My cousin is about to sit her exams during hay fever season and is suffering terribly from hay fever. Her plight reminded me all too well of the problems of sitting exams in the summer when my allergies and hay-fever were at its worst.
I would sit in the dusty Concert Hall with a box of tissues on my desk, my eyes itching and nose running. The windows would be open to allow air, and with it, pollen and traffic pollution into the hall and for the few allergy sufferers this would exacerbate their allergy symptoms. I would try and keep my sniffing and nose-blowing as quiet as possible but even so, the noise would sound horribly loud and distracting in the silent hall. Fearful of the side-effects of anti-histamines and worried that drowsiness would prove more detrimental to my results than hay fever, I didn’t take any allergy medication during the exam and the night before despite being prescribed them by my doctor.
I have always wondered why exams have to be held in the height of summer when my allergy symptoms and hay fever are at its worst. And, when various friends were, quite rightly, given extra time to allow for their dyslexia, I sometimes thought that I should be allowed extra time to allow for having a headache, blowing my blocked nose and wiping my sore eyes! Back then I wondered if there is a solution other than moving exams to mid-Winter. Now progressive schools install high-quality school air filtration systems to take out allergens as well as traffic soot!