JLPT BC 55 | Double Down on Reading

Japanese Reading PrepI’ve recently been really stepping up my efforts to study whenever and however I can in the last few weeks before the test here. I’m trying to punch my way through the Kanzen Master N2 listening book I picked up just recently before I go into the real test.

It has really done wonders for my listening I think. I just took a practice test, and listening was by far the highest score on the test. If you have any issues with listening or just want to pick up a few points, I recommend picking it up. It has been worth while for me. It has especially improved my quick response I think.

For example, I recently went through sequence questions that are of the format of ‘What is the first thing the man has to do after this?’. The textbook goes over several different sequence words like まず and 先に. This really helped me, especially since there are so many exceptions and turns in the conversation with these types of questions.

If you are Gambling, Time to Double Down on Reading

At this time of the year, I tend to get a flood of emails that go something along the lines of ‘I thought I could do N3, but I’m really N4, how can I make up the difference in time for the test?’ I have definitely been there before (heck, I feel that way right now about N2).

So, what do you do in this final stretch? How could you possible pull out a surprise win in this late hour? Well, if you are gambling, double down on reading. Are you a bit confused? Don’t worry I’ll explain.

Reading Combines a Variety of Skills

In order to be successful with reading, you are going to need to be good at grammar, vocabulary, and kanji. This single skill combines all of them. So, if you use all of the skills to be successful at reading, doing reading exercises will uncover your weak points in those skills, so that you can focus on them.

For example, if you are reading along and aren’t entirely sure what the difference between ものか and まいか is you’ll know pretty quick. Also, the grammar will be used in context so you will have a better idea of how it is used and not just it’s meaning. Usage and meaning are both equally important.

It is also more efficient because you just need to work your way through one book and not several books (if you are N3+, the books are separated out). This makes your book bag a lot lighter and gives you a more achievable goal then doing 5 books as fast as you can.

Increased Reading Speed will Help you Score Higher

The faster you can read through the passages the more time you will have to puzzle out the ambiguity of the questions and track down references (like この、これ、etc…) that they typically test you over in the reading. This extra time will allow you to double check your answers to the reading section to make sure you have the right information.

Also, for the higher levels (N2, N1), you WILL have to have a moderate reading pace, close to the pace of someone reading quickly out loud in your native language. If you aren’t up to speed, chances are you won’t finish the test. I’ve heard from several of my friends that this has been the case for them. It’s a common problem so be sure to practice up.

They are just Worth More

Question for question, the reading questions are worth more points on the test. This means that they can really make or break you. On the revised test, you need to score about 1/3 in every category to pass the whole test (previously you just needed to get 60% overall). You will have to score above that in order to pass reading. This can get a little iffy at the higher levels.

If you are taking the N1 or N2 the grammar, vocabulary, and kanji section is combined with the reading section. It might be advisable for you to skip to the reading section first, then go back to the grammar, vocabulary, kanji section. This will allow you to make sure you spend extra time on the questions that are worth the most points.

How do you feel about reading?

Are you doing some last minute reading practice? Do you know of any good sources for reading materials? Let me know in the comments.

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Music by Kevin MacLeod Photo by Images of Money

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