If you’re like I was when preparing for the PE exam, you want to know as much as possible about the day you’ll take the test. One of the often-overlooked parts of test day is the lunch break, and in this article, I’m going to go over that for you in detail.
The PE exam lunch break is 50 minutes to an hour long. During this time you will need to leave the testing center and can access your packed lunch in your car or drive to get lunch. Packing a lunch is better though as it saves time and lets you eat healthier, which improves brain performance.
There are a few additional details to be aware of, so let’s jump right in!
What the PE Exam Lunch Break is Like
When you finish the morning session of the PE, the proctors will call the time and dismiss everybody. You must leave the testing center during the lunch break. Don’t take your lunch into the testing center during the morning session, bring a cooler to put your lunch in, and keep it in your car.
When I was done with the morning portion of the PE exam, I went out to my car and ate lunch there. I packed healthy foods that I knew wouldn’t make me feel bloated or otherwise physically or mentally disadvantaged.
It was nice to just sit there and relax, not thinking about anything. I don’t remember everything I did, but I know that I checked my phone and even called my wife during the lunch break the first time I took the exam.
On my second attempt, I was lucky that she and my kids were close by, so they came to say hi and I got to spend a little time with them.
After I was done eating I still had some time before the afternoon session, so I took a walk around the testing center. It was warm enough outside that I walked inside the testing center, which was a big convention center at the time. Your test will likely be at a dedicated place for test-taking, so you’ll probably have to walk outside if you want to do that.
You can’t take your exam materials out of the testing center, so don’t plan on trying to study or refresh at all during the lunch break. Your brain has been through a rigorous four hours already, it needs some time to rest and prepare.
Taking care of your brain is actually my #1 recommendation for how to use the PE exam lunch break wisely.
This starts with food, which we don’t realize is fuel for our brains as well as our bodies. This is why it’s a terrible idea to eat out. Fast food is awful for your brain and is more likely to make you feel sick. Plus, the body digests it more quickly, which means you’re more likely to be hungry during the afternoon session of the test.
What’s worse about eating out is that you can’t anticipate how long it will take to get your food. So you risk the chances of being late or not getting to eat at all, both of which are horrible.
If you go into the afternoon session of the test hungry or with a food hangover, your brain performance will suffer, and you’ll do worse. Instead, eat a packed lunch and focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
And make sure that you only eat food that you know agrees with you! It would be awful to waste most of the afternoon session in the bathroom or in pain from eating too much.
Walking or doing some other type of movement is proven to improve your brain performance, which is why it’s a good idea to get out and move after you’re done eating. Plug in some headphones and listen to some nice music or something relaxing to help your brain rest more effectively.
Don’t listen to a podcast or anything informational, you want your brain to just chill so it’s completely ready for the afternoon session!
All of this is important because the afternoon portion of the PE exam is harder, and you need all the help you can get to do well on it!
Can You Snack and Drink Water During the PE Exam?
Most testing centers will allow you to snack and drink water while you’re taking the PE exam. If your test is computer-based, which almost all will be in 2022 (including the Civil PE) then you’ll have to take a break to access your food and drinks.
Check with your specific testing center to see what their rules are. I know that some only let you drink water from a drinking fountain as part of a bathroom break. Most others will let you have your own snacks, but you’ll have to keep them in a locker outside of the testing area.
If you do have the option to drink water and eat snacks during the PE, I highly recommend it. There’s nothing worse than being hungry or thirsty during a long and very important exam! Plus, staying hydrated and well-fed keeps your brain at optimal performance so you can do your best!
The PE exam lunch break may seem like a simple part of test day, but if you do it right you’ll do a lot better on the more difficult afternoon portion of the exam.
Pack a healthy lunch, relax your brain, and go on a walk, and you’ll rock the afternoon session and will be much more likely to pass the PE!