Cold and learning


I was dealing with a minor cold last week, and I got reminded how much a small thing like that can affect our cognitive functions! Apparently, researchers knew it all along. They found out that the cold virus changes our brain chemistry for a while, and our reaction slows down, our learning ability goes down and we can’t even retrieve information the way we normally do. Well, I couldn’t even make myself write a paragraph of text!

So, what do you do if a student comes in for assessment and they are a bit under the weather? Perhaps it would be a good idea to let them re-write the test, or give them a slightly higher grade? Or just let them brave it?

2 thoughts on “Cold and learning

  1. It depends on the test. Compare an in-house summative assessment we may set our learners and a competency test such as CAE. Unlike the former, the latter is unlikely to take any minor ailments into consideration- their special considerations e.g. ‘Illness during or immediately preceding the exam’ is very vague.

    Essentially, this always sways my decision. The mock test prior to the real exam always goes ahead because it’s unlikely they will receive any special dispensation on the actual day.


    • Well, in-house summative assessment is something we can control at least, and perhaps let the student rewrite. As for centralised CAE, CPE or IELTS, we can’t give them a medical checkup really 🙂 It’s true though, I remember I was taking IELTS several times a few years ago, and when I was sick, my listening band went down from 9 to 7.5 – that’s in the space of weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

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