JLPT BC 122 | Speed Reading Update

JLPT BC 122 | Speed Reading Update post image
Japanese reading

Not my actually, library, but maybe someday.

After the test results last month, I’ve started to rework my studying a little more to get ready for the December test. At this point, I feel like I know the skills I need. I just need to over-learn everything so it’s automatic. I feel like that is really what N1 is about, testing if the language is automatic for you.

Over-learning can seem a bit of a drag at times. We all like to chase after the shiny new things, but to really master something you have to over-learn it. And that means regular review, several different approaches and sometimes a couple of different books.

The point of all this of course is to make it so embedded in your head that you don’t even have to think about it. It’s just there. Make reading and listening so smooth that you don’t have to worry so much about staying focused. This is one of the big hurdles you have to face as you move to the N2/N1 levels. You don’t have a lot of time to stop and think. You really have to comprehend things quickly.

Grammar Practice

The number 1 thing I’d like to internalize is the grammar and expressions that are used at the N1 level. I don’t want to spend time second guessing different points and questioning my comprehension. So, I’ll be going back through my trusty Kanzen Master Grammar book again, mostly practicing my focus and speed reading skills. I figure this will also give my regular vocabulary a boost as well.

I’ve already got the basic sense of the points down, but want to get more familiar with the uses of each point. To do this I’m just speed reading the sentences then pausing to recall their meanings. And verbally, making a sentence off the top of my head. My reasoning behind this is that I want to be able to comprehend it quickly. I don’t want to give myself any thinking time.

After a bit of a pause, about 5-7 days, I’ll go back and do the questions for each section. I want a realistic picture of what I’m retaining and have retained. That way I can go back and review just what I am having trouble with or ask questions about the points to get a solid understanding before moving on. Any grammar points that give me a particularly big headache, I’ll do some writing practice with.

I figure this multilayer approach will filter out the things that are giving me the most trouble. We’ll see how it goes. I want to pull out those remaining grammar points that I’m still not 100% on.

Increasing Reading Speed

Speaking of speed reading, I’ve been doing some research into speed reading or at least increasing your reading speed over the last couple of weeks. I’ve always been a slow reader and so, I really want to get over that hump and read faster.

Unfortunately, a lot of speed reading is focused on reading quickly in your native language. So I’ve had to adopt the methods a bit, as well as do some research into 速読 (sokudoku, Japanese speed reading). I’m not sure what will push my reading faster, but I’ll be fine-tuning it over the next few months. For more details on what I’m doing to speed up my reading, check the ‘How to Increase your Reading Speed’ section of the JLPT study guide kit.

What I’ve done so far has started to really help my reading speeds, but I need to practice ‘switching gears’ when I hit a word I don’t recognize. This is something that isn’t covered in the books I’ve practiced with. If anybody that knows of a resource, please let me know in the comments below.

Another thing I have been practicing a lot is re-reading. This is obviously very similar to over-learning material so that it becomes automatic, which seems to be my current theme. I hope I can make everything automatic so focus comes easily and I can glide through the answers.

What are you up to?

Now that the results are back and registration is open (or just closed) for the December test, what is your plan of action? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by mxmstryo

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Jerry Walton-Pratcher September 18, 2013, 3:56 pm

    Great Post, well stated!

  • Stephanie September 18, 2013, 4:00 pm

    I am preparing to take the JLPT for the first time. I will be taking the N4 test, mostly to help me gauge if I am ready for the 300 level for my study abroad program or if I should go into the 200 level and mostly brush up. My eventual goal is to get to N1 level, but I know it will take a few years (and some time living in Japan, which I plan to be doing as an English teacher for a while). I’m as ready for this challenge as I can be.

    Good luck in December!

    • Clayton MacKnight September 19, 2013, 2:46 pm

      Good luck, it is a fun journey. It’s a great feeling to be able to read without too many issues in Japanese.

  • How to answer Reading Part July 10, 2014, 2:40 am

    Good day to all!

    I was also looking for ways on how to improve my reading skills, so I asked my Japanese friend, and he said that the reading comprehension for JLPT somehow resembles their Kokugo subject (国語). He said that the questions like what the passage is all about, or what does the underlined phrase means. So I tried searching over the internet and I found this:


    It teaches highschool students on how to be better in reading comprehension.
    (From trying to know the basic words, kanji, reading aloud, better read 論説文, putting marks on important phrases, etc)

    • Clayton MacKnight July 12, 2014, 11:48 pm

      Looks like a pretty good resource. I often see some 国語 books in the bookstore with similar content, but I’ve never took the chance and picked one up to use. The reading comprehension, especially for the higher levels, closely resembles some 国語 exams. Actually, Kumon, which is a kind of cram school here, recommends people taking the N2 and N1 to take their native courses (they have special N5-N3 courses for non-natives).

      I’ll have to read up on the strategies from that page when I get a chance.

  • Andre September 28, 2018, 5:51 pm

    What was that test you mentioned> You said it was similar to the Japanese n1 but tests less grammar?? It should like you said EQ or Ikkyu??

    • Clayton MacKnight October 18, 2018, 1:57 am

      一級 or ikkyuu is the old name for the N1. I think that is what I was talking about.

Leave a Comment

JLPT Boot Camp - The Ultimate Study Guide to passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test