18 responses

  1. Azanea
    October 21, 2011

    In my opinion, there’s too much time alloted to information retrieval. The minutes can be safely halved because the question is straightforward, you don’t have to read the entire thing and all you have to do is look out for exceptions.
    A handy trick is to jump to info retrieval when your concentration starts dipping, say after the mid-sized passages in N2 or after the long passages in N1. This lets our poor fatigued brains get a sort of breather before tackling confusing thematic and integrated comprehensions.

    • Mac
      October 21, 2011

      Yeah, I agree with that actually, for this article I took some numbers from a few practice books, but in reality I spend a lot less time on information retrieval.

      Great tip on jumping to the info retrieval when your attention is dipping. I usually skip forward and do it right before the thematic passage.

  2. Rebecca
    December 3, 2011

    I’m taking N2 for the second time tomorrow, and I have to say that time management/test taking skills is even more important than actual Japanese knowledge, especially for the reading section.

    The first time I took the test, I heard them call for 15 minutes left and I hadn’t even started on the reading section. Needless to say that was a disaster. However, I did well on the listening, where the CD paces you through the questions. There’s still not a lot of time to answer or rethink in the listening, so you just have to go with your gut. Nothing is printed anyway so you can’t reread the question.

    This time I bought a watch and focused on timing myself through the different sections of the test, and now I can finish a practice test within the time limit, which is an accomplishment in my opinion. But it wasn’t studying Japanese that sped up my test-taking ability. I cut down a huge chunk of time on the reading section by reading the questions first, then jumping to the underlined sections and reading two sentences before it. For the “Information Search” section, 75% of the information is there /purely to slow you down in reading it/, which is kind of cruel. For the reading section you need to be able to find where the information is located (like the first/last sentences of paragraphs) and then you can take your time reading those.

    That’s what I’ve been doing anyway, and I hope it works out!

    • Mac
      December 4, 2011

      So true Rebecca. I have a question for you. What country are you taking the exam in? Here in Japan, they don’t yell at the time at all. As a matter of fact they don’t even have a clock in the room to give you any kind of indication as to how much time you have (at least at all the facilities I’ve been to). It seems like they are a lot nicer in other countries.

      As for the reading, I think you’ve made some good points. The information retrieval/search questions at the end of reading are definitely questions that you need to skim for to save time and get all the questions answered in time. They have gotten a little tricky lately though. Sometimes you really have to read a lot of the passages to understand what the underlined parts are. The old 二級 tests were a lot easier in this respect. I can usually score 80 ~ 100% on the reading on past 二級 tests, but N2? not even close I’m afraid. Anybody that says the N2 is equivalent to the 二級 (including JEES) is full of it. N2 is really like a 1.5-級, halfway between 二級 and 一級. At least in my experience going over the old 二級 tests.

      • Tai
        June 20, 2013

        Mac, I take the test in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and they indicate us how much time we have. It is usually said when there is 15 and 5 minutes left.

      • Clayton MacKnight
        June 21, 2013

        That’s good to hear. I think they used to do that here in Japan, but not anymore. We just have to guess (at least in the Kansai area).

  3. Kaile
    June 30, 2012

    Hi Mac,

    Just thought I would let you know that I am reading this article before the JLPT this afternoon. In case the time of my comment doesn’t show up correctly, yes, today is the day of reckoning (July 1st 2012). I also intend to eat some bananas later to get an energy boost. LOL. Thanks for consolidating all these tips for us; it makes me feel that i have a little bit more control over the fate/outcome of the exam. grin.

    Good luck for JLPT!

    • Mac
      July 1, 2012

      No problems Kaile! I hope you did well on the test. I feel like I did better than expected, but I still didn’t pass yet.

  4. タカ
    September 24, 2012

    Thank you
    I really searched for a approximate time per section. I am preparing for N5. I could go for N4 or even N3 but is about Kanji. I know a lot but not in order. My target is N3 or N2 if i have time in July next year. What i want to ask. The 15 min of explanation is counted as being part of test round or not.

    • Mac
      September 30, 2012

      the 15 minutes of explanation is not counting in these times, but it is counted in the times that are given in the booklet you may or may not get when you sign up for the test.

  5. Dustin
    December 1, 2012

    I think the N5 times on this listing need to be updated. The following times are on my voucher…

    Language Knowledge (Vocabulary) 12:30 – 13:10
    Language Knowledge (Grammar) and Reading – 13:40 – 14:45
    Listening – 15:15 – 16:00

    • Mac
      December 2, 2012

      Yeah, those times are the ‘test hours’ the times above is the ‘answering time’ the actual time you have to answer the questions on the test.

  6. Michael
    November 29, 2013

    Hi Mac,

    I just wanted to thank you for all your help. Your instructions, as well as your tips have been extremely helpful! Also, thanks to you I’ve found the N5 practice workbooks and now I have a pretty good idea of what to expect on Sunday.
    However, since I’m learning japanese all by myself, I’d really appreciate it if you could help me on some details of the test procedure..
    1. Besides my test voucher and pencil/eraser, is there something else I should have with me on Sunday?
    2. Do we get the 3 sections of the test from the start, or each one is given separately right before it starts?
    3. Can we take notes on these booklets or do we have to bring our own notebooks?
    4. What’s this thing about the red and yellow cards? I have absolutely no idea!

    Thank you very much!
    I hope you see my message on time,!

    • Clayton MacKnight
      December 2, 2013

      Sorry Michael that I couldn’t get to your message before the test. I hope you did well.

      This already past the test but it is helpful to bring a wrist watch with you. Some testing facilities don’t have a clock. Be sure to check what kind of watch is allowed though.

      The n5 has 3 sections and they are administered separately, usually with breaks between each one.

      You can mark up your test booklet by making notes and circling things. Extra notebooks are not allowed because of possible cheating.

      The red and yellow cards will be explained at the testing center. Again it depends on where it is being administered.

  7. Corvus
    August 25, 2014

    I’m trying to get a tally per section and I am finding a discrepancy in the reading section, you have 6 sections and the JLPT site only has 5 currently http://www.jlpt.jp/guideline/pdf/n2.pdf

    Has the test changed since you wrote this maybe?

    I am trying to make a point tally per section too, it would be nice to break down the listening section by time in the same way. Is each question worth 1 point?

    On that note, I’ve never taken the test and I’m curious whether time is called for each of these sub-sections, or is it merely the suggested time? Seems like from the discussion above, you could do the reading sub sections out of order.

    Much appreciated.

    • Clayton MacKnight
      August 25, 2014

      The breakdown of points is a bit tricky and, anyway, it’s all theoretical because there is no official record of how they score the test. I’ve gone over my best guesses in my JLPT Guide, but basically, the Listening questions are not all worth one point, the quick response questions are worth less, and the final 3 questions are worth more. The times are suggested times.

      In Japan, they never call time, they don’t even give you a 5 minute warning. Maybe somebody complained that it was distracting? Not sure, but they leave you in the dark. They usually don’t even have clocks in the classrooms where you take it because some people complain they can be distracting. I bit odd if you ask me.

  8. Corvus
    August 25, 2014

    Oh never mind, I think I was looking at your N1 breakdown thinking it was N2!

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