Examination FAQs

Exam FAQs

Why is there such an emphasis on security?

The IBCLC is a professional credential.  Security is important to the integrity of the credential. IBCLCs’ work impacts the health of infants and parents, and therefore verification of their knowledge is of great importance.  Additionally, a great deal of expertise, time, and resources go into the development of examination questions or items.  Certification professionals estimate that typically the value of examination items is $1,000 to $2,000 USD per item.  Security is important both to the health and safety of the public as well as to the health of the certification board which develops the examination items. 

Will I be able to take the examination at a location near my house?

IBLCE works with both the Computer-Based-Testing (CBT) vendor and examination candidates to seat candidates as near as reasonably feasible to their home.  However, the availability of an appointment at a location near your home cannot be guaranteed. The sooner you schedule your appointment for the examination, the wider your options will be. Although the CBT network is worldwide, in some limited situations, you may be required to travel up to 250 miles or 402 kilometers from your home.

When are the examinations offered each year and in which languages?

The IBCLC examination is offered in April and September each year. The examination administration dates are listed on the Key Dates page. Please note that the April examination is only offered via CBT in the English language. The September examination is offered via CBT in all of the following languages.

British English is the foundation for all translations of the IBCLC examination. With respect to measurement, the IBCLC examination includes both metric weights and measures as well as US weights and measures, with the more prevalent metric measurement noted first, and with the US measurement noted second in a parenthetical, e.g., 30 mL (1 oz).

IBCLC Examination Languages

  • Chinese Traditional
  • Croatian
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
What happens if I don’t pass the exam? Can I take the next exam offered?

You will be able to apply to resit the examination at the next examination seating in that language. If you are taking the examination in English via CBT then you have the option of the April or September examination. If you are taking the examination in a non-English language, you will be able to apply to sit the September examination. Information about reapplying will be provided at the time of the examination results. If you don’t pass the IBCLC examination, then you are eligible to receive a 50% discounted examination fee for the next three examination attempts or up to three years following the first time you don’t pass. Both initial and recertification examination candidates are eligible for the discounted rate. The fee amount can be found in the Candidate Information Guide in the Fee Schedule section.

When will examination results be available?

April examination: End of June, with a certification start date of July 1

September examination: End of December, with a certification start date of January 1

What topics are tested on the examination and does IBLCE offer an assessment guide?

The Detailed Content Outline outlines the subject matter that is tested on the certification examination. Each item, or question, on the examination is referenced to a particular discipline and chronological period listed on the blueprint. IBLCE does not currently offer an assessment guide.

Where will the examination be given?

CBT centres are provided by a major testing vendor and appointments for a seat at the testing centre of your choice must be made by you. IBLCE is one of many certification boards and organisations for which the CBT vendor provides examinations at its testing centres. For this reason, reservation blocks for IBCLC examination appointments are available for a specified period of time each year and it is important that candidates take responsibility for making their appointments promptly. Information about scheduling deadlines will be provided to you in your examination authorisation email.

IBLCE works with both the CBT vendor and examination candidates to seat candidates as near as reasonably feasible to their home.  However, the availability of an appointment at a location near your home cannot be guaranteed.

How can I apply and what type of payment does IBLCE accept?

The English application is available online via the Credential Management System. Additional application languages are available on each translated IBLCE website section.

Our system accepts payment by credit card and prepaid credit card. Mastercard, VISA, American Express and Discover cards are accepted. Payment is accepted in US dollars only. Payment in other currencies will be converted to US dollars based on the exchange rate for the date of transaction.

Will the CBT centre provide all the equipment I need for the examination?

Yes, the centre will provide you with all the equipment and materials you need to take the IBCLC examination.

How will I know the location of the CBT centre where I will take the examination?

You will select an available appointment with the testing vendor directly. After you have scheduled an appointment you will receive a confirmation email which includes the location of the CBT centre where you are scheduled.  You may reconfirm the test centre location at any time using the CBT vendor’s website.

When I make my appointment with the CBT centre, will I need to pay a fee?

No. You will not owe any money when you make your appointment directly with the testing vendor.

What can I expect when I arrive at the CBT centre?

To gain admission to the examination, candidates must present TWO (2) forms of identification.

The primary ID must have the candidate’s name, current photograph, and signature, and the secondary ID must have either their name and signature or their name and current photograph. Review the details of these requirements in the Candidate Information Guide.

The names on the IDs must match and must be the same name as the one on file with IBLCE. Candidates who need to update or make changes to their name MUST contact IBLCE with these changes and such updates/changes can be made up to 5 days prior to the scheduled examination appointment; however, the IDs must be valid, unexpired, and match at the time of examination check-in.

When you arrive at the CBT centre, you will need to register with the test administrator, your identification will be inspected, and you will be asked to sign in. In addition, you will be required to store your personal items (e.g. jewelry, watches, bags) in a locker for which you will be provided a key. You may want to consider leaving valuable or other treasured items at home if you are not comfortable leaving them in a locker.  Much like the airport, you will be required to undergo wanding with a hand-held device or to walk through a metal detector.  This is an important security step to protect the integrity of the examination content and the certification. Wanding allows for the detection of concealed, prohibited items that candidates may have on their person.  This scanning must be performed for all candidates unless the candidate has an implanted medical device such as an insulin pump or pacemaker that is documented by a medical card.  You will be asked to demonstrate that your pockets are empty. Candidates who are wearing a cast due to a fractured limb may be subject to inspection, as are candidates with tattoos. Please understand that these measures are part of standard test centre security procedures.

Please note: candidates will be asked to agree to Test Centre Regulations upon arrival to the test centre. If a candidate does not comply with these regulations, then they may be dismissed from the examination with forfeiture of the examination fees paid, including invalidation of the test score and/or pursuit of civil or criminal charges.
May I reschedule my appointment for a different CBT centre?

Rescheduling is possible until a date specified by IBLCE so long as appointments are available. Candidates may reschedule or cancel an examination appointment without penalty up to 30 days before the scheduled appointment date.  Within 5-29 days of the scheduled appointment, candidates will need to pay a $50 reschedule fee which will be paid directly to the test vendor by the candidate.  No rescheduling or cancelling is permitted within 5 days of a scheduled appointment.  If the candidates fails to appear for the scheduled test appointment, the test fee will be forfeited.

What time should I arrive at the CBT centre?

Candidates should allow adequate time for arrival at the examination site. Candidates are required to arrive at the test centre 30 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment. This should give candidates adequate time to complete the necessary sign-in procedures. Candidates who arrive more than 30 minutes late for their appointment will be refused admission and examination fees will be forfeited.

What will happen if I am late for my appointment?

Candidates who arrive more than 30 minutes late for their appointment will be refused admission and examination fees will be forfeited. Likewise, candidates who fail to appear at the examination site on the day of the examination will forfeit all rights to any refund of examination fees. Failure to make an appointment by the posted deadlines will result in the forfeiture of the examination fees paid.

What if I have an emergency on the day of the examination and cannot make my appointment?

Please contact the IBLCE regional location that serves you as soon as possible with details about the nature of your emergency.

Will I be allowed to bring water or a snack to the test center?

You may bring bottled water and/or a small snack to the CBT centre, but you will be required to keep the water and snack in your assigned locker, along with your purse, backpack, mobile phone, and other personal belongings. Please ask the test centre supervisor about where you are permitted to eat and drink. Liquids can damage keyboards and other computer equipment so you may not have any liquids at your examination station.

Will I be allowed to take a break to use the restroom?

Yes, you may take a break to use the restroom. You will not be given any additional time on the examination to make up for the time used. You can also use the five-minute break granted between Part 1 and Part 2 of the exam. When you return from the restroom, you will be required to go through the check-in process again for the test administrator to re-admit you to the testing room.

What is the examination format?

The examination is composed of multiple-choice questions with a stem and four response choices.  You must select the best response of the choices provided. The examination is given in two parts, and once you have completed Part One, you may not go back to that part. Most questions in Part Two are associated with an image

How long will I be given to take the examination?

The standard IBCLC examination is of four hours’ duration. Additional testing time may be provided for those with documented reasonable accommodations.  Thirty (30) extra minutes of time are allocated for test takers for whom the examination is not offered in their primary language.

Will I be allowed to go back and review questions that I have already read and/or answered?

Yes. You will be permitted to review questions in each examination session. The examination is administered in two parts and you will be able to review questions in each part of the examination, i. e., once you have submitted Part 1, those questions can no longer be reviewed nor answers revised.

Will I be allowed to use my mobile phone when I take a break during the examination administration?

You will not be allowed to use your mobile/cell phone or electronic devices during the examination or during any breaks that you take during the examination administration. Candidates found in possession of and/or using such devices during the examination or during breaks will be dismissed and their examinations will not be scored. Candidates who bring their cell phones or other electronic devices to the examination site must power them off (putting them on silent/mute is not sufficient) and store them in the locker designated by the test administrator/IBLCE Examination Proctor.

[Please note: Neither the test administrators/IBLCE Examination Proctors nor IBLCE are responsible for candidates’ personal property.]

Can I choose to sit paper and pencil exam?

No. IBLCE offers computer-based testing (CBT) for the examination worldwide.

What information will be on my score report?

The one-sided score report is a summary of your individual performance in each of the scientific disciplines (objectives) that were tested. In the column “Your Score” the number is the number of points (items) you answered correctly. In the “Max Score” column, the number is the total number of points (items) in that category. This analysis will help you to identify your particular areas of strength and weakness and to plan for your continuing education.

The content area scores by discipline on the score report are not used to determine pass-fail decision outcomes.  They are only provided to offer a general indication regarding candidate performance in each content area. The examination is designed to provide a consistent and precise determination of a candidate’s overall performance and is not designed to provide complete information regarding a candidate’s performance in each content area.  Candidates should remember that areas with a larger number of items (questions) will affect the overall score more than areas with a fewer number of items.  The precision and consistency of scores diminishes with fewer items, and therefore, sub-scores should be interpreted with caution, especially those that correspond to content areas with very few items.