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JLPT 2015 December First Impressions

JLPT 2015 December First Impressions post image

This year, I have decided to take a break from taking the test.  I have been moving more and more toward translation work and trying to sharpen up my listening and speaking skills.  Basically, I do have decent listening skills, but trying to pay attention in meetings requires another level of focus that I have not yet mastered (and at this point, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to).  It’s one thing to listen and understand something you are interested in, it is quite another to listen and understand something you are not interested in.

I feel like I really should up my speaking game.  I can make good sentences, but just need the speed and confidence so that I can have a fluid conversation instead of stopping and starting all the time, which isn’t a good thing in business situations.

Anyway, it is a good thing I didn’t sign up.  My translation projects had me working nonstop and culminated in a 48 hour period where all I did was work and eat.  Needless to say, that took me a good week to recover from.  And there was no way I was going to be able to put in the extra hours needed to hone my skills before the big day.

What your impressions?

But enough about me, what were your impressions of the test?  I’d like to know how it went.  Take some time to leave a comment about your experience below.  Could you let us know:

  1. Where did you take the test?  (in Japan?, Europe?)
  2. What level?
  3. What was the most difficult section of the exam?
  4. What was the easiest?
  5. And how did you prepare for the exam?
  6. Was your study plan effective? or are you going to change something for next time?

Letting us all know how you prepared is a big boost to your fellow JLPTers so take the time to brag about your awesome study methods.  It will be a huge help for everyone.

Results from the JLPT December Test

So, you might be wondering when the actual results will be headed your way.  If you registered online in Japan, they probably told you that they will be available in the first part of February of next year.  But, if history is any guide, the results will be electronically available on the last Tuesday of January.  To be exact, they will be available just after midnight.  However, the server is usually completely overloaded at that time and it will take a while for you to get in.  So, you can either try to hammer your way in for 30-40 minutes or simply wait until morning of the next day and hopefully make your way in then.

Either way, I hope you all did your best, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you about what worked and what didn’t.  I’ll have another post in January for everyone to share results and tips.  In the meantime, it is time to relax and take it easy.  I hope you enjoy the holidays!

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Marie December 6, 2015, 1:51 pm

    I just passed N5 last year and tried to do N4 this year, I was kinda nervous, but when I read the first part of the test, It wasn’t all that hard, It was much easier than the mock tests. Now, come the second part, I was confident I got a lot right on the particle section, but the sentence re-arrangement and the reading was pretty hard. Finally, the listening… I don’t think I’ll get a good score on that! Haha.. Hope for the best

  • カテリーナ December 6, 2015, 7:35 pm

    took the N4 today in Greece. it was my first jlpt and i think i did fairly well.
    though hearing afterwards that most people have been studying for this way longer than i have (not to mention with a teacher..) made me a bit uneasy and not too confident in myself.

    i found the vocab and listening sections to be ridiculously easy. the grammar just had me overthinking and too conscious of time running out. no time to doublecheck and i’m sure i did not score as well as in the other two.

    all in all, i really do believe i passed… heck, might even get a good grade ^^
    oh well, there’s always seppuku if i failed.

  • Deise December 6, 2015, 10:55 pm

    Hi Mac,
    This year I took N2 in Portugal. I could not prepare myself for this test the way I prepared for the N3 last year, due to some projects at work. But I took classes, did some mock tests, went through the answer and ,during the mock exams I tried to adjust the time, plan some strategies to time management, and it went all right and I could finish the mocks just in time or miss just 1 or 2 minutes. But today… I don´t know what happened I distracted myself doing the test and when I realized that there was only 20 minutes left and I still had 2 middle length bunshou, the long passage and the comparison text. So I did my best to control my nerves and read the maximum I could but… the test was over and I had to guess 5 or 6 questions. Overall I found that there was a huge step from N3 to N2. Listening was much more difficult compared to the ones in the mock exams I took (vols 1 and 2 Ask series), it was a bit faster with more new vocabulary. No easiest part I am afraid…

  • Josh December 7, 2015, 12:20 am

    Just finished the n4 in Seattle. The listening part was so fast and left me discouraged. You can understand 80% of what’s being said but if you miss one little piece, it throws the whole thing off. Too many of the listening questions feel like tricks. I don’t think I want to do this anymore.

    • Nick January 27, 2016, 7:48 am

      I know it’s a bit late, but I feel your pain. I had the same experience, and I agree with everything you said about the listening section. They do often throw in small things that change the meaning of the sentence entirely. But I urge you not to give up on Japanese because of one test. Remember when you first started studying Japanese, and knew nothing? And look at how much you know now! I only took the N5 in December, you’re already way ahead of me. I hope you passed, but if you didn’t, it’s not the end of the world. And, if you decide not to take any more JLPT tests, well, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on the language.

      Best of luck to you. Just remember: the test is not the language.

      • Josh January 27, 2016, 2:55 pm

        Thanks, I appreciate that. It’s not too late. It’s something we have to all keep in mind. You’re right that the test isn’t everything, we have to keep that in mind. One does get so caught up in test mode, though. Thanks for your encouragement!

        And congratulations on passing n5! Were there any surprises in the test score break down? Was it a fairly near pass or do you think you could have gone for n4? Either way, n4 probably isn’t too far away for you now.

        I passed too. 124/180, with 91/120 and 33/60 for language and listening respectively. Not terribly high, but much better than I thought I’d done when I walked out of there in December with a plastic butter knife to my wrist 😛

        • Nick January 27, 2016, 3:38 pm

          Well, I have a very lengthy post in the results thread, so you can read about my own butter-knife experiences there. I had only studied about six months, with breaks, so I surely couldn’t have moved on to the N4. I will probably be doing that this December in Houston again. However, I had only a few months to prepare for the N5, and I have a year to study for the N4, so hopefully it will not be too bad.

          I too thought the listening had sunk me. Leaving the test, I knew I had 14 points I could count on, but I wasn’t sure I could make up even 5 points between all the remaining questions. As it turns out, my final score was a 29/60 in listening, so in the end there was no reason to worry. Having seen the format of the N5 in person now, I hope the N4 will not catch me so much by surprise.

          I’m happy to hear you ended up passing. Now comes the hard part I think. If you decide to take it, I hear the jump in difficulty between N4 and N3 is extreme. Best of luck to you in your studies!

  • Russ December 7, 2015, 3:02 am

    I just finished the N5 JLPT test in Atlanta. I think I aced the two written parts of the exam. (Your premium “cheat sheet” notes and your videos were a huge help! Thank you.) I finished both of written parts with confidence. However, I really struggled with much of the listening part of the test. I’ll find out in February if I passed the test. I should have spent more time preparing for that part. Overall, it was a really fun experience. I really only started learning the N5 vocabulary, conjugations, and grammar about 4 months ago when I signed up for the JLPT test. I had previously learned the meanings of about 500 kanji over the past 2 years or so. And in many cases, knowing the meanings of various kanji made learning new vocabulary words much easier. Creating my own silly mnemonics was also a huge help in learning so many new words in such a short time. (shizuka = a bazooka for girls. It means ‘quiet’.)

    I’m 57. I work full time as an engineer. And I have been studying Japanese on my own during the evenings, mostly just as a curiosity. I became interested in learning Japanese about 2 years ago, when I ordered Haruki Murakami’s latest book, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki”, from Amazon. (I learned my first Japanese verb just reading the title of the book!) The book was not yet translated into English at that point. But I am such a huge fan of his books, that I ordered the Japanese version anyway just to see what I could do with it. I only managed to read about 10 pages (via google translate, jisho.org, etc.) before I obtained the English translated version:-) But that made me realize that it isn’t that hard to learn to read Japanese. Many of the kanji contain little pictures that immediately give away what they mean. I learned a few hundred kanji using books like “Read Japanese Today…” by Len Walsh, and using several kanji iphone apps (kanjipop, kanjibox, midori, isokki, etc).

    I think I’m going to start taking Japanese language classes now. No more self study!

  • Paola December 7, 2015, 4:31 am

    I finished the N5 test this morning in San Jose, Costa Rica. I returned to my country in the afternoon, very tiring, I don’t understand why the test is not done in my country 🙁

    The most difficult section was the listening part.. I have to agree with Josh comments, I also felt a little bit discouraged, the majority are trick questions and if you miss a tiny bit, then you’re lost. Also, if your hearing is not the best or if the quality of the recording is not good, it’s also a problem.

    Another thing is that I feel these questions are not to test you on your language skill, but more on your retention skills… I think even in my own language would be hard to answer these questions, I need to have very good memory to listen to a bunch of details and then I get an unexpected question, or those questions where they test your math skills with numbers and amounts are really not a language testing, but a math test, and I’m not good at those even in my native language either :p

    The easiest part for me was the grammar section, I think it was very straightforward. (your guide covers everything you need to know, very good!)

    I have been preparing by myself with online tools, following your guide and also some other guides such as master Japanese, japanesepod101, the practice books, etc. I also went to Japan 2 times this year, and I did a lot of practice there.

    I think I need to practice more listening, doing quick maths in Japanese.. and improve my retention skills, or maybe dictation. I also need to do more kanji writing practice, to be prepared for the kanji look alikes questions.

  • vijay December 7, 2015, 5:17 am

    Just finished N4 yesterday..some kanjis that were not part of N4 or never came in all previous years dumps showed up this time,..totally unexpected.
    couldn’t find the time to complete reading section final 2 comprehensions. Had to make quick judgement for final reading 2 questions even when it had 1 hour duration.
    Listening was as tough as last july’s N5 test which i took and passed.
    I’m just looking for a pass(90 or 90+ total) as there wont be any chance of scoring at all.

    • Atin December 10, 2015, 4:36 pm

      Hi Vijay

      Can you suggest
      Text book for N4

      • vijay December 11, 2015, 2:45 am

        i took weekend classes for 6 months and the study materials were provided there itself. But i would recommend ‘Nihongo sou matome’ books to study as they are quite good and there are lots of Apps you can download as well.

  • Mimi December 7, 2015, 7:17 am

    I took the N3 test in Europe. The vocabulary portion was the easiest. Grammar and reading were the hardest and ones I spent the most time on (and barely got to finish), and listening was so-so. I prepared 4 months in advance with reviewing notes and powerpoint slides from my former Japanese classes when I was a Japanese major undergrad as well as drilling in new vocab on Memrise and going over some grammar not covered in my Japanese classes on Japantest4you. I’m not sure if my study plan worked or was effective though since I did struggle on grammar and reading, so I’ll likely change it up if I don’t pass.

  • Sarah December 7, 2015, 7:56 am

    I took the N4 in Vienna, Austria.

    The easiest part for me was the vocabulary section. The grammar part was way more difficult and I had no time to get through all questions a second time. The most difficult part was definitely the listening section. It was so fast and like Josh said, it seemed very tricky. From the reactions of the other participants I wasn’t the only one who had difficulties with it.

    As for how I learn, I use the Nihongo Challenge books as a basis (grammar, vocabulary and kanji) and in addition use online tools like Memrise (for vocabulary and kanji) and easy web news (for additional reading and listening). I also have the white rabbit kanji flashcards.

    I did the practice test and would have passed that one so it’s a bit frustrating that the actual test was more difficult. I’ll definitely practice more reading and listening in the future. I’ll also concentrate more on the grammar. The forms aren’t that difficult but it gets complicated when it seems like three forms are stuck to one verb. I also have to get better with all those tiny, confusing words that can change the meaning of a whole sentence.

  • Mary G December 7, 2015, 2:49 pm

    I sat for N1 for the 3rd time in Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday and was impressed by the number of very talented people who try over and over again to achieve their desired level.
    I take the exam to remain motivated in my Japanese studies, but so many need N1 or N2 to even get a job interview.
    Regardless of your test outcome, stay positive, focus on your weak points, look for new apps and sites to change up your study methods, etc. I’d love for others to share their favorite sites for reading Japanese current events. It seems that a slow reader will never finish the test in the given timeframe.

  • Atin December 7, 2015, 4:49 pm

    Finished the N5 in Delhi, India.

    First Paper was quite easy but by the time second paper was given all the students were sweating.

    Listening personally I felt level was OK but I do agree listening and then retaining everything is important for answering.Its a bit tricky.

    Personally for me I was scared of Kanji but I feel when I saw the questions I was upto them.

  • Craig December 7, 2015, 11:41 pm

    (N2, Kobe University)

    The written portion of the test was easier compared to my past N2 attempts. The readings were on topics ranging from teacher-student interactions to workplace relationships. Perhaps, since I worked in a school and now for a company that runs schools, I know more about that stuff. The grammar, too, appeared to be easier, especially, the longer essay that askes you to insert a phrase or word into it.

    The listening section was harder than past tests. I took an old JLPT N2 listening on Monday and I got 27/31. Short of the luckiest guessing day every I didn`t do that well on Sunday. I managed to double mark a section. I fixed that while moving forward on the test. I should have just let that section go.

    Generally, I get worked up about the test. I have failed several times at N2. I guess that being said I have seen now six N2 tests on a Sunday afternoon somewhere in Japan. It was the hardest listening that I have encountered in all of those attempts, but one of the easier reading tests that I have taken.

    It`s a guess, but it appeared the test wanted to crush people who did not live in Japan on the listening section. I read reports about rampant JLPT cheating abroad. I know I saw the pass rate outside of Japan at times was higher than the pass rate for people living in Japan. A more difficult listening exam would likely tip that rate back towards the Japan-living test takers. I`ve been here almost eleven years, and I thought it was hard.

    I moved back to a daily private tutor from Monday. I found some free JLPT grammar lectures on Youtube. I continue to use Sticky Study and several prep books. I probably passed. But, with the listening section snafu, it might be closer than I would have liked.

    It was my first time to take the test at Kobe University. It was a shorter trip for me than before. The rooms, desks, and heaters were not good. I like a little space when I am racking my brain for an answer. The guy in front of me finished early (I think he just gave up.), and when he leaned his head back he was over the top of my test paper. We do pay money for the test. It should be reasonable to expect a better test atmosphere.

    You want a good article ask for stories about the jacka$$es that seem to appear at every test. People were rude, noisy, and people again got yellow cards. Every time I have gone this has been a problem. I know I am older than most of the test takers, but would it be too much to ask for people follow the rules? Apologies for the tangent, some moron tried to run me over to get out of the bus back to the station. Everyone was getting out of the bus at the stop. I was not in the mood for that after an all day adventure to take the JLPT. Errggh!

  • Maye December 8, 2015, 3:02 am

    This year took N4 for the second time in Mexico City, Mexico.

    I feel more confident about my skills this year than last year. I had no big problem at vocabulary and listening sections (I’m pretty sure I passed those), but again hadn’t enought time for the reading/grammar section and had to guess in the last 6 questions. I understood more than last year, but I still need to learn more kanji and dust off my grammar notes.

    I tried to focus a lot on listening because that long pause between the intro and the actual dialogues it’s so long you can get distracted, but I think that the audio for 2014 was harder. I agree they do tricky questions and if you just miss a word, then you can’t make sense of the question, I took notes while listening.

    I’m a full time worker and take a japanese course in saturdays, so I don’t do daily study as I should. I’ve finished the Minna course and we’re going through the Bunka book (the red one) but as I don’t know all the required kanji, I fall behind on my reading.
    I do watch/listen lots of japanese media, I do know vocabulary but I can’t read kanji as I should.

    So if I don’t pass (cos I’m not that sure I’ll get the minimum score in the second section), I’ll need to work harder on kanji and grammar.
    And if I do pass, I wouldn’t take N3 next year, I think I need to study more.

    I had a couple friends taking N2 and they we’re surprised by the audio section’s difficulty, and one of them lived in Japan for a year.

  • D December 8, 2015, 6:55 am

    1. Where did you take the test? (in Japan?, Europe?)
    Bucharest, Romania

    2. What level?
    N2

    3-4. What was the most difficult section of the exam? What was the easiest?
    It’s rather difficult for me to say as I didn’t properly study the vocab, so not knowing many of the words used was a pain no matter where it happened. But, I cannot help to notice that the topics discussed in reading and listening where kind of easy (not heavy politics, economy, OZN subjects etc.). Also the speech speed in listening seemed ok, much slower then native radio shows such as Tamamusubi or JUNK – this doesn’t mean that I understood what they were saying, but it’s only my fault ’cause I could hear every word, but I could not make the connection between those words rapidly enough to get the meaning of the phrase and the whole message.

    5. And how did you prepare for the exam?
    I didn’t. It’s true that last December after JLPT N3 I started doing some Anki decks from So Matome, but I abandoned the idea by February and from March to September I didn’t touch a single Japanese textbook or deck. I (re)started again in September only to be forced to stop once more after about 3 weeks. Somehow, by the end of November I managed to finish the So Matome grammar Anki deck and UNICOM’s Bun no Ru-ru N2. With 4 days before before the exam I took the mock test from Gokaku Dekiru N2 – I preferred to be shocked by my poor level before the exam, not during the exam 🙂
    Beside that, helped by Jade Reader I started reading Agatha Christie’s Soshite daremo inakatta (And there there were none) and I also started to passive listen Japanese podcasts and news (even though I barely get a few words). This year I rarely watched anime and drama and I didn’t speak Japanese.

    6. Was your study plan effective? or are you going to change something for next time?
    If my plan was effective – obviously not, from the beginning it was no plan.
    What are you going to do – I’ll start doing some active work towards actually learning Japanese (hopefully throughout the entire year).

  • Nigel December 8, 2015, 10:12 am

    Took the N3 exam in Auckland, New Zealand. I have previously passed the N4 exam. Been living in Japan for the last 6 months although I work all day in English and half that time I have been overseas (hence taking the exam in New Zealand where I am from originally because I happen to be here at the time).

    I don’t expect to pass, I only made it halfway though the so-matome vocab book (and none of the others), but actually found the exam much easier than I thought it would be. I found for the last 5 vocab questions which are usually the hardest that I knew 3 of the vocab from my N4 study days (actually from listening practice, I find listening exercises quite good for extra vocab and getting an understanding of the usage of a piece of vocab, hearing it in context helps). My listening has improved by being in japan, just from the background exposure, I can pick out the words a lot better than before. For kanji I am a third of the way through Heisig which I have found really good for teaching me how to write the kanji and remember the subtle differences.

    Been Goldlisting the n3 vocab which initially did not work for me, I couldn’t write a list then magically remember 30% 2 weeks later. But Goldlisting plus the Iverson study method seems to work a treat, I can normally remember 25-30% of the words after 2 to 6 weeks no problem and then they seem to stick after that (at least for recognising them if I read them, but not always for production) . I think the production practice that you have to do for Iverson really helps with remembering the words. So I write the words in my Goldlist book and study them using the Iverson method at the same time. Previously I have used Anki but I prefer Goldlisting, it seems much more relaxed.

  • Katerina December 8, 2015, 10:38 am

    I took n5 in Greece. I found the whole test easy in comparison with the 4kyuu tests I was practising with.
    Vocabulary: The easiest part for me, but this part was always the one I was better at. But unfortunately I had at least one mistake. I hate myself for not remembering 間 …
    Grammar: It was easy, nothing unusual. Mondai 1,2 easy, 3 a bit challenging, and the reading parts were easy. I feel cheated, the test was missing much for the basic n5 grammar which I worked so hard to learn. I believe I had from 1 to 3 mistakes here.
    Listening: It was not so hard. But I it was the hardest part for me. I didn’t have many past chokai to practice with, only what I found on youtube so I wasn’t as well prepared as on the other parts. The vocabulary and the grammar of the dialogues wan’t hard but It was very easy to make a mistake and you don’t have time to review the notes you took while listening and correct your errors cause the next question follows very fast and in they give you zero time to review your answers. It was full of tricks and ways to miss lead you as always. But if you’ve done some of the past chokai you know to expect those things… I believe I don’t have more then 4 mistakes here but I am afraid I might :S

    Overall the test wasn’t that bad. Good luck everyone with your results.
    I believe it’s very important to find as many of the past papers as you can and practice on them. It’s important to know how those people on jlpt are thinking. This test is full of tricks and traps.
    It’s really sad that this is the only test you cant take to show your knowledge on the Japanese language.

  • Andreea December 9, 2015, 1:18 am

    Hi everyone,

    Where did you take the test? (in Japan?, Europe?) – Japan
    What level? – N1
    What was the most difficult section of the exam? – Reading
    What was the easiest? (I cannot say the easiest but) – Listening
    And how did you prepare for the exam? – Learnt 1850 kanji + 2 books (one for Vocabulary/Grammar – it had 15 mogi tests + 1 for reading – couldn’t finish it until the exam though)
    Was your study plan effective? or are you going to change something for next time?
    As far as for the 1st section and listening, I believe my technique was good. However, the reading one failed, as I didn’t check my time speed while I was practicing at home.

    I was overwhelmed by the amount that I had to read although last year, at N2, the number of pages was exactly the same – 31. Nevertheless, the level is quite difficult. I couldn’t focus anymore and just picked random answers for more than 50% of the reading part.

    So, next time, in July, I will be more careful. There is not time to read the whole texts, that’s for sure. Just scanning and intuition, I guess.

    Anyway, I’ll wait for the results in January and continue to study as much as I can.

    Thank you!
    Andreea

  • Mat December 9, 2015, 1:30 am

    N2 – Osaka

    I agree that the listening was much harder than I expected. I got perfect or close to perfect scores for N5 – N3 listening sections so didn’t spend much time studying for N2 listening, definitely a mistake. The guy next to me was, unfortunately for him, copying every single listening answer I put and no one seemed to care/notice. No one put up any of those yellow/red cards (lol) they had.

    Kanji/Vocab – quite a few words / characters I swear I have never seen before. I find vocab the most difficult to study for because there are so many thousands that can come up. I try to read newspaper, magazine articles etc daily and I find it really improves my reading and kanji ability, but not vocab. Any suggestions on how to master vocab?

    Reading – the questions themselves weren’t particularly difficult but I always struggle to time myself properly in the reading section, usually having to guess a few questions at the end. There was also no clock in the room (wtf?). Every previous time I have done JLPT there has been a clock, and I think its reasonable to expect they have a clock in an exam room. I asked the lady if she could write times on the board in 15 or 30min intervals and cross them off as we went along. I got a confused look and それは~できないんですが response.

  • Andy December 9, 2015, 10:00 am

    Took the N2 in Dusseldorf, Germany. I have been preparing for the exam the same way as always, using So-Matome for vocab, and for all the other skills I used the Kanzen series. Plus some mock test drill books. I just passed the N3 in July so needless to say that I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, I couldn’t even go trough all the grammar points, kanji etc.

    Surprisingly the exam still did not seem extremely difficult. Obviously, I had a ton of questions where I was lost due to my lack of knowledge, but I still wanted to try and see how the difficulty of the exam is and gain some experience. I was also surprised by the listening section. As Craig mentioned above, I had the same feeling, that it is more difficult than I am used to. On top of that I did not do a lot of listening drills before the test, lesson learned, gotta do that for the next exam. January I am moving to Japan so I reckon my listening will also improve.

    Overall, good experience and not planning to change much on my study method. This is my third JLPT in Europe and I have never seen people cheating. I don’t know why the results are sometimes better outside of Japan but wouldn’t say it’s due to cheating.

  • Craig December 9, 2015, 10:57 am

    I did not mean to imply that I knew people were cheating on the JLPT. I saw several people opening their test booklets before the exam. One person got a yellow card for the offense. I have no idea what advantage that would give anybody. (I was sitting at the very top of the lecture hall. I had a clear view of the entire room.)

    I read the article or blog a long time ago about the JLPT cheating. It implied that people worked openly in groups during JLPT exams to complete the test in certain testing areas. True or not, I could not say.

    In July 2014, more people overall as a both a percentage and number of test takers passed the JLPT while living outside of Japan than in it. The N2 and N3 data, N3 particularly, strikes me as odd. (The JLPT folks post all the test data on their webpage.)

    It`s hard to believe that 44% of overseas JLPT N3 test takers passed compared with 31% of those taking the test in Japan.

    Sorry, this gets off topic from the point of this post. My coworker compared test experiences with me today at work. He agreed that, at least, the first part of the listening exam was more difficult.

    I`m interested to know if other people agree or disagree with the opinion that the listening section was more difficult than previous tests. Perhaps, I just had an off day.

  • Josh December 9, 2015, 12:28 pm

    Well, I absolutely agree that the listening seemed harder. Granted, before this month I’d only ever taken the n5, but I took it and passed, thinking the listening was commensurate with my knowledge (I’d only studied Japanese for 3 months before taking it). This year, I felt the grammar and reading were perfectly appropriate but that the listening (especially the first two parts) were far above what I would expect of an n4 student. I even spent 5 weeks in Japan this summer just to prepare for this listening. Pretty discouraging.

    I think the listening portion of this test is fairly poor representation of real-life listening skill anyway. It’s seldom you can’t ask someone to slow down or repeat in day-to-day conversation. I guess there’s not much other way to test this skill in this sort of test format, though.

  • Lily December 9, 2015, 7:08 pm

    I took the N2 in London.

    I’d agree with above commenters that the listening was harder than any of the practice tests I did – knowing that listening was my weak point, I did 4 complete listening sections in preparation. Especially the third section (listening for the “main point”) was way harder and it was pretty hard for me to keep going after that section.

    The reading and grammar was pretty much what I expected, I was pleased to finish all the questions in time because that was my main concern.

    “It`s hard to believe that 44% of overseas JLPT N3 test takers passed compared with 31% of those taking the test in Japan.”

    I don’t find this particularly hard to believe. I think a lot of people living in Japan take it for granted that they can pass a certain level with their everyday Japanese knowledge and don’t bother to prepare specifically for the test. Then come the test day they run out of time or the style of question trips them up or they find they don’t know the kanji as well as they thought etc. etc.

    Also most people in Japan who need to pass the test for a specific purpose (getting a job etc.) will not take N3 but rather N2 or 1. N3 takers are likely less concerned about passing first time.

  • ktt December 17, 2015, 2:22 am

    I took the N2 in Houston this December. Going in, I knew my weakest point was vocabulary, and I hoped to score greater points in both grammar and reading, reading being my strong point. I listen to lots of Japanese at natural speed daily from various youtubers and vloggers, tv shows, etc.

    The vocab wasn’t as bad as I thought, though there was a page that I knew none of the words and had to do some educated guessing. Once I hit the grammar section I started to feel better. I good with the reading but realized I was running out of time, so I sped up my pace. Once I did that, I was amazed at how much more comfortable I was with the information I was gleaning from the passage, as it was similar (though faster) to the pace I use when reading the Japanese novels I have. I still ran out of time and had to guess on the last two questions in that section.

    Listening threw me a curveball I didn’t expect. I couldn’t focus and was thinking about trying to focus and I felt like the questions were flying past. Then the guy beside me decided after being completely quiet the entire test to start fidgeting his leg which was making a noise just loud enough to distract me and make it harder to hear the test, but not loud enough for the proctors to hear, or perhaps others in the vicinity. I thought briefly about raising my hand or asking about the volume, but I decided the negatives outweighed the positives, as the time one of them got to me, probably I would miss two questions or more. He eventually stopped after about 2 to 3 questions (I think it was during the problem 2 or 3) and I was able to concentrate a bit more.

    Overall, I feel good about the test in general, but when I first left the examination room after the test was over I felt pretty bad about the listening. Now that I see it was many others as well, I feel better. I listen to lots of Japanese without subtitles and comprehend a lot, so I was pretty surprised with the listening section.

    Anyway, hope everyone passed!

    • Nick January 27, 2016, 7:53 am

      Hey, I took the N5 in Houston! Today I learned I passed it, and I hope you did as well!

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