Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
So as you may know already when taking any standardized test, you will eventually be allowed a small break. These will range in frequency and length depending on the test. I will be focusing on a specific standardized English test which is the TOEFL-iBT but the tips that I give you here can be applied in other standardized English tests as well, such as the IELTS, TOEIC, and many more. During all standardized tests, you will get a break.
This is a really popular test, and millions of people take it each year, so it’s important to not only be ready for the test itself but for all the little parts of it that can give you an advantage on test day.
Get up and walk
So the first thing you need to do is get up. In the TOEFL-iBT you will be given a short 10-minute break after almost 2 hours of the test, where you have been very concentrated and sitting down the whole time.
This will take a serious toll on your body as even though you may have a certain degree of stress, your body is still for the most part, so you have to start moving. Now a 10-minute break is not a long time, which means that we must take advantage of time as best we can. So get up, and walk a bit.
Here you will be able to leave the testing room, but not the test center, so feel free to take a short walk back and forth in the test center`s isles. You will probably see some folks stretching as well. This is smart, you will get the blood flowing through your body enriching your brain with oxygen and nutrients that were sent in a super lethargic flow.
The other thing is to get hydrated. Now I will always vouch for water for long tests, but some natural fruit juices are also good.
You may even drink a soda, that has sugar and caffeine, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to enter the testing room with your drink, so you need to drink all you must within the allotted time.
Try to avoid energy drinks. Though ads can be persuasive about them pushing you for that extra energy. It’s not as good as it sounds. They have way too much sugar and caffeine content, which is great, for about 30 to 40 minutes.
You see, sugar and caffeine will give you an energy boost because they will confuse your body into not being tired when you are, so the energy that you will use will mostly come from the reservoir you already have.
After those 30 to 40 minutes go by (depending on your body size and metabolism), you will feel a back kick of all the extra energy you used and then you will feel more tired and sleepy, which will give you a hard time concentrating.
Have a Snack
Following the consumption path, it is also important for you to eat a snack that you prepared the day before. I really don’t recommend anything large where you have to take several utensils to eat. Avoid that, it is just more stress.
Always go for simple packaging, if you are into sandwiches, then a simple one can do. A ham and cheese one is good, and it gives you plenty of carbs and protein to continue.
Fruits are what I recommend often to my students, my issue with them is that you need to eat a good amount to be satiated, so make sure you take the right type of fruit for you.
I prefer apples and bananas, and I try to avoid oranges and berries because I still feel hungry after eating the same weight as a banana for example. This is of course, because of their high liquid content.
Now the top contender for snacks are energy bars and nuts. They are able to continue providing us with energy for a long period. If you are going to take nuts, make sure to compliment them with fruits, as fruits will give you energy on the spot and the nuts will continue to provide energy after 30 minutes or so. This is the same effect of an energy bar.
Read more on the best snack by reading our post clicking here!
Go to the bathroom
It’s better to go now, then to want to go when you get back to the test. Before the test you should have drunk some water for the next 2 hours, so you will normally not have a major issue timing yourself to go when the break time starts.
It’s a matter of training your bladder. If you decide not to go at this point, it may not look so good for you when you continue the test.
No more bathroom breaks are allowed, and if you decide to just get up and go, your test will be nullified, with no refund. Additionally, if you decide that you can hold it for another while keep this in mind: You just drank some water before, that will rush the natural process in your body.
In the next 1,5 hours of the test, you are probably going to start to feel the pressure (no pun intended), which will affect your concentration in the remaining sections. You will be better off just going when you have to go.
Think of what is ahead
The test is not over, that is why this is called a break! After you have done all the above, think of the next section of the test you are doing. In the case of the TOEFL-iBT, The Speaking Sections, one of the most intimidating sections of the test.
It demands a lot of productive skills and synthesizing on the go. Try to remember the types of questions that are first and the structure of them. Try to plan ahead.
Although you do not know exactly what you will be asked, you can recall thoughts from all the time you have spent studying for the test. And if you have already done it and are aiming for a higher score, you know this part is crucial.
Make sure that you are adapted to eating these snacks and drinks before the actual test day. Your stomach needs to adapt to new types of food, and it is always better to avoid risks during a high stakes test. You do not want to be distracted on test day because the green apple was too sour and is giving you a mild stomach ache.
Nor do you want to discover that you are allergic to a type of nut or chocolate that same day, so make sure you adapt your stomach with about 2 weeks before the test. Though these snacks can also be used for study sessions.