requirements: (1) Healthcare sciences (because you are an RN, they automatically assume you have the 14 healthcare sciences completed) (2) clinical experience, and (3) 95 hours of lactation education. Everyone needs this, not matter what pathway they pursue or what language they speak or anything else! But the IBLCE does NOT specify in what order the person needs to complete those 3 main requirements. Please read my blog post “Should You Take Your Lactation Course First, or Last” by clicking here: If you have additional questions, please email us at

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