Step 3: Apply for the IBCLC Exam & Exam FAQs

Applications to sit the April/May 2021 examination are now closed.

Applications for the September 2021 IBCLC examination will open in April. Please visit our website regularly for updates on the next application window.

Please visit IBLCE’s COVID-19 Resource Centre regularly for 2021 IBCLC examination administration updates .

To apply for the IBCLC examination, please go to the new online credential management system.

If you already have an account, please start by resetting your password. Your username is the email address associated with your IBLCE account. If your email address has changed, please do not create a new account; you may contact your regional location for assistance.

Please see below for video guides in English on navigating the credential management system. Please see the Spanish and German pages for guides on accessing the system in those languages. 

Application Quick Tips  

  • To select your birth date when creating a profile, click in the field to open a pop-up calendar. Click on the current month and year and then on the year. Click on the left arrow until you find your birth year. Then, select the appropriate month to find your date of birth. 
  • To submit a Pathway 3 Plan verification, use the Begin link in your account to locate the mentorship option. Click “Save to my Home,” then “Apply Here.” 
  • To submit an examination application, use either the Begin link or the Apply for an Exam link in your account. See the video guides for examples of each—Pathway 1 and 2 use the Begin link, and Pathway 3 uses Apply for an Exam. 
  • Make sure your email address is accurate. If your application entails further review, staff may send secure messages via your account and you will receive email notifications of these. 
  • The My CERPs Portfolio area is only for IBCLCs recertifying by CERPs. Candidates who are applying to gain certification will use the processes shown above. 
  • If you have previously earned your IBCLC and it lapsed in 2020, you will see an option to apply for a reinstatement exam. This application is similar to the Pathway 1 application process above. 

If you need additional assistance with the application process, please see the FAQs listed below, or contact your regional location. 

For detailed information about the initial certification process and requirements, review the Candidate Information Guide.*

*Please read in conjunction with the Updated Interim Guidance on the Use of Technology to Meet Pathways 1, 2, and 3 Clinical Practise Requirements (Reissued on October 6 2020).

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 third-party testing 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 test centre network is worldwide, in some limited situations, you may need to travel further from your home to a test centre.

In 2021, candidates testing in English have the option to take the examination at home or other location via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP). Please check here to learn more.

Learn more about your options and important considerations, including an Examination Day Notice,  for taking the IBCLC examination in 2021 here.

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 in the English language. The September examination is offered 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 examination? Can I take the next examination 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, 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?

Test centres are provided by a major testing vendor and appointments for a seat at the test centre of your choice must be made by you. IBLCE is one of many certification boards and organisations for which the third-party testing vendor provides examinations at its test 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 third-party testing 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.

In 2021, candidates testing in English may have the option to take the examination at home or other location via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP). Please check here to learn more.

Learn more about your options and important considerations, including an Examination Day Notice,  for taking the IBCLC examination in 2021 here.

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

The English, Spanish, and German applications are 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, 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 test centre provide all the equipment I need for the examination?

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

If you take the examination via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP), you must provide your own equipment. Learn more about the technical and environmental requirements for LRP here.

How will I know the location of the test 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 test centre where you are scheduled.  You may reconfirm the test centre location at any time using the testing vendor’s website.

In 2021, candidates testing in English may have the option to take the examination at home or other location via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP). Please check here to learn more.

Learn more about your options and important considerations, including an Examination Day Notice,  for taking the IBCLC examination in 2021 here.

When I make my examination appointment, 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 test 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.

Please note: If you are taking the examination via LRP, you may not use a bank/credit card or social security card as a form of ID.

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 test 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.  Please note that due to COVID-19, wanding may not occur at your test centre.  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.

IMPORTANT: Please review test centre policies regarding social distancing, etc. here.

Learn more about your options and important considerations, including an Examination Day Notice,  for taking the IBCLC examination in 2021 here.

May I reschedule my appointment for a different test 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 third-party testing vendor by the candidate.  No rescheduling or cancelling is permitted within five days of a scheduled appointment.  If the candidates fails to appear for the scheduled test appointment, the test fee will be forfeited.

If your examination appointment is cancelled because the test centre is closed due to COVID-19, no rescheduling fee will be applied. Visit the COVID-19 Resource Centre to find the latest COVID-19-related examination news.

What time should I arrive at my appointment?

Candidates should allow adequate time for arrival at the examination.

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.

Candidates taking the examination via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) should launch their examination 30 minutes ahead of their scheduled examination time.

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 for their examination appointment 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 my examination?

You may bring bottled water and/or a small snack to the test 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 administrator 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.

If you are taking the examination via Live Remote Proctoring (LRP), please check here for more information.

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

Yes, for candidates taking the IBCLC examination at a test centre, you may take up to two unscheduled breaks 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 scheduled break granted between Part 1 and Part 2 of the examination. 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 examination.

If you are taking the examination via LRP, you may only leave your workspace during the scheduled break; you may not take an unscheduled break. Even during your scheduled break, you may only leave the view of your webcam after you have the acknowledgement of your proctor. Please contact your remote proctor before leaving your workspace or if you have have any questions about LRP rules to avoid dismissal from the examination. After your scheduled break, you will be required to go through the check-in process again to be re-admitted to the examination.

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 must power them off (putting them on silent/mute is not sufficient) and store them for the duration of the examination.

At a test centre, candidates must store electronic devices in the locker designated by the test administrator/IBLCE Examination Proctor.

More information about preparing your workspace for a Live Remote Proctored examination can be found here.

[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 examination?

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.

What should I take into consideration regarding examination conduct of candidate testing irregularities?

As a certification board, IBLCE is devoted to public health and safety and therefore there is a fundamental public interest in assuring that professional certification examination scores are valid and reliable, and that the integrity of the items is maintained. IBLCE strives to and has been recognised for over thirty years as maintaining the highest standards of testing and operates under standard policies, procedures, and guidelines to see that score results and examination outcomes accurately and correctly represent the competency of the examination candidate.

IBLCE actively monitors for examination irregularities and potential sharing of examination content. Related to these activities, IBLCE reserves the right to cancel the examination scores of candidates if observed transmission of examination items and/or statistical analysis identifies any examination irregularities.

During the application process, candidates expressly acknowledge and agree to have read and are subject to the IBLCE® Code of Professional Conduct for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and the IBLCE Disciplinary Procedures.

Applicants also agree to the following at the time of application:

· “Expressly understand and agree that, without limitation, IBLCE may deny, revoke, suspend or otherwise take action with regard to your eligibility for certification or recertification in the case of: irregularity in connection with any IBCLC examination…”

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