We are exactly month away from the December JLPT on December 2nd. Hopefully at this stage you have spent a lot of time studying a lot of the vocabulary and grammar that you need to pass the level of the test you are going for.
This foundation of Japanese knowledge forms the sword or the body of what you need to pass the test. If you are anything like me, you have being shoveling in vocabulary and grammar as fast as you can learn it. And all of that is kind of floating there in your brain at the moment.
However, the test restricts you to answering questions in a quick and confident way. In real use, you can take some time to think or ask someone to correct you, but on the test you have no help, no dictionaries, and you are under a time constraint. So, you need to make sure you have quick access to that information.
You need to sharpen the sword. You need to file it away neatly so that you can retrieve it quickly and smoothly.
Romance your Vocabulary and Grammar
When I work with my students (that are studying English), a lot of them want to keep learning new things, new grammar, new vocabulary, and new phrases. And I think this is a natural reaction when you first start learning something. There is a strong desire to keep running after the shiny new objects.
But, if you take a step back and spend a little time with a few grammar points and vocabulary words, you’ll find that the more you get to know them, the better off you are. Don’t just take them to a cheap dinner and call it a night. Take them out on the town and make a night of it.
Knowing vocabulary and grammar is lot like dating someone. When you first start learning vocabulary you usually just give it a quick look and think nothing more of it. In other words, a short cheap date. And when you first start learning vocabulary, this is generally pretty adequate.
But, as the words and grammar get more and more complex, you learn that you need to spend a little more time with it. Not in one big marathon session either. You wouldn’t ask someone out on 9 hour first date would you? No, of course not. You have a lunch, then maybe a dinner, then a movie and some dinner, after that perhaps a home-cooked meal at your place.
You need multiple exposure to a particular grammar point or vocabulary word, and you need to see it in different places and in different ways. If you always went to the same Italian restaurant for all of your dates, you wouldn’t be very popular. You need to spice it up a bit. Use the grammar and vocabulary, read a lot, listen to a lot, speak a lot, write a lot.
If you build this connection to the grammar and vocabulary, it will cement itself in your mind and make you bulletproof for the test.
Don’t be Afraid to ‘Die’
The samurai lived life believing that they were in a dream and death was an awakening. They already lived as if they were dead so they didn’t have a fear of dying. This allowed them to serve out their duties to their masters to the death if necessary.
It also allowed them to take more risks and live a freer life because they didn’t fear the end. They didn’t waste time and energy trying to keep themselves alive, but instead faced dangers head on.
The same can be said about taking the test. No, you aren’t going to die if you don’t pass, but the principal still holds true. If you are afraid of failing you can’t do your best. Test anxiety is a real factor for some people and can even subconsciously sabotage your test-taking. Ever since I stopped putting a lot of stress on myself about whether I pass or not, I think I’ve started to score better.
It’s not that I don’t want to pass, I do. It’s just that if I don’t pass this time, I have a higher chance of passing next time. And in the meantime, I know what to work on.
It also just makes the test fun, and for a lot of people that don’t have to take the test. Why get so stressed out over something that is just suppose to motivate you and tell you your level?
Now, I’m not saying to completely not care at all, obviously you do want to know your score. But don’t let that override everything else. Come to play the game and enjoy it for what it is, not to just win.
Are you Ready for the Main Event?
Have you sharpened your sword? Are you planning on doing some review this last month? Let me know in the comments.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker