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Exams and Diabetes

Taking an exam can be very stressful for young people, whether they have type 1 diabetes or not. But living with the highs and lows of type 1 diabetes during the exam period can make it that bit harder, particularly as stress can have an impact on blood glucose levels.

In the lead up to exams there are many things that will contribute to erratic blood glucose levels.

  • During your study sessions you may be less physically active and this may cause your blood glucose levels to be higher.
  • You may be someone who likes to snack while studying possibly raising blood glucose levels or perhaps anxiety and nerves put you off eating causing you to have hypos

What type of reasonable adjustments are there?

  • Being allowed to take drinks and snacks into an exam to prevent or treat a hypo or hyper.
  • Being allowed to bring in their blood sugar monitor and insulin treatment into an exam.
  • Taking a supervised rest break to treat a hypo or hyper. Supervised rest breaks are where the clock is paused while a student treats themselves. The clock restarts when they’ve recovered.

How to prepare for the Exams?
Here’s some tips to help you make sure you can do your best on exam days:1

  • Try to eat as normally as possible to give your brain plenty of energy to work on.
  • Check your blood sugar level just before the exam, and if you need to, have an extra healthy snack or adjust your insulin dose.
  • Keep a note of any blood checks you do.
  • Keep your kit, drinks and snacks in clear plastic bags not in black cases or colored drinks bottles

Planning ahead
Parents need to arrange a meeting with your school to talk about what you’ll need to make sure you can do your best during any exams.
Things to talk about are:

  • What you’ll need to take into the exam room with you like blood checking equipment, insulin, hypo remedies, water etc.
  • Where you would prefer to sit. Some students like to be at the front of the exam room, in easy view of the invigilator in case of a problem.
  • That you might need supervised rest breaks

It is important to consider the effect that exam stress will have on your diabetes. As you plan for the exams with study etc, also plan for how to manage blood glucose levels during exam time to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability and get the results that you deserve.

References: 1. [Internet]. 2020 [cited 26 November 2020]. Available from:

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