Have you wondered which is the most overlooked and underestimated part of the GMAT exam? We’ll give you a hint – you never had to prepare for it, academically. If you’re thinking about breaks then you’re absolutely right! This article will tell you what to do during GMAT breaks and why you should use the breaks between each section of the exam. 

Whether taking the test at a centre or online at home, here are some of the tips to make the most use of your GMAT online breaks, but before we dive in, let’s understand how the GMAT exam is structured and when you will be entitled to a break during the exam.

GMAT Exam Structure

Probably you’re well aware of the structure of the GMAT exam but if you don’t then here it is: The GMAT test is divided into four sections – analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning. During the GMAT test, you are allowed two 8-minute breaks (cannot be extended), you can take these breaks after an hour of testing that is usually after the analytical writing part and the second one after the quantitative reasoning section. Although the exam, when taken in one sitting, lasts 3 hours and 7 minutes, when taken with breaks ends up lasting 3 hours and 23 minutes. Furthermore, you should know that these breaks are optional; but, we will stress on the importance of taking them and not skipping them.

We’re going to discuss further in this article, why you should be taking these breaks and what are some essential good practices to adopt during these short intervals that can help you perform better in the GMAT test.

Importance of Taking GMAT Breaks and Essential Points to Remember During Your Breaks

If you’re thinking, GMAT breaks are essential because you can use this time to prepare for the upcoming section, then we hate to break it to you, you can’t! You are not allowed to study during these breaks. Doing so can result in the cancellation of your scores. So, remember to treat the optional break as a time to relax. 

Here are few tips on what you can do to make the most of your breaks:

  • Shake off Any Anxiety

It is highly likely that when you finish either the analytical writing or the quantitative reasoning sections, you’re going to have a lot of anxiety. You’re either going to be overthinking about what’s coming ahead or thinking about how you performed in the previous section; both ways, taking an 8-minute pause is an excellent choice to shake off any anxiety or stress you may have and mentally prepare yourself for the next section. During this time, ensure that you stretch and engage in some deep breathing exercises to regain your mental strength. 

  • Giving Yourself a Time Off 

When you take a break, you’re relaxing and letting your brain relax too. Trying to relax after a stressful moment helps to keep your focus throughout the exam. Remember to treat the exam like a long-distance marathon, just as you need to save your stamina and slow down during the run; similarly, you need these breaks to regain your focus and prepare yourself mentally to take the exam section-by-section.

  • Rehydrating or Refuelling

You will be provided with a water cooler at the examination centre to rehydrate yourself. Drinking sufficient water during your break can help you cool off. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that drinking water helps boost blood circulation to the brain, which further enhances your ability to keep your focus. If you feel hungry, which can be a distraction during your test, this is a good time to snack up on something light and healthy. As important as this time is to rehydrate yourself, it is also essential to use the restroom during these intervals since you don’t want anything detracting you when you start the next section of the GMAT test. 

Now that you know what to do during GMAT breaks to enhance your performance and what is the importance of breaks, you are in a better position to make the most use of them and use it to your advantage, as opposed to wasting it by stressing about certain sections that may have been challenging. All in all, remember the GMAT is a lengthy exam, it is best to deal with it part by part and give each section its due attention, rather than trying to sit through the exam without any breaks in between, this will only slow you down and affect your focus towards the end of the exam.


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