JLPT Summer 2017 First Reactions

JLPT Summer 2017 First Reactions post image

The JLPT is conducted twice a year in most of Asia, and today was the day of the summer JLPT. It also happens to be the middle of rainy season, so there was a huge thunderstorm in the middle of the test that kept us inside, making for a very interesting test taking experience.

Sorry that you haven’t heard from me in a while. I have been very busy working on a new study book for the N5 that will be published sometime next year. I have been basically spending every moment of free time doing research and writing for that book, so I haven’t been able to blog in awhile.

It’s because I was writing the book for the N5 that I took the test today. I passed the N2 a long time ago, and tried the N1 a few times, before changing my study goals. So, I haven’t taken the test for about 2 years. Today though, instead of taking the N2 or N1, I took the N5 so that I can get an idea of what the real test is like.

Amazingly, the testing facility for the N5 this time was the exact same place I took the N1, at Kyoto University, which is short train ride away.

Studying for the Test

Unlike other levels of the test, I feel like if you study the materials for N5 and master it all, there won’t be a lot of surprises. The test has gotten a little more difficult than its predecessor the 四級, but for the most part it covers a lot of the same stuff.

In writing my new N5 book, I basically read through every single N5 book I could get my hands on including a lot of practice tests. Since the material is rather limited, there are a lot of patterns to the questions that come up again and again. I used a lot of those formulas to then write test questions for the book.

One of the main reasons why I wanted to take the test today was to see if those formulas were correct and if I could use them to get a perfect score on the test.

Did it work?

Well, I’ll have to wait until the last Tuesday of August, when the results come out, to see. I feel confident that I got a near perfect score on the vocabulary, grammar, and reading sections, but my focus faded a little in the listening. I had to make some guesses.

My Impression

Later tomorrow, when the test is over for everyone around the world, I’ll post so more details about the N5 – new words that popped up, some tricky questions that held me up, and other info, so be sure to stop by. In the meantime, let me know what your experience was like in the comments below.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Lars Ulbricht July 2, 2017, 6:16 pm

    Did take the N1 for the 2nd time. Half a year ago I was 3 points(!) short…this time reading was a lot easier but vacabulary felt a bit harder. Not sure about the result. Will be close again I think.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 3, 2017, 1:33 am

      I think vocabulary is always a gamble for N1. You never know what is going to be on the test. Just have to keep reading as much as you can.

  • Anonymous Skull July 2, 2017, 8:38 pm

    I’m the first? All righty then. Thanks for always providing this biannual forum, Clayton, it’s fun hearing what people have to say. Anyway, took the N1, first time taking any JLPT. Pretty fun actually. First was the vocab/grammar. I thought it was pretty easy except for one word’s reading I conflated with another which had me kicking myself afterwards when I looked up the actual reading. (Looking back at the previous first impressions post it seems no one was breaking the NDA so I’ll avoid specifics, lol.) Then the reading comprehension… Two of the 長文 articles were rather difficult and had vague, confusing answers where I had to take an educated guess, but for the most part I think I did all right. Then the listening… Oh boy, lol. I haven’t taken the JLPT before so I don’t know exactly what to expect points-wise from how I did, but it was definitely the hardest part for me. Clearly listening is my weakest point. Fast talking with not much clarification. About half of the listening questions I was confident in my answers but the other half I was only partly sure, and a few times had to guess entirely. Like I said I had fun though, and am looking forward to the results in August!

    Ultimately, I would recommend two things to any N1 taker:
    1. N1 Shin Kanzen Master grammar. If you memorize everything within, the grammar portion of the test should pose few problems.
    2. Do more listening, lol. I basically only read and look how that ended up. Sure I know cool words like 徒爾 and 乾坤一擲 but fat load of good that does you on the listening section.

    Looking forward to hearing what everyine else has to say!

    • Clayton MacKnight July 3, 2017, 1:39 am

      You felt that the Shin Kanzen Master series prepared you well? When I took the test, I always felt like half the grammar questions weren’t really covered anywhere. You just have to ‘feel’ what the correct answer is really from experience.

      The reading is difficult even for natives. I showed my N1 reading textbook recently to a native and he had a heck of a time getting the correct answers. It’s quite high level stuff. Let us know how well you did!

  • Karsten July 3, 2017, 12:31 am

    Took the N2 for the second time and I am prettty sure I failed again. I felt good going in the test, feeling so much more prepared than last time and also had a good feeling about the practice test 2 weeks ago. But already at the Kanji and grammar sections I had to make many guesses, although I normally not have much problems with this section and quickly go through it. Because it took so much longer, I couldn’t read all the texts and had to just randomly check some answers. Listening on the other side felt easy again, but that was never really my problem.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 3, 2017, 1:42 am

      You might want to work a lot of reading into your studying so that you can read and get through that section a lot faster. Once I established a habit of regular reading, I didn’t have so many issues with getting through the test in a timely manner. Listening is the hardest part for a lot of people, so it’s good to hear you have that down pat.

  • Karsten July 3, 2017, 2:03 am

    Thanks for your reply. Will surely try to read more until the next text. Did a lot of reading since last time and my speeding is actually improving. Also in the practice test 2 weeks ago, I even had 5 minutes to spare at the end, so that shows how much more time I had to spend on vocabulary and grammar this time. Had really the feeling this time, that the grammar is actually not the grammar, I have practiced, but just general things, which you probably cannot practice, but just have to get a feeling for it. I think I also made a mistake in the reading part, I should have perhaps started with the texts, where it just asks something about the content, I generally feel these are easiert than the ones which comes first, which ask you about the opinion of the author, I tend to spend more time on these and always cannot decide between 2 answers.
    Still hope somehow that I passed the test, considering that I had at the time I passed the N3 also had a really bad feeling, but the thing is always, that for the reading part, you can never really know if your answers are correct or not, since some of the texts are not very clear.

  • JH July 3, 2017, 2:14 am

    I took N4 yesterday. The vocabulary section was rather straightforward, but there were 2 questions which I was unsure of. So I had to guess, ended up getting 1 correct and 1 wrong. I checked the word which I got wrong, it was a JLPT N2 word. Grammar was also quite easy (made 2 mistakes though). Reading was pretty straightforward (haha I had the deepest impression on the mid-size reading passage as it was pretty interesting). Listening was the hardest of all. The first two sections were okay (task based comprehension was easier than my practice exercises). There were many twists in the conversation though. When I thought this is the answer, the speaker suddenly said things like ‘ちょっとまって’ or ‘でも’, followed by the negation. Wow if I failed to catch the negation I would have picked the wtong answer. I feel they try to confuse you to make you feel unsure about the answer you picked. I think I made 1-3 mistakes in fhe first 2 sections. The 3rd section was kinda tricky (I think I made 1-2 mistakes). The quick response was the hardest section. I had to guess the answer for most of the questions. They came too quickly and I had no time to think. I’m quite afraid of the quick response. It was harder than expected. I remember I chose the correct answer for the first question. But as I continued, I felt I had to guess the answer for quite a number of questions. Overall, listening was tough. Ah yes, an ambulance passed by during my listening exam lol.. I’m glad I had a good proctor who would joke with us during the examination. Now I need to wait for such a long time for results to be released.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 3, 2017, 10:16 am

      Yeah, they tend to throw in higher level vocabulary here and there. I’m not sure why that is, maybe they want to make you feel like you should diversify your studies? On the N5, they had 食堂(shokudou, food hall/cafeteria). It was written in hiragana in the vocabulary section, so there was no way to guess the meaning from the kanji or the context for that matter. I knew it of course, but I wonder if any other N5ers did.

      • Bradley July 6, 2017, 2:05 am

        I forgot where it is on the website, but they add a question (or 2) that has higher vocab than the test level. This is used as an internal survey (how well did people study? did they study beyond the requirements?), and is supposed to be thrown out of the grading. Or, maybe it is used for scaling, as all scores are scaled. If I find where it says it on the website, I’ll post here.

        • Clayton MacKnight July 8, 2017, 12:25 pm

          That makes sense actually, it seemed like there was about one for each part of the vocabulary section that didn’t match up to N5 level.

      • Skullclutter October 17, 2017, 6:26 pm

        Shokudou is actually a vocab word in Genki 1, Chapter 8 or 9, so I don’t think it’s too unreasonable for an N5 test. Not sure if it’s in other popular textbooks, though.

        Mind you, I’m still studying Genki 1 myself, so I may not know what I’m talking about.

        • Clayton MacKnight October 18, 2017, 12:13 am

          I guess I wouldn’t say it is unreasonable, just not on the typical lists. It seems like they add one tricky word to see how much studying you are doing.

    • MB July 7, 2017, 12:14 am

      I also took level N4 and I agree with you. Vocabulary and Grammar was quite straightforward, however because of a bad time management I couldn’t answer properly the reading questions, and is a pitty because is one of my strongest points, at least in the mock tests. I found specially hard the short texts, but maybe that’s because I was already nervous, however, I found extremely easy the last reading type question (the one regarding the travel agency).

      By the other hand, first half part of listening was a piece of cake for me. The second part (questions 3-4) was another thing, but I think I have at least half correct.

      I think I have passed it but you never know… Let’s wait for the results! (By the way, anybody knows why they take sooo long in correcting a simple multiple choice test? Annoying!)

      Ah, and thanks Clayton for your work. I discovered it late but for sure I’ll use it for my next examination (N4 again or N3… Let’s hope that last one! 🙂 )

      • Clayton MacKnight July 8, 2017, 12:32 pm

        I think it takes awhile because they have to receive all the scores from overseas? Then they have to grade them, calculate the curve, etc… When the test was just in December, it used to take like 4 or 5 months to get the results. By the time you got them, you had forgotten you took the test. 🙂

        • MB July 19, 2017, 2:05 am

          Is hard to believe that in the communication age they still have to send the results to Japan… :S AS far as I know, rating an exam like this is just applying a key code (E.g.: 1-A, 2-C, 3-B…) so I think they could mark the test abroad and send the raw scores to Japan electronically, then in Japan gather all the results and apply the “scaled scores” balances as explained here (https://www.jlpt.jp/e/about/pdf/scaledscore_e.pdf). However, after reading it several times I’m not sure if I really understand how this “scaled score” system works so maybe I’m missing something… しょうがない!

          • Clayton MacKnight August 23, 2017, 12:37 pm

            They could do that, but the JLPT is used for a official (i.e. government) purposes like visas in some cases. I could be wrong but off the top of my head I think JEES is a government organization. So, I’m sure they want to make sure no funny business is going on overseas.

      • JH July 9, 2017, 1:51 am

        Hmm, when I did practice tests, I only spent 20-25 minutes on grammar. It was about the same on the exam too. Therefore I had a lot of time for reading. I slowly went through the passages. I did the short passages first, followed by information retrieval and the long passage. The long passage was very funny though. Haha that guy laughing loudly at the movie but his friends did not laugh at all. I cringed at the whole passage.

        I’m kinda afraid of listening. Do you remember the 2nd section where there is a question asking you to choose what time the guy made his taxi reservation? I chose 6.15am. I’m not sure if it was 6.15am or 6.20am. That part was kinda confusing though.

        • MB July 11, 2017, 12:26 am

          Let’s see… I hope not regreting later for my bad planning. Do you know if it is necessary a minimum score at the Reading section? Or that section is marked together with the Grammar? (Like in the exam)

          Regarding the listening question I would say I aswered “6:20”. Somehow I listenened/calculated that 40′ in advance was the best option, but don’t take me so seriously…

          • JH July 11, 2017, 1:55 am

            I think vocabulary, grammar and reading are marked together. As for the minimum score in reading, I’m not so sure about that.

            Now that I think of it, I think your answer is correct. I picked 6.20am at first, but there was another twist that made me choose 6.15am. I guess I might have heard it wrongly. Oh well..

          • MB July 19, 2017, 12:44 am

            JH, I cannot reply you directly so I reply to myself.

            According to the table here (https://www.jlpt.jp/e/guideline/results.html) “Language Knowledge
            (Vocabulary/Grammar)・Reading” are marked together in the N4 and the minimum score for that section is 38 points. So if I’m not wrong that means you can have a “nice” 0 in Reading and still pass the test (not my case but… who knows!)

  • Jenny July 3, 2017, 8:55 am

    I took the N2 (first time, passed the N3 in December). I felt the reading and listening wasn’t too bad, but the grammar was just awful. I’m almost positive I bombed it — there was just so much blind guessing, the possibility of me passing is unlikely. Definitely going to have to read much more before I take it again!

    • Clayton MacKnight July 3, 2017, 11:31 am

      N2 is still a giant leap up from N3. If you drill the grammar, you should be okay, but wow, still pretty tough. Were you able to get through the whole test? A lot of test takers complain about how much faster you have to read to get through the test compared to N3.

  • Stephanie July 3, 2017, 11:32 am

    I am studying for N2 right now. I wasn’t going to even try it until next year (my goal is to pass it in 2018 so I was going to give myself two chances, July and December next year) but my husband is taking Eiken pre-2 in November and asked me to try taking JLPT this December too just so that he isn’t studying and test-taking alone. I am using the Nihongo So Matome books first and once those are done (they span 6 to 8 weeks) I will study with the Shin Kanzen Master books. When I passed N3 last year, my strongest points were listening (until now I have never studied listening tbh), vocbulary, and reading. The kanji and grammar sections I BARELY passed. Kanji I just needed to study more, but any grammar tips? People can understand me when I speak buy my grammar is horrible still.

    • Clayton MacKnight July 3, 2017, 12:32 pm

      Well, there are a lot of things you can do. The Shin Kanzen Master series will really help a lot for grammar. So-Matome is a good introduction, but it is a little too easy. Whenever I encounter a tough, stubborn piece of grammar, I usually write a few sentences with it and get them checked by a native. Then try to review them when I can. It’s especially helpful if it is about yourself of course. Also doing a lot of reading of books and other materials helps as well.

  • Estevan July 5, 2017, 4:38 am

    I took N3 this time, since i failed N2 last December. I took a practice test the weekend before the test and got about 70% correct all around, 66% in Vocab, 66% grammar and reading and 725 in listening, which actually kinda shocked me, lol (listening portion of the test isn’t my best skill either).
    Vocabulary and kanji have always been a strong point for me, but there were some curve balls on the test, and i realized i can read and pronounce a lot of kanji, but switching from Kanji to hiragana is harder for me. And the actual test seemed a lot harder than the practice test I had just taken, but I managed with what felt like manageable difficulty.
    The grammar, even though it is one of my weak points, was surprisingly easy for me, and the reading wasn’t too difficult either. Since i did the practice test, I had a better idea of how to go about the reading portion, and my strategy paid off pretty good. I saved the longest passage for last, and right as i bubbled in my last answer, time was up. But what i did to save time was read the questions and skim the passage for the key words to the answer, underline it, then i made my answer from there.
    The listening, well, i was really hungry… so it was difficult to focus. I wanna say i still did good, but I won’t know until i get my results back. But the listening test isnt the same as listening in general. I can watch tv or listen to people have a conversation and at this point i understand 70-80% of what they say, depending on the topic, but I never get asked questions like they ask in the test, so i am planning on spending more time doing listening activities for the next test. One trick i used to help me get through it was shadowing (i recently incorporated that into my studying). I would shadow the conversation after i heard the question and as soon as i heard the correct answer, i circled it. We’ll see how that paid off on september i guess, lol.

    So I’m taking a break this week and most of next week, and I’m working on my plan to study for N2…

    • Clayton MacKnight July 8, 2017, 12:19 pm

      Yeah, I always make sure to pack some snacks to eat during the breaks so I never go hungry. There is nothing more annoying than sitting through the test and just wanting it to be over so you can go eat.

      Shadowing the questions sounds like a good idea. I bet it keeps you focused through the whole thing, which can be quite difficult to do. Sometimes the hardest part is staying focused during the listening.

  • Tina August 17, 2017, 5:04 am

    Currently filling out the application for the December JLPT N5 level.I’ve been learning on my own.But there’s a question in the application form which asks for the institution where you’ve studied Japanese.Can I leave it blank?

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