About a week ago, I went up to Kyoto University to take the test again at their somewhat poorly cooled facility. I covered my first impressions before earlier, but in general I felt more confident about the test. I’ve started to take test day a little less seriously, which seems to be helping with my test score.
Now it is just a matter of waiting for the results, which typically come somewhere around the last Tuesday of August. This lull between the test and results always seems to slow everything down. You don’t want to keep studying for the level you just did, but at the same time if you didn’t pass you’ll need to review as much as possible to get back into it.
For me, if I pass I’ll probably turn around and throw everything into speaking and conversation skills. I feel like my reading is where I want it for now. It definitely needs some tweaking, but it is at a comfortable level. My speaking is down right embarrassing for my level though. It’s just at a daily conversation level, but I want to be able to do so much more with it.
So, with that in mind, I’ll probably just turn to drilling for the next 4 months to get ready for the December test. There is a chance that I passed but from here on out I’ll be devoting as much of my time to purely studying for the test. I might even break down and buy a vocabulary book or two.
Building Vocabulary and Grammar Course
In what little spare time I have, I’m hobbling together a N1 vocabulary and grammar course. Basically, I’m adding any vocabulary words that I haven’t seen to the course with a Japanese definition, an example sentence, and collocations. This makes it a little unwieldy, but very comprehensive. We will see how well it works.
For the grammar points, I’m setting up cloze statements for the grammar points I’m tripping over a lot. I feel like grammar is really close for me. I have a pretty good understanding of most of it, just need to work out the nuances between them. And to the best of my knowledge, cloze statements seem to be the most effective at learning these pesky differences.
It all comes down to my usual mantra of making everything as automatic as possible. I don’t want to have to think about the rules, I just want it to be understood clearly and quickly. And the test requires that of you as well.
More Efficient Use of Time
I’ve really started to do a lot more slicing up of my schedule to keep me focused. Instead of sitting down and trying to power through 30 minutes of vocabulary drilling, I try to switch up as much as possible. I’ll study grammar for a little bit, do some listening exercises for 10 minutes, then switch to reading. I do try to schedule a few longer sessions to keep my focus up because the test is such a long block of time.
I also started doing a little bit of exercise as soon as I wake up to get my heart pumping and awake. I’ve found this keeps me from sleep walking through my vocabulary drills. And has all the usual benefits of exercise, like losing a little bit of weight, which is something else I need to do.
I’m also doing my best to cut time wasters. A have way too many things to do in my life now and so squeezing in some extra time here and there can be a huge advantage. I’m also considering deleting Facebook from my phone. I find myself checking it randomly when I have no reason to do so.
I am almost tempted to get one of those apps that locks you out of certain programs after a set time. I haven’t gone to that extreme yet, but I might get there if I can’t quell my addiction. I guess I just need to focus on it for 21 days and set a new habit.
I now I’m really pretty close to passing the test if I didn’t do it this time. However, the closer I get, the more tired I get of mastering every little grammar point and vocabulary word. I’m really looking forward to a more natural way of learning where I’m simply exploring and finding new words that way instead of grinding through things so systematically.
The N1 to me has become more of a diagnostic tool than something I need to beat. Mostly because I feel like if you put pressure on yourself to just best the test and that is your only motivation for studying, you set yourself up to fail.
But, getting N1 will help me significantly professionally so it is a necessary beast. I do think studying for it is worth it because I’ve uncovered so many little things I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I definitely wouldn’t have pushed my reading skills to this level if I was studying without a test.
Anyway, we’ll see. As time goes on, I keep getting more and more projects piled on me and more family duties. Time management has become a huge factor.
What are you doing in the post test slump?
Have you changed your methods at all? Are you doing more natural studying? Let me know in the comments.