December 10, 2007
On December 2 I took the Japanese Proficiency Test in Chicago. I wanted to take level 3, but since I've done very little studying this year I signed up for level 4 instead. It was the right choice. Here are some quick thoughts on specific parts of the test, and the JLPT in general.
Writing/vocabulary: not too tough. Last-minute cramming actually did some good: while waiting outside the classroom I made a point to remember 帽子をかぶります (which I hadn't really memorized before) and 駅 (which I haven't reached in Remembering the Kanji but is pretty much guaranteed to be on the test.
If I have a complaint about this section of the test, it's that there wasn't enough kanji: after 3 years of Japanese I'm very used to seeing some of them. Is it possible to reach JLPT 4 level and not know 私? And I've seen the days of the week so often that it's much quicker to read 火曜日 than 火ようび. Having to read some of the words in hiragana or kanji/hiragana actually slowed me down.
Listening: hands-down the toughest for everyone. Definitely had some unfamiliar vocabulary, and pausing to figure out unfamiliar words meant losing the entire conversation (and the answer to the question).
I've spent the last 1.5 years listening to a lot of Japanese music, audio, etc, and the last month listening to the lv. 3&4 tests from 2005. Without those I would have done a lot worse.
Grammar/reading: this part was the most fun. I liked figuring out the answers and seeing some of the more unusual points of grammar (for this level) like -ながら and (しか + neg vs だけ). Finished with 20m to spare; reviewed and corrected a few definitely incorrect answers.
- Good baseline/reality check.
- Good experience learning how the test goes.
- In my room there were 21 takers (3 no-shows): 18 Americans, 2 Koreans, 1 Chinese.
- Partial Heisig/RTK completion is not enough: it's all or nothing.
- Last year I completed lesson 14 of Japanese for Everyone; on the JLPT I saw grammar from every lesson. There might have been some beyond lesson 14 too. I felt pretty well prepared for level 4 grammar thanks to Japanese for Everyone.
- Both in grammar and vocab, (listening too) most material fell into 2 categories: either you knew it or you didn't. There was a little that could go either way, but not much.
I'll be surprised if I don't pass this one, and I certainly won't wait until October to start studying for 2008.