I recently failed the N2 test in July. The section that I scored the lowest in was the reading section. Typically the reading section can be quite difficult for the N2 and N1, so I wasn’t too surprised actually. I did do the N2 So-Matome Reading Comprehension Book, but that book was just a warm up. The real test is more difficult in my opinion.
So, I went on the look out for a new reading comprehension book and found the 試験に出る読解 N1/N2 book. At first it looked a bit intimidating because it is all in Japanese, but that actually turned out to be one of its strengths. I just finished it yesterday and so I thought I’d give you a short overview of what it is all about.
The book consists of 40 days of activities. The first 10 days of activities go over reading strategies for the test. After that, there are 30 days of activities. However, these activities are split between N1 activities (17 days) and N2 activities (13 days). So, it may seem like a steep price to pay for a book that only half the activities are for the test you are studying for but if you are hoping to take N1 sometime in the future it’s a pretty good buy.
The book also includes a 模擬試験 or mock test for both N1 and N2. These tests are exactly like the reading sections of these two tests, so you can get some realistic practice before you go in for the exam.
The First 10 Days
The first 10 days go over doing things like finding the ‘skeleton’ of the sentence, finding the subject or object and figuring out long clauses. The also go over finding references like ‘what does この refer to?’
The reading passages in the first 10 days are overly complicated so as to really test your abilities. I really like that part of the book, because in a lot of ways it is more difficult than the test, so when you get to the test, it will seem like a breeze.
What is really handy is the answer key with some simple explanations for why each answer is correct. There were still times when I was confused and had to ask a native speaker about some inference type questions, but overall I was able to understand most of the questions from these explanations in the back.
The Next 30 Days
After the first 10 days of strategies, you get into the reading activities. Each day in the book goes over a particular kind of passage. Just to avoid confusion, a passage is the part that you read, and each passage has anywhere from 1 to 4 questions that are connected to it. For example, short passages only have one question whereas the thematic passage usually has 4 questions connected to it.
The book contains at least 3 times as many passages as the real test which is an incredible amount of practice really. And, that’s before you get into the mock exam.
Here’s a quick rundown of how many of each type of question you’ll see in the book:
For N2, there’s the following:
- 15 short passages
- 6 medium passages
- 3 integrated comprehension
- 5 thematic comprehension
- 4 information retrieval
For N1, there’s the following
- 14 short passages
- 6 medium passages
- 5 long passages
- 5 integrated comprehension
- 3 thematic comprehension
- 4 information retrieval
The Final Mock Tests
The mock tests are just like the reading section of the JLPT. They have the same number of questions and passages.
I do have a beef with this textbook though in that they don’t give you an amount of time in which to complete the mock test. This is important because you should practice time management for this section especially. One of the complaints I hear the most about this section is that people run out of time.
By my estimations you should do the N1 mock test in 70 minutes and the N2 practice test in 58 minutes. I strongly encourage you to time yourself for this mock test, so you get a feeling for how fast you need to read through these passages.
I just took the test and got a 15 out of 21. I felt like I did much worse than that, but I guess I’ve gotten better at guessing correctly. The vocabulary and grammar was still a bit tricky for me. I’m going to have to sharpen up with some more reading practice before the exam.
How does this Compare to the So-Matome Series?
The N2 So-Matome Reading Comprehension Book is a great book if you are just starting out studying for the N2. This is because the vocabulary used in that book is not all that challenging and there is a lot of hand-holding in that book. So, I do recommend it if you want to ease into studying for reading comprehension and have just passed N3.
However, 試験に出る読解 N1 N2 is a lot better for those that have studied all the vocabulary for N2 and are just about to go into the test. You can pick this book up a month before the exam, get through it and be ready. I feel like the passages in this book were a lot closer to the true N2 level.
What about you?
What do you think of this book? Have you tried it out? Did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below.
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