For those of you that are lucky enough to live in Asia, or near certain testing centers in America and Europe, the July JLPT is coming soon. You might have been studying hard every day for the last couple of months or just now suddenly realized that the test is just around the corner. Either way, you might be wondering what you could do to maximize your score here in the last few weeks before the test.
Although there are no miracle cures to study a language, there are still a few things that you can do before the big day that can have a dramatic effect on your score.
Kill your Phone
We all need our phone. Or at least, that is what we have been led to believe. But, you don’t need it as much as you think you do. And for the next few weeks, it’s time to trim that screen time back as much as you can. Try to check your messages at certain times during the day and, family and friends permitting, shut your phone off. I’m serious, just shut it off and forget it exists. With it shut off, it will make it a longer, more annoying process for you to check your social media or messages.
One thing to keep in mind though is emergency warnings. If you do live in Japan, you will probably still want to keep your phone on so that you are alerted in case of an emergency like an earthquake, volcano, or any criminals on the loose.
If that’s the case, you can disable your handy fingerprint / iris / biometric scanner unlock and go back to an old-fashioned password. For extra points, you can make it a really long password so that it takes a while to type it in. The whole point is to slow down and discourage yourself from those ‘harmless’ moments that start out with you thinking you are just going to check if your friend txted you and end with you looking up some random fact about moths.
We all know we need sleep. You’ve been told since you were born that you need 8 hours every night, but you never seem to hit that magic number. First thing you need to know is that you might not actually need 8 hours. Everyone’s perfect sleep cycle is a little different, and as you get older, you need less sleep. If you want some help on finding your perfect sleep length, check out my tips on that.
However, one thing that is true about sleep is that you should try your best to stick to a regular sleep schedule. This means getting to sleep at about the same time, and waking up at about the same time. I understand you think you have things to do that can’t wait until morning, or a friend that just really wants to talk until 2 in the morning, but you can put those things on hold for a couple of weeks.
If you do tend to keep a loose sleeping schedule, it can take up to a month to readjust to a set schedule, so the earlier you can get on track the better.
Simulate Test Conditions
I really recommend picking up a few practice tests in order to check your level and get a feel for the test before test day. One of the biggest mistakes people can make with these tests though is to take the practice tests piecemeal on the train or when they have free time. But, that can be a huge mistake. You need to take the practice test like you take the real test.
What do I mean by this? This means setting aside a block of 3 ~ 4 hours on a day off to take the whole test. It also means doing the listening without headphones. Instead, try to take the test with a speaker since this is what the real test will be like. Use a pencil and eraser, and clear your desk or table that you are using to take the test. Time out each section as closely as possible.
Building Up Stamina
If you are busy person, chances are, your studying is sandwiched into the empty spots in your schedule. That usually means you don’t have the time (or energy) to spend an hour or even a half hour block of time to study reading or listening. This can lead to some trouble when you go to actually take the test since you will have to spend an hour or two reading and another 40 minutes to an hour for the listening test.
All that listening and reading in a foreign language needs some serious stamina to keep your focus up. So, something you can do in the weeks leading up to the test is listen to a lot of material that is at your level or lower. It shouldn’t be challenging. It actually could be material that you have already listened to and practiced with. The point is to build up stamina, not add vocabulary or even learn anything new. You just want to get used to listening to a lot of Japanese.
It’s important to remember to have fun and enjoy the process and be creative about how you study. All work and no play makes JLPT a dull test, so be sure to have some fun with it. Be sure to get up and walk around and keep your blood flowing if you are pulling a big study session. Enjoy the test, and remember that it is only a test, not your whole life. You can always give it another try in another 6 months or so.
Good luck everyone! And be sure to stop by and let me know how you did after the big test day!