We assess the effect of shear on the deflections of beam specimens in three-point and four-point bending tests. The analysis is based on an analytical stress model using energy considerations. Numerical examples are carried out for polymeric specimens and for glass gel specimens. It is concluded that shear may not be considered in three-point bending tests if the length-to-height (or the length-to-diameter) ratio is greater than, say, 12. In the case of four-point bending it is also important that the distance between the external forces applied in the beam’s span be significantly smaller than the specimen’s length. It is recommended that this distance does not exceed half the specimen’s length.

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