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# GMAT Snacks

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03 Aug 2010, 06:03
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The GMAT doesn’t just test accuracy or timing. It also tests your endurance. Confronted with two 30-minute essays and two 75-minute sections, test takers will inevitably suffer from a certain level of exhaustion. Unfortunately, too many underestimate this aspect of the GMAT and lose the opportunity to perform at their best.

While we can’t entirely avoid mental fatigue, it’s certainly possible to postpone and minimize it. Some remedies are well known, such as practicing full-length CAT’s under real test conditions (including the AWA) and timing yourself with OG questions. There is, however, another important option: snacks during the allotted breaks.

It’s important to maintain energy levels as long as possible, and this can’t be done without food. You have a break after the AWA and another one between the Quant and Verbal sections. Use these to your advantage! Perhaps the most important thing is not so much what you eat, but that you eat. However, a few items are mentioned more often than others.

FOOD:
1. Bananas - This yellow fruit contains potassium, a mineral which helps to normalize the heartbeat and send oxygen to the brain. Bananas are also high in B vitamins, which help calm the nervous system. But the main benefit comes from the carbohydrates; the three types of sugar provide an instant and sustained energy supply.
2. Almonds – These nuts are high in vitamin E and magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy. Almonds are also high in protein and fat – good sources for sustained energy. Manganese, copper, and riboflavin further help in energy production.
4. Snickers Bar - The amount of protein and fat from the nuts, as well as the high sugar content, deliver a high level of energy. Also, chocolate has been associated with relaxation and mood elevation. Plus, these candy bars taste great!
5. Trail Mix – Usually associated with outdoor hikes, this tasty combination of nuts, dried fruit, grains, and chocolate offers the complete package of protein, carbs, and fat.

DRINKS:
1. Gatorade – High in sugar and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride), this energy drink is quickly absorbed into your body. However, due to the salt content, you may become thirsty. Make sure to drink some water and visit the bathroom afterward.
2. Water - Dehydration can lead to a host of uncomfortable consequences, such as dry mouth, fatigue, and lightheadedness - all of which can distract you and adversely affect your score. Just one cup of cold water will go a long way. But it’s not just for drinking! Many recommend splashing cold water on your face during the breaks. This triggers a response called “mammalian reflex,” which slows down the heart rate and reduces the need for bloodstream oxygen. It also leaves you feeling refreshed, awake, and relaxed.

However, the time to experiment with snacks is NOT on the day of the test. Instead, try a few of them during your practice CATs to see which ones trigger the best response. Everyone will react slightly differently, so it’s important to see what works for you. During the breaks, be sure to also go to the bathroom, walk around, take deep breaths, and stretch some. These activities only take a few moments and will help to keep you alert and fresh.

While these foods have a good GMAT reputation, this list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure that there are other great options. If you know of any, please share them with us!
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26 Oct 2011, 04:28
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What I did and what I recommend to anyone is this:

Eat a light meal beforehand. If you're taking your GMAT in the morning, eat a Continental breakfast (bread, jam, orange juice and coffee). If noon, eat a light and well-balanced lunch but NOT with mayonnaise.

Bring a half-liter (20 fl. oz) bottle of water to the test. Drink a little before you go in, a little on the first break and a little on the second break. If you bring more, you will drink more, and few things will be more embarrassing than having to duck out to the little boys' or little girls' room in the middle of a section (not to mention you lose time).

Bring two, yes, TWO small squares of premium, artisanal confectionary quality chocolate. One for each break. I like milk chocolate with caramel filling: I find this is just enough sugar, caffeine and salt to keep me going. If you are lactose intolerant, try dark chocolate.

If you bring more than two squares, you will eat more than two--and this can go down quite terribly. But that little tiny VERY VERY good piece of special, refined chocolate will make the break something to look forward to and the test just a little less dreadful.

Finally, either have a nice big fat tasty meal in the fridge (duck breast is one of my favorites) or treat yourself to your favorite restaurant (I like Auberge Bressane) for dinner. Make this a day you WANT to happen and take it as a whole.
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03 Aug 2010, 15:11
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nicely written!

I would be a bit wary of drinking water or gatorade lest the need to go to restroom present itself in the middle of the 75 minute session!

Best way is to practice for sure. I would also suggest other granola bars and cereal bars (or even Cliff!)
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04 Aug 2010, 18:46
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Thanks for posting this!

I eat a banana every morning with my breakfast and I find it helps me in the morning, so I could definitely see that.

I think fruit in general during the break (tangerine, grapes, berries - something easy to eat) would be useful. I try to have some fruit every afternoon and it helps me get through the last couple of hours of the work day.

And I'm a huge trail mix fan, so definitely support the trail mix idea.
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05 Aug 2010, 10:19
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I wasn't allowed to eat during my breaks when I took the test last year, so I wouldn't 100% count on being able to eat.
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05 Aug 2010, 16:52
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shaselai wrote:
i suggest 4 hour energy - i used it at both exams - no sugar overload/crash during the exam or after really. Easy to consume (like a shot) so you dont get the urge to go to the bathroom during the exam. You can get it at gas stations or grocery places.

I tried that for a practice exam, and it made me really jittery like I couldn't think straight. My scores did improve though, so who knows maybe it was good for me even if it didn't feel good.

I would say try your snacks first on a prac test, don't eat/drink something for the first time for the real thing! You don't want to eat a yogurt bar and realize too late you're lactose intolerant!!
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13 Jul 2011, 23:58
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I think any snack can be good: bananas, chocolate, sweets, etc. But the most important thing is to take also this snack in your simulations as well!! It's very important to simulate the real exam environment!
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16 Nov 2012, 23:47
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As a doctor, i would recommend each to get an idea on what foods provide a lasting dose of energy and then "Do your own thing". Generally Grains, and cereal based foods are good early in the day and get you started! (you want CARBS). Have a banana along with your favorite CEREAL or a sandwich made from whole grain bread. If you like coffee or OJ go for either. The key is to find out WHICH FOODS provide you the most energy, but you must also like to EAT those foods.. An energy drink 20 minutes before the test is a good idea, however these drinks do come with side effects ranging from chest pain, tachycardia to massive headache's and dizziness so it is a good idea to test them out to see whether they work for you or not. If you enjoy a Sandwich in between your study sessions then their is no need to EAT A SNICKERS BAR (which you may otherwise dislike). Foods that one like's act as mood elevators (we all feel a level of satisfaction when we eat our favorite food ), so you want to enjoy what you eat. The important point here is to EAT something and most of the things that you will choose will have a positive impact for you ( will provide energy).

I have seen friends that have taken caffeine pills for 2 days with very little sleep (2-3 hours a day) DO EXTREMELY well in MARATHON Medical examinations, however that is not recommended. I have also seen some go buck wild and take HUGE quantity of food before the exam and do equally well (this is also not recommended). Try to get a good meal the night before (perhaps go to your favorite restaurant) and a GOOD breakfast the morning of the test. Take along foods that you enjoy and look forward to eating (DO NOT EXPERIMENT) and do your own thing ( You have taken Exams all your life, and most have taken exams that last 3-4 hours, so just follow what has worked for you)..

In between the quant and Verbal session (last break) you will perhaps feel the most drained.. Eat something, have a sip of water and try to " RE-BOOT your BRAIN" .. Do what works for you, gets you relaxed, gets your brain to easy up. For some it is listening to music, for others it may be doing push up's or walking around teh center..For others it may be splashing water etc.
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07 Sep 2014, 10:47
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I sorely wish that I had found this post before figuring out the snacks part myself. For my first three attempts, I tried chocolates (not such a great idea- sugar high followed by a crash). I surely experienced crash in the middle of the verbal section all three times.

Correct eating on d-day and during the test should be part of serious strategy for test takers.

On my fourth attempt, I figured out the importance of eating right during the test and I practiced the same regimen during mock CATs too. A third bottle of gatorade in every break plus good carbohydrates. I'd recommend some type of bread low on sugar but high on carbs.

I am sure that this helped me lot with my endurance during test day, which I know for a fact was a big factor in my score (I know this for sure as I usually performed well on sectional test, but poorly on full length tests - something that my wife was kind enough to point out!).

Edit: I'd probably stay away from regular red bull (maybe before verbal only!!! - but do practice this during mock CATs as well)
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03 Aug 2010, 17:40
Thanks for the input!

And good idea about the Clif bars. I particularly like the Builder's bars. Those have a good bit of carbs, fat, and protein. Plus, they taste good. But remember to drink some water after those. You will definitely become thirsty!
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04 Aug 2010, 10:10
are we allowed to chew gum?
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04 Aug 2010, 16:09
I got granola bars and that was a terrible idea, it was hard to chew and choke down, and made my mouth really dry. I didn't want to drink too much water either.
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05 Aug 2010, 11:03
i suggest 4 hour energy - i used it at both exams - no sugar overload/crash during the exam or after really. Easy to consume (like a shot) so you dont get the urge to go to the bathroom during the exam. You can get it at gas stations or grocery places.
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05 Aug 2010, 19:09
boogs wrote:
I wasn't allowed to eat during my breaks when I took the test last year, so I wouldn't 100% count on being able to eat.

This is very interesting and important. Thank you for your input.

I would advise anyone who hasn't taken the GMAT yet to contact his or her test center and inquire about this. If you're not allowed to eat snacks during the break, then make sure to eat something before taking the test. Again, practice this with your CAT's.
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06 Aug 2010, 06:30
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shaselai wrote:
i suggest 4 hour energy - i used it at both exams - no sugar overload/crash during the exam or after really. Easy to consume (like a shot) so you dont get the urge to go to the bathroom during the exam. You can get it at gas stations or grocery places.

I tried that for a practice exam, and it made me really jittery like I couldn't think straight. My scores did improve though, so who knows maybe it was good for me even if it didn't feel good.

I would say try your snacks first on a prac test, don't eat/drink something for the first time for the real thing! You don't want to eat a yogurt bar and realize too late you're lactose intolerant!!

it does give you a "wow" effect once you drink it. I didnt feel any jitters but i drank like 30 mins before exam since i was waiting. but I think with all the snacks/drinks suggested, try it out around the time of the exam ahead of time and see how your body reacts to it.
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06 Aug 2010, 07:06
Bottle of lucozade and a snickers worked for me. Had 1/3 of each during each break.
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06 Aug 2010, 07:13
shaselai wrote:
trunksli wrote:
shaselai wrote:
i suggest 4 hour energy - i used it at both exams - no sugar overload/crash during the exam or after really. Easy to consume (like a shot) so you dont get the urge to go to the bathroom during the exam. You can get it at gas stations or grocery places.

I tried that for a practice exam, and it made me really jittery like I couldn't think straight. My scores did improve though, so who knows maybe it was good for me even if it didn't feel good.

I would say try your snacks first on a prac test, don't eat/drink something for the first time for the real thing! You don't want to eat a yogurt bar and realize too late you're lactose intolerant!!

it does give you a "wow" effect once you drink it. I didnt feel any jitters but i drank like 30 mins before exam since i was waiting. but I think with all the snacks/drinks suggested, try it out around the time of the exam ahead of time and see how your body reacts to it.

My exam is end of this month and I plan to buy a 6 pack of the 5 hour energy drink to test on practice tests leading up to the big day. I've heard bananas and/or candy bars are good too. Would love to hear feedback from prior test takers.

http://www.target.com/5-Hour-Energy-Pom ... B002YU4HKS
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14 Aug 2010, 11:56
Been a "lurker" for about a month now and this is pretty fun topic! Yeah, just stick with almonds and banannas. Both are all natural.
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29 Oct 2010, 07:05
what about the following combination for each break?

banana half + 1 granola bar + 1/3 red bull + 2 sips of water

+ splashing water + loo

I m thinking of following the above. I hope I m not planning something that will do more harm than good.

I often feel hungry, even post food, if I study.
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29 Oct 2010, 07:13
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gurpreetsingh wrote:
what about the following combination for each break?

banana half + 1 granola bar + 1/3 red bull + 2 sips of water

+ splashing water + loo

I m thinking of following the above. I hope I m not planning something that will do more harm than good.

I often feel hungry, even post food, if I study.

that just looks so complicated. Just drink a bottle of 5 hour energy max and you are all good to go throughout exam with no crash.
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Re: GMAT Snacks   [#permalink] 29 Oct 2010, 07:13

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# GMAT Snacks

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