For the first 7 months of this year, I was spending most of waking hours working on a study book for the N5. It have been learning a lot, not only about Japanese but also all the ins and outs of publishing a book with a major publisher. I realized about halfway through that I had never actually taken the N5.
Being that I was in the process of writing the only book you’ll need to pass the N5, I thought it might be a good idea to take the test. Although it was pretty easy for me, it was a learning experience to go through the process and take a good look at the test without being distracted by the difficulty of the vocabulary or grammar.
If you’ve passed the N5 or higher, I definitely don’t recommend repeating it unless you are looking to get a perfect score. However, for JLPT geeks like me that are interested in helping others pass the test it was great to see what everyone goes through.
To be honest, I was a little worried about the Listening section of the test. Not because it was particularly difficult, but because I just had a hard time focusing to the conversation. This has always been a weakness of mine in any language. I have a hard time focusing on something longer than a few minutes if it doesn’t involve a movie/TV show or some other visual presentation.
It seems like the N5 is very limited in scope, but the test makers can do a lot even with the limited vocabulary that they have at their disposal. I was amazed at the reading questions that they devised as well as the listening questions. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that these are the most difficult questions to write.
How about your Results?
Have you been able to see your results yet? If you signed up online in Japan, you should be able to now check your results on the http://info.jees-jlpt.jp/?lang=english. If you signed up with a mail in application, you will get your certificates sometime next week. Everyone should be able to check their scores online on the JLPT website now if you entered an 8 digit password on your application form.
Where are you going from here?
Now that you have your results, what is your plan for your studies? If you passed this level, are you going go after the next level or are you going to try the level you took again to get a better score? Or if you didn’t pass, what were your weak points?
If you passed the test, there are two options as I see it – either dig in and start going for the next level or take a break and do your best to consolidate what you learned. You could also retake the test to get a better score, which makes sense in a few scenarios, for example if you passed N1, and want to get a stronger score. However, generally speaking, and in my opinion, you don’t really need to retake the test. A pass is a pass.
Digging in and going for the next level might be the right choice for you if you are on a certain set schedule like if you are moving to Japan soon, or are going to start school here, etc… But, personally, if you have the time to do it, I would recommend taking a break from ‘book’ studying and get out and try to use the language in a real situation. This might involve getting a chat partner or doing more reading of native materials. The main idea though is to use the language how it is meant to be used and not just answering questions about it over and over.
I have seen students and I myself have fallen into the trap of simply doing drill questions for the JLPT until our eyes bleed and mistaking that for learning the language. The test is a good measure of your skills, but if you can help it try to not make it your end all be all.
Early on in my studies, I remember burying myself in JLPT practice questions and studying them for long hours on the weekend. And then, I would go out and meet my Japanese friends and actually have a hard time communicating with them because I was so used to just answering questions.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe the JLPT is one of the best ways to improve your accuracy with Japanese and improve your reading and listening skills which are vital if you are going to be living, working, or even traveling in Japan. But, real use is important, too. And for the higher levels (N3+) you will have to have real experience with Japanese in order to pass.
So where are you going from here? What are you going to focus on? Commit to one thing today and let us know in the comments.