5 Things to do Before the July JLPT

5 Things to do Before the July JLPT post image

Okay so the test is just a few small days away. Hopefully you have worked your way through all your major drill books and have worked your way through all the necessary materials. If you haven’t, don’t stress out too much, as long as you have covered a good chunk of it well, you should be all set.

But, there is a short list of things that you can do in these dwindling few days to prepare for the main event. They all seem pretty basic if you think about it, but its good to have a simple checklist before you go in.

5. Buy your gear, and Pack it

The requirements for what you need for the test differ from country to country. But basically you need a good ole no 2 pencil or mechanical pencil. If you do have an old fashion pencil, make sure its sharpened and you have a backup. If its mechanical, you still aren’t off the hook. Go through a dry run and double check stuff like does the lead actually fit in the pencil you have?

I also personally prefer getting a nice eraser to use as well. I don’t want the dinky one on top of my pencil breaking off and I leave my test all smeared. You will probably be erasing at least a few answers, so it is definitely worth it to pick one of these up.

Pick up a simple wristwatch for timing purposes. This especially important in Japan, where they seem to never have clocks anywhere in the testing rooms. I have no idea why this is the case, because in other locations they seem to have pretty prominent clocks to look at and to keep track of your timing, but alas, clocks have not made it to Japanese college classrooms for some reason.

Take all that – pencils, eraser, and wristwatch along with your test voucher and pack it in the bag you are bringing to the test. If you sometimes get the jitters days before a big exam, packing and prepping everything like this in a bag that you are going to only use for the test is a good way to put some of those jitters behind you.

Yes, it sounds stupid, but there is nothing more frustrating than showing up and not having something, or what you have malfunctioning in your face, and then you have to waste precious time asking for pencil or frantically running to the nearest convenience store to buy something. Take some time now to get it all sorted, so if something comes up between now and then you got it.

4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

There are probably hundreds of things you can do to get a good night’s sleep from making sure you have good blackout curtains to not drinking caffeine within 6 hours of going to bed. The one thing that I recommend you do that is relatively low impact and what cost you a lot of time and money is to eat a small snack of low glycemic index foods about 30 minutes before you hit the sack.

You might have heard that eating right before bed is a bad idea, which is true if you are planning on wolfing down a large meal right before bed. But, a simple snack is enough to fill your stomach and keep you from getting up in the middle of the night. Your body will take more time to break down the food, and by the time you wake up the sugars will be ready for you to use, so you’ll feel refreshed.

If you ever have that feeling that you are still tired even after 8 hours of sleep, this is one way to combat that. It should also improve your quality of sleep a little more. I’ve been trying this out over the last few weeks, and I’ve noticed it is a little easier to wake up in the morning.

The night before, I always recommend just letting your mind drift. Give it a little vacation before the big day. You’ve been studying for a good while now hopefully; if you haven’t learned something by now, chances are you aren’t going to master it in those couple of hours you happen to have the night before. Free your mind so that you can sleep easily. Studying for the test might cause you to do too much forward thinking and result in monkey brain (having way too many random thoughts).

If you are looking for some more high end tips, check this article by Tim Ferriss. I think he has a lot of great tips. However, some of them are a bit difficult to implement because of money or time.

3. Make sure you know the Test Sections

At this stage, I hope you have had the time to go through a good mock test so that you know the overall flow of the test. If you haven’t, the official practice books are a great free resource that you can use to familiarize yourself with the different test sections. Here is a list of the practice tests (very short if you don’t have the time):

N5 Practice Test
N4 Practice Test
N3 Practice Test
N2 Practice Test
N1 Practice Test

And here are the official workbooks (fairly close to the same size of the test):

N5 Official Workbook
N4 Official Workbook
N3 Official Workbook
N2 and N1 Official Workbook (on jlpt.jp)

One of the biggest sections of the test that cause new test takers headaches is the sentential questions part 2, or what I call scrambled sentences. These are in the second part of the grammar section on most levels. They are typically hard to answer because you usually don’t think about the language in this way. Try a few out to get the feel of how to unscramble them.

2. Practice your Focus

From time to time, I take English tests for my job so that I understand how they are conducted and what to look out for. Even in my native language, these tests can be a bit tricky because of the need to concentrate for such a long time, especially in the listening section where letting your mind wonder just a few seconds could cause you to miss some key information.

Focus is a huge factor in the test, especially if you are not surrounded by Japanese. Being able to concentrate for a solid 2 hours or more can help you earn a few more points. Perfecting your focus can be very elusive these days in the face of the omnipresent smartphone and other garbage that distracts us. Meditation is one tool (and probably the by far the best tool) to achieve better focus.

You don’t have to climb to the top of some far off mountain to talk to a guru to perfect meditation either. It is actually quite easy and something you can pick up without much effort. You just have to put effort toward it. It is very personal, and different forms of it seem to work for different folks, so you might have to try out a few things to see what works.

One book that gets recommended a lot for newbies that are interested in getting started with meditation is Wherever you go, you are there. I gave it a read recently have to say that it is tremendously eye opening. It really explained everything that you should expect when meditating and busts a lot of myths attached to it.

1. You are Ready

You have put in numerous hours studying and prepping for the big day. At this point, you might be searching for that one little thing that can push you over the edge. What else can you do to be just that more ready?

Well, if you have followed the last 4 steps and have been putting in regular practice. You are ready. Or at least, as ready as you are going to be for this round of the test. And it is very possible that you might indeed fail, statistically speaking only 37% of those that take the test pass, but that’s okay, you did your best to get ready. Don’t be second guessing, worrying about what you could have done. You studied the best way you knew how and now it is time to test that.

Test Reactions

So, I want to know how you felt about the test. After you finish on Sunday, come on back to this post and let me know what you felt about it. Tell me 3 things – what level you took, how you studied, what you felt was the hardest section. Post those 3 things below and help out your fellow JLPTers.

{ 50 comments… add one }
  • Rody July 5, 2015, 5:51 pm

    I took n1 today. The listening and reading part were really easy; especially compared to previous tests.. Vocab and grammar were kinda different from usually. Hardly any N1 grammar popped up (you know.. The ‘u ll never use this kind of Too-formal-or-too-old-grammar after n1… Unexpected.. But. Doable

  • Bryan July 5, 2015, 12:31 pm

    Well, I took the N1 today and I have mixed feelings.

    I had been preparing by using the 徹底トレーニング series and reviewing words I didn’t know on my phone.

    On today’s test I worked really hard and was pretty proud of working through the grammar/vocab/reading section. However, once I got into listening, I felt I couldn’t understand what was being said in the dialogues. It was weird because when I do mock tests, I understand almost everything. I wonder if it has something to do with the speaker difference in the rooms? It could also be nerves. Anyway, I wish we could get our results quicker than the way things are now.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 5, 2015, 1:46 pm

      N1, is a pretty strange animal. If the listening or reading is on a topic that you are not familiar with it can be like day 1 in Japanese 101. I think the speakers sometimes play tricks on you too. I hope you have great results to report in a few months!

  • Boris July 5, 2015, 1:58 pm

    Just like Bryan I took N1 today and have exactly the same feelings about listening section. It’s definitely true that the sound from the speakers in the test room is less clear than when you listen to stuff at home. Also the brain is pretty exhausted after that reading marathon, so it’s more difficult to concentrate and pick up what the announcers are saying.
    Well, I just hope that I took enough points to pass at the first two sections.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:55 pm

      A lot of people do a dry run before the big day with same timings and everything just to get a feel for the amount of stamina you need to get through the beast. Also eating a good breakfast and packing a good lunch can power you through it as well.

      I hope you have good news for us in a few months!

  • Shelly July 5, 2015, 2:55 pm

    Tell you the truth, I think I did bad for my dokkai section (N3). I did not have time to finish reading all those paragraphs. Let alone to recheck my answers. Can’t wait to get my results.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:52 pm

      Reading is a huge hurdle on these tests. A lot of people don’t do that much reading and just don’t have the speed to get through it.

      If you are interested in taking N2 and above, you will need to double your reading speed. I personally don’t have the kind of speed I would prefer to have. Need to do a little practice myself.

  • Luis July 5, 2015, 9:01 pm

    Hey Mac! Just finished N4 in Spain, I’m proud of my improvements in listening, almost couldn’t understand anything at all on N5 last december, the only thing I’ve done to improve it is listening japanese music everyday. But feel like I’ve done worse with vocab on readings for example, last questions were random picked, didn’t have enough time!

    So. Feel like I can make it, but also feel lots of gaps. I’ve been studying by myself for a year now and it has been a bit tough on some underexplained topics, do you think I should take it easier and get a stronger base by taking some steps back, or should I move forward with N3? Or trying a diferentes approach? Up ’till now have been studying with the only purpose of approving Noken tests…

    And how about you? Still don’t feel in the mood of going N1? Tell us!

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:50 pm

      I think you should move on if that is what will keep you motivated. It’s great to really refine grammar and master it. Right now, I do a lot of research for my N4 grammar videos. I ‘know’ the grammar, but the extra research that I do now has really helped make it automatic for me and so I can use it a lot more confidently. So, retaking the test for a higher score does have its benefits, but if re-studying the same grammar makes you go to sleep, then you might want to hold off.

      I felt a little sad this time not taking the test. I should give it another try, but I’m pretty rusty at this point. I need to go back through a few drill books, especially listening books to practice my listening focus. I sit through (1.5+ hour) meetings all in Japanese these days, so I am working on my stamina, but it still isn’t quite there. There are many times I feel myself floating away. I’ll see if I can dust off a few of my drill books and see what I can do.

  • Adrien July 5, 2015, 9:25 pm

    I took N3 yesterday. The もじ・ごい section was really hard for me (I suck at Kanji), but I could compensate it with the ちょうかい. Althought the ぶんぽう was quite intense as well, I was pretty happy with my time management (which I took from your website).

    I think I’ll get it barely.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:44 pm

      Why would you say you suck at kanji? Do you avoid it when you study?

      I think some people need to learn kanji in context, while others are better at studying them individually.

  • Nathaniel July 5, 2015, 10:17 pm

    Took the N3 test yesterday with my classmates here in Osaka. Man… So, I had taken it last December and barely failed it. I think I passed it this time around, I can tell I had definitely improved, but the listening portion and the grammar was the hardest for me. Reading comprehension was pretty good though, and if I didnt know a word or kanji, I could usually figure it out by context.

    I hope I passed! I’m moving to Taiwan to learn Mandarin in September, so my Japanese study will be pretty limited at that point (unless, for some reason, I start tutoring people in Japanese)

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:42 pm

      I hope Osaka treated you well. I would think you would be able to find a few people that spoke Japanese in Taiwan. Although, they might be quite a bit older. Enjoy your time there. Hope you made it!

  • Ami July 5, 2015, 11:13 pm

    Copy and pasted from my blog: Update: I took the JLPT N2 yesterday. Yay me.

    Anyway, while we were taking the listening section of the test, AN ELECTION VAN WITH LOUDSPEAKERS DROVE BY BLARING OUT WHO WE SHOULD VOTE FOR! During the listening section. OMG.

    However. Luckily, it was during the “sample question” part that they have at the beginning of each section. So it didn’t really disturb us. It was just funny. And annoying. How about outlawing those doo doo heads?

    In other news, I was sitting next to a Chinese girl. Anyway, they were prepping us and told us, “Put away your ID card.” However, the girl next to me did not put hers away. I looked around and I was correct–everyone had put theirs away. So I whispered to her “Shimatte! Shimatte!” (Put it away!) and pointed at it. She still did not understand. Then the proctor came over and gave me a warning for talking!! OMG again!!!! LOL So then I explained to the proctor that I was just trying to get the girl to put away her ID card. And the proctor understood immediately and forgave me.

    I will get the results in October. I’m not holding my breath.

    (As far the actual test, it was all okay except reading comprehension. That is the hardest part for me.)

    • andrew July 6, 2015, 1:05 am

      wow, that is some bad luck in the listening. I did not take the test this July, but when I took the N1 prior your story reminded me of my listening experience. With the amount of people taking the test I am not sure how this happened but it seemed that three people sitting near and around me all knew each other and during the listening test I could see them sharing answers when the proctor was not looking. I almost lost it but for the sake of my own test i kept my cool and just tried to finish those last big point questions. Definitely was a bad distraction for me as well.

      At the end of the test I went and said something to the proctors and they acted surprised. Of course they did not notice and they said there was nothing they could do because they did not see it. It was of course my word that it actually happened. I told them (as politely as I could) to keep their eyes glued to students taking the test during the entire test because people cheat and it is not fair to those who studied hard and it is a huge distraction as well. They said 気をつけましょう。

      It is my fault partially for letting it bother me so much as to distract me from the test. As a test taker you can not prevent all distractions, such as another student’s actions, a cell phone going off, loud speakers of a political car (lol that is intense) and so we have to just manage the best we can.

      They need a test taker satisfaction survey at the end of these tests so we can rate our proctors ha.

      • andrew July 6, 2015, 1:07 am

        btw it was my 3rd time taking the N! test and barely passed on that day i spoke of above and was very relieved. If i failed the listening section i might have made a more formal complaint about the proctors ha.

      • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:35 pm

        People are constantly cheating during the test. I think there are a lot of younger kids just out of college (or still in) who feel they need to pass the test, so they can get a job in Japan and stay. I can understand the pressure they under, but it can still be pretty distracting and annoying.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:40 pm

      I hate speaker trucks. Everyone is so uber polite here, but for some reason that is the one thing that is totally okay. grr.

      If you register online in Japan, results typically come out the last Tuesday of August – August 25th, unofficially of course. But, it is almost always that day. The official results get mailed out that week and get delivered around Wednesday of the following week -> Sept 2nd-ish.

      Be sure to let us know how you did.

      • Ami July 8, 2015, 5:46 am

        Oh, I was thinking October. I guess I meant August! LOL

  • Maxx July 6, 2015, 2:20 am

    Yesterday, I took the N2 exam. But even on the exam day itself, I had doubts whether to take it or not because I really didn’t prepare because I have a licensure exam for professional teachers coming up and I am concentrating on it more.

    So I went to the testing site only with the current knowledge of the language that I have and the experiences I have working in a Japanese company based here in Cebu City, Philippines.

    I am confident with the listening part of the exam, but just like when I took the N3 exam, the reading part was really difficult. There are also some kanji and words that I did not understand (because I didn’t really prepare), but somehow it can be understood by context.

    Hopefully though, the results can still be okay.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:32 pm

      I wish you luck. I think reading is a skill that gets often overlooked but it is incredibly valuable and just something you need to practice. I heard that for higher level learners (N2+) you need to be reading around 4000 characters (about 6 pages) a week. That doesn’t seem too bad to be honest. You should try to read a few books. It’s slow at first, but things speed up in no time.

      • Maxx August 27, 2015, 3:37 am

        I just got the results! And I passed! And I even perfected the Listening part 60/60!
        I was really worried about the Reading section but I scored 30/60 so it was really not that bad. All the anime watched and conversations, that served as my practice, with my Japanese boss really paid off.

  • Jared July 6, 2015, 6:56 am


    Took N1 on Sunday. Feel pretty confident about it. The answers are up on some Chinese sites and I was able to use that to figure I probably got around 38/60 on the grammar vocab. As I didn’t finish studying all the words, I can’t say I’m surprised but at least it should be a passing score.

    The answers for the reading are all just the numbers and explanations in Chinese so doesn’t help me. You’d have to have a copy of questions or a record of your answers to check. But I’m fairly confident I passed with a decent score. Probably around 35 or 40.

    And listening has always been the easiest for me as I live in Japan but as with Bryan, I got tripped up on a few. But I’m still confident that I got at least 45 so should be an all around pass.

    I can’t wait for the results, but I really want to pass with over 150 so I want to continue studying and try again in Defember. Taking a test is good motivation for study for me. But I don’t need it for my job or anything so it’s all personal for me.

    Anyway congrats on finishing and hope everyone passed!!

    • Rody July 6, 2015, 7:23 am

      Would you mind sharing that Chinese website? ^_^

      I took N1 too. I found that the vocab section was definitely more difficult than most other years. The grammar was quite different (I miss the pre-2010 easy fill in exercises of super-advanced-rarely-used-grammar…. this year it was more natural Japanese, but the nuances were smaller). The reading and listening section really took me by surprised as they were incredibly easy.

    • Rody July 6, 2015, 9:00 am

      found the answers too! I said vocab and grammar was difficult.. well. I seem to have no mistakes in those areas.. The reading answers are also on chinese websites; but… I don’t read chinese (they explain the answer in chinese)

      • Jared July 7, 2015, 2:31 pm

        Nice! I also don’t read Chinese so I can’t tell how I did on the reading. I’d really like to know. But I definitely made mistakes on the grammar/vocab section. Passed for sure, but not a score I’m happy with. I’d like to try again in December regardless of the actual passing.

    • Holly July 6, 2015, 7:36 am

      Would you mind sharing how you found those sites? I am DYING to know if I did ok in N2 (I finished the 読解 feeling pretty ok, but found myself vulnerable in 聴解)

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:29 pm

      Wow, a score of 150 is pretty tough to get, but I feel like with all these tests, there is a bit of a critical mass, where you have studied and mastered most of the key vocabulary to the point that you can cut right through the test. The difference between 80 and 110 is huge, but between 110 and 150 not so much. What do you think?

      • Jared July 7, 2015, 2:35 pm

        Well, I’m not sure what the actual difference is. For me, I guess, a score of 150+ would mean the material is more or less mastered and it’s just a few mistakes here and there. My score, which I don’t know yet, is more likely, “Hey, you know enough to pass but there’s still lots you don’t know.” I’d like to be comfortable with the material enough to actually use it rather than just input-only.

        That being said, I tried something similar with the old 2級 back in 2008. I took it, passed with about 72%, then tried again in July hoping for 80-90 percent. Result? 74%. Almost no change and actually worse on the listening. So I gave up on trying to better that score and gave up studying completely for almost 6 years. Now I came back and N1 was doable for me, but as a perfectionist, I still have the bug to try and do better. Anyway, we’ll see how this one went before I make any decisions about the next one!!

    • Jared July 7, 2015, 3:15 pm

      Well the listening section has been added to the Chinese website. I didn’t notice until just now. After calculating (and marking incorrect the ones I couldn’t remember), it looks like I got at least a 55. Which I’m very happy with. I guessed on a few on feeling that I ended up getting right. Now if I could just figure out my reading score I’d have a pretty good idea how I did!

  • Andy July 6, 2015, 12:39 pm

    I took the N3 yesterday in Holland.
    I have a good feeling about it overall. I took N4 last december and I was really struggling with time at the reading and grammar section, this time was much better. I really checked my time while reading the practice exercises of Kanzen and it helped a lot. Speaking of which, I used the Kanzen series to prepare the grammar, kanji, reading & listening sections and for vocab only I use So-matome. Occasionally I used some other sources, like print-outs I got from my teacher, but mainly I used the above. Of course I don’t know if I passed but I think I was more confident this time than last december, mainly because of the books I used.

    The first vocab & kanji section was not too difficult although there were a couple of words and kanjis that I did not know, but I was pretty sure that they came up somewhere in the books, I just couldn’t remember. I guess you can’t expect to recall everything, right?

    The grammar & reading section was a pleasant surprise for me, as felt like I knew the answers and I managed to read all the texts and answer all the questions properly, no timing issues this time around. I had about 15 minutes left to check my answers. I was really afraid of this sections so I am pretty happy now. I was chatting with other examinees in the break and my impression was that people mostly had problem with the time, some of them could not even answer all the questions, I mean they just marked some answers randomly in the last minute as they were running out of time. I know it has been said so many times here but I recommend everyone to practice and improve the pace of their reading! It’s really crucial to nail this!

    I think I was quite exhausted by the listening section and I had the feeling that it was more difficult than expected. It gives some comfort that other people also struggled a bit, like Nathaniel wrote above. It is a lesson learned for me that I need to practice listening after 2 hours of reading, so that I can keep my concentration even after a long reading session.

    Going forward I am preparing for the N2 in December, I am applying the same strategy, Kanzen series and Vocab from So-matome. I am going to see a Japanese teacher as well for a while. If you guys have any tips, I woud really appreciate if you could share them! I hope all of us did good and passed!

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:27 pm

      The Kanzen series of books are quite popular and right on in terms of the correct level.

      For N2, you really need to increase your reading speed. The pace that you need to read at is roughly twice that of N3. So, it’s key to practice reading fast WITH comprehension so that you can answer the questions quickly. That is probably one of the biggest differences between the tests.

      • Andy July 7, 2015, 3:02 pm

        Do you have any handy tips on how to reach that reading speed besides just reading a lot? Any reading material that you would recommend?
        I reckon I need to boost up my kanjis and vocab as well to reach that level..

  • Jesper July 6, 2015, 7:31 pm

    I just took the N5 in Hamburg, Germany.

    I must admit I think i could pass – but still have very mixed feelings about it. Truth to be told, I had to guess way to much answers in the 50 Minute Grammar Part , since i realized I hadn’t learned my vocabularies the time before. Kanji was absolutely no problem.

    Listening was… “okay” – but sometimes I got that feeling that the possible answers were not related to the arrow-marked-persons on the pictures, but the other ones. Some other examinees also thought like this for some time.

    All in all i just hope that I did good enough to make it through. But anyway – your Site, JLPT Bootcamp was a very huge help – passed or not. Thanks for your great work!

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:24 pm

      No problems. I hope you passed the N5. Even at that first level, they are trying to trick you with some weird answers. You have to be sharp.

  • Hilary July 6, 2015, 7:35 pm

    I wrote N3 in Edmonton, Canada yesterday. I don’t know how it went to be honest. I know that I made mistakes here and there but it’s difficult for me to measure how I feel I did. The last time I wrote N3, about two years ago, I failed by one point! This time I’m hoping that I passed by one point. ^v^

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:22 pm

      Edmonton! The one place you can take the July test in North America, right?

      That’s heartbreaking to miss it by one point. Here’s to hoping you passed with flying colors this time.

  • Julie July 6, 2015, 11:26 pm

    I took the N3 and think it went quite well. It’s the first time I take the JLPT and it felt easier than I expected (e.g. compared to the numerous nit-picky grammar points from the study books, or the time allotted for the reading section). Listening does get pretty intense fatigue-wise though.

    Re: clocks in Japan: I’m glad I went out of my way to borrow a wristwatch. There were 2 clocks in the classroom (福大), but they were covered! I still can’t understand why.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:21 pm

      I have no idea why they cover up the clocks here. It doesn’t make any sense, I mean can you really cheat by looking at the clock? Especially since that is not the case in most places outside of Japan.

      N3 can be a bit misleading I think because the test books tend to aim higher than the actual test (because no one is quite sure the true level yet). Anyway, the leap between N2 and N3 is pretty sizeable. I hope you have good news for us in a couple of months.

      • Julie September 2, 2015, 9:11 am

        I passed! By a healthy margin, nice confidence boost. I’ve been studying vocab in earnest since the test ended (and N2 grammar, although somewhat less successfully), and reading lots still. I’m gonna do a mock test in a couple of weeks and see how it goes before signing up for December. I’ll still be in Japan then so it feels like now is my best chance to give it a shot, while I’m in the ideal environment. Maintaining skills will definitely get harder after I go back home. We’ll see!

  • Jenny July 7, 2015, 1:07 am

    I took the N1 in Tokyo for the third time.

    Since my problem the last two times was time management (I always ran out of time and had to make blind guesses towards the end; the second time I actually did the reading test first to see if I would have more time then….I didn’t :P), I made sure to strictly follow the schedule I set for myself at the start of the test. I worked out beforehand what time I should be on the reading section and didn’t spend too much time agonizing over the kanji/vocab/grammar section; if I didn’t know the answer I just made the best guess I could. I guess since it’s my third time to take the test I knew better what to look for in the reading section. I’d say it was easier for me this time. It also didn’t hurt that the essays were more interesting that the last two tests! 😉 Anyway, this strategy helped me a lot.

    I’d bought CDs to help me get used to the listening questions. I did all right before but figured I could use some extra points. But then my brain was already pretty exhausted (and I hadn’t slept well the night before, LOL) so I think some of the questions tripped me up. I think having the big speakers kind of plays tricks on the ear as well 😛

    My scores weren’t too far from passing the first two times (92 and 87) and I had always gotten passing marks in all three sections. I had made blind guesses both times, but this time I felt good knowing I had used my time wisely and minimized them!

    Hope everyone can take a break from the prep books now and

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:18 pm

      Sounds like you had a pretty good experience. I think doing the listening section with the speakers can be distracting if you are used to answering the questions with just headphones on. I usually try to practice once or twice listening to test questions on the cheaper speakers of my home stereo.

      Hope you passed!

      • Jenny July 9, 2015, 8:11 am

        Thank you! And my apologies, I posted without finishing my last sentence! I meant to say, I hope everyone can take a break from the prep books now and read light/fun stuff in Japanese. A friend who does research on manga recommended I read “Saint Young Men” (聖おにいさん)since I like comedies. Enjoying that right now! I’m also making a list of Japanese movies to watch.

        You’re doing a great job on this site; your posts are always informative, not just for JLPT but other aspects of language learning and living in Japan as well!

  • saeri July 7, 2015, 2:52 am

    I took N1 on Sunday in Tokyo. I feel… pretty okay about it? I’m not sure. I took it before in December 2013 and failed (but passed every section except reading), and I have not been studying as diligently as I could have been in the interim for a lot of reasons, but mostly a lack of motivation because I felt like I could probably pass without studying too hard because I work at a Japanese company as a translator and am surrounded by Japanese every day. Whenever I studied in my textbooks, I would get the majority of things right.

    In December 2013 what tripped me up was spending too much time on grammar and kanji and then not having enough time for the reading. Conscious of the fact that I was running out of time, I got very stressed towards the end and basically did not complete the reading section and did not feel confident about the answers I did give. I was sorely tempted to walk out during the break, but I stuck it out for listening and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.

    This time around I finished the first half with 5 minutes to spare and felt relatively confident about my answers – enough to think that I passed. I thought it was ironic that the first passage in the reading section was about how people shouldn’t speed-read a bunch of books, since I was definitely speed reading the test so I would finish on time. The debate portion about kids bug catching was silly. I don’t know where they get these passages.

    I thought listening would be a breeze (as it was – to my complete shock – in Dec. 2013, so I didn’t even study for it at all) but it was actually a little more difficult than I had thought, and I wasn’t confident about several answers. I still think that I probably scraped by with enough to pass though. I mean, hopefully. I’m afraid to check out the Chinese sites and know for sure…

    I feel the same after taking this test as I did after taking N2 in Dec. 2012, and I did pass that (although I prepared for it much more vigorously), so hopefully my gut feeling is the same this time around too.

    And I’m proud to note that since I was taking this test for the 4th time, I know what to do by now. I got a good night’s sleep, made myself a good breakfast of eggs and sausage in the morning, left with plenty of time (had to buy a watch, not knowing if my classroom would have the clocks covered up or not – it didn’t, but other test classrooms in the building did – ???). I did realize when I got there that my mechanical pencil had lost its pressure and would push back in if I tried to write with it, but it was enough for me to fill out bubbles. I ate a protein bar and drank water during the break and felt I was able to focus and concentrate well as I took the test. If I did fail, I’ll take it in December, study some more in the meantime, and probably pass for sure then.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 7, 2015, 2:15 pm

      Sounds like a solid test day plan for food. It seems like the listening might have been a little more difficult this time around for most people. Hopefully that means there will be a healthy enough curve to eliminate any imbalance.

      Thanks for relating your experience, seems like you have a good grasp on what you need. I think if you are translating on a daily basis, you should have good enough reading skills to whip through the test. Looking forward to hearing some good news from you.

      • saeri August 25, 2015, 9:15 am

        I passed!!! Yay!

        • Jared August 25, 2015, 1:42 pm

          Me too! N1. But I only got 114 so it’s not a very satisfying pass. I think I’ll try again in December. I thought I’d have 120 or 130 this time around but my vocabulary and reading just aren’t up to snuff yet. Time to hit the books again!

          But a pass is a pass so I’m at least happy with that.

  • Rody July 8, 2015, 6:15 am

    After carefully looking at all the Bswers I’m pretty sure I scored 100%!! I guessed one question, but I guessed it right. 180/180 would be very nice ^_^ well. I memrised like crazy for this. Sometimes 1mil points in one day. I deserve it, if I may say so ^_^

  • Paul July 8, 2015, 10:08 am

    Took the N3 in December 2014 and failed by 5 points (90/180),
    reasons for failing was lack of general knowledge (kanji and grammar) and low reading speed.

    Took the N3 again in July this year, I think my kanji knowledge has improved, not sure about grammar I am usually only 50% right so I don’t think I have improved much in this aspect.

    With reading section, I ran out of time, there was some reading sections I did not know what the content was about, I knew what the questions were asking for. But for me my reading ability depends on the content that I can relate too, if its a story about some random crap then I cant follow what is been said.

    Listening was very easy, maybe some mistakes due to lack on concentration.

    Regarding study material, the first time i used so-motome, the second time I used the kanzen master series,

    my thoughts on so-matome books,
    all good, lots of notes explaining grammar rules etc.
    Reading content is strange, one story is how a kid finds a severed hand in the ground but thinks its a toy.
    In general so-matome is a bit on the easy side.

    Kanzen master
    reading was good,
    kanji not so much, I did not do the exercises, just put them in anki.
    grammar, did not use this book at all, there are no English notes explaining the grammar usage.

    So, in all maybe I have passed, if not then try again in December, not sure in NHK web news easy is much useful after all. ( have been reading all the news topics pretty much every day without fail)

  • Tommy July 13, 2015, 10:27 pm

    Best of luck to everyone who sat the test. I’ll be sitting the N4 in December, I’ve covered most of what I need to cover but still, I’d rather have the extra half year to relax, revise, let things sink in, do specialised preparation like taking sample tests. Study at my own pace without the extra stress!

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