SAT / ACT Breaks: What to Expect and What to Eat

Below are breaks for students without disabilities. Contact College Board (SAT) or ACT Inc. (ACT) if you have a disability that grants extra time for the test, or extra break time.

When I practice, should I take breaks?

Absolutely. Take the full test to get a sense of the timing. Snack and drink only during the breaks allocated during the real exam. See break times below.

What should I eat during breaks?

First, maintain a healthy diet overall while preparing for the test.
During breaks, eat light, healthy snacks that are not overloaded with sugar. Go for a combination of complex carbs and protein, such as turkey or chicken in a whole-wheat wrap, an English muffin with peanut butter or cheese and salami / pepperoni.

What should I eat during breaks?

Drink coconut water, which has the same concentration of glucose as your blood.

Caffeine also helps with concentration. If you are accustomed to coffee, tea or iced tea, then enjoy them on test day. Don’t have coffee for the first time on test day.

What food and drinks should I avoid?

Avoid candy, such as Snickers bars and jelly beans. Even some granola bars can be too high in sugar.
Do not drink soda (pop) or any very sugary drink.
Don’t drink so much that you’ll have to take a bathroom break before your scheduled breaks above. If you take a bathroom break during an unscheduled time, you lose that time.

What are the breaks for the ACT?

For the ACT, you’ll get two very short breaks, about 5 minutes. Your first break occurs after the first two sections and the second one is given after the next two sections, just before the optional essay, which is the final section.

What are the breaks for the SAT?

There will be breaks after sections  1 and 3. If you take the essay, you will take a break after section 4. Those are the only times you can eat and drink, unless you have been granted an exception in advance.

During breaks for the SAT, you…

  • Must keep your ID and Admission Ticket with you at all times during breaks.
  • Must keep your test books, answer sheets and calculators on your desk.
  • Cannot use any electronic device. If you do, your scores will be canceled.