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JLPT December 2014 First Reactions

JLPT December 2014 First Reactions post image

As a lot of you know I did not make the trip up to Kyoto University this year to take the test.  I want to say that I feel little disappointed in myself, but in actuality I’ve been too busy with family to really be too worried about the exam.  There have been a lot of little things and small emergencies I’ve had to be there for, and I’m thankful that I didn’t have the test looming over me to worry about.

Of course, I haven’t been sitting on my laurels in terms of studying Japanese.  I’ve taken a bit of a radical change to how I’m organizing my learning.  I’m focusing more on just doing a lot of intensive reading and practicing and reviewing vocabulary that way.  My only wish is that there were more audiobooks to choose from in Japan or at least more long-form advanced level listening material that has a script.

I’ve learned that I am more of a visual learner.  I need to see it to understand it, but I don’t have any ‘sit-down’ time to look at things, so I’m forced to review more with listening while I walk to and from the station, to work, or while I’m doing house stuff like cooking after all my family has gone to sleep.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to taking the test again and seeing if this departure from drill books and drudgery has its advantages or not.

Enough about me though, what about you?  You are probably ready to throw all your JLPT out the window and veg out.  But before you do that, I have some advice for you to take maximum advantage of the ordeal you just went through.

Analyze before it Fades

Before the test material becomes a distant memory to you, it is best to do some minor analysis so that you can take the test better next time.  I know the last thing you want to do right now is think about the test but bare with me here.

First, what sections did you struggle with?  Did you feel like you were able to answer the questions easily and with confidence?  Now, you never can be 100% sure of an answer, but just try to recall how confident you were in each section.  Later, when you get the results you can match this up with reality and see if your guesses were right or if you were way off and just thought you were okay.

Second, did you have enough time to answer all the questions?  Specifically, do you think you could read through all the passages in the reading section with enough time to understand them well enough to answer the questions?  You don’t have to read them all completely, just be able to skim through them and pick out the right details.  Or did you feel like you could have answered the questions more correctly with a little more time?

It’s good to get this initial snapshot while everything is still fresh in your mind. Later, when you get the results you can look back on what your first impressions are and see how close you were to predicting your score, or how far off you were. You might not realize what some of your weaknesses are until you do.

So, stop what you are doing right now and head to the bottom of this post. Leave comment with the following information:

1) Test level
2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad)
3) What section you thought was the most difficult
4) What section you thought was the easiest
5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary?
6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion)

Your answers will help others as they move up to different levels. Take just a few minutes to let us know your thoughts.

Take a Load Off

Okay, are you back? Now it is time to just relax and take the load off. You’ve probably been going through so many drill books, you see test questions in your sleep, so go out and just veg out. You definitely deserve a break. If you want to still practice some Japanese, switch to doing something more fun and less drudgery. Don’t push yourself to the point of breaking.

But, remember to try to keep the habit up. You have probably set a lot of good study habits up and it would be shame to throw away all those good habits after you have come so far. So instead of dropping them, make sure to do at least a little something every day. Even if you are studying for 5 minutes. What is important is starting the activity. When the test comes up again, you can crank up the time you spend. But, for now, just keep the routine.

Tell me your Reactions

Take the time now to leave me a comment about how well you think you did. Use the list above and tell us all about it.

{ 102 comments… add one }
  • Tommy December 6, 2014, 6:27 pm

    I’m taking the N5 tomorrow in Dublin, Ireland. Will post my reactions afterwards!

    • Clayton MacKnight December 8, 2014, 2:16 pm

      How was it?

    • Jack December 13, 2014, 11:17 pm

      How’d it go?

      • Tommy December 14, 2014, 4:22 pm

        I posted my reactions below, same username! I was very happy with it. I’ll be very curious to see my result. I’m pretty confident I got over 90%. I would love to get 170 or higher, time will tell… But I’ll let you know. I would be disappointed (and surprised) if I got less than 160/180.

  • Umeko December 7, 2014, 7:24 am

    Hi Clayton,
    Here is a nice source of audiobooks I know, hope it can help you:
    http://rtkwiki.koohii.com/wiki/Audiobooks

    • Clayton MacKnight December 8, 2014, 2:26 pm

      I keep thinking I want to tackle ‘I am Cat.’ one of these days. I’ve also heard that “kokoro” has a lot of good vocabulary and can be good practice for the N1.

  • Rebecca December 7, 2014, 9:48 am

    1) Test level: N2
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Australia
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest: Reading
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Listening to native materials and stress coping skills!?
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): Practice tests and vocab flashcards

    Taking practice tests were a huge help just in the sense of knowing what where I’m weak, knowing the structure of the exam, knowing how to pace myself, etc. etc. I think if you’ve taken the exam before, though, this is probably not so big a deal– I’m a first timer so it was great to sit down and feel very familiar with the test structure. That said, I was surprised by how much slower I was in the real thing than on practice tests– normally in practice I finished very comfortably with 20 minutes to spare, this time was right down to the line. The biggest weak point for me while studying was definitely the more detail-orientated vocab questions, so towards the end of the year I made an effort with flash cards (Memrise for vocab and Anki for grammar points). I’m not a big flash card fan in general, but for the test itself this made such a huge difference– when I started the test I felt I was nailing it, and because the vocab/grammar section was always my weakest I felt very confident I had the whole thing in the bag.

    But! For some reason my listening was such a disaster that I’m actually still kind of reeling from it. The listening test felt like it was five minutes long, and the whole time I was doing so badly it was kind of surreal, like a train of words were coming at me and I could never keep up. I don’t know if it was the test itself was harder than the Kanzen Master/practice tests I did, or if I was tired, or it was just me getting into a cycle of negative thinking and kind of “rejecting” the Japanese I was hearing, but either way I’m sure this has caused me to fail the whole thing. Before the test I really felt very prepared for this section so I don’t really know how to fix it… if anyone has had this kind of performance anxiety freeze-up before and have any tips I’d love to hear them. (Or if you also found the N2 listening a nightmare that would make me feel better too I guess…)
    All in all I’m hugely disappointed with myself and feeling pretty down, but I hope everyone else who sat an exam today went great!

    • Clayton MacKnight December 8, 2014, 2:34 pm

      The N2 Listening section can be a bit of a nightmare, especially those last 3 questions.

      My biggest recommendation is to listen and re-listen to the same material over and over until you can pick out every word, and you know why it is there. And try to listen for long periods of time on a regular basis. Your brain might be rejecting the audio just because it isn’t comfortable with so much listening at once. Make it more automatic.

      • Tamas December 8, 2014, 7:37 pm

        My experience mostly mirrors yours, except I didn’t think reading was particularly easy. It wasn’t that the texts were unusually difficult (although I was a bit shocked when I saw the footnotes on the “long” piece overflowing to the following page), but choosing the “mottomo yoi” from the two goodish answers was pretty difficult in some cases (then again, I’m a technical-oriented guy, and even way back in school I deeply despised classes where literature analysis played any part).

        In any case, I literally finished in the last second. The moment I raised my pencil after filling in the last bubble, they called the test. I experienced a touch of panic about 15 minutes before the end, which was the toughest moment psychologically.

        Listening was much harder than any of the practice tests I’ve tried (from various ALC publications and practice tests I could find on the net). In practice I tended to score in the 80-90% range, but on the real test I’ll be happy if I can get over 60.

        I think a large part of the problem was that they were playing the CD on a piece of crap boombox that looked like (and may have actually been) from the ’80s, and produced a horribly distorted sound at the volumes necessary to cover the 200+ person auditorium. The other factor was that I was tired from the labor and stress of taking the written test. I kept zoning out in the breaks between the questions, and took me a moment or two to wake up once the following question started.

        • Rebecca December 9, 2014, 1:03 am

          @Tamas — We seem to have had a really similar experience! I didn’t find the reading easy as such, just easier than the rest because it comes more naturally to me than the other sections (maybe we’re the opposite in that I come from a humanities background and do better with big picture questions.)

          As for the listening, a bad sound system sounds like such a nightmare, and very unfair! I don’t have any such excuse, our sound system was pretty good, but I definitely lost concentration, either from tiredness or from stress that I was bombing so badly. That said, I feel like a lot of people have mentioned they found the listening unexpectedly hard this year. I really did a lot of “test orientated” study for that part so I was confident I knew the standard of the material and could meet it. If it actually was more difficult and we’re graded on a curve (right?), maybe that will work in our favour.

          Anyway, good luck with your results, hope you find you’ve done great 🙂

          • Tamas December 9, 2014, 9:03 am

            @Rebecca – my problem with this style of test is not that I don’t get the big picture, quite the opposite: my brain can’t tolerate ambiguity. And to me at least, a lot of these one sentence summaries feel very ambiguous. They say something similar to what the text was about, but not quite the same thing. In a way all of them seem incorrect, and I find searching for the least incorrect summary a frustrating, annoying and ultimately pointless task.

            The most infuriating thing about the sound was that the room was actually equipped with a perfectly modern PA system, that they actually used for all the announcements, but for the listening they decided to use that museum piece.

            I tried to understand how the grading works exactly (and I found the statistical background to be much more interesting than the test itself :)), but it isn’t clear that a more difficult test helps us. It definitely helps the very good guys (not that they need it), and hurts the very bad guys (who would fail anyway) but in the middle the effect can go either way.

        • Clayton MacKnight December 9, 2014, 5:04 am

          Did you take it in Japan? I’m surprised they had such poor quality playback equipment. I can understand if you were in a smaller room. For instance, I took the N3 in a room of about 40 people and they used a CD player no problem. But 200+? They need a PA system, I’d make a complaint.

          The listening seemed to be a lot tougher for everyone. N2 is such a hard gap to fill in that regard because a lot of native material is still too tricky but prepared material can be too easy or a bit odd. I passed by listening to a variety of stuff from drill books to TV shows to good ole Jpod.

    • Virginia December 8, 2014, 2:41 pm

      Hi Rebecca,

      I took the N2 test too, and I can understand your feelings. I was very surprised at the listening! I couldn’t keep up! In the middle of the listening something went bad with the CD and while the test supervisor was changing it, I just wished the test was over, I don’t know if I felt it was difficult because I was tired, or it was simply difficult for me, or both.
      I took the test with 5 classmates and we all thought the listening was way too difficult for us.

      I will try to listen to japanese news and radio, or watch dramas, to see if I can improve my listening comprehension.

      Let’s wait for the result!

      • Rebecca December 9, 2014, 1:33 am

        Hi Virginia, I feel bad for saying this but I am kind of relieved to hear other people also were surprised by it! I’ve been feeling very frustrated with myself since Sunday.

        I think you’re right about just listening to a lot of native material– most of my study for the listening part was geared towards the test itself, studying past questions/textbooks/etc. It obviously didn’t help me in the real test (and studying these very artificial test questions is not that helpful for real life either, which is kind of the point of the whole exercise…), so whether or not I retake the N2 I think I’ll focus on native materials from now on.

        Hope your results turn out great, fingers crossed!

      • Clayton MacKnight December 9, 2014, 5:08 am

        I think the listening section comes down to stamina sometimes. If you don’t hear Japanese constantly, staying focused on it for so long can put you to sleep.

    • DG December 9, 2014, 10:46 am

      I totally understand how you’re feeling, the N2 listening was freaking hard. you can definitely feel the difference. This year was way, way harder.

      I had no problems whatsoever on the kanji, grammar, vocab and reading part. I was so happy when i finished that! And then the listening cd started… It’s not like i couldn’t get the words, but for some reason it all was very confusing and I always ended up excluding a couple of answers and having to choose (at times randomly) between the remaining two, that were often extremely similar.

      It kind of felt like the aim of the listening part was to confuse you, rather than just testing your listening skills.

    • Miglena December 11, 2014, 9:51 am

      I took the N2 exam too and I was surprised how difficult the listening part was. I didn’t expect it. The listening exercises i had before the exam were much more easier. I had some problems with the reading too, especially with the longest texts but i hope to gather enough points to pass the exam. I hope everyone of you to pass the exam as well and keep learning!

  • Nammae December 7, 2014, 12:44 pm

    Hi Mac,
    I took the N1 test for the first time. I think I did pretty good.
    On the same day last year I took N2 test. Although I passed it there were something that bothered me. That is the Kanji Reading section. I got only 1 correct answer. So I told myself that I need to improve my Kanji and as a result, this time I got all of them correct.
    In my opinion, Grammar section was difficult. Especially the questions where you need to choose the correct order for the sentences. They are usually the easiest part of the test. But this time they aren’t.
    Generally, I think the Reading section was not difficult. It seems the Reading section for the test held in December is easier than the one held in July. It’ s just my opinion coz I have never taken a test in July. 😉
    About the listening section, I was quite disappointed with myself. I did not well as I did in mock exams. Maybe it’s because the real test is much more difficult or the consequence of over-learning Kanji and neglecting watching animes and dramas.
    Anyways, I hope everyone will get the desired results. And I hope you will be able to pass the test in July next year coz you deserve it.

    • Clayton MacKnight December 8, 2014, 2:37 pm

      Thanks Nammae. Sounds like you did a great job on the test.

      Do you regularly watch anime and dramas? I used to, but found that didn’t improve my listening skills quite as much as I’d expected, so I switched to Harry Potter. Do you intensively watch them (try to understand everything) or do you just listen for the main ideas?

  • Nikita December 7, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Hi Clayton,

    I started learning Japanese since June this year. And even though I haven’t completed the entire syllabus for N5, I feel glad that I attempted the test. I gave the test in Mumbai, India.

    Vocab and grammar sections were a breeze. I stumbled a bit in mid-size passage – the one that is just before information retrieval question.
    Before exam I presumed the grammar would be more difficult than the listening. Boy, I was so wrong. Listening section was pain partly because of vocab I guess and when you cannot get two in a row it is frustrating.

    One thing that helped me score the most was lots of revision.
    I guess I should spend more time on reading longer passages, vocab(verbs),and also should practice listening which will help me on how not to get distracted.

    • Clayton MacKnight December 9, 2014, 5:14 am

      When you say revision, do you mean lots of review? Did you write out sentences or did do a lot of speaking out loud?

      Listening can be tricky because they always mislead you. You need to get used it though. Every level of the test is like that :). It helps to have plenty of practice with listening drill books as well as listening to some prepared material with a script.

      • Nikita December 11, 2014, 11:21 am

        Sometimes I feel as though as I read a particular word somewhere but i am not able to recall it. So going over the previous lessons refreshes my memory.

        Thanks for the tip on listening. Will definitely concentrate on this section more.

    • Katleen Rousseau January 12, 2015, 9:03 am

      do you remember the ”black building” question… So funny! (something like: ”Do you see the black building?” …”The tall one with 4 floors”? ”Yes that one!” ”ok, great, I’m just in front of it”… ”Well, it’s not the one you are looking for, It’s the one just beside!” )
      Still…. was the answers the round building, or the one with round windows?

      • Nikita January 13, 2015, 9:48 am

        Hi Katleen,

        I do remember the question it was I guess 1st or 2nd question. The answer was the round building. Because it said it building was “marui”. Well I answered so. 🙂

  • Osaka December 7, 2014, 4:46 pm

    Took the JLPT for the first time, at the N2 level. Was in Osaka, Japan.
    The hardest part for me was the grammar, as expected. I procrastinated studying the kanzen master grammar book a bit, so I definitely could have had a better grasp.
    The most unexpectedly difficult part was the listening section, I didn’t study in particular for it for lack of time and confidence in it, but I seemed to either completely understand a question or get lost in words I didn’t know.
    The section I think I did best in was reading. I actually had time to fully read through all of the stories except for the kensaku one, and I was pretty confident in my answers.
    The thing that helped me most for reading was just reading a lot of shousetsu and manga recently. I also think making vocab lists in both the dictionary app I have (imiwa) and anki of words I didn’t know, especially with N2 kanji, helped a lot.
    In the future I plan to use the drill and lesson books more and to watch anime and dramas either with Japanese subtitles or none to help improve my listening.
    Best of luck to everyone for their results! Less than two months til we know if we passed or not…

    • Clayton MacKnight December 9, 2014, 5:17 am

      Can you recommend any good manga that have more ‘common’ language in them? Sometimes you can grab a sci-fi manga that some Japanese have a hard time understanding.

  • Deise December 7, 2014, 9:21 pm

    Hi Mac,
    I took the N3 test in Portugal. It was my first time in JLPT. I thought the reading part was a bit easier compared to the mock tests at least I could finish it 🙂 I thought the listening part was more difficult compared to the mock test, but maybe because it is harder in real exam, the last part of a long marathon (studing, taking the other parts…) . But overall I think it was OK, let,s see how it goes…
    It was a great advice you gave on the JLPT study guide, to take mock tests simulating the time of the day, use the commented answers to sudy and your suggestions of books and mock tests helped a lot! Thanks!

    • Clayton MacKnight December 11, 2014, 12:06 am

      Thanks, I’m glad I could help you out. I hope that you were able to get the score you wanted. I lot of people struggle with the listening section of the exam because of the endurance aspect of it. I recommend just doing some more regular listening and re-listening to material that you have so that you get comfortable with listening to Japanese, make it automatic.

  • Xythar December 7, 2014, 10:43 pm

    I took the N4 in Melbourne, Australia.

    I think I should be able to scrape a pass as long as I got enough points on the first section (vocab/kanji). Most of the vocab questions ended up being words I didn’t know, and a lot of the kanji questions came down to 50/50 guesses. The grammar was all right outside of the “put the sentence in order” questions, which I’m always terrible at (need to read more, I suppose). Usually with those the first one is easy, the second can be puzzled out, but the last couple were total guesses for me. Reading was all right except the wall of text near the end which was significantly harder than the one on the practice test, I found. Didn’t really have time to decipher the whole thing so I had to just take a stab at it. On the upside, listening is my strong point, and I’m pretty confident that I got almost all the questions in that section right, which should provide a much-needed point buffer against the other two sections. In future, I really just need to read more.

    The one thing I did that helped my score the most was just doing the practice test (the official N4 workbook) during the week before the real thing. There were a couple things I brushed up on as a result that were directly applicable to the actual test, so I’m glad I did it. The actual test was much harder, though – I got something like 85% of the questions right on the practice, but I don’t think I got anywhere close to that on the real thing. So it’s definitely worth doing, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security.

    • Clayton MacKnight December 11, 2014, 12:18 am

      That’s interesting because the official workbook is made of questions from previous tests, so it should, in theory, be as difficult as the real thing. Maybe they have adjusted the level of N4 a little bit.

      It is hard to find good reading material for the N4 level. Native material is still too difficult or not the right subject (like kid’s books) so you have to rely a lot on prepared material in order to get ready for the exam.

      For listening do you listen to a lot of podcasts or drill books? Is there anything you can recommend for others at this level?

      • Xythar December 12, 2014, 11:19 am

        Haven’t really looked too much at either of those, but I do watch a lot of Japanese TV (specifically anime) which probably helps. I’ve been working as a fansub editor in my spare time for the last few years, so I’ve spent a lot of time going over pre-translated scripts while listening to the audio. I also spent a year on JET back in 2007 but I didn’t really know much at the time, so I didn’t learn all that much either. I’d say the bulk of my improvements have been since 2010 or so.

        I’ve been trying to read native material where possible using kanji lookup assistance (eg OCR software). I don’t understand all of it, but it’s good practice. Shonen manga is probably the best native material to practice with at this level as it’s relatively simple and comes with furigana, but it does tend to leave one unprepared for large blocks of text. I haven’t really read any prepared material since it’s not that interesting to me, but I still hope to get there eventually.

  • Rekken December 8, 2014, 1:55 am

    I took the N2 today in NYC and was surprised at how hard it was — the listening section was easily twice as hard as an listening practice I did. I completed the Kanzen Master N2 listening book and did the official JLPT N2 practice test with no problems whatsoever, but the N2 test today was much harder. I had been worrying about the reading section, and although that was difficult, the listening nearly killed me. I was betting on listening for the bulk of my points, so this has be a bit worried, but oh well. Overall I’d say the vocabulary was much more difficult than I expected. I’ve been using the app “StickyStudy” on iOS and have a good mastery of the N2 deck, but there were plenty of words today I didn’t know across all three main sections. After the test I started flipping through the N1 vocabulary deck just to get a preview of what I’ll be studying next, and many of those words appeared on today’s test. I wish I had studied more vocabulary…

    Probably the most surprising part of the test though was how relaxed it was. The proctors monitored everything but were not strict at all. After the insane rules that were sent out (no bringing any other electronic devices, no bringing written materials, no water bottles with labels on them, etc), I was surprised at how lax the rules were. People were studying from textbooks in the hallway before the test, people had bags next to their chairs, one guy was eating a bagel and drinking flavored tea during the 30-minute break while in his seat. Very not-Japanese.

    It was an interesting experience though and I fully recommend it for anyone who wants to test their skills. Do prepare yourself for a long, boring (and dirty) subway ride up to the Bronx though… I wish they could find a more central testing location in Manhattan…

    • PA December 11, 2014, 12:24 am

      I and two classmates took the N2 in Wash. DC (USA), and we all agreed the listening was harder than we had expected. At the end of each question, you could just hear the sighs going around the room! I don’t think I got a single short response question correct.

      Overall the test seemed a lot harder than practice tests, including the official one. Kanji is my strong point, but even then there was one I had never even seen before.

      My biggest mistake was not remaining disciplined about not agonizing over answers during the exam. During practice tests, I had not had this problem, probably because I knew it didn’t count, and I could just pick an answer and find out later if I were right. However, for the real thing, I HAD to get it right … So, I ran out of time. I remember looking up and seeing a dude sitting there, with closed exam book and pencil down, and thinking, wow, he’s finished already? Why isn’t he checking his answers? And just as I looked back at my paper they called time …

      One strategy which I employed was to leave my weakest section(s) for last. I figured, if I were going to run out of time on something, I might as well run out of time on the sections I’m going to get all wrong anyway. Next time, though, I think I’ll fill in bubbles for them just in case I don’t make it back to them.

      One other thing I need to do is develop a better reading strategy instead of trying to read everything.

      And next time I’ll take aspirin. I developed a real nice headache during the test.

    • Clayton MacKnight December 11, 2014, 12:27 am

      Yeah, I think most N2 decks are actually based on the old 二級 list of words, and the test actually includes a lot more vocabulary than that, in my opinion. You really need to be at a good reading level and be regularly looking at native materials for N2. You never know what they will put on it.

      I’ve been using StickyStudy off and on, I like the ability that they have audio for all of the words, it really helps link everything together. I still use Memrise for my main study tool, but StickyStudy does have useful stats and clean lists.

      I can imagine things are a lot more lax in the States than here in Japan. Do you see anyone cheating? That seems to be actually quite rampant here.

  • ern815 December 8, 2014, 5:23 am

    Hi all,

    Any rough estimate as to when will the JLPT online results be out? Took N2 yesterday and I got a feeling I will fare worse than the one I took in July. Haha.

    • Clayton MacKnight December 9, 2014, 5:20 am

      Did you take it in Japan and register online? If so it will be the last Tuesday of January (probably), the 27th. If not, you will have to wait until the following Thursday or Friday, I’m not sure. And then official results usually arrive the following week (first two weeks of February)

  • Sanjay December 8, 2014, 5:51 am

    for me the JLPT N1 December 2014 was tough. all sections were difficult: 文字・語彙、文法. Correct order of words section was exceptionally tougher this time than previous years. For me the 長文読解 is always difficult to understand and takes too long to read. i end up skipping it entirely. but this time the 短文読解 also had tricky questions and i am not confident that i answered them correctly. The last question in 読解 in which we have to search for information was very tough this. Before test I was feeling confident about 聴解, but this time the audio quality in my test center was not good and i was not able to hear and comprehend the words. Overall quite disappointed with myself for my test performance.

  • Kiguchiterrier December 8, 2014, 9:06 am

    Passed what was 2kyu six years ago. Ever since I’ve steadily read solid Japanese fiction and more recently newspapers. Married to a Japanese woman who only speaks to me in Japanese. Took N1 two years ago and failed. Scored ok on grammar etc. Felt I did better this year, but same old problems. Stupidly spent too long on kanji/voc/gramm, leaving me with just 50 mins for reading. As usual, the questions I answered on reading felt fine, but I didn’t finish in time.

    Listening felt quite good.

    Priorities for next time (assuming I failed): max out the language knowledge so I spend less time on it. Lots more reading practice with focus on speed. Need lots of new text books for all skills.

    One idea- possibly do reading Q’s first, then just blitz through lang-knowledge without too much ‘thought’. Only bits that need ‘thought’ are the sentence puzzles, which I hate.

  • Ed December 8, 2014, 9:55 am

    I hadn’t taken it since last Dec and had worked really heard in the run up. But I thought N1 was a horror!

    My pacing was off meaning I had to just put ‘3’ for about 6 of the reading questions.

    I agree the grammar seemed really hard. I was counting on nailing a few easy marks there, but they were not straight forward at all.

    The listening was about the same as last Dec – tricky in places but with a few easier ones.

    Came out feeling pretty gutted. That was my third attempt and I’m wondering if it’s possible to pass it not living in Japan and working full time. Not totally sure I can face it again!

    Hope you all did well though.

  • Stephen December 8, 2014, 11:18 am

    This is my second time taking it, I took it for the first time in July and got absolutely destroyed by it, but I learned alot from that experience. This time definitely felt much better, felt much more at ease.

    Grammar – This section for me actually felt much better than in July, not sure why other than I have been focusing solely on N1 grammar JLPT textbooks, so there were times where I could almost see the right answer because it was the only one that consistently appeared in my all N1 grammar textbooks. The one section that still bothered me was the story section where you had to fill in the missing boxes. Im not sure why but that section still doesnt feel comfortable to me, I always feel like im guessing on that part.

    Reading – This section actually went fairly smooth this time around. There were definitely parts where I didnt feel like I understood and some where I felt pretty good. One thing Ive noticed having taken the test twice now is that reading on N1 compared to N2 is very very abstract and opinion based. Where as it felt like N2 was based on a very factual, almost a report like feel to the reading section. The N1 reading seems to consist primarily of the just opinion pieces. I had been reading the NHK news since I took the N1 for the first time in July and that has helped boost my reading speed significantly. But Im planning on now reading more Op-Ed pieces on newspaper websites like the Asahi website, which is nice because I just signed up for it today and they let you read 3 free articles per day which is fine for me since I focus solely on the “Opinion” section. And even today having read just two articles from the Op-Ed section, I remember thinking “wow this is pretty much exactly like the N1 stuff”, so I think Ill be more prepared when I take it again in the Summer (or fingers crossed, I pass the second time!)

    Listening – Ive been listening to the NHK news and NHK radio news for the past year now and I know that has no doubt helped me ALOT on the listening section. I really do think the hardest thing about the listening section is just the one shot, one time deal. If they repeated it, it wouldn’t be nearly so difficult. For me when the older man is talking I usually just concentrate as hard as I can because its that rounded style of speaking which is harder to understand. But I do feel for the most part if you practice listening everyday youll eventually reach a point where youll knock out the listening section no problem.

    Overall I dont think I passed this time but I do think my score will improve from last time! Im thinking though if I keep going at this pace for the next 7 months and take it again in July, I think Ill have a decent chance of passing it then! Good luck to everyone!

  • Tommy December 8, 2014, 2:21 pm

    Took the N5 yesterday, very happy with it. Very similar to the book of sample papers I had worked through. Was finished the first two sections with loads of time to spare and read over. Understood everything easily bar maybe one or two bits. My reading speed improved dramatically from my time studying in japan and that definitely (along with practising the sample papers) helped me to blitz through the paper. Listening was easy, a couple of questions I didn’t catch the answer but I forced myself to move on quickly and keep my concentrate on the beginning of each question. (Something I had decided beforehand!) Overall, very happy. I was probably over prepared but there’s no harm in tha! N4 now. 🙂

    • Katleen Rousseau January 12, 2015, 9:04 am

      do you remember the ”black building” question… So funny! (something like: ”Do you see the black building?” …”The tall one with 4 floors”? ”Yes that one!” ”ok, great, I’m just in front of it”… ”Well, it’s not the one you are looking for, It’s the one just beside!” )
      Still…. was the answers the round building, or the one with round windows?

  • Virginia December 8, 2014, 2:25 pm

    Hi Mark!
    I remember a few years ago I discovered your site while I was looking for tips in order to study for the JLPT N4 test, and now I’ve come to finally meet the N2 test! Its level is still difficult for me but it is not unreachable!

    It became a tradition for me to check your site after the exam and read other japanese student’s thoughts on the JLPT 🙂
    Sorry I didn’t comment anything throughout the year I was very busy with work and study.

    1) Test level: N2
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Buenos Aires, Argentina
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: I have to say that the entire paper was difficult for me, I started studying for the N2 in August so I knew that I needed more time, however it turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. I didn’t know most of the 言語知識 and I encountered some grammar points that I’d never seen in my study years. I think this is because I only read the Sou Matome N2 bunpo, so this book is not enough. I will now focus on another bunpo Book (Speed master and Kanzen master bunpo).
    I was also surprised by the 聴解 listening section, it was way more difficult than I thought.
    4) What section you thought was the easiest 読解 I thought this would be the hardest one, but the texts were about everyday life and kinda easy to understand.
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary? I definitely should have focused on kanji. I didn’t have time to read one article so I also need to improve my reading speed. Regarding the listening, I think this is also one of my weakest points, I will try to watch more japanese language content (dramas, radio, etc.) so as to improve my listening comprehension.
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): The last weeks before the test I focused on Dokkai, so I think this practice helped me to read a little faster than I did before.

    Last year I took N3, I thought the levels would be somewhat similar but I was surprised. The N2 level is not like the N3, it’s way more complex and difficult. It requires more study hours. I think I need to focus more on listening to and reading Japanese news, radio and everyday topics so I can improve my comprehension skills.

    I’m still overwhelmed by the difficulty of N2, but it also gives me the strength to continue studying. It helped me realize where I am at, and decide what to focus on so as to prepare myself better for the test.

    皆さん、お疲れ様でした!
    Regards from Argentina.

    • Virginia December 8, 2014, 2:34 pm

      I just realized I spelled wrong your name , hahah 恥ずかしい
      I meant to say Mac :p

  • Eve December 8, 2014, 4:38 pm

    I’ve never taken the JLPT before until I took N1 in the summer and failed by 9 points (but passed each section). I hadn’t done any studying besides going through the N1 grammar book (日本語総まとめ) for fun about 2 years ago. (I like grammar…) In the test I felt like everything was going pretty well until I looked at the clock and saw I had 30 minutes left and I had just started the reading. 🙁

    This time was pretty different. I went through the reading and vocabulary books, focusing especially on vocabulary and making flashcards because that’s where I got the least amount of points last time.

    I actually did something a bit different during the test, and I’m not sure yet whether it was a smart idea or not. I took the test backwards. I basically skipped right to the last reading question and started answering them in reverse order. I find that I start getting more and more tired as the test gets progressively harder and the questions get longer, so my idea was to do it in reverse. I was fresh for the tough questions and then they kept getting easier. I finished the reading in less than an hour, then moved on to grammar (which I answered forwards) and then vocabulary last (which again I answered forwards). I had about ten minutes to go through my answers and even re-read the last two reading questions just to find out that I agreed with my original answers.

    My mistake the last time was trying to read and really understand what I was reading. This time I threw that out of the window and basically followed the format of a) read the question b) read the 4 potential answers 5) skim to the relevant part of the essay and only read that part. I ignored everything else.

    The listening was okay, I felt the last question was much easier than the summer N1, but halfway through the test I just felt really tired and kept thinking, man I hope I never have to take this test again.

    Overall I kept my cool much better than last time, but again I can’t say I was 100% sure of a lot of my answers. Some of them seemed like tricks but I couldn’t figure out the angle so just had to go with my gut. Last time I was convinced I had screwed up so badly I would get a score below 50, so I guess it’s hard to gauge how you did. Have to wait and see I guess!

    • Eve January 29, 2015, 10:44 am

      Well, I got the worst possible result – the exact same score as last time. Only this time, my reading and vocab scores were swapped around.

      I really can’t understand why, because the first time I took it, I didn’t even manage to finish the reading.

      I guess the good thing is that my vocab has improved, but I still feel like this was a completely pointless result. Three months of studying and nothing to show. I’m not even sure what area to try to improve on next time.

      Perhaps it’s better to focus intensely on the first few reading questions at the expense of not being able to finish the section, although that just seems wrong to me. I was under the impression that the longer, harder parts of the reading section were worth more points.

      Oh well.

  • Kat December 8, 2014, 4:47 pm

    I took the N3 in the UK yesterday.

    I thought the reading section would be the most difficult, but in actuality the listening section was – it was brutal. I did well on the listening section in mock tests, and regularly have language exchanges every week, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. I won’t be underestimating it again! I suppose a lot of us were burnt out by then too?

    Probably because I practiced for it the most (kanzen master, reading novels, etc.), I found the reading section the easiest.

    In general I felt I needed to study for vocab more, since I often concentrated on grammar instead.

  • Ashley December 8, 2014, 6:00 pm

    1) Test level: N4
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Fayetteville, Arkansas USA
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest: Vocab
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: listening
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): Memrise vocab

    When I took a practice test in September, I was shocked–I expected vocab to be easiest and listening to be hardest, but my results were the opposite. After that, I crammed through the entire JLPT N4 vocab set on memrise, finishing just 2 weeks before the test. I spent the last two weeks–even the day of–reviewing those vocab lists and reviewing some tricky grammar spots.

    Day of, actually the vocab section was ridiculously easy to me. I know for sure I got one of the kanji questions wrong, only because the kanji in question showed up in the next section and I knew I picked the wrong one. And there was one word in the “use in a sentence” section that I had no clue about (おおぜい)–had never come across before. Pretty sure I got that one wrong too, but everything else I am 100% confident about.

    The grammar was harder, of course, but I knew my weak points were star scrambled sentences and fill in the blank, so I did those two sections first. Like you suggested, I paid close attention to the particles/endings of the scrambled sentence choices and puzzled out which two had to go together, etc. I feel fairly confident I got most of those right. Everything else–except the stupid “memo to a friend” section which is always really tough to me–went really well, I think.

    So after those two sections were over, I was feeling REALLY thrilled. Those were the hardest in the practice tests, so I was feeling home free. But then oh my GOD the listening was terrible!!!! It was SO hard, SO fast, and ALL the questions were trick ones where the voice actor actually said all 4 answers!

    I just hope that I got enough of them right to pass that section because I know I did well enough in the others.

    Someone was asking about results dates; I was told on site that you would hear early Feb if you created an account online and Feb 15 by mail.

  • Bart December 8, 2014, 6:31 pm

    1) N1 (second time)
    2) Los Angeles
    3) Listening
    4) Grammar
    5) Reading
    6) I record Japanese programs and listen to them through the day, World Business Satellite being particularly helpful.

    Language Knowledge: I always find the Kanji section easy and they even threw in a katakana question for us westerners 🙂 My strategy was to skip any question I didn’t immediately understand and then to focus on the reading section. Again, I didn’t really see a lot of “N1 grammar” questions, more of an overall review of all levels. I always hate the sections where they have a long reading section and then you have to apply the grammar because for some reason, I’m not good at those. I felt I had good pace reading, but there is almost too much to read. I thought I was almost done when I realized I still had 3 readings left. I still had enough time to go back over the questions I skipped, but not enough to re-read every reading section in depth.

    Listening: I found this harder than last year. The male speaker on the first couple of questions had an intonation that I found hard to understand. The quick response questions didn’t seem as straight forward as last year. As always, you are fighting to keep your concentration at this point.

    Not expecting to pass, but I’m hoping to improve my abysmal reading score from last year. I definitely need to space my studying over the year, as I didn’t study that hard this year until the end. I’ll definitely try to complete the Rapid Reading Japanese book this year.

  • SN December 8, 2014, 8:07 pm

    1) Test level – N4
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) – London
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult – Reading
    4) What section you thought was the easiest – Vocab
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary? – Grammar
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion) – Japanese TV programmes/news.

    I’ve embarrassingly failed N4 twice and pretty sure I’ve failed for the third time! I don’t my Japanese is that bad, all my mock test I’ve done quite well with but I find the test itself is a lot harder. I think this third time was the hardest so far.
    The Vocab part was fine and I think I got most of it correct…. (Like the over person here I also got the oozei question wrong!). I thought the reading was actually a bit more harder than grammar, normally my grammar is very bad and reading is good, but I think I failed here.
    Listening was a complete nightmare! It was extremely fast (I don’t think it was really normal speaking speed). Everything Ashley had said about the listening part I agree with!
    Also there was a problem with the CD where it was skipping so the CD had to be changed.
    The almost constant police sirens blaring away in the background really didn’t help either!

  • Christine December 9, 2014, 12:28 am

    I took N4 in Melbourne and like the other people who have commented, the listening was ridiculous! I had consistently scored high in this section when doing the official practice test from the jlpt website and all other practice tests in class, so I was in shock with how different the real exam was.

    Kanji/vocab was simple – in fact so easy I thought I was doing something wrong! I know I got at least two kanji wrong, but I knew all the vocab so pretty confident I’ll get a good score in this section. I had to giggle with the ‘oozei’ comments above – the day before the exam, I happened to be reviewing my text book chapter relating to earthquakes, fires etc and came across this word, so when I saw it on the test I almost jumped out of my chair in excitement 🙂

    As for the reading…wtf??!!! Again, I’d always scored well in this, but when I saw the story that was almost 3/4 of a page long, my head started spinning! There was also kanji in there that I didn’t know which just made it more difficult. I found this story so different to the other stories in the practice tests i.e the usual emails, notes, short stories etc. I thought for a moment I had stepped into and N3 test! I was devastated after this section. Also, all the practice tests had really focussed on N4 grammar such as the difference between the soudesu’s, tameni, youni, respectful/humble, causative passive etc., but there wasn’t a single question relating to this grammar. I found it to be such a focus in the practice leading up to the exam that I was shocked nothing had been included.

    Overall, I was just so surprised at how different the exam was to all the official study notes, practice test etc. If I pass it will be a miracle!

  • A December 9, 2014, 5:54 am

    1) Test level………..N2
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad)………Japan
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult……..Reading
    4) What section you thought was the easiest………Listening
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary?………In the future, I need to practice reading comprehension of passages.
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion)………….I felt like I recognized a lot more kanji this time, so it is good that I have been focussing on Kanji.

  • jeff December 9, 2014, 9:53 am

    1) Test level 1級
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) 東京
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult 聴解
    4) What section you thought was the easiest 読解
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary? 別にありませんでした。
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion)
    一番役に立つものは小説でした。今年日本に引っ越してきて以来、毎日小説を読むことにしている。今15冊目を読んでいる。間違いなく、小説を読んで、読解力をさせたり、読解スピードもアップさせたりします。だけど、何よりも抽象的なことの理解力をアップさせることができる。こうして、すべての言葉が分からなくても、全体像を掴めるようになるはず。

    The test was not horrible. It was my second time taking N1 and I felt pretty comfortable. I read so often that reading has become my knack. So I was not intimidated by the reading section. I finished all the question and was able to answer them to the best of my ability within the time frame by eliminating ridiculous answers. I even felt confident on the information search and the integrated composition section (which is something that Japanese students in high school deal with I have been told). The grammar and kanji were not horrible either. I personally feel that the grammar section has the least meaning (to me personally), because they are just a random set of words and sentences selected by the organization for the test. I was most challenged by the listening, because you only listen once. This can not be helped though so it is like whatever. I also did 2 practice tests the week before the test which gave me a sense of what to expect in terms of the format of the test. I passed the 2 practice exams when I took them too.

    • Arun December 12, 2014, 8:39 am

      Could you pls. post list of 15 novels that you own? Thanks.

      • Jeff December 12, 2014, 3:07 pm

        読んだ小説は2冊しか持っていません。
        娼年(しょうねん) 石田衣良(いしだいら)
        逝年(せいねん) 石田衣良(いしだいら)
        注意点:これらの小説は大人向けの恋愛小説です。

        これ以外に読んだ本はすべて図書館から借りられました。日本に引っ越してきて以来、日本人の学生のように、日本語で書いてある本を借りた方がいいと思っています。そして、自分の日本語能力をためしたり、アップさせたり、生きた日本語に出会ったりできます。自分の興味に合わせて本を選んだ方がベストですよ。継続は力なりです!

        • Arun December 13, 2014, 5:05 am

          Thanks Jeff for the information.

        • Jeff January 26, 2015, 3:54 pm

          1級に合格した!
          うれしい!!!!!

  • David December 9, 2014, 2:06 pm

    1) Test level: N4
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Germany
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: Reading and Grammar
    4) What section you thought was the easiest: Vocabulary
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Reading fast!
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): Practice tests, thorough Study of almost all Minna No Nihongo II Workbooks.

    The first section (Vocab) was pretty easy, even easier for me than the Mock Test N4 you can do. So i started pretty confidently in the second part (Grammar and Reading). After reading the first 5 questions it was clear the level was very high! I started to get a bit nervous because i know that you have to be extremely fast if you want to go through all the questions. But i simply could not go faster! Especially the questions where you have to put the words into the right order were tough! There were words i did not know, and the grammatical structure was kinda weird, i thought. The long text was also very difficult, maybe not because of the text itself, which i am sure is allright if you take enough time to read it, but because of the really long questions and long answers you had to choose from. Also, even though i am kind of proficient in kanji, the amount of more complex kanji in this text was quite high so it slowed my reading really down. I learn kanji by vocabulary and not by pronunciation, so it takes me a bit of time sometimes to figure out the meaning and sound of the words. This whole part was really much more difficult than the mock test.
    The Listening section difficulty was above average but still OK, but it was much more difficult than i anticipated. The speaking was actually faster than in the mock test (beeing used to Minna No Nihongo Listening training, which is pretty fast). There were tricks build in the answers and dialogues to fool you, and the last part of that section was a bit strange, because there were ways of speaking i never heard before.
    With a bit of luck i think i can get through the test, but the middle part (Grammar and Reading) really was to difficult!
    It would be nice to hear of someone who found the test “easy” and to know what he/she did for practice!

    Best,
    David

  • shahenda December 9, 2014, 7:22 pm

    I tool N4 exam but i had problem with the time especially the second section

  • Schuu December 10, 2014, 1:09 am

    1) Test level: N4
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Sao Paulo, Brazil.
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: Grammar (I’m not very good at) + Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest: kanji + vocab
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Grammar
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): just studying in general. I studied using 日本語チャレンジ books that are just so cool and beautiful.

    I did the huge mistake of not sleeping the night before the test. Yeah… It was incredibly hard to keep focus and stand the headache I was having.

    I reported the shiken to one of my friends as soon as I recovered from the day. From the 文字・語彙 section, I remember 23 of the 34 questions (or at least what they were about). It was very easy, this part. Some questions were extremely basic using せわ、あいさつ (“she said good afternoon), アルバイト, etc. Others in the other hand… One 使い方 question was about つごうわるい. Though I knew its meaning: “bad condition”, I got that wrong saying the air condition was in bad condition because it wasn’t getting the place cold. A friend later explained to me how to use it.

    In the second part, I lack in Grammar. About the respectful/ humble forms, I remember one chat in a store where the 店員 must say 「どうですか」but there’s only 「いかがですか」, the polite form. The texts at the end were huge. I’m not sure if my brain was handling it anymore at the time. 特に、最後から2番目 =_=’

    I survived so far. The third and last part. As I was exhausted I skipped mondai 3 and begin filling mondai 4. When I noticed what I was doing, it was too late. I tried to erase the whole thing but another question was going on… I panic, I got lost and screwed up the last half part of the listening. I remember when I was still doing fine, the questions were sometimes very tricky. Like one in which the husband would do everything for the lady (laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery), but what he was going to do first was the point. I know it’s usually like this, but during my practice tests I did really well… I think even if it was in Portuguese I would be like: “The child is getting the square small cake. Fine. But wait? The mother also allowed him to eat the big and round one. Now what?”. I was hoping to compensate my lack in Grammar with the Listening. 残念ですね。

    I knew I was not prepared. When I took N5 last year it was hard to me. Now I think it’s a piece of cake. I hope sometime I can think the same about N4 too and so on… If I pass, I’ll be extremely happy.

  • Mia December 10, 2014, 1:34 am

    I took N3 for the first time this December. Having continued with self-study after taking the “old level 4″, decided to skip over the N4 and challenge myself with N3.

    I used the sou-matome series for the exam prep, and I found them useful (mostly in the sense of forcing myself to study daily). Due to work projects, couldn’t quite fit in the amount of review I’d have liked, definitely more vocab/kanji memorizing and grammar drills would have been good.

    For the exam, I found the 30min vocab a nice fast start, though had to guess many answers due to skipping the review studying. I did get the feeling of ” I have seen this before!” in the sou-matome books, but not quite remembering them at the exam.

    The reading section (70min) was just enough time to finish with 5mins left to check answers. With the beginning questions I guessed any that I didn’t know immeadiatly and pushed myself to reading sections. I read the exam questions + answer options first, then searched for the answer in the text. Definitely need to brush up on my vocabulary as it would have helped greatly in this section and the vocab one.

    Listening I found ridicously easy (my friend who took N3, felt it was easy too). The sou-matome series listening book had such a short time in-between questions for answering, that the calmness in the actual exam felt quite nice. And no horrible keigo to mess me up either (I had nightmares about the different agemasu/kuremasu/moraimasu keigo questions xD). Listening exam in general felt quite straightforward and it was clearly spoken, easy to understand.
    All those hours watching jdrama must have paid off 😀

    Hoping I’ll actually pass N3, I am now fired up to start studying for N2 (for next December). I’m planning to start with my beloved Harry Potter 1# in Japanese 😀

  • Matt S December 10, 2014, 2:39 am

    1) Test level: N3
    2) Location: Chicago, IL, USA
    3) Hardest: Grammar
    4) Easiest: Listening
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Grammar drilling
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most: Combo of kanji studying + reading NHK News Easy articles several times a week.

    I passed N4 pretty easily two years ago, but did not attempt a test last year. I’ve been studying pretty consistently between then and now, but my main focus has been on kanji and vocab instead of grammar. So, I haven’t been really drilling for taking the N3, but I wanted to see where I stood after two years since N4. I am thinking and hoping that I passed with maybe a 65%, but I suppose it could go either way.

    I think I did well on the Listening section, except for a couple questions where I lost track of what was being said. I’m also pretty confident in my kanji knowledge and reading speed, thanks to WaniKani and reading news articles and the like on a regular basis. While I did have time to read all the questions, there were just a couple sections that really stumped me. I had trouble comprehending one of the mid-long passages in particular, maybe because the subject was dry to me or I was unfamiliar with some of the vocab and grammar. And I wasn’t confident at all with the grammar ordering star section. To be fair, I know I didn’t study grammar enough, and I didn’t even practice any of those types of questions. As I said, I mostly took the test to see how my studies have been going, as opposed to studying directly for the test. But I still want to pass!

    As I get closer to wrapping up WaniKani, I would love to switch gears and focus a lot more on grammar drills and language production (lang-8, video chats). I got a copy of Tobira (上級へのとびら) that I’m really itching to dig into. And once I do all that, I have a couple books I picked up on my trip to Japan earlier this year that I’d also like to spend some time on. There’s never enough time, eh?

    Anyway, thanks for asking for thoughts on the test and writing all your posts even with your busy life. Sorry I don’t comment more, but I do read every post! I wish you luck in your new study regimen and your next attempt at the test.

    • Matt S January 30, 2015, 1:29 pm

      I passed N3!

      Vocab / Grammar: 35/60
      Reading: 37/60
      Listening: 38/60
      Total: 110/180 (Passing is 95/180)

      My scores were pretty much in line with my expectations. I ended up getting a 61% overall, while I was expecting 60-65%. My Listening score was my best, but not by as wide a margin as I thought it would be. I’m really glad I passed, though.

      Now I’ll try to finish WaniKani by the end of the year, and I’ll dig into Tobira. I wonder how close the end of Tobira gets you to N2 range?

  • Andreea Ifrim December 10, 2014, 3:51 pm

    Hello all,

    I was looking for some opinions regarding the recent JLPT exam and I found your page. I was very frustrated with the listening part, therefore, I have decided to leave a comment.

    1) Test level – N2
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) – Bucharest, Romania
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult – Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest – Kanji/Grammar
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary? – I still need to work on my reading speed.
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion) – I had some tests books which focused on Grammar and Kanji, respectively Reading (did not finished that one, but it really helped).

    As Mrs Rebecca said (and others), the Listening part was horrible. I must admit that I did not do any listening exercises as I always do good at the this part and it helps my score go up. But, this year I will fail the exam because of this section. I am still confused: maybe it was the volume or the echo in the classroom. I just heard some voices talking in Japanese, but I could not get the main idea. No matter how hard I tried to focus, I just could not keep up. I am very disappointed and I’m hoping for a miracle to happen. After reading your comments I felt somehow better as I thought it was my problem only.

    I hope everyone will pass the exam! I wish you good luck and keep on studying! Do not give up!

    Kind regards,
    Andreea I.

  • Adam December 11, 2014, 9:10 am

    1) Test level – N5
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) – Atlanta, GA (USA)
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult – Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest – Vocabulary
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary? – Probably listening comprehension
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion) – I’ve studied longer than the “recommended time” they say for this exam, and that I basically have immersed myself in Japanese media/culture when I’m not actually studying (everything from TV to novels, all my media consumption is in Japanese).

    Overall, I found the test really easy (I decided to test below my “current level” just to get a feel for the test. Right now I’m actually around the “N3” range). The only place I had any difficulty on was the listening section, though not for lack of studying in this area. While I do admit my listening skills are my weakest point, I have never had any problems with the listening sections on any of the practice tests I’ve taken.

    However the speakers in the room I was testing were blown and rattling around, and everybody taking the test had problems with them. Also the place I was assigned to sit had a horrible echo from the bad speaker positioning, so that just made the rattle from the broken speaker worse. The prompters told us that there was nothing they could do, and we all just had to deal with it. So naturally, I (along with all my fellow test takers) had problems with this section. The testing location should’ve had better equipment (or at least checked it) before administering an exam like the JLPT.

    I still think I was able to (barely) scrape by in the listening section though since I could make out just enough to understand what was going on. Though even if I did fail the listening portion (and the overall exam), I’m still happy I did it. Obviously I’m upset with the host facility about their faulty equipment, but I honestly just wanted to get a “feel” for the exam before the next one (I’m considering a vacation to Japan next year in the summer, so may take the next exam over there).

    As far as the grammar and vocabulary sections, I honestly had no problems. The questions were fairly easy and laid out in a simple manner (except for the “fill in the blank” that had the stars, that confused me for a few minutes haha). I was actually surprised at how short each section of the exam was (only around 35 questions per section, when they recommend you know at least 800+ words). I honestly thought it would’ve been a bit longer. I was also thrown off by the use of scantron (for the longest time I had thought it would’ve been computer based), but that’s not really an issue that makes it easier/harder. I just haven’t used a pencil in years haha.

    I would’ve been happier with my experience had not been for the blown speakers though. I’m hoping that I still passed though, and even if I didn’t I’m still happy I completed the exam.

    • Katleen Rousseau January 12, 2015, 9:04 am

      do you remember the ”black building” question… So funny! (something like: ”Do you see the black building?” …”The tall one with 4 floors”? ”Yes that one!” ”ok, great, I’m just in front of it”… ”Well, it’s not the one you are looking for, It’s the one just beside!” )
      Still…. was the answers the round building, or the one with round windows?

  • Lelouch December 11, 2014, 1:57 pm

    1) Test level – N3
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) – Greece
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult – Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest – Reading/Grammar
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Vocabulary
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion) – Studying everyday, even if it’s just a little, reading too many articles.

    Hi all, decided to share my opinion about the JLPT

    Kanji and Vocabulary were hard. I know cuz I’ve been practising Kanji and Vocabulary a lot and compared to all the mock tests I did it was a little bit harder.
    Grammar, well for Grammar except for all the grammar books aimed for N3 I took the past N2 papers to help me have a better grasp on it and reduce the time I need to solve the questions. (thinking I will gain more time for reading) The 2nd grammar exercise was the toughest in my opinion, maybe it was the stress or idk, I think the examples were not so about grammar but it was more about understanding what was being said. If I got 3 out of 5 right then I will be so glad.

    Reading, compared to some of the books aimed for N3 Reading, I think the actual readings were fairly easier, I was pretty confident about my answers.

    And for the last part listening.
    Well, you go to this section after writing everything so you are pretty much tired. But… it was even worse for me. We were like 50 people in one big lecture hall. When the CD started playing, I noticed a bit of echo… And yeah.. it was not just a bit later on, cuz when the actual discussions started, if the speaker was talking too fast then you could here 2 words at the same time. Meaning the previous one from the echo and the one uttered currently. It was … awful… even in my native language I wouldn’t catch a thing. I ended up picking the answers randomly. And the frustrating part was that the listening wasn’t even hard to begin with, we just couldn’t hear a damn thing. -____-

  • Paul M December 11, 2014, 4:36 pm

    1) Test level: N3
    2) Location: Ann Arbor, USA
    3) Hardest: Grammar
    4) Easiest: Reading
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Listening
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most: Combo of kanji studying + reading NHK News Easy articles several times a week + tobira reading.

    I marginally passed N4 last year by a couple of points, and just went for N3 this year. I have nothing riding on the test, so my plan is to try N2 next year unless my N3 score is really abyssal.

    A lot of the vocabulary in the reading section was much harder that any of the practice tests I’ve taken. I think this is down to the JLPT2 vocab list being split by book makers into N2 and N3 lists based on unknown criteria. Even though it was much harder, I was able to infer from context from the heavy amount of reading practice I’ve been doing.

    The listening was tough, but I think I made out OK. There were a few I had no idea on at all, but I guess that’s pretty normal. The situations presented in the opening narration of each question were more complicated than the typical ones on the practice tests. I felt this moved more of the understanding to one based on context and is probably in line with the new JLPTs goals of testing ability and not testing testing (if that makes sense.) The tough part with listening will always be the shortage of practice material for everything except near native level. While we have NHK easy for reading and tons of intermediate books for grammar and vocab, listening will be elusive unless you can maintain interest in children’s shows.

    Reflection on study material:
    For text books, I believe Tobira was most useful so far actually. I haven’t gotten to far into it but it really forced me to step up my game with very natural Japanese construction for informative sentences. Kanzen master and other JLPT digests seem to be too kids gloves with vocabulary or combining multiple grammar into one sentence. Especially the TRY series, the readings seemed to be from N4 to be honest.

    For vocab and kanji:
    All of the split N2/N3 lists floating around the net are messed up. There are some that flash by during study on N3 that I cannot recall ever seeing on tests, nhk easy, tobira, anywhere. Meanwhile there are definitely words that popped up during the test that are on N2 lists. You can’t really complain about accidentally learning too many words, so if you are taking the N3 test I would definitely look at the more common words and kanji in the N2 lists.

    For future study:
    I’ve joined a Japanese conversation group, and will try to write on lang-8 more. The conversation group needs to be augmented by grammar and sentence form study, otherwise I find I just end up getting stuck into the same ruts. My main goal the next few months is to find the patience to rewatch some native material multiple times and get the conversations down.

    • Paul M December 11, 2014, 4:38 pm

      Just one more thing I forgot to add:
      The sentence arrangement problems with the stars were much much more difficult on the actual test. In practice, I generally got 4/5 or 5/5, but the test was a total disaster for whatever reason.

  • HanaPe December 11, 2014, 10:27 pm

    Hi! I thought I’d write a reaction while the test is still fresh in my mind.

    1) Test level
    N2

    This was my second time taking N2. The first time was in December 2013 at Chiba University and I failed by a small margin. At this time, my testing confidence was very low and found every section extremely difficult except for Listening, which makes sense because I had been studying in an exchange program for three months, and I guess that skill improved at a faster rate than the others. For the past year, I committed to focusing on expanding my vocabulary through SRS (Memrise, to be specific) and exposing myself to lots of reading material (short novels, news articles, etc.).

    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad)
    Boston, MA (United States)

    3) What section you thought was the most difficult
    Reading Comprehension – Despite my studying, this remains my most difficult section. Even when I prepare for reading comprehension in standardized tests like SAT and GRE, I tend to be the kind of person who spends the time reading every single word for thorough understanding of the passage. I took a little longer to complete the vocab and grammar sections than I had expected, so I ended up left with 5 minutes for an entire passage and 3 questions (the long one right before the information retrieval question… yikes…) I realized the N2 was really testing my ability to read for keywords and main idea, and as I prepare for the next test, be it N2 or N1, I think my new focus will be finding more efficient reading strategies that work for both my learning style and my accuracy.

    4) What section you thought was the easiest
    Vocabulary Knowledge – A pleasant surprise, but I found that a large percentage of these questions I could answer with certainty without having to think twice. I was impressed how much a study method like SRS pays off. If only I had set a higher goal (this year was 2000 more words) and drilled more often, a near perfect score may have been possible. However, with the flashcard set I used, I realized I did not have as much experience seeing and using these words in natural contexts, which left me pretty clueless in the word usage section. Oops. This is definitely something I’ll add to my to-do list next time.

    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary?
    My JLPT new year’s resolution is to read read read. I am sure that this will not only increase my pacing but also expose me to more lexical species in their natural habitats, which would benefit me on that usage section.

    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion)?
    I think drilling with the SRS definitely offered me the most points.

  • kusaina December 12, 2014, 5:49 am

    1) Test level – N2
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) – Japan
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult – Reading, by far.
    4) What section you thought was the easiest – Vocabulary / listening (in my case, I will say less difficult)
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary? –
    Reading speed, I am slow reader in Japanese , To answer the questions I have to read the whole thing, I can’t scan the text or read portions of it, I wish I could.

    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion)

    When I study vocabulary , I study the word, the meaning and then I try to find and study a sample sentence.

    I feel that in the reading sections of the Japanese tests there is always an answer that is 95 % correct and another answer that is 75% correct, the other 2 answers tend to be off the mark. Since my level is not that high I tend to confuse the answers. (I feel like this when I am doing the mock-up tests)

    Read and read , fast reading drills and slow readings that are aimed at 95% comprehension , also I will watch Japanese programs/movies with Japanese subtitles.

  • Jack December 13, 2014, 11:20 pm

    1) Test level
    N3

    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad)
    Dublin, Ireland

    3) What section you thought was the most difficult
    Reading

    4) What section you thought was the easiest
    Listening

    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. Reading speed? More vocabulary?
    Reading speed, reading speed, reading speed……
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most
    Using Anki every day for Kanji. Listening to mimi kara oboeru on the way to work.

    • Tommy December 14, 2014, 4:29 pm

      Ah, you took it in Dublin as well – I was surprised at the size of the N3 class, and the turnout in general!

  • Pete December 17, 2014, 8:52 am

    I took N4 and in Singapore have to agree with most of the commenters above me…
    It was not easy. I passed my mock tests all with flying colors, however struggled with the real exam.

    To be frank: December’s N4 difficulty level was way higher vs the summer edition of 2014, this is obviously based on the opinion of others that took both tests.

    Vocab: pretty straight forward, some tricks but generally ok. Made some stupid mistakes, but probably passed.
    Grammar: Surprisingly quite a lack of creativity by the authors. Not so many formal sentences, passive verbs, ukemi, shieki etc., which was disappointing (that is the fun of the grammar section in my opinion). I felt we could have been tested differently here. (this sub-section definitely passed)
    Reading: Over the top difficult (most of my peers agreed with this). I like difficult, however this was a little bit too much in my opinion. There was no ‘joy’ in solving the questions. (many guesses, so who knows…. If I go bust on this section I will start reading childrens books! I promise)
    Listening: Loved this section! Tricky and challenging, but in a fun way. This section reflected perfectly why I am trying to learn Japanese. Everyone understands 50-60% of the conversation, which is not enough to answer correctly… You really needed to be alert at all times. I definitely have a very high score on this section, which is motivating me to keep on going…

    Overall in general a passable exam, with the exception of the reading section and (for most) the listening section.

  • Patrick January 5, 2015, 5:33 am

    1) Test level: N2

    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Saitama Univ, Japan

    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: No particular section…just the time allotment.

    4) What section you thought was the easiest: Listening – although it was more difficult than in July.

    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Vocab specifics and reading speed.

    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most: Kanji study (thanks for those memrise lists)

    I’m sure I failed again, probably worse than in July. 1) I didn’t actively study nearly hard enough. 2) Probably due to that, I still just don’t read the specifics fast enough for JLPT style Japanese. I learned Japanese through a “get the gist/meaning” method vice “know every single kanji/reading” method. So I can get the meaning/ideas from any of those passages…but it still takes me a little time because I don’t “own” every word/kanji. Additionally, after my July experience I realized I don’t know enough of the specific reading stuff (odd kanji readings, etc), so I hit that hard. Too hard, because I spent too much time on the test checking & double checking that stuff, which slowed me way down. Then I got to reading comprehension, normally my strong point, but I just didn’t have enough time left and had to do very quick skims. So I’m sure I improved on vocab but I dorked up the comprehension hard.

    No real problems with grammar or listening – but listening did seem more difficult this time.

    Anyway, next month I’ll be starting an online interactive Japanese courses (through my job) that I think will focus my efforts better than my self study. I’m realizing I may not be organized enough for self study on my own… 😉 The cooler news is that I’ve been accepted into a program starting this summer that will include a 2-month full-time targeted Japanese language/culture course and homestay, then a move into Tokyo. Unfortunately it means I probably won’t be able to take the test in July but between the online instruction in my current job, 2 months of full-time Japanese courses, and the move/job change to Tokyo I’m sure I’ll be ready to blow the N2 away next December.

  • leslie January 8, 2015, 9:29 pm

    You’ll get there Clayton don’t worry

  • Mon January 11, 2015, 5:11 am

    When will the results come out?

    • Clayton MacKnight January 12, 2015, 6:02 am

      If you registered online in Japan, the results will probably be out on January 27th. If you registered elsewhere, it might be a week or so, each area is different.

  • Sankalita January 11, 2015, 5:35 am

    My Test level was N5,

    I gave my test abroad, i.e. India

    I didn’t think any part of the test was “Very” difficult, but I might have made 2/3 mistakes in grammer section…(And if there are any careless mistakes, I can’t help it, can I? :-P). .(like in the particles)

    Easiest was Vocabulary (full score definately), as well as Listening (Though the speaker sound in my sound was quite bad in the examination hall -_-, but I managed and hoping for full score.)

    I finished Vocabulary in first 15 minutes and revised for next 10 minutes, Grammer I finished with revision, 5 minutes before the time, so am hoping atleast 90% score, and have decided if i get less than 90% then I will take the test again this July -__- (Am quite obsessed about the language since I love it so much)

    I think I should have studied particles even harder, so that I could get full score. . :'(

    p.s. Since I am a high schooler in my examination centre according to my sir I was the youngest of everyone out there. . 😛 and also this was my first competitive examination so I really enjoyed it very much, not to mention it was the first time I entered and roamed about a university campus. ^_^

    • Clayton MacKnight January 12, 2015, 6:05 am

      Sounds like a great experience. Particles are really really important. It is a good idea to get a good grasp of them early on before you start moving up.

      • Sankalita January 12, 2015, 3:33 pm

        Yeah my teacher says that I have a good grasp on vocabulary and grammar particles because I observe the small detailed elements of the language before jumping off to the big catches. . But still I get troubled with the application between the particle “e” and “ni”. . Gotta try harder i guess XC. . .Though that’s exciting 😛

    • Katleen Rousseau January 12, 2015, 9:05 am

      do you remember the ”black building” question… was the answers the round building, or the one with round windows?

      • Sankalita January 12, 2015, 3:27 pm

        I gave Round building, (i guess it was the first option right, round building one? from what I can recall). . from what I heard. . its the only question i have the probability of 40% of getting wrong in the listening section. . Since I was busy tearing the answer sheet and though my ears were pricked. .I got distracted. . and it was the first question. . But I think it is round. . I wanted to check the answer. . But I was like a youngster b/w gangsters. . -_-. . just joking :P, but practically that’s the feeling I got. . since most of people in my class was salary men!! I saw them making office calls. . and talking to their kids in break times. . (-___-;)

  • Katleen Rousseau January 12, 2015, 8:59 am

    ok, so:
    1) Test level – N5
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad) – Toronto, York University (Canada)
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult – Listening!
    4) What section you thought was the easiest – Vocabulary
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more. – Definitely listening comprehension, and grammar.
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion) – I’ve studied vocabulary and I have tried to immersed myself in Japanese media (radio, movies, etc)…

    so… I learn by myself, and I knew that I probably wouldn’t by ready enough for level N5, but I still decided to register, to help me have motivation to study. It worked 🙂 (with resources I find on the web… so I still wasn’t sure I was prepared enough, or for the good things…)
    The 13 hours bus ride from my town to the test town was long,: I left at 5pm the day before the exam to arrive in Toronto at 6h30 am, and then took a taxi, and arrived around 7h30 at the University. I had breakfast at least before the test, but I couldn’t sleep in the bus, so that wasn’t optimum test conditions ^^”…
    ….Still, I was surprised I could understand all the vocabulary section (I think ^^) …even if I just finished ansewering at the exact moment the examiner saidv”stop”…I started to tell myself: maybe I can pass the test? …and when I thought that the grammar section would ”kill me”, that wasn’t that bad!
    I think I was able to (barely) scrape by in the grammar section… (the “fill in the blank” that had the stars, confused me thought! … fortunately, a friend I made just before the exam told me about that kind of exercise, so I could understand it a little bit faster 😛 )

    Also, with one of the last question (I don’t remember if it’s #1 or #2 section), but it’s the question with the long text, filling a complete page (about the dance classes the children wanted to take…)
    I realized, seeing that, that never in my study I read a text that long! …so I was really surprised to manage to read and understand it!
    Also, I still think that some people couldn’t answer those kind of question, even if it was in their native language… it don’t take only language comprehension, but also logic and ”between the lines” understanding… Some people I talked to, with clearly better Japanese than mine, had more difficulties that I had on that question, just because of that…

    Finally, the third and last part…. Usually, I have never had a lot of difficulties with the listening sections on any of the practice tests I’ve taken.
    But I think that time, I managed just enough to understand what was going on. As I was exhausted I skipped the first (example) page, and that got me confused when the tape started… When I noticed what happened, it was too late. I flipped the page to go back to the question but another question was going on… I panic, I got lost and screwed up the first half part of the listening…
    Still, I remember the ”black building” question… So funny! (something like: ”Do you see the black building?” …”The tall one with 4 floors”? ”Yes that one!” ”ok, great, I’m just in front of it”… ”Well, it’s not the one you are looking for, It’s the one just beside!” )
    …hahaha, so funny! …but still, the answers was either the round building, or the round windows… but I’ll never know! (somebody know?)

    There was also the groceries question, where the husband had to bring back fruits, and bread and eggs (I think…). So, in the image, there was strawberries, but in the audio, they were talking about fruits. I still managed to understand.

    So, I think I did better than I expected, since I had low expectations… but that is the worst, because now I’m telling myself that maybe I could have made it… and now, I have 2 more month to wait before I know! …it’s killing me!

    But, even if I fail the the overall exam, I’m still happy I did it!

  • Sankalita January 13, 2015, 12:47 pm

    Its already January 13th, so can anyone tell me the exact dates of online result display for JLPT N5 in December, 2014?? I live in India, and hadn’t registered online. . So I’m totally confused, excited, impatient and desperate. . . 😛

  • Jeff January 26, 2015, 3:53 pm

    俺は1級に合格した! うれしい!!!!!!!

  • Jamie January 26, 2015, 8:10 pm

    I’m not sure if this is the right place to put this and I know I’m a little early, but I couldn’t contain my news! I just passed the N1 on my third attempt.

    It’s my third attempt in a row having tried in December 2013 and again in July last year. The first time I narrowly missed it with score of 43/16/39 for a total of 98. The second time I was focused on other things and did a little worse with a score of 38/25/26 for a total of 89. This time I went all out and studied harder than ever and came out with a score of 36/36/33, for a total of 105.

    Considering the difference in effort between attempts my score doesn’t really seem to reflect this. The first time I had studied hard for about a month leading up to the exam and when I narrowly missed it I was disappointed. When I took it again in July I had been busy with job interviews and life got in the way – I wasn’t confident but figured I’d paid the money so I wasn’t going to turn down the chance to take it anyway.

    The final attempt had me studying 4-5 hours a day from a textbook from almost six months- failure was not an option this time. I’m not a fast learner and I found it very difficult to remember everything. As a result, my reading score jumped by a large margin, but I can’t say the same for language knowledge and listening performance.

    I know it’s said that the JLPT scaling system ensures that you get the same score regardless of when you take it, but I found the language knowledge and listening sections on the previous December’s test much easier, despite not using textbooks to study at all at the time. This time I had learned everything that Kanzen Master had to offer me by heart – I knew that there wasn’t a single grammar point or word in the grammar, vocab or kanji books that I didn’t know – and despite this I felt the language knowledge section to be very difficult. It’s almost as if they were actively avoiding the words I’d studied for. Like they had grown wise to people using Kanzen Master as a means to study…

    I know I’m going to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I really do think the test is getting harder. My Japanese IS better than it was a year ago and to get lower scores in both language knowledge and listening seems odd to me. I remember the December 2013 listening section being so simple that I found myself chuckling at some of the Q+R problems. Not so this time – it was rock hard, despite the hours I put in.

    In all I’m glad I passed but my heart goes out to those who didn’t because I feel like it was so much more difficult this time. Thank you Clayton for creating this wonderful community and I’m looking forward to hearing what other people thought about the December 2014.

  • Ruchika January 26, 2015, 8:21 pm

    Results are out tomorrow for those in Japan and in a few days for the rest of us… I’m absolutely terrified! I took the N5 in London and whilst I found all the reading parts really easy (I’d been going on the assumption I’d need to know the kanji for every word I learnt ahaha), the listening tripped me up so much… I hope we all pass!

  • David January 27, 2015, 9:02 am

    I can’t believe it! I passed N1 (just barely, but I’ll take it)!

    Best of luck to all of you!

  • Miglena January 29, 2015, 6:32 am

    I’m sooo happy! N2 passed! Good luck to all of you!

    • Rebecca January 29, 2015, 7:33 am

      Congratulations Miglena!

  • Silke January 29, 2015, 5:48 pm

    I did N4 in Germany, Stuttgart. Today I’ve got the result and passed with 105. I’m so happy.
    I knew that my results in grammar and reading weren’t brilliant. In addition listening was slightly weaker than expected.

    Best luck to all!

  • Avix January 29, 2015, 11:24 pm

    1) Test level: N3
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): India
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: Listening
    4) What section you thought was the easiest: kanji + vocab
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: everything
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): well I failed so don’t take advice from me

    Failed N3 by 8 marks, got an 87/180. Passed N4 in July, and since then I haven’t studied nearly as much as I’d planned to. Still, having taken the N3 exactly one year after starting to learn the language from scratch, I feel this isn’t too bad.

    Listening was horrendous; I was in a relatively large room and the boom box echoed terribly. I pretty much made educated guesses on most of the questions and got a 25/60.

    Gonna work super hard to pass it this July.

  • Sankalita January 30, 2015, 6:15 am

    I passed JLPT N5 with 80% score, but I’m not satisfied at all. . .:'(, Is it really a good marks?? 🙁 I don’t think so, and I just don’t get it what I got wrong in the listening section. I got 39 out of 60! When I checked my answers with everyone. And I got just 105 out of 120 in the Vocabulary/Grammar/Reading section, when I expected a lot more. I’m totally disappointed. All the N5 examination attendees, can you please reply to my comment, about your’re result? So that I can at least do some self-evaluation.?? :-/

    • PA January 30, 2015, 11:58 am

      I know it’s hard, but don’t obsess over your score. You passed. What matters now is your score on N4 this December. The day that you can get a perfect score on the N5, is the day you’ll be passing a much higher level. Congratulations and good luck!

    • Patrick January 30, 2015, 2:06 pm

      The scoring is not an exact point for point system. It is based on question difficulty and number of test takers who answer correctly. So a 105/120 could mean you got 85%-90% of the answers correct, but the ones you missed we’re worth more. Since they don’t release the details you’ll never know, but your score is still very impressive!

      The key part is that you passed with no trouble and your confidence shows you are definitely ready for the next level. Congrats!

    • Sankalita January 30, 2015, 10:40 pm

      @PA & Patrick. Thanks. I got It. Will do My Best Next Time. 🙂

  • Angeliki January 30, 2015, 9:01 am

    1) Test level: N4
    2) Location you took it (in Japan or abroad): Athens, Greece
    3) What section you thought was the most difficult: Reading and Grammar
    4) What section you thought was the easiest: Vocabulary
    5) What you felt you should have studied harder or focused on more: Reading fast!
    6) What was one thing you did that helped your score the most (in your opinion): Nothing really ( except for the 2 Kanji books of course )

    I’ve already got the test results, I passed but with an embarassing 92/180. This is the 2nd time I took the test, last year tried to make it to the Dec13 test with only 15days of study and I triumphantly failed of course!
    This year I’d be getting at least a 120/180 result, as I was breezing through all the mock tests but the hard reality hit me yesterday when I saw the results.

    Voc was ridiculously easy but all the other parts were unbelievably hard to understand, especially the “put-the-words-in -order” part.
    My listening skills are not good so I just did the basics and it worked (not brilliantly, but it worked).
    Unfortunately in Greece and in most European countries (except maybe for some of the cities in Germany and,maybe, London) we only have one test in December. And from what I ve been reading July tests are always easier.

    What really makes me angry is that Grammar is never Grammar in its plain form , but a hard-to-handle combination of unknown words and expressions, thus making it more a Linguistic part. Grammar structures only appear as already formed and , based on how much you know the remaining unknown words, you just have to figure out what the sentence means.

    Good luck to all 🙂

  • Sankalita January 30, 2015, 10:38 pm

    @PA & Patrick. . Thanks. I got it. Next level for sure. . 😉

  • Nikita February 2, 2015, 10:35 am

    Passed JLPT N5 with 112/180.

    Vocabulary, Grammar and Reading: 81/120 (A/A/A)
    Listening: 31/60

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