13 responses

  1. Craig
    September 23, 2011

    So, I have been following your website for awhile. I must admit I was curious as to your score on the N2 test.

    It seems you study quite a bit and you use lots of materials, but the return on those materials and time is not very high. Too, I bought some of your earlier book suggestions, and I found them to be well below the N2 (for example Nihongo So-Matome); although, you do later say this book was not as helpful as you thought it would be.

    My friend; for example, sat in a bar every evening watching TV, drinking beer, and overhearing conversations and got 118/180 (A in voc and B in grammar, 49 on listening). He picked up a N2 book less than one month before taking the test. And, he went to the test completely hung-over. And, he is not some super genius. In fact, he has only been in Japan for 4 years, takes Minna No Nihongo book 2 lessons twice a month, and teaches English all day long.

    He mocked me for spending time reviewing flash cards, Kanzen Master, listen CDs, and all the rest that most folks do.

    But, I realized that he had seen the forest for the trees, and I had been planting trees to see the forest. He passed N2 and I got a 76 despite private tutors and several 100 hours of studying.

    All that studying, money on books, and what-not, and I hope to BARELY pass? How long N1 going to take 10 YEARS?

    I would not be in a holding pattern on any part of N2. I have gone back to the very beginning of every N2 book I have with my now tutor(S).

    I got scores similar to yours in most areas. NONE of those scores show understanding let alone mastery of ANY area. Would you want a doctor who knew 40% about medicine operating on you?

    I am using this down time to take a loooooooong look at how I study.

    There is no way the hours you seem to put in should result in `hoping` to pass and getting a score like that. Trust me、I know, I have 3 FAILS for N2 taped to my fridge right now.

    • Mac
      September 23, 2011

      I think the biggest hurdle for the N2 is inference and nuances. Also, performing under pressure, I’m usually pretty bad at tests. That’s a skill that I for one have a hard time overcoming. When I look at my practice tests that I took, I can usually figure out what I did wrong. There are a handful that I’m completely clueless about, but that’s just me.

      For me, I just need to stop making foolish mistakes, which I do quite often. I’ll miss a transition or just not apply what I learn. That’s why I think it is important to only do about 50% book studying tops, the rest should be reading native materials, speaking to natives and listening to some native TV shows now and then. I’ve been doing this recently and it has helped, but I still can’t shake my stupid mistakes.

      We all learn differently, so I think you should take a look at how you are studying and re-asses what is efficient for you.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. vivzilla
    September 23, 2011

    Your friend sounds a lot like my boyfriend who also picked up Japanese through just going about his daily (drinking) activities in Tokyo for 2 years and almost got to N3 level. Since coming back to Australia he has struggled with remembering his new-found skills as he doesn’t have to speak and listen to japanese every day. I think there might be something for the immersion method here.

    Although, if moving to Japan and going to bars every day is what I have to do to pass JLPT then *sigh* I will be willing to take one for the team :-D!

  3. Prem
    September 23, 2011

    Hi Mac,

    I passed my N4. I am preparing for my N3 in December. Thanks for your website and all the good suggestions.


    • Andrew
      September 23, 2011

      Hey Prem just curious what you are doing to study for N3

    • Mac
      September 24, 2011

      No problem Prem, thanks for the compliment! Keep up the studying!

  4. Andrew
    September 23, 2011

    I barely… barely… barely… passed N4 with a 90 out of 180, which also happens to be the BARE minimum required to pass. I scored a 32 in listening, and a 58 in Language Knowledge(Vocabulary/Grammar)& Reading. I too am studying for N3 now. I have been in Japan for 2 years, and I have another 2 years left here, so I am hoping to pass N2 before I leave in September 2013.

    • Mac
      September 24, 2011

      Wow! Just got in there with that score. Great job though! You can definitely make the N2 by the Sep 2013. It’ll take some hard work, but totally do-able. Hopefully, I can pass on some more tips to help you get there. Good luck!

  5. Julian
    September 24, 2011

    For you guys struggling with the N2, I had a similar academic approach to studying for it, but for me it paid off. I think I scored 120, with my main strength being the vocab.

    What I did was study material slightly harder than what is normally suggested for N2. Get books for N1 and read native material meant for adults that will push you harder and acclimatize you so that when you sit down for the real test, it’ll be easier than what you’ve been doing.

    Mac, I noticed in one of your posts that you said you purchased some Disney novelizations like Ratatouille. While I think any reading practice is good, books like this won’t prepare you for N2 and up because they’re so straight-forward. Take the plunge and get a real college-level novel and struggle with it. Once you get better at inferring what the author is talking about, the higher reading levels will come easier. Also, learning to tell what the differences are between the answer choices is key since it will often seem like two of them are correct.

    • Mac
      September 25, 2011

      That is some sound advice Julian. I’ve started to come to the same conclusion.

      The reason I started reading movie novelizations is because of the extensive reading aspect of it. Extensive reading (material at your level) has been picking up a lot of steam lately as a popular way to naturally pick up vocabulary. I still think that it is a good way to do that. However, in terms of efficiency and getting ready for the test it is a lot better to do some intensive reading (reading material above your level).

      The 試験に出る読解 book I’ve been working through recently goes along with that. The vocabulary that is used is a more difficult than most of the lists and the questions are definitely difficult. I still think the So-matome Reading Comprehension book is good for when you are starting out, but the 試験に出る読解 is good for right before the test.

      Thanks for the invaluable advice Julian!

  6. Andrew
    February 21, 2012

    Hello all. It is going to be three years in Japan for me this April. In December 2010 I got lucky to pass N2 with a 107 or 108 I think.

    I took the N1 last December and failed w/ a 79. I got. 37 on 文字、語彙、文法 with an A in vocabulary and B in grammar. A 12 in 読解 which cost me the test, and a 30 in listening (which was harder for me than the practice tests).

    The reading on the practice tests I was hit or miss. I got high scores sometimes and other times bombed it like I did on the real thing. I can’t take it this summer so I’ll take it again in December. The long wait.. I’ve studied kanji via ssr

  7. Andrew
    February 21, 2012

    (button mishap)

    I’ve studied kanji via ssr on http://www.kanji.koohii.com

    I started that in Jan 2010 and highly recommend it.

    I studied grammar this time with Sou-matome and it was ok.

    My vocab will get better. Gonna do a little bit of review and do more reading for fun. The test being timed is what can bring down my reading scores so badly.

    Nothing to be ashamed of though and actually welcome the test again as a motivator and place marker to keep studying. Thanks for your enjoyable podcasts. I’ll continue to listen. But save some time for yourself to study too~


    • Mac
      February 22, 2012

      That score is pretty respectable though. Especially since you just pAssed the N2 last year. It’s great that you came close in a year.

      Yeah, reading always seems to be the most difficult part of the test at the higher levels. You definitely need to keep your reading speed up.

      More practice makes that easier though. I think my reading speed is slowly getting there. We all need more study time. :)

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