JLPT BC 56 | 3 days to go

Cleared for take off

Are you cleared for take off?

So, it’s been a heart breaking last couple of days for me the computer geek. My hard drive in my new computer for some reason spontaneously imploded upon itself, so here I am writing to you from my old battle horse, a 7 year old Sony Vaio. So instead of doing a lot of high tech Anki/memrise.com studying, I’ve been doing more old-fashioned book studying.

I’ve really been grinding my way through the New Kanzen Master Grammar book for N2. It is an incredibly difficult and merciless book, but I think it will be good for me when I get to the test. I’m in the final section and going over the different types of test questions, and the text grammar is quite grueling. It includes a lot of passages packed with nuances. I think it will be good for not only grammar but reading as well.

The Countdown Continues – 3 days away!

Depending on when you read this and what country you live in, we are only about 3 or 4 days away from the big exam in December. Are you ready for the big day?

You might be thinking to yourself that there isn’t that much you could possible do at this point to get a higher score or bale yourself out if you haven’t been studying. To an extent, you are right. If you have been slacking in your studies, you will still probably fail, but there are a few things you can do to squeak out a few points and maybe just pass.

First and foremost, and you probably know this already, but it is worth repeating, take a practice test! Even if it is one of the ones that are available online. Anything to help you prepare for the test. The mock tests available at bookstores for the N5, N4, N3, N2, and N1 are also very good and include specific advice on different sections of the exam.

After you take a practice test or a mock test, be sure to create some kind of strategy. It doesn’t have to be anything grand or complicated – the simpler the better. If your weakness is reading and you are taking the N2, you might want to tackle that first than move to the kanji and vocabulary. For N5 through N3, strategy is a little more complicated because you have to deal with 3 sections instead of 2, but still try to lay down a strategy that will help you maximize your time with the sections that you are the weakest at.

Other Miscellaneous Tips

Before the test day, you should probably think about investing in a nice mechanical pencil to get you through the day. You should also pick up a decent back up in case your trusty pencil decides to self-destruct on test day (much like my hard drive did a few days ago). You can also have a separate eraser if that is how you roll. They will make you take off the cover in the test though, so don’t get too attached to it.

Remember to bring a wristwatch! This is especially true if you are taking the N2 and N1 levels and have to battle your way through the 105+ minutes of joy that is the reading/grammar/kanji/vocabulary section. They unfortunately give you no warnings or countdowns (at least in Japan).

Try to get there a little early. Testing locations range from highly organized to a giant mess. Be prepared to have to do a little hunting to find your room and/or track down a JLPT staff member to point you to your destination. I’ve seen both clearly printed signs telling everyone where to go, and utter chaos, so just be safe and give yourself some leeway.

For those taking the test in a country that is experiencing winter, it is probably a good idea to dress in layers. The climate control in some of these buildings can either be non-existent or only have two settings: fiery flames of fury or off. In Japan, it seems that in December, some schools turn the heat on and leave it on at the same setting all winter. If you dress in layers you can peel off or put on clothes to adjust the temperature yourself.

Above all, it’s just a test, take it easy and have fun! Good luck to everyone! Let’s do it!

Do you have any last minute advice? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

P.S.  Are you sweating out these last few days? Then, you should join my newsletter!

P.P.S. Are you going to ace the test like a champ?  Really, me too! You should leave me a comment on iTunes and leave me a review.  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!

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Music by Kevin MacLeod Photo by myyorgda

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nick December 2, 2011, 3:22 pm

    I’ll be taking the N5 on Sunday. I’m quite scared, since I studied myself without any classes. Of course, many people tell me that the N5 is easy-peasy and I shouldn’t be nervous, but yet I am! Grammar scares the daylights out of me. I still can’t get the hang of “wa” vs “ga” despite looking through many sample sentences. And I found the sample N5 paper quite easy, but the real deal may be so much more tougher.

    As for last minute tips, I would recommend anyone to visit the MLC Meguro website and download and peruse the free JLPT content they have. They have full lists of vocabulary, kanji, many audio snippets and flash material that will serve as great revision material for the N5.

    At the end of the day, I’m not learning Japanese for employment or teaching purposes; just to appreciate the language better and improve my anime and manga reading experience. Wish me luck for the test!

    • Mac December 4, 2011, 3:37 pm

      Nick, I wouldn’t worry too much about not getting the hang of は and が. Believe it or not my New Kanzen Master N2 Grammar Book contains a section on the differences between は and が, and includes exercises and even practice questions for the test about it. So, full comprehending the differences between the two takes some time.

      I thing I recommend for my English students having problems with articles (a, an, the) is to highlight them in their reading. You can do the same with は and がs in anything you are reading so that you become more aware of them. This is a grammar point that you are unfortunately going to have to be able to ‘feel’ in order to get it right. 🙂

      I’ve been to the Meguro site a few times. Very barebones, but great lists!

  • Barbara December 4, 2011, 5:56 pm

    Well, I’m on the train after the exam. Must admit my brain is hardly working. Not sure how I did – especially with the listening section. Did try. It was a good experience, though. At least I know how hard I have to work. I’m thinking of looking at N4 stuff next as I can always decide nearer to the next test which one to do. However, I’m going to make N5 listening and speaking a priority. That said, I’ll probably sleep for a few days first 🙂 How was N2?

    • Mac December 5, 2011, 3:49 am

      Yeah, the test is always a good reality check. Makes you a little more humble about your language abilities. I felt the same way with the N2. I think the only test I’ve felt was a ‘breeze’ was the N3 and I still didn’t get anything close to a perfect score on that.

      As for the N2, I felt it was just as difficult as the last test. I hope I did a lot better. I wrote up a full reaction to it just a few minutes ago, actually, but in short pretty tough.

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