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JLPT BC 139 | Getting Closer to the July Test

JLPT BC 139 | Getting Closer to the July Test post image

With the July test just around the corner, I’ve switched off all of my ‘fun’ studying which is a bit depressing. I’ll basically be reviewing and really perfecting everything before the big day. It’s still frustrating because I really don’t have the time to do as much studying as I’d like to.

I’ve had to slow my pace a little with learning new vocabulary because it was just too hard to keep going at a good speed. I’m starting to get over 30 minutes or so a day and that is just too much blind drilling. I got tired of sitting at my computer typing away.

I do agree with a lot of language teachers in that the best way to learn vocabulary is through context, which means doing a lot of reading. Reading a lot of the passages from previous JLPTs has helped a lot, but the vocabulary section of the test always seems to bring me stumpers that I haven’t seen before.

I have also been steadily working through my massive library of old 一級 tests. At first, I was just doing the reading and grammar. And it would appear my reading is getting better but my grammar hasn’t really been going anywhere. I think this is mostly because there are a ridiculous amount of phrases you have to know at this level.

Tanki Master

Tanki Master is technically a workbook for each level of the test. Or at least, that is what it bills itself as. But, for all intents and purposes it is pretty much another sample test. It really doesn’t have that much of strategies section or a very detailed section about the test. It is simply a book full of sample questions to give you a feel for what the test is going to be like.

The first part contains questions of every type for every section. There are actually more questions for some sections than on the actual test. For example, the vocabulary sections each have about 9 to 10 questions each whereas the test has 6 to 7 for each section. Overall, it is a good, somewhat cheap, practice book you can whip through to give you an idea of where you stand.

However, I felt like the reading section was ridiculously easy. I got most of the answers right in that section and I really don’t think my reading score is that good. I know it has improved, but, I don’t think it has improved that much. I kept answering questions thinking I had gotten fooled by the test writers because they were too easy.

I’m also starting to get a lot better at spotting bogus answers. On the JLPT, even at the lower levels, the test makers love putting answers for the reading test that are correct except for one minor detail. Often times this minor detail can only be denoted by a particle, or a slight change of wording. A dead giveaway is when they use wording and vocabulary that was used in the passage. This usually, but not always, indicates a trap. A lot of times the answer to the comprehension question is a rewording, which uses different vocabulary, of something said in the passage.

I still managed to completely bomb vocabulary. I’m not sure why this is happening, when I’m doing the reading, I often times already know the words that defined at the end of the passage, and can, in general, understand all of the vocabulary in the passage. However, there are still, inevitably words in the vocabulary section of the exam, that I swear I’ve never seen before, which I don’t even think is possible at this point. I must have seen them and simply blanked them out of my memory.

I did great on the grammar for Tanki Master though. Again, I’m not sure if this was just because the questions were way too easy or if I’m actually the right level for the test. I kind of feel like it is a blend of the two. The scrambled sentences were a cakewalk compared to what I have seen before. The text grammar questions (at the end) seemed about the right level though.

Listening focus

These final weeks before the exam, I’ll be doing a lot of listening to test questions to hone my focus. It takes a lot of mental focus to concentrate for the full hour. I catch myself day dreaming a lot which can be disastrous. So, my strategy this time around is going to be to listen to JLPT listening questions non-stop until the test. That way they should seem fairly natural to me once I get in there.

I had previously been holding off on doing the 一級 (old N1) listening because I just assumed I didn’t need that much extra practice, but I’ve now cracked the seal on them and I’m working my way through all of those as well. The format of the questions are fairly different. The new test has a lot more diverse types of questions, whereas the old test only had two kinds. But, I still feel there are plenty of tricks that you can learn from these old-timers.

Other than that it is going to be review, review and review some more. I keep refining absolutely all my knowledge. I tend to do a little grammar practice there, a little listening practice there, a little reading practice there to keep me from getting bored and also to keep everything honed.

Will I pass this time? Hmm, as always, I have no idea. Vocabulary seems to really be pulling me down, so that might hurt me this test. I definitely didn’t do myself any favors with the last score I got in that area. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the one though. I’d love to get this done and gone.

Are you Ready?

How about you? Are you ready for the July test? If you are taking the test, good luck, and remember to stop by the blog afterwards and share your impressions.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Jude June 20, 2014, 12:02 am

    There’s some research recently reported on the effect of 12 min of aerobic exercise on classroom performance, especially on the ability to focus for an entire 45-min lesson. The improvement it makes is said to equalize the results of lower-income students and those of their better-off peers – probably by helping to reduce the stress that the poorer kids are constantly under. You most likely don’t want to take the time to read anything extra in English right now, but if you could work in a little jog before the test, it might help keep your concentration up for the spoken Japanese section. (Once I have grandkids I’ll try to incorporate some of these ideas that keep popping up into their routines, but my son is already beginning to eye me suspiciously – he’s intent on his kids having a normal childhood. He has agreed – in principle – to guitar lessons.)

    • Clayton MacKnight June 23, 2014, 2:36 pm

      I’ve heard that the best way to keep your brain going into old age is regular exercise. I get exercise, but not regular enough. It is usually packed into one day a week when I have gym classes with my daughter. We were all born to run I guess.

      • Jude June 23, 2014, 3:10 pm

        Regular exercise is good, but these 12-minute spurts were studied for their effect on an immediately-following class. I wonder how much calmer our schools would be if every class throughout the day were preceded by a group jog-in-place. It would work out to nearly an hour a day, I think. When I ended up at various times in my life with “incorrigible” dogs, I found that taking them out for about 6 miles of running (them) and walking (me) every day had a miraculous effect on their behavior. Maybe it would help with our schools – nothing else seems to have. (And at least some of the guns would drop out of waistbands before they were used, I’d assume.)

        BTW, the Japanese at the World Cup games have earned a lot of praise for doing what I understand they learn in school – cleaning up after themselves. That’s an idea that is definitely worth stealing.

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