JLPT N1 Thoughts (2015, Attempt 2)

Last year’s N1 attempt was a disaster. I really was such a wreck in the exam room, filled with panic and self doubt that nothing on the page made sense.

A year later, December 2015, and it’s time for attempt number 2. Perhaps I’d been too bruised by that first attempt that July just didn’t seem like a good time to try again, and while an added excuse, scheduling and being in two different countries at the time made it difficult to apply, plan and pay for the JLPT.

So fast forward to the months before the JLPT. I bought my N1 textbooks, the 日本語総まとめ Nihongo So-matome series. It’s pretty good! They divide the topics into days and weeks so you study about 2 or so pages each day and complete the textbook in 8 weeks.

My first goal for this exam was to stay calm. I was sure there would be things I wouldn’t know again, but if I remained calm, there was a 25% chance I could luck out the correct answer. While it was somewhat of a repeat of “woah what is this?” but it felt less starkly foreign than it did a year ago. I knew it was the N1, what I was getting myself into and while it was still terrifying and I felt the possibility of passing was bleak, I was quite satisfied with how I kept level headed during the exam.

Funny Story: As the invigilators made their rounds, they stopped at the row behind me to ask someone to remove their keshigomu (eraser) case and was met with dumbfoundment. !?!?! The invigilator had to raise the eraser of another candidate before they got it and…removed the PLASTIC SHEET that covered the casing. “No, one more!” cried the invigilator and finally the case was removed. I was quite bemused since you should at least know what keshigomu is and be able to understand those simple instructions, being at, well, supposed near native proficiency level?

Time management was much better this time round, though I could have finished the grammar/vocab much faster to give myself more time to ponder over the reading section. I skipped ahead to the easiest passage right at the end – the information gathering one where you read a leaflet or a notice and then choose the answer based on which option would be most beneficial etc.

This year it was about membership to a museum and the perks as well as the system of how to apply. You had to help X-san, whose membership was expiring on the 20th but had a ticket to a show on the 21st what was the cheapest and best option to renew his membership. Fun!

Another Funny Story: We got a young invigilator (and possibly a rookie as well) in our room and when she was reading the instructions about what to do with our mobile phones, it went something like this.

“Please place your mobile phones into the provided envelope, hold the envelope in your ha-

Cutting herself off, she reached over to pick up the envelope and show it to us and I chuckled because she’d read the instructions to her out loud. That calmed me down more.

What somewhat caught me off guard this year was the listening because I knew it was my strong suit, and believed it to be the easiest section of all. My complacency may have cost me because damn, was it tricky this year! I don’t remember having such a hard time in 2014!

My least favourite section was where they would say a phrase or sentence that was part of a conversation had to choose the most appropriate response. In N2 it was really straightforward because some responses were just completely wack and ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!? so you could tell which was the answer fairly quickly and painlessly. But in the N1 it was more subtle than that and I was constantly scratching my head as to which of the two options were more correct. It’s also super fast so you barely have enough time to think it through before the next question starts.

It was over really fast and then a sigh of relief but there was also some nagging dread since I really don’t think I will pass, but I do hope for some improvement from last year.

Till the end of January when the results are out.

Did you take the JLPT this year too? How was it? What are your JLPT goals?

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