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.
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