getIf you registered for the JLPT in Japan online, you should now be able to check your results online at the official JEES site. If you mailed your application in the old fashion way, the results will be mailed out starting February 3rd. Online results for several other countries should be available now, too. And for anybody who took the test, no matter how you registered, you’ll be able to check your results online now.
Okay, so you got your results, now what? Well, first of all, please take the time to let us know how well you did in the comments. It would be great to hear what you did that helped you the most and what you felt was a bit of a dead end. If you had to focus on just one thing to pass the test, what would it be? What paid off the most? It would be great to hear from you.
But now that you know you passed or failed, I’m sure you have a few questions about how to proceed. Over the years, I have receive the same kind of questions around this time, so I thought I would clear up a few things that you might be wondering about.
Be Perfect or Just Move On
One of the questions that gets banded about a lot is whether to focus on perfecting a level of the test before moving on to the next level. In other words, if you just got 91 points on N4, which requires that you score at least 90 points total to pass, should you move on to N3? Or, should you try to perfect your N4 score, possibly increasing it to something more comfortable like 120 or 140? After all, you might have just passed out of sheer luck.
Well, as with anything involving your goals, and how you spend a good majority of your time, it depends on you and what you are looking to do. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You’ll really need to think about what you hope to accomplish with Japanese in the future.
If you are looking to use Japanese simply as a hobby like keeping up on the latest manga, watching jdramas, or just chatting with your Japanese buddies, you really don’t need to be so serious about the test. You probably won’t run into too many problems moving up the ladder of the tests. However, if you are approaching the N2 or N1, you may want to take some time to review lower level grammar as long as you have a genuine interest in perfecting it.
Recently, I’ve been creating materials for the N5 level, which has led me to do a tremendous amount of research into all the aspects of the 100 or so grammar points that are tested over for N5. Even though I’ve passed N2, and have a pretty good understanding of the foundation of Japanese grammar, I still kept finding myself asking nit picky questions about the differences between some points. This has really improved my comfort level with the language.
But I don’t recommend it for everyone. Not everyone has a genuine interest in sorting out the fine points of Japanese grammar. Some of you need or want to pass for other reasons.
A friend of mine recently told me that he had a job lined up for him, but he wasn’t able to say yes because it required an N1. The job, doing localization for a software company, probably didn’t actually need someone with an N1. More likely, they were just using some metric to thin the herd. But, it still acts as a gatekeeper, and so it is safer to get a good, solid score with the test, as a company might come back and ask for it during the interview process.
In my personal experience, only having an N2 has not blocked me from what I’ve wanted to do. This is especially true if you can demonstrate that you can do the work with a portfolio or references. So how do you get experience if every job requires experience? It’s an age-old question with a simple answer. You network. You network a lot. You’d be surprised what is available if you just ask.
However, there are still some companies and organizations that are real sticklers. If you aiming to get N1 in order to get a job in Japan, or to qualify for a Japanese permanent residency, it might be a good idea to make sure you have a healthy (120+) score before moving on to the next level. Spending a little extra time at the lower levels, will pay off as you go higher. You will have to look past basic grammar books though. I highly recommend picking up the Japanese Dictionaries of Grammar if you are looking to go all the way. They are thick and have everything you could ever want to know about Japanese grammar.
So, are you looking to move on to the next level? Not sure how much time it will take to get there? Here is a rough guide based on anecdotal evidence.
If you are looking to move from N5 to N4 or from N4 to N3, it is probably possible to move up in 6 months, so you could probably sign up for and pass the July test. Now, you will have to study hard and consistently over that time though. If you have the time to put in 2 hours of JLPT study a day on average, you can pass in that time. If you’d like to go at a more leisurely pace or you live in North America where the test is only conducted once a year, it might be best to take it a year from now.
If you are looking to move from N3 to N2, it is possible to do it with a year of hard studying. The main reason why this will take a little more time is that you will need to dramatically increase your reading speed. Reading on a regular, probably daily basis, will be your best friend. You have to become comfortable with reading (and listening) in order to pass.
If you are looking to move from N2 to N1, it will probably 2 years of hard study, but it really depends. By this time, you are probably reading/watching a lot of Japanese content, or you might even be working in a Japanese company and be exposed to Japanese on a daily basis. If this is the case, you could pass in a shorter time. Just keep in mind that the amount of vocabulary and kanji for the N1 level is roughly double that of N2. By a few estimates, the amount of study time need to reach N2 from zero is roughly the same amount of time it takes to go from N2 to N1. It all depends on your background and your environment though.
How about you?
How did you do? What is your study plan for the next year? Let us know in the comments below.