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  1. Abstract In the standard fracture test specimens, the crack-parallel normal stress is negligible. However, its effect can be strong, as revealed by a new type of experiment, briefly named the gap test. It consists of a simple modification of the standard three-point-bend test whose main idea is to use plastic pads with a near-perfect yield plateau to generate a constant crack-parallel compression and install the end supports with a gap that closes only when the pads yield. This way, the test beam transits from one statically determinate loading configuration to another, making evaluation unambiguous. For concrete, the gap test showed that moderate crack-parallel compressive stress can increase up to 1.8 times the Mode I (opening) fracture energy of concrete, and reduce it to almost zero on approach to the compressive stress limit. To model it, the fracture process zone must be characterized tensorially. We use computer simulations with crack-band microplane model, considering both in-plane and out-of-plane crack-parallel stresses for plain and fiber-reinforced concretes, and anisotropic shale. The results have broad implications for all quasibrittle materials, including shale, fiber composites, coarse ceramics, sea ice, foams, and fone. Except for negligible crack-parallel stress, the line crack models are shown to be inapplicable.more »Nevertheless, as an approximation ignoring stress tensor history, the crack-parallel stress effect may be introduced parametrically, by a formula. Finally we show that the standard tensorial strength models such as Drucker–Prager cannot reproduce these effects realistically.« less