Ok, so you’ve studied for months in anticipation waiting for the big test day. You’ve covered all the grammar and vocabulary you need. You even managed to get through a few books before the big day. It looks like you are all ready to go.
But, not quite. You still need to pack your bag for the day’s events. You don’t want to show up to the test with nothing but your brimming confidence. You need to be ready for the half day long extravaganza that is JLPT.
One quick note, I’ve only taken the test in Japan. If you are in another country and you noticed something a little different, by all means let me know in the comments. I’m sure other readers would appreciate all the advice and tips they can get.
Your JLPT Test Voucher
You should have actually just gotten this in the mail if you are here in Japan. It’s rather small slip you have to rip open. The only part you actually have to have for the test is the slip with your face and details on it. However, they do include a handy map to the test site that you might want to bring along just in case.
If you do happen to forget your test voucher on the test day, don’t freak out. There will probably be a desk there that you can flash your ID or passport at and get a temporary test voucher on the day. This desk is generally swamped, so it’s best to just have the voucher in hand when you go to the site. If you have your voucher you can go directly to your testing room and await the beginning of the festivities.
This is probably a no brainer, but I thought I’d mention it anyway just to be through. You’ll need a pencil to actually take the test. It can be an old-school HB pencil with an eraser on the end or the top of the line mechanical pencil. You can also have one plastic eraser if you prefer the big blocky erasers instead of the ones at the other end of your pencil.
I personally prefer to carry two standard mechanical pencils, one good one and one spare. If you are anything like me, you may want to actually check the pencils and see if they have lead in them as well. I hardly use a pencil outside of the test, so I always have to check.
This is by no means required, but having a wristwatch can be a huge help, especially for the N2 and N1 levels where you have a huge block of 105 to 110 minutes to answer the questions in. During the test, there are no countdowns or warnings, your watch will be the only indicator of how much time you have.
You may want to check out my article on JLPT Time Management to get approximate times for each section of the test. Remember to budget out your time and don’t get bogged down in one section of the test. When you finish a section take a quick glance at the clock and make sure you aren’t going to run out of time.
The above items are allowed to be on your desk at all times. The rest of these items have to be in your bag:
Food and Drinks
The place that you are going to will most likely not have a convenience store nearby. Universities in Japan typically don’t have anything in the way of cheap fast eats around them. I have no idea why this is, it just is. There might be a school food court or convenience store, but it will most likely be closed.
Also, even if there is a convenience store, chances are you’ll be a bit unfamiliar with the area and not be able to find it, fight the hordes of other test takers, and get back to the test center in a reasonable amount of time.
So, it’s a good thing to pack some food with you. I usually pack a few bananas, some onigiri, some yogurt drinks and a bag of sugar candies of some sort. The bananas are to keep you full of nutrients and your brain working. The onigiri are for lunch. The yogurt is to keep your stomach from growling.
The sugar candies are also for your brain. I guess you could get some glucose tablets if you want to go all out, but the sugar candies should do. You may be thinking your brain doesn’t need sugar, but it does. Your brain can burn a tremendous amount of calories especially when it is cooking through a test.
Remember to use everything in moderation, too much of any of this stuff can give too much food to process and make you sleepy. You also don’t want to get to excited and drink a red bull and some sugar candies before the test either.
But, you probably already knew that because you downloaded my free guide to the 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make on the Test right? It’s okay if you didn’t. You can get it right now by filling out the little form in the upper right corner.
If you are lucky enough (or is it smart enough?) to have a smartphone, you’ll probably be carrying it with you to the test. And if you have it, you might as well use it. I always use my phone to look up kanji and vocab right after the test. If you feel like things are going to fall out of your head too fast, you can use the voice recording function on your phone to record a quick memo of stuff to look up later after the test.
This may seem like stupid advice, but be absolutely sure that your phone is off, and I mean dead to the world. I was doing the listening section once and someone’s phone went off. They expelled her immediately. To make matters worse it was the default marimba tone for the iPhone. If you going to go out, at least go out in style. 🙂
I always give a once over of a handful of grammar points that I always get mixed up right before the start of the test. Don’t try to read the whole book before the test, just hit on the few points of grammar that you have the most trouble with one more time. You can also use the book after the test to look up answers and check to make sure you are correct.
A Train Ticket Home
This is probably one of the most important things. Although it technically has nothing to do with the actual test, you will probably want to buy a ticket home as soon as you get to your final station.
As soon as the test finishes, there is always a mass exodus of a few thousand people heading to the station. You don’t want to be in that line to buy a ticket. Buy your ticket beforehand and breeze by that line with ease. Alternatively, you can just buy a prepaid pass, like the suuruto card here in kansai, and then you don’t have to worry about pushing the right button on the ticket machine.
Are you Ready?
That’s all you need to bring for the test. If you’ve taken the test before, I’d like to hear about you typically bring to the test. Let me know in the comments below.
Good luck on the test!