Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take the first step to Ace the JLPT - Know yourself

Ace The Japanese Language Proficiency Test At Any Level - Step One

There are plenty of good resources to help you study for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test but none more important than doing past tests. I want to share with you what has worked for me in a speed blogging series to help you Ace The Japanese Language Proficiency Test At Any Level. The first step is to know yourself, but before we get started I'm going to share with you a story from my cycling days at University.

Philadelphia Bike Race - flying off Lemon Hill
Philadelphia Bike Race - flying off Lemon Hill by joiseyshowaa, on Flickr

I was part of the University of Queensland Cycling Club and was pretty competitive at state and national level. Every weekend I used to get together with the guys for "simulated race training", which meant belting around the lower part of the campus near the river, past the duck pond, over a small hill, and then sweeping back down a steep curve on to a long flat alongside the river. We had to share space with cars, joggers pedestrians and sometimes ducks, but I diverge. We weren't allowed to have "actual race training" let alone "actual racing" because that would involve a whole lot of red tape and officiation that we weren't particularly fond of. But I knew then, that racing was the best training for racing.

I learnt that just as specificity is central to training in athletes, it is also essential when preparing for a test. You may have a favourite language learning website, flash language learning game or spaced repetition system, but without doing tests in the lead up to the Japanese Language Proficiency Test you'll really have no idea of what you are capable of.

Do past tests.

So where do you find past tests? White Rabbit Press have a wide selection of past JLPT tests, from 3 year sets of the 2004-2006 Japanese Language Proficiency Tests, Level 4, Level 3, Level 2 and Level 1. To the 2009 Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 1 and 2. All of them come with a complete answer booklet, CD's and script. I have six volumes of these neatly bound publications which are also filled with useful statistics about the JLPT.

The JLPT has changed for 2010, even so, past tests provide the best method of gauging your ability. If you are not sure if you should be taking the new N3 level test, which falls somewhere between the old Level 3 and Level 2, new sample tests have just been published. The New JLPT Official Guidebook with Executive Summary and Sample Tests for N1/N2/N3 and N4/N5 include a CD and script for the listening section, plus answers.

The official guidebooks are written entirely in Japanese so the folks at White Rabbit Press have gone the extra step in printing out the English version of the executive summary for anyone that purchases through them.
The sample tests are the same as the ones that are available on the official JLPT site, but the audio on the CDs can't be found anywhere else.

Go get them! In the next post we look at the test content in greater detail.

Update: Early in December 2009 the Japan Foundation and Japan Educational Exchanges and Services (JEES) released further detail about the New Japanese Language Proficiency Test for 2010.

I go into more detail about test taking strategies in the online video seminar 5 Steps To Ace The Japanese Language Proficiency Test At Any Level on eduFire. Subscribers to the Rainbowhill Language Lab newsletter get great study tips throughout the year. If you need some good tips on preparing for the JLPT, please read on.

5 Steps To  Ace The Japanese Language Proficiency Test At Any Level 5 Steps To Ace The Japanese Language Proficiency Test At Any Level is a Free Online Seminar at eduFire
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