Hay fever damages exam results, shows research

Hay fever damages exam results, shows research

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have announced the results of a study that suggests hay fever can negatively affect exam performance.

According to the new research, school pupils who suffer from the condition, which is a common allergy reaction that mainly occurs around exam time months, do worse in their exams and may be less likely to attend a top university.


Classmates who do not suffer from the condition can have a distinct advantage, which means they might achieve better grades, enabling them to get ahead of their hay fever suffering peers at an extremely important time in a student's life.

Important school exams are typically scheduled in the summer months, and this coincides with rising pollen levels that trigger the condition.

The Norwegian study found that hay fever sufferers could lose out by as much as 10% in their scores, which could have serious ramifications on their continued access to education.

One in five

With hay fever affecting around one in five people, the study has wide ranging implications.

The research looked at results of public exams taken between 2008 and 2011 and found that on days with high pollen counts, performance was consistently lower.

Presented at the European Economic Association conference in Mannheim in Germany, the study came to the conclusion that students who have hay fever could be at a disadvantage, missing out on the top grades necessary to take them further up the educational ladder, and therefore ultimately on the best jobs.

The study said: “Increases in pollen counts can temporarily reduce cognitive abilities for allergic students, who will score worse relative to their peers on high stake exams, and consequently be at a disadvantage when competing for jobs or higher education.” 

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