Using A1C Home Test Kits for Diabetes

How They Work, Results, and Options

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A1C home test kits allow people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to check their own hemoglobin A1C—a measure of how well their condition has been controlled over the previous two to three months.

A hemoglobin A1C test measures the percentage of hemoglobin bound to glucose, which is a reflection of how much sugar has been circulating in the bloodstream.

While useful for a variety of reasons, home A1C tests do not take the place of daily glucose testing.

Brianna Gilmartin / Verywell 

How They Work

Hemoglobin A1C tests provide a reliable picture of average blood sugar over the two to three months preceding the test. Excess blood glucose can bind to hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells), and a high percentage of this means that you have had high glucose levels over this duration.

In contrast, a low percentage of hemoglobin bound to glucose means that you have had a low or normal glucose level. Red blood cells are replenished every few months, so hemoglobin A1C only reflects glucose levels for the lifespan of these cells.

Approximately 50% of an A1C result comes from the past 30 days of glucose levels, while approximately 25% comes from the past 30 to 60 days, and another 25% comes from the past 60 to 90 days. This means that glucose levels from the most recent 30 days will factor in the most.

Because daily glucose testing measures blood sugar on the spot, both daily monitoring and A1C tests are needed to effectively manage diabetes.

When to Use a Home Test

A home test kit may be helpful in the following circumstances:

  • You may be required to get your A1C checked only every six months, but want to get a quick read of your average blood sugar levels at the three-month mark.
  • Your care provider has asked that you get your A1C tested every three months, but you can't complete the lab work in that time frame due to financial or scheduling circumstances.
  • You have had difficulty keeping your glucose levels under control and want to hold yourself accountable by testing at home.
  • You have prediabetes or a family history of diabetes and choose to self-monitor.
  • You have anxiety about going to a lab and feel more comfortable testing in your home.

A1C tests should only be used every two to three months, as that is the approximate lifespan of red blood cells. Hemoglobin A1C tests can only reflect the glucose levels for that time period; checking more frequently won't show any major changes. Use your daily glucose monitor for more regular testing.

How to Choose a Kit

Several FDA-approved home A1C test kits are available at pharmacies and online retailers. Some health insurance plans cover the cost, which can run between $50 to $150.

Accessories for the test, such as replacement strips, are sold as well, so be sure to check that you have all of the necessary parts. A very inexpensive box might contain only a few replacement accessories.

Buy your device from a reputable brand, and make sure the packaging is sealed before first use.

Currently approved brands include:

  • Polymer Technology Systems
  • CVS At Home A1C Test Kit
  • ReliOn Fast A1C Test
  • Walgreens At Home A1C Test Kit
  • BIO-RAD D-100 System
  • Bayer A1C Now SelfCheck
  • Osborn Group Hemocheck-A1C Sample Collection Kit
  • Flexsite Diagnostics, EZCheck HGB A1C Blood Collection Kit
  • HemoCue Hb 801 System

How to Use an A1C Home Test Kit

A1C home test kits are user-friendly. You can do the test on yourself at home, or you can help your child or another family member without the assistance of a medical professional.

What You Need

  • Soap and water (or an alcohol prep pad if you don't have access to a sink)
  • A notebook or your mobile phone to record results

What's Included

  • A1C Analyzer
  • Lancet
  • Blood collector
  • Shaker tube
  • Test cartridge
  • Testing instructions from the manufacturer


You can take the test at any time of day, and you don't need to follow a special diet or fast beforehand.

To get the most accurate result, complete the test from start to finish within 15 minutes.

Although A1C testing kits differ to some degree, there are general guidelines for getting accurate results that apply most of them.

  1. Set out all of your testing equipment.
  2. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well, or clean them with an alcohol prep pad and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
  3. Open the lancet and press it into the tip of your finger along the side (pricking the pad can hurt more). Squeeze out a small drop of blood.
  4. Hold the blood collector up to the drop of blood and allow it to fill the tip (see manufacturer's instructions to determine what is adequate).
  5. Fully insert the blood collector into the body of the shaker, then shake it vigorously six to eight times (approximately 5 seconds) to mix the blood with the testing solution.
  6. Open the testing cartridge and insert it into the A1C analyzer. Remove the base of the shaker and press it into the analyzer where indicated to dispense the solution, then remove it. Wait 5 minutes for your results; try not to touch the device during this time.
  7. Log your result and the date.
  8. Dispose of the test cartridge. Save the analyzer device for future testing.

Some kits can provide a reading of your A1C number in five minutes. If you are using a kit that requires sending your sample to a lab, follow the mailing instructions provided with the kit. You can expect to receive your result by mail or online in three to 10 days.

Going forward, you may want to do the A1C test at the same time you do a glucometer test. The A1C test requires a drop of blood that is only slightly larger than the amount of blood used for a glucose meter.

Keep your device and testing supplies at a stable temperature, away from extreme heat or cold.

A1C Test Results

A1C test results are presented as a percentage, which signifies the amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells that have glucose attached.

According to the National Institutes of Health, standard A1C reference ranges are as follows:

  • Normal (no diabetes): Below 5.7%
  • Borderline/prediabetes: 5.7% to 6.4%
  • Diabetes: 6.5% or above

Home A1C tests are not approved for diagnosing diabetes. They are only approved for monitoring prediabetes or diabetes if you have already been diagnosed.

If your at-home A1C test provides you with a result at 5.7% or higher, note your exact reading and make an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Having an A1C between 5.7% and 6.4% generally means that you fall into the prediabetes category, meaning you have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Ask your healthcare provider about blood sugar management tips, ways to monitor your glucose levels, and lifestyle changes that can help you take an active role in diabetes prevention. Some include adjusting your diet, exercising, getting better sleep, and relieving stress.

A level above 7% or higher is typically regarded as a reflection of diabetes that is not optimally controlled. However, your healthcare provider may set a different target for you depending on what your A1C has been in the past.

Your results should always be reviewed with your healthcare provider, who may use those results to assess how well your current therapy is working.


Home A1C tests have been found to be reliable. There is more than a 90% correlation with A1C tests done at a lab.

However, the results of a home A1C test should not be used to make major medical decisions on your own—they should always be used in conjunction with standard medical care. Keep a log of your home testing dates and results, and share it with your healthcare provider.

There are several factors that may affect the accuracy of home A1C tests, so discuss whether or not they are appropriate for you. A1C results are affected by pregnancy, rheumatoid factor, and blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease, anemia, transfusion, and blood loss.

A Word From Verywell

The American Diabetes Association recommends A1C testing at least twice a year if you're meeting your treatment goals and your blood glucose levels are stable. If you're not meeting your goals or you change treatments, you will need to get an A1C test at least quarterly. Your healthcare provider will determine the right testing frequency for you.

If you have diabetes, home A1C testing can be practical, helping you and your healthcare provider get a good grasp of how well your blood sugar is being managed. However, if you are not comfortable with at-home tests, don't want to check your own blood, or if you find that the instructions are complicated, you can absolutely tell your healthcare provider that you prefer to have your A1C checked at a lab instead.

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8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. HemoCue. HemoCue Hb 801 System. FDA 510k clearance and launch in US.

  4. PTS Diagnostics. A1CNow Self Check Test System overview and quick reference guide.

  5. CVS Pharmacy. CVS Health At Home A1C Test Kit.

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  8. Elliott TG, Dooley KC, Zhang M, Campbell HSD, Thompson DJS. Comparison of glycated hemoglobin results based on at-home and in-lab dried blood spot sampling to routine venous blood sampling in-lab in adult patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Can J Diabetes. 2018;42(4):426-432.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.053

Additional Reading

By Gary Gilles
Gary Gilles is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) who has written about type 1 diabetes and served as a diabetes counselor. He began writing about diabetes after his son's diagnosis as an infant.