What Is an A1C Test?

A1C is also called hemoglobin A1C. It is a blood test that is usually done in a lab or your health care provider's office.

The A1C test measures your average blood sugar levels over the last 2 to 3 months. It will help you and your health care provider know if your blood sugar is under control over a period of time.

The A1C test results help you and your health care provider see how well your diabetes treatment is working. The test can be done in a lab or at your health care provider's office.

For many people with diabetes, an A1C level of less than 7% is the target. Some people may have higher or lower A1C targets. Your health care provider will set a target that is right for you.

Testing your A1C gives you a better idea of:

  1. How well your treatment plan has been working over time.
  2. Whether your blood sugar is under control.

A1C and daily blood sugar testing

Your self-tests with a blood sugar meter and the A1C test are different. Self-testing with a blood sugar meter shows your blood sugar at the time of the test. The A1C test shows an estimate of your blood sugar control over a longer period of time, ie, 2 to 3 months. You need both self-testing with a blood sugar meter and A1C tests to help you and your health care provider understand if your treatment plan is working and whether your blood sugar is controlled.

A main goal of managing diabetes is to keep your blood sugar under control. It may help reduce the risk of developing other health problems.

If your A1C level is higher than your target, your health care provider may make changes to your diabetes treatment plan. Your risk of having other diabetes-related health problems gets higher when you have higher A1C levels.

How can I help prevent high blood sugar levels?

Here are some ways to lower your blood sugar:

If your blood sugar is too high, talk to your health care provider. Ask what changes may help you.


It is important to test your blood sugar levels at home.

What is a healthy A1C goal?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that many (nonpregnant) adults with diabetes should have an A1C goal of 7% or less. A1C goal for some people may need to be higher or lower. Ask your health care provider what is the right goal for you.

How often should you have the A1C test?

Your A1C may be tested every:

  • 3 months if you are not at your goal
  • 6 months if you have reached your goal

Why is getting to your A1C goal important?

Your A1C level shows whether your blood sugar was under control over the past 2 to 3 months. Your A1C level will be high if you have too much sugar in your blood.

People with diabetes are at risk for many serious health problems, including:


Remember: Working with your health care team can help you manage your diabetes!

Staying up to date with regular tests

Test/Exam A1C
How often it is done 2 to 4 times a year
Recommended goal Less than 7%
Your goal
Test date

Less-stringent A1C goals, such as less than 8%, may be appropriate for those with a history of severe low blood sugar, or other reasons noted by your health care provider.

Ask your health care provider these questions about the A1C test:

  • What is my A1C number?
  • What should my A1C goal be?
  • How do I get my A1C tested?
  • How can I reach this goal?

Resources for more information on diabetes

Here are some Web sites to help you learn more about diabetes:

American Diabetes Association:

American Association of Diabetes Educators:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse:

American Heart Association:


Ask your health care provider to explain and give you copies of your test results.

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