Saturday, September 26, 2009

Take the third step to Ace the JLPT - Train your weaknesses

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

In this third step to Ace the Japanese Language Proficiency Test we take a good hard look in the mirror. Hopefully you've had a look at the past tests, and know which parts are difficult. If you're anything like me there are things you'll feel like tackling right away. But before you do, think about the real purpose of the practice tests. Are you using them to confirm what you already know? Do you sneakily flip from question booklet to answer sheet when you come across a difficult question? If you want to improve your performance on test day it's going to take a little more discipline. It is time to face your demons.

Catford Hill Climb
Catford Hill Climb by bareknuckleyellow, on Flickr

It's time to break out of your comfort zone, to extend the cycling analogy, train your weaknesses and race your strengths. When you are weak on hills, then you train on hills. When it comes to race day, if you are good in the sprint this is where you must focus your energy, having successfully made it over the hills.

Do the hard yards.

Having good diagnostic tools are essential to this approach. Practice tests are going pin-point your weaknesses if you take them seriously enough. But the that's the easy part, now you have to get on intimate terms with them.

The past tests allow you to really drill down into those areas where you lose the most marks. Use this knowledge of your weaknesses to find gains. After each practice test, review the ones you got wrong. Write them up, study them again, and think about changing gear or trying a new study technique.

Difficult things are easy to put off doing in favour of doing more enjoyable things, it's only human nature. Resist this temptation. Spend most of your time in the areas that give you the most trouble. Small gains here will open up larger gains in other areas. Call it leverage, or the 80/20 principle, whatever, but put it to work for you so you can tap into your hidden potential.

You have limited time, you don't want to spend too much of it covering stuff you know well. Find out what works for your friends when they have to breakthrough a learning plateau. But more importantly, find out what works for you in overcoming your demons.

When you know what really works for you, race your strengths.

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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