I started studying for the old nikyuu test with the Nikyuu Kanzen Master book of grammar. This was generally considered the book to study for the test. I had used the sankyuu level book to pass level 3, and thought that the green book would have much of the same goodness in it.
I was sadly mistaken. I might be a little dull, but I thought it was a major snore of a book. It was boring, and I just couldn’t get that much out of it. The sentences were packed with new vocabulary that I wasn’t familiar with, and it wasn’t all that useful (in my opinion).
Now, I’ve heard from others that this is an amazing book. That this was the book that led them to victory against the mighty nikyuu test. But, alas, it wasn’t my kind of book. Although, I still do use it for reference from time to time.
Enter the So-Matome Series
If you aren’t familiar with this popular series of books, the So-matome series are arranged in courses. Each book has a 6 or 8 week course that you work through. Each week has activities for every day of the week. Each week concludes with a review test.
These make the entire series very easy to work through. It isn’t a big thick book, but a step-by-step course. Each day can be finished in about 15~20 minutes (with some review). This keeps it manageable.
N2 So-matome Grammar Organization
For the N2 grammar book, about 3 to 5 grammar points are grouped together for each day of the course. These usually have something in common, for example, pronunciation, similar meanings or situations. There is then a short quiz that goes over the grammar points presented.
There are 3 kinds of questions for the quizzes every day: 1) choose the correct grammar point 2) choose whether the sentence is correct or not 3) scrambled sentences. There are always 2 scrambled sentences each day, which can be really useful practice.
I also like the fact that each grammar point has detailed information about how to use it. This includes information about whether it is casual or formal, feminine, or used in negative situations only. It also includes a Japanese re-wording of the grammar point and a full English translation of each sample sentence.
N2 So-matome Grammar Review Units
The review units are on day 7 of each week. This includes a 3 page, 25 question quiz. This quiz allows you to see what actual test questions are going to look like. There are 15 grammar selection questions (like the first part of the grammar section of the actual test). Then there are 5 scrambled sentences (like the second part of the grammar section of the actual test). Finally there are 5 more context questions (like the third part of the grammar section of the actual test).
What I like about it
I like the fact that this book has full English translations of every sample sentence. A lot of die-hards will tell you that you need to learn Japanese in Japanese, but I think for grammar it’s best that you get a clear understanding of how it works, and the English translation helps you do that. Together with the Japanese re-wording/definition of the grammar point, it makes it very clear what the grammar is trying to convey.
What I don’t like about it
I feel like it doesn’t give you quite as many examples as it should for each grammar point sometimes. Other times, it will present the grammar and then present you with questions that the explanation didn’t prepare you for. I suppose this is so you learn about the grammar point through testing, but it is a little frustrating sometimes.
This is a good book to help you with the grammar for N2. I feel like the grammar together with vocabulary are two very important parts of the test. If you have a firm understanding of the grammar and vocabulary, the listening and reading sections will be a lot more easier.
I use this book every day to study and I have most of the sentences in Anki to review with. I think this is an invaluable book and would recommend it to anyone interested in taking the N2 test.
For those outside Japan, So-matome N2 Grammar is available at White Rabbit Express.
|For those inside Japan, Amazon.com Japan offers the best deal.|