Woman checking off an NPTE break

How many breaks do you plan on taking during the NPTE? One, two, or more? If you haven’t thought much about it, that’s okay, here’s your chance to do so. There are two breaks that are given: one scheduled and one unscheduled. Did you know that you can actually take more than two breaks during the NPTE? If not, I’ll share why and how you can effectively take breaks during the actual exam.

Taking Scheduled and Unscheduled NPTE Breaks

Both the scheduled and unscheduled breaks allow you to physically take up to 15 minutes away from the computer. The scheduled break is after the second section around two hours into the exam. The unscheduled break, you can take after any completed section; however, the exam timer continues to run.

Woman taking a mini mental break

Reason to Take the Unschedule Break

Many candidates don’t take the unscheduled break mainly due to the time against the clock. However, by not taking this break, you could be causing yourself to lose more points towards the end of the NPTE. How’s that? Most likely your brain wants to just get things done and sometimes can rush through missing key things that might have led you to the correct answer. This can lead to missing multiple NPTE questions in a row.

When planning to take an unscheduled break, I recommend doing so before the last section. This way you can give your mind and body a break from sitting at the computer for a couple of hours. Rather than focusing on the time that is ticking away, focus on how you can replenish yourself. Take a couple of minutes to refuel with a balanced snack and hydrate yourself. Get some fresh air, stretch or shake off jitters, clear your mind, and relieve yourself before going back to finish up the NPTE. Allow for a couple of extra minutes to check back in and get yourself settled in front of the computer.

When Rushing Through Doesn’t Help

This exam tests your endurance and should be looked at as a marathon. This means that you want to pace yourself rather than just rush through in order to get it done. Most candidates have time to spare at the end of the exam, especially when implementing test-taking strategies. While the NPTE isn’t exciting to take, you’ll want to do your best so that you don’t have to worry about the results.

By pushing through until the end without the unscheduled break, you could become distracted, lose focus, and increase your test anxiety. These factors can cause you to lose points as your mind is not clear or able to pick up on clues presented. If you were running an actual marathon on a hot day, would you reject someone handing you fluids as you were going by?  Not really, so this would be the same idea with the unscheduled break given to you. It’s there so that you can take it in order for you to complete this exam with more focus during the last section.

Type of Breaks

Have you ever thought about taking other types of breaks throughout the NPTE? If so, great. If not, learn why you’ll want to do so. The types of breaks that you can take and help you on your NPTE would be mini-mental breaks at the end of the sections. These breaks are done at your seat so you’re not going anywhere. The amount of time with these breaks can range from a second to a minute or two.

Breaks Between Sections

You don’t have to wait every few hours to take a break. I recommend taking a break after you have completed a section. Allow yourself to reposition, stretch, be able to look away from the screen, clear your mind, and take a few deep breaths. This also allows you to ask for a new brain dump sheet to help you work out the questions. I would allow a couple of minutes for these breaks. Giving yourself these breaks helps you to be ready to focus on the next section.

In between NPTE Questions Mini-Mental Breaks

It’s unrealistic that you’ll be able to keep focus throughout the whole NPTE. So, when you feel you are losing focus, I recommend taking mini-mental breaks. These are quick breaks that last a few seconds. Long enough for you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and clear your mind in order to concentrate better. Take as many mini-mental breaks as you can during or after an NPTE question.

How Many Mini-Mental Breaks?

As you progress through your PT exam, you’ll find that you may be taking more mini-mental breaks. The key will be pacing yourself and not let the time elapse bother you. To maintain focus, practice taking a quick break every 15 – 20 questions in the beginning. Later on, the breaks may come after every 10. You may find that the last section may be after every five questions or every other one. 

Woman not taking an NPTE break

Stressful or Anxious Taking Breaks?

By allowing yourself to take breaks on the NPTE, you’ll gain more control over the exam. This will ultimately help you to keep or even increase your score so you don’t have to worry while waiting for your results. Let’s see how well you can beat the NPTE by taking breaks!

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