I’m just fresh out of the test, and to tell you the truth, it was exhausting. For the N2 level, there are only two sections, a 105 minute language knowledge section and a 50 minute listening section. The first section can be a bit daunting because you are given all that time to finish it and you really have to manage your time well.
I can say that the facilities were quite a lot nicer this time though. I took the test at 京大 (kyodai), or Kyoto University. If you are not familiar with Kyoto University, it is one of the Ivy League schools of Japan, so it is a very big school that has a ton of buildings. It was a bit of maze and absolutely nothing was clearly marked which is completely different to all of my previous experiences with the JLPT.
Other than that, the rooms themselves were actually quite nice. I’m use to taking the test on uncomfortable wooden seats with barely adequate heating and cooling, so I was relieved to see cushioned seats and reliable climate control. They also had a speaker system instead of the lovely CD-boombox they had at my N3 test. I guess I’m moving up in the world.
What went well
I think studying vocabulary and kanji with Anki really boosted my vocabulary and kanji scores. But, I do think it is key to have good example sentences and clear definitive definitions of the words you are studying. Make sure there isn’t any ambiguity between a couple of words in your deck. There has been a few times when I knew the ‘meaning’ of the word, but wasn’t able to choose the right sentence in the usage section because I didn’t know how to use it. If you have a good example sentence and a clear definition then you can avoid this problem.
What didn’t go so well
I felt the scrambled sentences were really tricky this time around. I can usually sort out how a sentence comes together by just looking at the particles and making a few educated guesses, but that was not the case this time. There were some torturous sentences. I think it is best to do some more reading in order to see more sentence patterns and get more familiar with them.
Another problem I ran into was that I ran out of time in the reading. I wasn’t able to properly read the thematic comprehension question (second to last passage). This was a bit of first for me. I’ve been really practicing reading exercises and even doing 20~30 minutes of reading on the train, but because of some difficult phrasing, vocab I didn’t know, and being a little exhausted, I couldn’t get through it in time. I guess I need to keep up the reading and try to bump up my speed a bit.
The listening section also seems to be the easiest section of the test for those living in Japan. I thought it was actually just N2 level this time. The speakers seem to be speaking incredibly fast, but it might just be that I haven’t actually ever studied for the listening section because it is usually my strength. I can’t really say it was my strength this time though. The quick response section gave me a bit of trouble. It’s just a bit hard for me to think that fast I think. Definitely something I will have to practice for future tests.
I feel like I either just passed, or just failed. Either way, I think I’ll be spending the next few months patching up holes in my grammar and vocabulary that I need work on. I’m also going to move toward more ‘natural’ ways of studying Japanese with books, movies, and jDramas and things like that. I’ll be experimenting with a couple of different study methods over the next few months and letting everyone know how/if they help.
I’ll, of course, be coupling natural studying with a lot of Anki work to remember new words that I pick up from reading, dramas, and just chitchat. I feel like if you just study for the test, and don’t expand your Japanese into other areas, you start sounding a bit bookish and I personally get a bit demotivated. So, I’ll be spreading out and doing more fun studying.
How about you?
Did you take the test in July? How was it? What was easy and what was difficult? Would you do anything differently to prepare for the test?
P.S. Did you miss out on the big test in July? Need some weekly tips to help you for the December test? Sign up for the newsletter for all the latest tips and tricks.
P.S.S. Do you think you aced the listening section of the test? Go tell iTunes about how much JLPT Boot Camp helped you. Or if you have comments or suggestions for the podcast, by all means let me know in the comments below or contact me and let me know what I can do to improve the show. Thanks!
Music by Kevin MacLeod, photo by Daehyun Park