Episode 2 – Panic or Choke

Don't Panic on JLPT!

Don't Panic!

I took the N2 last summer and needless to say it wasn’t a wholly pleasant experience.  I had been taking old nikyuu practice tests to prepare for it thinking that well, duh, they wouldn’t possibly change the format of the test would they?

Well, guess what, I was wrong.  And I freaked out a bit. I didn’t take a practice test before hand, which was well, stupid.  I know that now.

I also just recently learned the difference between choking and panicking.  Yes, there is indeed a difference between these seemingly similar things.  According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book “What the Dog Saw”, choking is when you overthink, panicking is when you don’t think at all, just act on pure instinct.

When I went into that test 6 months ago, I first panicked a bit, not knowing quite what to do.   After the initial panic wore off, I went into choke mode.  I felt myself overthinking the questions and not just taking the test.

So, heed my advice, take a practice test before that first Sunday of December.  Otherwise you might get the wind knocked out of you.  Also, vocab and kanji drills do work, that stuff is a bit mechanical, but it will help you respond to the questions asked of you with confidence.

Action Steps –

1) Have you taken a practice test?  Did it help you?
2) Do you use drills as part of your study plan?

Photo by Jim Linwood, Music by Kevin MacLeod

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Mer November 19, 2010, 2:26 pm

    I stumbled over this site from another JLPT prep site and the podcasts you have are pretty informative and the first I’ve heard to actually tackle the format of the new test.

    Since you lamented on the differences of the new test and how it kind of messed you up on test day; this kinds of worries me. I’ve been prepping for the N5 for about two and a half months now…. Blindly since there’s really no material out there and I can’t afford get my hands on anything official due to where I live (BFE)…

    … So all the practice tests I’ve been using of previous JLPTs not good? I guess they’ve helped gauge my grammar but will it mess me up on test day? The closet testing experience I’ve had with the new tests is on the official JLPT site. 🙁

    • Mac November 19, 2010, 3:13 pm

      The past JLPTs are not a bad start, just be aware that the test is a bit different. There are a few new types of questions. The big one is for grammar, they ask you to ‘unscramble’ a sentence. That is what threw me for a loop. I just took a look at the N5 sample test questions on https://jlpt.jp and it seems that they’ve included one of those in there. Just be aware of the order of particles (wa, ga, ni, wo). You’ll learn that as you advance in Japanese, real native speakers hardly use particles, so it becomes a bit difficult to understand where to put them. That’s what baffled me a bit.

      Also the listening was a bit different for the higher levels. There is one part where you listen to a conversation and they don’t give you the question beforehand, yikes! They essentially just ask about the general idea of the conversation, but it’s a little scary to encounter that for the first time on test day.

      After going through the sample questions for N5, it looks like it is very similar to the old tests at that level (old level 4). At N3 and above the listening begins to get more complicated. I’m sure you’ll be fine! Let me know how you do!

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