The July test is next weekend for the lucky few that happen to have it in their country. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t feel like I had enough time to prepare or review for the big day. My life has gotten increasingly busier recently, and I don’t think it is going to get any better soon, but I still have a goal of trying to pass the N1 sometime soon.
But, what about you? I think you are probably in a similar situation. Everybody always feels like they didn’t have enough time before test day. So, what can you do to get a good score with just one week to go? Well, here’s 10 things you can do.
10) Be Aware of Distractions
The staff at testing facilities usually try their best to eliminate or greatly reduce distractions in the testing area. But, there will inevitably be some minor distractions.
First, heating and cooling always seem to be issues no matter where you test, so dress in layers.
Second, if you are taking a higher level test at the same location that they are testing a lower level of the test, test takers from the other levels might get out earlier than you. So, as you are finishing your test. You might hear people moving down the hall, chatting, and generally causing havoc.
Yes, the proctors are, in theory, suppose to stop them and issue red cards (in Japan). But, they rarely do. Red cards = immediate failure of the test.
Third, other people in the test taking room might be distracting as well. I’ve heard cell phones go off in the listening section (despite being warned a hundred times to turn them off). I’ve had other test takers cheat off me. I even saw someone with a cheat sheet. Although, I have no idea what you would put on a cheat sheet for N1.
9) Check the Schedule
Each level is administered slightly differently. There will be different times for breaks and even how many testing sections there are in total. This differs from country to country or what organization puts on the test.
Also, keep in mind that the times listed on your voucher include instructions, handing out the test booklets, and other general administrative tasks, and not the actual time you have to answer questions. I have a list of the different times for each level that you might want to check to see how much actual time you have for each section.
8) Scout the Location
Unless the test is taking place at the university you attend, you probably have no idea where it is or where to go. It’s best to scout the lay of the land before you head out so that you don’t get lost. Don’t 100% trust the directions on the voucher either. They can sometimes recommend buses that don’t run very frequently, and on top of that if you are going to a large testing facility (in Japan) most buses will be packed anyway.
You will probably want to check the location of the testing facility on Google Maps and maybe take a virtual stroll with Streetview before you head out. The last thing you want is to start off toward the testing site, get lost and then arrive in a panic to take the test.
7) Plan your Reward
Thinking about and worrying about the test can really wear you out. So, how about thinking about something fun instead? Plan something fun for yourself to do after you get the test done. Doesn’t have to be anything grand, just something special to look forward to.
Make sure you have everything you need for the big day. That includes things like 2 pencils, eraser and a simple watch. You may also want to pack a lunch if you are not familiar with the area and are not sure you can find a place to eat at. Japanese colleges are famous for not having any convenience stores close by just a cafeteria, which might not be very obvious.
5) Clear your Mind
You can easily clutter up your mind with just general every day stuff to worry about. These things can be distracting while you are trying to focus for the test. It’s best to try to resolve anything you are worried about, but if you can’t, at least write down on a to do list for later. My favorite way to clear my mind is watch a good somewhat mindless action movie the night before the test.
4) Don’t Freak Out
You may find yourself, at this late hour, completely unprepared for the test. Maybe you planned to study harder but something came up and you just didn’t get the time to get all your studying in. Maybe you got new neighbors that don’t let you sleep (or a baby). Maybe you met the person of your dreams and can’t resist spending every waking moment with them.
Whatever the reason, just relax and do the best you can. It’s just a test after all. And tests are suppose to serve as a diagnostic system to help you see your weaknesses and keep you balanced. That’s the best reason for you to take the test. So, take it and see how you do. Don’t fear failure.
I’ve failed the N1 twice already and there is a decent chance I’ll fail it again. It’s not about passing, it’s more about seeing how well you have improved, see what’s working, and what isn’t. So you can then change how you study.
This final week is probably not the best time to start something new. It’s a great time to review and refine what you already know. This is a process that I like to call sword sharpening and I think it is essential to help you confidently get through the test smoothly.
2) Sleep Well
You’ve probably heard it before, but it is always worth repeating. Get enough sleep. If you are well-rested you’ll be able to focus more during the big test. Getting 8 hours of sleep is best, but you will be all right with 6 hours if you have to.
Don’t think coffee will be able to save you either. Drinking extra caffeine may make you more alert, but influences your focus. So, it isn’t a cure all.
1) Eat Well
Your brain uses a lot of proteins to process and recall information, so be sure to load up on protein rich foods like milk and nuts. Some people laugh at me for talking nutrition before a test, but what you eat will influence you more than you think.
For more details, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. I’ll send you a detailed report about what to eat before the big test.
Good Luck Everyone
I wish everyone taking the test next week the best of luck. I hope you do well, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your experiences here on the blog. If you are taking the July test, stop by the blog after the test and tell me how you did!