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Prepping for 'The Exam'

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Those of you who are sitting for the IBLCE exam for the first time this year, the countdown has begun.  There are 76 “study days” left.    So how will you spend your time?  You may think, I don’t have to start yet, there is plenty of time.  Or some of you may be panicked thinking there is so much material and so little time.   Deep breathe. 

And if you have taken the exam previously, but are at your 10 year or 20 year mark and have to re-sit the exam, take heart.  Remember, the exam is an entry level exam and if you have been actively practicing as a lactation consultant, then you have the advantage.  You have passed the exam at least once and you have experience.  Those case study questions will make more sense now.  ;-)

Here are some suggestions:

Start now

Plan a strategy for how you will review all of the material.  Use the IBLCE Exam Blueprint to categorize the topics and plan to study one each week.  http://iblce.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/iblce-exam-blueprint.pdf

You will be more confident during the last week before the exam, if you have reviewed everything and feel in control.

Gather compatriots

Group study is always more fun, so gather some local people who will be studying also.  Plan to meet a few times to go over strategies, practice test questions, and share anxieties.

For those of you who have taken the LER Lactation Consultant Training Program, we have a FaceBook page for the IBLCE Exam 2014.  If you did not get an invitation, email LER@LactaitonTraining.com for access.

Make flash cards

Jot down facts that you feel are important and “testable”.   Writing helps you remember, and you can also review them later.

The ones developed by Lactation Education Resources are good for medical/lactation terms.    http://quizlet.com/5315866/iblce-exam-review-2013-lactation-education-resources-flash-cards/

Study in short bursts

Don’t study for hours on end.  Things begin to fall out of your head after long stretches with the books.   Take a break and get your blood moving again.  Do some stretches, drink something.  Study for a few hours, review what you studied and do something else, or sleep.

Choose a quiet place

Make sure you have a place conducive to study: quiet, good lighting, comfortable, snacks if you like.  Sometimes going to someplace helps, like a library or coffee shop or a friend’s quiet space

Set up a place that is your study nook that has all of your reference books, paper, pens, etc. so you don’t have to waste time searching for study materials each time.

Some people find studying with soft music helps, others find it detracting.  A headphone or earplugs prevent bothering others and keep out distracting noises, even without the music.   If that quiet hum of background noise helps you block out distractions, but a coffee shop is not handy or is too busy, try listening to http://coffitivity.com/.   You can choose your favorite “noise”.

Negotiate with your family

Plan for study time where everyone agrees to not bother you – for anything.  You will be able to concentrate better knowing you have uninterrupted time ahead of you.

Positive affirmations help

“I can learn this material easily”, “I remember everything I read”,  “This material is interesting to me”,  “I am good at taking tests”, “I recall everything I study”, more….

Feed your brain

Skip the junk food and eat foods known to aid concentration and memory such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries.   Have lots of water available to sip on.

Have good reference materials

There are several good books useful for studying for the IBLCE Exam. 

  • Your class power point handouts of each lecture
  • Breastfeeding & Human Lactation by Riorden and Wambach

The lactation consultants “bible”

  • The Core Curriculum by ILCA

Excellent, comprehensive book in outline form

  • The Breastfeeding Atlas by Hoover

Great for pictures

If you have, or have access to, other books use them all.  Look up controversial topics up in several references so you have the consensus of the authors.

Practice exams

Take the exam at the end of your lactation consultant Training Program, again.  First time, do it as an open book exam and look up what you need to.  Then time yourself and see if you can do it faster.  Push yourself a little.  The IBLCE exam is not a “speed” test, but practicing with a little pressure makes it more realistic.

If you want additional test questions to practice with, consider signing up for the IBLCE Exam Review program https://www.lactationtraining.com/our-courses/online-courses/iblce-exam-review

Vergie Hughes has a long history of experience in Maternal Child Health including labor and delivery, post-partum and pediatrics, and for the past 25 years she has been involved in lactation management. Ms. Hughes has a BSN from Pacific Lutheran University and a MS from Georgetown University. She has been a board certified lactation consultant since 1985. At Georgetown University Hospital, she was the director of the Human Milk Bank. She created and developed the National Capitol Lactation Center and the one week Lactation Consultant Training Program. This course has trained more than 4,000 Lactation Consultants since its inception in 1990.


She has been a private practice lactation consultant and business owner, and operated her own lactation center, Washington’s Families First. Lactation Education Resources On-Line is her website, offering training to professionals and information to parents as well. Ms. Hughes has served on the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and has served on the IBLCE exam writing committee. Her first love is teaching and that is exemplified by the creativity of the courses she has developed. A series of courses “The In-patient Breastfeeding Specialist,” "The Out-patient Breastfeeding Specialist” and “The NICU Breastfeeding Specialist” are all designed to advance the lactation management skills of nurses at the bedside. She regularly teaches skills to labor and delivery nurses and just recently developed the course “Towards Exclusive Breastfeeding.”


Ms. Hughes is the program director and content manager for all of the on-line Lactation Education Resources courses. Ms. Hughes was recently honored with a “lifetime achievement award” as Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association (FILCA).

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Guest Monday, 20 November 2017