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The Best Prep for the GRE® Test Includes Planning Your Test Breaks

By Melanie On May 21, 2019 In  General GRE 


Preparing for the GRE® test means putting in many hours of study. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the test format, practice reading questions quickly, and internalize the many formulas and rules you need to know. But what about the breaks? Most GRE® test-takers don’t consider how to wisely use the breaks available to them during the exam. However, thoughtfully including a break plan is certainly part of the best prep for the GRE® test.

Available Breaks and Why You Should Take Them

Breaks during the GRE® test are entirely optional, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you don’t need them. You are offered one 10 minute break after the third section of the exam and a one-minute break after every subsequent section. Clearly, this is not a lot of time! But utilizing those breaks to refresh your mind and prepare yourself for the next step is essential for GRE® test success. Some test-takers choose to skip the breaks because at the time they don’t feel they need them. However, the last thing you want is to be halfway through an exam section and hit a wall, mentally or physically. Breaks allow you to avoid risks like dehydration, stress, headache, and physical strain.

How to Use Your Breaks

Your 10-minute break will likely be shorter than it sounds since the test moderators will check your pockets, glasses, etc. on your way back in. With this in mind, be prepared for your break to seem short so you aren’t caught off guard. No electronic devices are allowed at any point within the testing window, so forget about checking your email. Instead, take the time to clear your head and refresh yourself. Eat a nutritious snack, take a walk in the building, and watch the clock carefully to be sure you return in time. Even the best prep can’t save you from not being in the room at test time! Avoid conversations that might distract you. Instead, focus on something light and refreshing in your mind, such as music you love, a poem you know, or your vacation plans. Then return to the room, ready to go!

What Not to Do on Breaks

While breaks are essential for your endurance in a long exam, there are plenty of ways they can derail you as well. For example, avoid eating junk food or lots of heavy food on your break since that can easily make you sleepy. Also, don’t make the mistake of rehashing the exam questions in your head. By focusing on the past, you may cause yourself more stress and your break will have the opposite of the desired effect. Don’t wander too far from the exam room or do anything that looks suspicious since proctors are on the lookout for any sign of cheating. And of course, don’t forget to watch the clock!

The breaks you take during the GRE® test are just a fraction of the time you spend at the exam center, but they can have a great effect on your overall experience. Using your breaks wisely can give you a real advantage over the exam-taker who chooses not to take a break or use them in unhelpful ways. Combine your planned breaks with the best prep course for the GRE® test on the market, and you’re sure to be pleased with your overall score!