Master Terminology

If you were going to Greece, you’d need to learn to speak Greek, right? Well, if you’re preparing to take the IBCLC exam, you’ll need to learn your terminology. How are you doing with words like lactoferrin or T cells?

  1. If you do not already have it, download our list of 1000+ lactation terms. You won’t need to know all these terms on the upcoming exam. Trouble is, you don’t know which ones you will need to know!
  2. Put a circle next to any term you feel you unable to define.
  3. Use whatever resource you have handy to look up the definition.
    1. For 15 years, our most popular resource is our low-cost flash cards.
    2. If you do not already have it,  consider also using our Guide to Decoding Lactation Photos Course which gives definitions for multiple terms in each of the 18 chapters; there are also matching exercises to help you master those terms.
    3. You could also use the Internet. However, remember that not all of the sources on the Internet are completely accurate. (Many or most are good, but often not entirely accurate, or not entirely accurate within the newborn/infant/child context or within the pregnancy/lactation context.)
  4. After looking up definitions, keep those definitions handy. Using 3 x 5 cards and organizing them in a box is cheap and easy. Or use an electronic solution.
  5. Force yourself to write a paragraph about each of those words. If you can’t use that word in context or you can’t write a short paragraph 75 words or so) it means that even though you can define the word, you have not mastered the context.
  6. See if you can determine where that word would likely fall in the IBLCE “disciplines”. This isn’t entirely necessary, and some of the words could go in more than one discipline, but if you do categorize the words, it helps you to know the discipline where you are weak.
  7. Go back and put a checkmark in the circle you made when you started.

Use Flash Cards

We offer a lactation flash card app on both Google and the App Store that cover most of the more difficult terminology in lactation. But whether you use those or make your own, tackle flash cards like this:

  • Take just one deck of cards (one topic) at a time.
  • Turn the cards so that the description is showing, and the one-word answer is facing down. (Our electronic flash cards flip over, just like paper cards!)
  • Test yourself with one deck. When you saw the description, did you get the right answer on the reverse side without peeking? For each deck, separate those you got right from those you missed. Keep them there until you finish all decks.
  • Determine which deck was the most difficult.
  • Master the most difficult deck (for you) first.
    • Place the card so the description is facing you, and the one-word answer is face down.
    • Learn five cards the first day.
    • Reverse the five cards so that the one-word answer is facing you, and the description is face down.
    • The next day, add a few cards, and continue in the same fashion. Add a few cards each day until you have mastered each one in the deck.

Revise your class notes, or take new notes

Just reading and re-reading your old class notes won’t help much. Research in the education field shows that revising your class notes helps. Here is an excellent article, which includes a worksheet for checking off the important stuff to “revise.”

Although this Guide is designed to be a review, it’s likely you’ll bump into something you haven’t previously encountered. If so, use the PQ4R method to study unfamiliar documents or materials. You might want to try creating notes according to the Cornell Method. There are many free Cornell Methods templates for taking notes.