Test Taking with Type 1 Diabetes in College/University


Editor’s Note: For more information on managing type 1 diabetes in college, sign up for Beyond Type 1: College Edition, our email series on all things college + type 1 diabetes (T1D).

As you transition into college, you must take the initiative to ensure that you are using the resources accessible to you with having type 1. As an adult, you’re in charge of registering for and knowing Equality or Disability Acts in your country that will aid you in your type 1 diabetes (T1D) management as a student, (this extends to test taking).

In the USA, federal laws and some state laws require colleges to provide access to educational and extra-curricular opportunities without discriminating against those with disabilities. The federal laws that protect college students with diabetes are The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. With a bit of research, you can determine which acts apply to your college, depending on whether the school is private or public.

In the UK, The Equality Act of 2010 protects students with type 1 diabetes from discrimination and makes sure that they are given the same educational opportunities of those without the chronic illness. In Australia, refer to the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992.

Communicate with your professors

The most important step to ensuring that you receive the same access to assistance is through communication with your college and the proper paperwork from your doctor. Discussing certain circumstances with your disabilities service office will help you get the proper care that you need. For example, a reasonable modification that you can discuss with your disability services office is that you may reschedule a test if your blood sugar is out of range on exam day.

Maintaining an open line of communication with your professors also gives you the comfort of knowing that they are aware of what type 1 is and how it’s treated. Let your professors know personally about the symptoms of being too high or too low, what to do in case of an emergency, how blood sugar may impact your performance at any given time, and other things that may apply to your daily routine. In the USA, if you register under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504, you will have additional rights to managing your type 1 diabetes in the university setting.

The key to success in managing diabetes and test-taking is a constant communication with professors and administrators paired with a knowledge of the resources that protect you! Embrace your diabetes and be aware that if you aren’t feeling ready to do your best on a test, you have options.

Read Beyond Type 1’s Professor’s Guide to Type 1 Diabetes.

Read more on accommodations if you register for a disability.

Test before the test

Test your blood sugar before you have a test and see if you are in your target range. An extremely high or low blood sugar can affect concentration, recall and overall performance when taking a test, and is reasonable cause for delaying it. Correct blood sugars accordingly and know you are legally permitted to reschedule the exam because of this.

Stock up

Snacks, meters, extra sites and any extra supplies that you think you might need. Be prepared for whatever action you might need to take before and during an exam!

If your blood sugar is too high or too low, you have rights as a person with type 1 to make alternative arrangements and take the test at a later time when it is in range.

Read more about Hypoglycemia and How to Treat It.

WRITTEN BY BT1 Editorial Team, POSTED 08/09/16, UPDATED 12/23/22

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 1 Editorial Team.