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    « Book Meme | Main | Another Pump Bites the Dust »

    Examination Questions

    Next Monday I'm sitting an exam that will count towards my first post-graduate qualification.

    And I'm nervous.

    The English school's examination system, coupled with my high desire to achieve and my choice of degree programmes means that I'm no stranger to exams. In fact, they were a summer ritual for eleven straight summers in a row. The moment the weather started warming up and the scent of fresh mown grass and barbecues started drifting in through the windows, I'd know it was time to get my head down into my books. I'd emerge pale, pasty and blinking like a mole several weeks later to enjoy the rest of my summer.

    This, though, will be my first exam in three years and that is definitely a contributor to my nerves. The ritual of revision and preparation seems strange, alien almost.

    But there is more to it than that.

    There is diabetes.

    Being diagnosed at such a young age, diabetes has undertaken every exam with me. I'm glad to say, it has rarely been a problem (the odd French and German spoken language exams aside). But then, I've always been in a secure environment. At school my diabetes, and the adjustments that may be necessary to accommodate low and high blood sugars, were common knowledge.

    Even at university, where some of my exams were sat in vast, impersonal halls with a thousand other students, my diabetes, my pump, my need for testing supplies and snacks were all listed in my record. Even if an over zealous invigilator should question what the little silver device - my Freestyle meter - on my desk was, as normally happened, I knew it would get straightened out without problem. I never felt that my sitting an exam would be jeopardised by diabetes.

    Diabetes being an unregistered candidate for this exam didn't occur to me until I received the candidate information letter.

    There it is, towards the bottom:

    "mobile phones or any other electrical device are not permitted in the examination hall... Use of any electronic device is not permitted during the examination and regular checks of the hall will be made."

    My pump, CGM and testing kit are suddenly prime candidates for getting me kicked out. Even after putting in a call to the examination office, I still feel uneasy.

    As if the stress of just trying to  pass the exam won't have a deleterious enough effect on my control!

    So the question is, will trying to hide my pump, given that I may want to pull it out to deal with CGM alerts, end up drawing greater unwanted attention than having it "out-there". And would I be foolish to try and rely on CGM alone for the 3 hour paper? Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

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    Discuss it with the Exams Office!

    I know you said you contacted them already but you didn't say what it was you said. Explain exactly the exam situation possibilities that have you worried. You could ask whether it's possible to take in a 2" by 3" card into the exam that you can hand silently to the invigilator if they come over to investigate. You could have a quiet word with the invigilator as you go into the room or just before, too.
    These invigilators are there to help you SIT the exam, not to chuck you out! They would be horrified if they were treating someone with a medical condition with anything less than care and courtesy.

    I had to deal with a similar situation when I was taking the American GRE (Graduate Record Exam) earlier this year. As soon as I explained that my pump is a life-sustaining device and that disconnecting from it is to put one's self in a life-threatening situation (potentially), they let me keep it. But they still made me leave my meter outside the testing room, for fear that it had a calculator on it (even though I offered to show them all the functions). The test was only 3 hours long with an official 10-minute break in the middle, so I was comfortable enough having one opportunity to test during the 3 hours.

    I think you should definitely call again and make sure someone understands your situation. If need be, threaten legal action! (Or at least ask to talk to the boss.)

    Good luck!

    P.S. The word 'invigilator' makes me laugh! I assume it's the same thing as what we call a 'proctor' across the pond? I never get used to all the strange differences in terminology we have here as compared to you folks in the U.K. Another one that grates on my ears is 'revising' for a test. I *review* for a test; I *revise* a paper when I'm working out the kinks between my rough draft and my final draft.

    Sharon - I'm really liking the idea of having a card with an explanation on. So far I've explained that I have diabetes and what equipment I will have with me. They've said it will be fine, but as you can tell, I'm still nervous. I know that you are right about them being there to help, and I guess I do need to get a little perspective.

    Jana - thanks for your support. I don't get a break in the 3 hour paper, but I have been considering just relying on my CGM, provided that the data is looking good on the morning. It will cut down the amount of explaining I have to do. Somehow the pump is easier to explain by simply showing that it is attached to me.

    As for words - aren't the differences amazing?! I notice it often in D-blogs that I read, being in a significant minority as a UK based blogger. I won't even go in to spelling - even the spell check in Firefox is always on at me to change s's to z's and remove my second l's!

    I guess "revising for a test" is technically grammatically incorrect. I'm actually revising my knowledge, which makes more sense - I'm reviewing it, making sure it is correct and all the relevant bits are there!

    As for invigilator vs proctor - who knows? It isn't a word that comes up in movies or TV shows much, which is where a lot of our translation comes from! But I'm guessing we're both talking about the people who roam about between the desks to make sure you have enough paper and that you're not cheating.

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