How to Prepare for the Initial Certification Examination

Create a Study Plan

Considering certification in infection prevention and control (CIC®), but do not know where to start to prepare for the examination? Well we have some helpful hints and suggestions outlined below!

Review Content Outline

The CBIC exam has 8 core competencies. You can find the complete content outline here. Go over the outline to determine your strengths and weaknesses. From there you can develop a study map to focus on the areas that you may not be as familiar with as you are with others.

Study Groups

Do you know others who are studying for the exam? You can form groups and study for the exam together. It will help everyone stay on track and motivated. If you do not know anyone else who is considering taking the certification examination, APIC and IPAC Canada have chapters that could be good resources for you.

List of CBIC Exam References

The CBIC exam is developed by a Test Committee. We post all of the resources that the committee uses to write examination questions on our website. You can find a full list of the references here.

Practice Exam

CBIC offers a practice exam through Prometric, the testing company that facilitates the certification examination. The practice exam is 70 multiple-choice questions, and its purpose is to give candidates an idea of the format of the exam, the general feel of the questions, and the type of analysis you need to do in order to answer correctly.

Follow us on Social Media

Every Tuesday and Thursday, CBIC posts retired exam questions to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We follow up with the retired answers in the comments section on the following day. You can also use these questions to gauge the types of questions that you may see on the exam. Please keep in mind these are retired, and they may be retired for a variety of different reasons.

Other Study Tools

Other third-party organizations, such as APIC, offer study tools that are not prepared by nor endorsed by CBIC.

Note on Study Materials: At this time, CBIC only offers on-demand webinars for the 8 core competencies of the examination and the online practice exam. Other materials that may have the CBIC name or acronym on them, but are not sold on the CBIC website, are not produced by CBIC. If you would like to verify whether or not a resource is produced by CBIC please email us at However, please note that CBIC neither recommends nor endorses any study materials for the CIC® examination. The purchase and review of the on-demand webinars or online practice exam do not  guarantee success on the examination.

When to Apply

Candidates should only apply once they have studied and are prepared to take the certification examination. Once approved, applicants have 90-days to schedule and sit for their exam. If a candidate applies and does not take the examination within those 90-days, they will forfeit the application fee and will need to reapply.

Along with studying, we strongly recommend having two years of experience in infection prevention and control. Though it is not a requirement to sit for the exam, the examination is geared towards the experience level of a two-year practitioner.

For more information on how to apply, watch the CBIC Webinar: How to Apply for Initial Certification.

What to expect on the Exam

Both the initial and the recertification examinations are made up of 150 questions. Of these questions, only 135 are scored. The other 15 questions are being pre-tested for future examinations. The initial certification examination is facilitated at a Prometric testing center. You will have a total of three hours to complete the examination.

Both examinations also follow the same content outline. The content outline has the following core competencies:

  1. Identification of Infectious Disease Processes (22 items)
  2. Surveillance and Epidemiologic Investigation (24 items)
  3. Preventing/Controlling the Transmission of Infectious Agents (25 items)
  4. Employee/Occupational Health (11 items)
  5. Management and Communication (13 items)
  6. Education and Research (11 items)
  7. Environment of Care (14 items)
  8. Cleaning, Sterilization, Disinfection, Asepsis (15 items)

Each item (question) on the examination will target different cognitive levels. These levels are:

  • Recall
  • Application
  • Analysis

For more information on the exam taking process, please read the Candidate Handbook.

Other tips from CICs

  • “Reach out to a fellow infection preventionist who is certified because they can help on their journey, see where they’re at and help them move forward on achieving the goal of the CIC®.” – Shante (CIC®)
  • “Find mentors that are helpful, give yourself time, and give yourself credit for what you do now.” – Robin (CIC®)
  •  “I thought it was important to take the online practice exam, which showed me the areas I really needed to focus on. Then I was able to go to my local APIC chapter and my mentors to ask them for advice to really get that skill set and learn more. And attending conferences just like the national convention helped me hone in on the areas where I felt I needed to learn more in order to become certified.” – Robyn (CIC®)
  • “Do the practice test, that’s really helpful to get ready for the types of questions that they ask. And don’t be nervous. It’s actually not as terrible as you think it’s going to be.” – Caitlin (CIC®)
  • “Do it! You will learn so much as you prepare for the test. Give yourself an adequate timeline and review LOTS of questions and the rationales for each answer.” – Melanie (CIC®)

For more information on preparing for the CIC® examination, watch our webinar:  How to Prepare for the CIC® Exam.