Lactation Education Resources Blog
Eight Tips For Planning Your IBLCE Exam Study Schedule
You are planning to sit for the exam in April or September. How should you plan your study schedule? We asked Angela Love-Zaranka, BA, IBCLC, RLC LER’s Program Director to share her thoughts with us. Here, she shares some thoughts about how to study – and some common mistakes she sees people make.
There’s so much material to cover! How can exam-takers use the Detailed Content Outline to break it down?
The test is designed to assess your knowledge of the topics listed in the IBCLC Detailed Content Outline. You should expect questions on the topics (like physiology or clinical skills), chronological periods (such as prenatal, birth to day two, or beyond twelve months), and the key tasks (like assessment or taking a history).
To create the IBCLC Detailed Outline, IBLCE actually interviews LCs around the world, to find out what they’re doing in their practice. The Content Outline has several components, topics, key tasks, and chronological periods
How do I study each topic?
The topics listed on the outline are very broad. For example, “maternal acute disease.” Find and use resources – from your prior education or from new sources – that help you work through the specifics of common maternal diseases you might encounter. What is an example of a maternal disease? How does it affect lactation? Working through each topic like that enables you to go in-depth and ensure you’re covering each thoroughly.
And the key tasks?
When a lactation consultant works with a family, they complete key tasks: assess, develop a plan, document, evaluate, help mother to determine goals, history taking, and work with other medical providers. The exam will cover each of those topics to assess your knowledge of each.
As you study, look at each of the topics and ask how you might apply the key tasks. For example, “If the mother does have diabetes, how do I determine that in the history? How would I work with other providers? How might that affect the plan we develop?” Apply that framework to different topics.
What about the chronological periods?
The chronological periods cover preconception all the way up through beyond 12 months. To continue with the diabetes example, you might ask yourself what is important to know about something like gestational diabetes in pregnancy versus during versus diabetes that is present throughout the periods of preconception, pregnancy, and lactation? How can diabetes during each of those time-frames impact lactation?
What else is important to notice on the Content Outline?
Focus on the column “Total number of items” at the bottom of the topics list. Note there are 175 questions total. If you scroll back up, that column will tell you how many questions are likely to be on the test for that specific content area. For example, the outline indicates there are 35 questions in clinical skills. Ask yourself about your confidence in that area. If you feel solid in your clinical skills, focus your attention on another area of the outline.
How should I plan my schedule?
Review the content outline and assess your confidence in each area. You can also take a practice exam - our exam review course offers three practice exams that help you plan where to spend more time studying. Make a list of all of the areas where you need additional study.
There’s some areas where I need some extra help. Now what?
Pull out your texts and refresh your knowledge of the topics where you still see gaps. Also consider our enriched exam review course. It offers 32 video lessons specifically aligned to the detailed content outline.
When should I start?
You can start anytime, but we encourage you to start about 45-90 days before the exam. Make a list of your focus areas from your self-assessment and mark out windows for each one. Both of our exam courses offer a schedule you can use to help organize your time. Be sure to leave time for studying for the photo questions as well.
Lactation Education Resources Exam Prep courses offer packages designed to give you the tools you need to study, from flashcards on key terms, study worksheets, and photo flashcards. Find the package that is right for you.