Strangely enough, I made a marked improvement in my score (up from 12 points overall in the July test). I’m a bit surprised because the whole month before taking this test I was barely able to study. I was moving into my new place and dealing with paper work and packing up. The whole week before the exam was the physical move, which meant heavy lifting and heavy cleaning. I was bruised and battered by the time I walked into the exam room.
So, I wouldn’t have been surprised if my score went down, but it keeps going up. So far, my scores have been 58 (July 2012), 64 (Dec 2012), 69 (July 2014), and 81 (Dec 2013). Yes, I have taken the exam 4 times, but my daughter was born, I bought a house, and now I’m working 6 full days a week, so all in all great progress.
My experience with taking the test and talking to people that have taken the test, it seems like there is a critical point of knowledge and skill that you hit. After that point the particular level you are studying for becomes a lot easier and you can pass. Until you get to that point, you only seem to make small baby steps in terms of score, but you are actually learning a lot. What I usually see in scores is either somewhere around the 33% mark, just passing mark, or totally blew the test away, either full score or pretty close.
I feel like I’m very close to the critical point. I can definitely read at an incredibly fast pace. For some material, I feel like I can read it faster than if it were in English because I’ve only really practiced reading fast in Japanese. It also helps that once you know kanji it is a lot easier to get a general idea of what the material is about with a glance, than it is in English.
It looks like vocabulary was my enemy again this round. I kind of felt that coming out of the test. Looking back on it, I made some dumb mistakes with some of the words. I mistook words that I knew for words that I didn’t and guessed wrong.
To bring that score up, I’ll be doing a lot more reading. I’ve found it motivating to work through novels, especially slightly easier to read elementary school novels, but I’ll probably be switching over to something a little more difficult in addition to that. At a higher level, reading is a lot more fun and useful than simply out right drilling of words. Useful in the sense that you get to know how the word is used and get a feel for it instead of just the definition. This is critical to getting the vocab questions on the JLPT right.
Words that I know I’m not going to see that often, but are still useful, I’ll probably put into Memrise courses to study, but with Japanese definitions only. I’ve already started a course for the JLPT N2 words I was having a little trouble with, and it has been quite useful for me. In my opinion, it gives you double practice, a little reading practice for the definition as well as the word you are practicing.
With this okay performance, I’m going to be moving more and more away from drill books except for grammar. I still want to work out the few minor kinks I have with some of the phrases before just letting it all go. Basically, I’ve done the drill books and they helped prepare me for what the test looks like and what kind of skills I need, but I need to take a slightly different approach.
This is going to involve doing a lot of reading, which includes, thankfully, some fun reading. Lately, I’ve read through some elementary school level books (Surf’s Up and Toy Story), but looking to take on the Game of Thrones in Japanese. They have a new edition that is also available as a kindle book, so I’d like to try to see if I can work my way through it and also see what kind of vocabulary they come up with because a few of the English words are unique. For example, they don’t say birthday, but name day in the book, so I’m a bit interested in how the translator tackles things like that.
Game of Thrones, if you haven’t heard, is a HBO fantasy TV series and book series that has become quite popular in the States. It is rather crude and involves a lot of killing and other medieval things like that, but the characters are very realistic and the story is absolutely huge.
I have a ton of obstacles currently though. I just took on a new teaching assignment that will take up a little bit more of my time than before. It might mean that I will be able to create some more courses for Memrise as a by-product though, so I’ll keep you posted. Also, my daughter is 2 already! and that means a lot of work and more sleepless nights. That’s why I will be publishing posts a little less often than before, but I’ll be doing my best to polish up the Memrise courses I have, and sharpening up the tools on the site.
How did you do?
Did you take the test in Japan? Are you still waiting for results? Let me know in the comments below.
P.S. You can only currently get online results if you took the test in Japan and registered online in Japan (through myJEES). There are other regions and countries that also have internet registration and results though so please check with the institution that you took the test with if you are looking for results. Also, I think results will be available on JLPT.jp starting on Jan 30th for pretty much everyone that took the test.