I had woken up, groggy from lack of sleep due to a messed up sleep cycle, and started my daily routine of checking my phone for notifications, casually scrolling through Facebook to see if there was anything of interest. It was the first status, my friend had posted about the JLPT results and I jumped out of bed in panic. Already? I wasn’t ready, I thought I had a few more days to face the reality of a result I had anticipated.
I pressed the power button and watched my laptop flicker to life, the sounds of it powering up made me uneasy and on edge. As I typed the characters into the address bar, each press of the key resounded each wish I was making for a miracle. Each click was leading me closer and anxiously I scrolled down.
“FAILED” it said, in bold block letters and I let out the breath I’d been holding. I knew it, I murmured, and even though I had expected it, a part of me still wished to see a magical passing grade. Oh well.
Having placed my hopes in luck and my terrible performance the day of the exam itself had already been the answer and the month long wait was merely the confirmation of my prediction. Amidst all the celebratory statuses on social media, mine was the minority and I wondered what people actually thought behind all the reassuring messages.
“Hah, of course she failed, what was she thinking? Pfft, N1.”
“I guess someone isn’t as smart as she thinks she is”
I constructed these in the voices of others when they were actually personal wake up calls, feelings addressed toward myself to chide my constant complacency. The results reflected the effort I had put in.
75% of the time I was panicking about the exam, and the remaining 25% was confined to in-class preparations where I mainly did reading comprehension practices and neglected memorizing new vocabulary. Meh, I’ll manage, somehow. Like I always do. was always at the back of my head because hey, that’s what I did last time and it worked, didn’t it?
Wrong. Things had fallen easily into place, too easily, and I stopped taking things as seriously as I should have.
But on the other hand, I was also scared. I had always been scared of the N1. I had been scared of the N2 as well, thinking I had made a mistake signing up for it, resigning myself to failure. This time it was worse, I had wasted away more than a semester learning nothing new, barely practicing Japanese at the level required (I’d like to argue that it’s mainly the fault of my school’s horrible language program system which placed people of different levels together merely because we were all Juniors – UGH – but that’s an excuse).
The first paper scared me, I felt defeated, and the results reflected it. I did horribly for it but redeemed myself on the Listening, though not as well as I’d have hoped (but even if I’d scored full marks for listening I still wouldn’t have passed). It was clear where my weaknesses were, and what I needed to improve on. It was a good experience, understanding and experiencing it under proper exam conditions, having to deal with the pressure of needing to do well. It was something I hadn’t felt in a long, long time.
I could go on and on about why but that’s for a different post.
To everyone that passed the JLPT, Congratulations!!!!!!!!!
If you didn’t, don’t worry about it, don’t get too disheartened. There is always another chance to take it again, and it should be the fuel that pushes you to work harder. Exams are not what learning a language is all about, it’s just some words and numbers on a piece of paper that don’t necessarily mean anything. It isn’t a true indicator of proficiency – language is about communication. I had a friend whose level of Japanese was below mine and yet, she was able to communicate in Japanese better than I ever could. I have friends who have native level Japanese but refuse to take the JLPT, who believe instead of proving proficiency through their actions and experiences.
For me, my goal is to pass the N1 before I graduate, which leaves me two more chances. Looks like I’ll be taking it again in July. To everyone else who will be doing so too, Good luck and let’s work hard towards it together!!