About a week ago, I went up to Kyoto University to take the test again at their somewhat poorly cooled facility. I covered my first impressions before earlier, but in general I felt more confident about the test. I’ve started to take test day a little less seriously, which seems to be helping with my test score.
Now it is just a matter of waiting for the results, which typically come somewhere around the last Tuesday of August. This lull between the test and results always seems to slow everything down. You don’t want to keep studying for the level you just did, but at the same time if you didn’t pass you’ll need to review as much as possible to get back into it.
For me, if I pass I’ll probably turn around and throw everything into speaking and conversation skills. I feel like my reading is where I want it for now. It definitely needs some tweaking, but it is at a comfortable level. My speaking is down right embarrassing for my level though. It’s just at a daily conversation level, but I want to be able to do so much more with it.
So, with that in mind, I’ll probably just turn to drilling for the next 4 months to get ready for the December test. There is a chance that I passed but from here on out I’ll be devoting as much of my time to purely studying for the test. I might even break down and buy a vocabulary book or two.
Building Vocabulary and Grammar Course
In what little spare time I have, I’m hobbling together a N1 vocabulary and grammar course. Basically, I’m adding any vocabulary words that I haven’t seen to the course with a Japanese definition, an example sentence, and collocations. This makes it a little unwieldy, but very comprehensive. We will see how well it works.
For the grammar points, I’m setting up cloze statements for the grammar points I’m tripping over a lot. I feel like grammar is really close for me. I have a pretty good understanding of most of it, just need to work out the nuances between them. And to the best of my knowledge, cloze statements seem to be the most effective at learning these pesky differences.
It all comes down to my usual mantra of making everything as automatic as possible. I don’t want to have to think about the rules, I just want it to be understood clearly and quickly. And the test requires that of you as well.
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More Efficient Use of Time
I’ve really started to do a lot more slicing up of my schedule to keep me focused. Instead of sitting down and trying to power through 30 minutes of vocabulary drilling, I try to switch up as much as possible. I’ll study grammar for a little bit, do some listening exercises for 10 minutes, then switch to reading. I do try to schedule a few longer sessions to keep my focus up because the test is such a long block of time.
I also started doing a little bit of exercise as soon as I wake up to get my heart pumping and awake. I’ve found this keeps me from sleep walking through my vocabulary drills. And has all the usual benefits of exercise, like losing a little bit of weight, which is something else I need to do.
I’m also doing my best to cut time wasters. A have way too many things to do in my life now and so squeezing in some extra time here and there can be a huge advantage. I’m also considering deleting Facebook from my phone. I find myself checking it randomly when I have no reason to do so.
I am almost tempted to get one of those apps that locks you out of certain programs after a set time. I haven’t gone to that extreme yet, but I might get there if I can’t quell my addiction. I guess I just need to focus on it for 21 days and set a new habit.
I now I’m really pretty close to passing the test if I didn’t do it this time. However, the closer I get, the more tired I get of mastering every little grammar point and vocabulary word. I’m really looking forward to a more natural way of learning where I’m simply exploring and finding new words that way instead of grinding through things so systematically.
The N1 to me has become more of a diagnostic tool than something I need to beat. Mostly because I feel like if you put pressure on yourself to just best the test and that is your only motivation for studying, you set yourself up to fail.
But, getting N1 will help me significantly professionally so it is a necessary beast. I do think studying for it is worth it because I’ve uncovered so many little things I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I definitely wouldn’t have pushed my reading skills to this level if I was studying without a test.
Anyway, we’ll see. As time goes on, I keep getting more and more projects piled on me and more family duties. Time management has become a huge factor.
What are you doing in the post test slump?
Have you changed your methods at all? Are you doing more natural studying? Let me know in the comments.
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You are proactive as ever! haha but before you go diving into remembering all the grammar patterns (や否や、そばから、であれ、etc) , there was something that I wanted to ask you.
Did you notice that the 2013 Winter JLPT N1, and the last exam took a more overall practical (say native if you will) take on Japanese grammar rather than memorizing the right grammar pattern?
In all the practice test books, including the new Shin Kanzen Master, they want you to select the correct grammar pattern based on the situation such as や否や、た最後、なり、and stuff like that. But in the exam, maybe only one of those questions came up with. And all the other questions wanted you to selected like the right ひらがな such as には、では、とは、 or just plain selecting に、を、か. Therefore, basically testing your overall native senses, or Japanese practical ability. Somewhat similar to how people studying English have a huge issue where and when to put “The”.
I am pretty sure you have it, but check out the practice test questions from the practice test made by the JLPT JEES? company. You should see a significant difference with the practice test books we have been using. If you want to take more, you can msg me on mail.
But as I mentioned in my previous comment, because this test requires a mastery in grammar and reading on a native reading, maybe improving writing and speaking skills will help with listening and reading.
Yeah, I hear ya, the N1 is really a different animal when it comes to the grammar section. Shin Kanzen and So-Matome will give you an idea but not the whole picture. I do feel though that there were 5 or 6, albeit well hidden, grammar questions that the books helped me with. The others are actually nuances of previous grammar for the N2 all the way down to the N5.
Now, I do think speaking and writing practice is important, if not absolutely critical for mastering a language for obvious reasons, but I think the problem with N1 is it forces you to know ALL the grammar, and in production you might stick to just what you know best. If you haven’t over-learned a particular point, you’ll have a hard time using it, or might not even come to your head as an option when you try to express yourself. That’s why I’ve been supplementing my studies with the grammar emails you can get at jgram.org. I actually ended up signing up for all of them, just so I can be perpetually reminded of different points. jgram.org is by no means thorough and some of their entries are severely lacking, but they help to remind me.
Anyway, I don’t want to poo-poo your idea that much, because I need speaking and writing very badly, I don’t get to practice it nearly as much as I’d like to and should, so yes I need to do it as well.
Thanks for mentioning that you might delete Facebook from your phone. I also find myself checking it way too much out of habit. I just removed the shortcut from my home screen, but for now have left it installed. I’m hoping “out of sight, out of mind” will help in this case. You should do the same!
Yeah, I’ve already done that much. To be honest, Facebook has gotten more and more worthless as they’ve tried to ‘improve’ it, so I’m not too bothered by it these days.