108 questions. 3 hours in one room. This is what awaits me tomorrow. The final exam covering 5 weeks of Immunology and Microbiology. It’s a beast. The perfect opportunity for blood sugar to interrupt my brain’s ability to sort through an absurd amount of information for the correct answer.
People with diabetes not only have to do these things, but we should expect to deliver our best performance. Putting out our best effort is all in the preparation, both while studying and during the exam. Over a semester and a half of medical school, I’ve piled up a few suggestions based on what’s worked and what’s, well, yeah, not worked so well. With these tips in mind, you will deliver your best effort on test day. (Disclaimer: I was purposeful in not claiming one would receive an A. Just your best effort…)
While studying, don’t get off track when your blood sugar’s in the money zone.
Don’t waste time on Pinterest or Candy Crush when your mind is right. When my blood sugar is in between 120-180, it’s time to get after it.
Let your teacher or professor know that you have diabetes.
Sure, this seems like common sense. It never crosses our mind that we actually might need to tell someone. At least in college, there’s always a moment when the professor is reading the syllabus and he or she invites people with a disability to come talk with them about accommodations. This is the time to go do this. Just ask for the ability to keep a juice/soda/gatorade by your desk during the test. Simple.
I recommend this based on past experience. I can remember taking a Zoology test in undergrad, while being pretty low (50s), staring at the paper, not comprehending anything, too scared to ask the professor if I could go to the vending machine, and wishing I had asked to bring in a drink. Do it.
Before the test, give yourself a buffer with blood sugar.
I’ve yet to really detect a theme for what my blood sugar does during the test, but I play it safe. If I can choose, not always a luxury, I will opt for it to be between 160 and 200. If I know one thing, it’s that my brain functions a whole heck of a lot better high than low.
Bring a snack.
This only works if you first talk to the teacher/professor. Even if you know for sure that you won’t go low, bring it in anyway. The security provided by just one juice box will free up your mind to be completely present during the test.
I realize that most of you are out in the real world, thinking, “Who cares about tests anymore?” Well, the tests never stop coming.