We have all been there— signing up for the JLPT, buying a couple of study books, but then getting so tied up with work we forget to put in any hours of study. Before we know it, the test day arrives and we end up hoping our hands magically guide our pencils to the correct answers. Our scores all come down to how much effort we put into improving, but it’s difficult to keep motivated and stay excited about everyday studying. I will share what I learned to prepare for the test and tips for the big day.
The best feeling when taking a test is knowing the information like the back of your hand, and what better way to do that than to let it soak in naturally! Buy yourself the middle-school level movie books from Book Off and read them as often as you can. The best thing about them is that the stories are familiar and the words repeat and come out in different books. They also are cheap. Depending on how popular the story is, the price can range from 100 to 300 yen.
If you are big on Japanese phrases such as 「継続は力なり」(Roughly translated as “Continuation is power”), the Seinfeld Method works great because you can visually see your progress! Just by simply crossing out a day on the calendar if you accomplished your goal gives you a great energy boost and more confidence on the day of the test. If it’s your goal to finish a page in Nihongo So-Matome and you manage it, then grab that big red marker and watch your calendar slowly fill up with those X’s!
Show your Japanese friends your textbooks often and laugh about the unnatural Japanese that might pop up or the words that aren’t used in everyday conversation. Ask them what could be better expressions and the reasons for the sentences sounding strange. If you have these kinds of talks, not only do you become more familiar with the words that are on the test, but you don’t have to sound like the textbook when you actually speak.
Don’t forget the basics. You need a watch, a couple of 3B pencils, a pencil sharpener, eraser, and your ticket for the exam. They are really strict about the things that you can have in front of you and don’t even allow you to have your eraser in the case. Be sure to take those things out and have them ready! You don’t want to waste precious test minutes on a simple mistake that could have been avoided!
Try to wipe away all the bad experiences from your memory of high school and university exam times. It’s so easy to complain with friends about how difficult it is, but it comes down to studying and keeping a positive outlook. You don’t need any bad vibes when you are busy circling the multiple choice questions.
The exam is available for you to test your current knowledge and is nothing to be taken personally. There is always next season for a re-do!
You will have much more in common with the other people taking the test than you think! Not only did they all take the big leap of faith to Japan, but they are also trying their best at getting more involved with the culture and the language. During the break in the afternoon, there will be so many new people to talk to and friends from different crowds to get to know. You will be happy to leave the test-taking venue with some new personalities in your life and the high chance of acing your JLPT!