Hi everyone! ICU’s autumn break is finally over and it’s time to start my winter term here in Japan. During my break, I had the chance to visit the Kanto region, along with seeing Kanagawa. I’ll be writing more about my travels there soon, so please stay turned.
What I want to focus on today is the日本語能力試験 (Ni-hon-go-nou-ryoku-shi-ken). This exam has been on my mind for a while now, so I’m glad to have finally gotten it over with. For those who aren’t familiar with the exam, JLPT stands for the “Japanese Language Proficiency Test”. It’s used by Japanese companies during their recruiting process as a gauge to see the applicant’s fluency, with the highest level being N1 and the lowest being N5. By receiving an N1 certificate, this shows employers that you are proficient enough to not only hold daily conversations, but to be able to function in an all Japanese workplace.
The test itself is broken up into three categories: Language knowledge (Vocabulary/Grammar), Reading and Listening. Each section is multiple choice and my only critique of the exam is that there is no speaking section. When deciding on what level to take, I finally ended up choosing the N3 exam. I felt that although my home university did a fantastic job of preparing me for speaking Japanese, there were some areas of grammar and kanji that I still lacked.
In order to prep for the exam, I used three main tools:
- AnkiMobile Flashcards – Nihongo So-matome N3 Kanji List （日本語そまとめ N３）
- Nihongo no mori（日本語の森）
- Shinkanzen Master N3/N4 books （新完全マスター）
Anki is a mobile flashcard app that allows you to memorize massive amounts of information through SRS, spaced repetition software. Using a shared deck I found online, I was able to start memorizing N3 Kanji. I will say that for my friends study for the N3 exam, there is almost 800 cards so I would start memorizing a few months before the exam. It’s better to memorize 20 minutes of Kanji everyday, rather than a few hours a once a week, and I’ll definitely be using this strategy for the next exam.
Secondly, I used Nihongo No Mori, a youtube series that teaches JLPT grammar. I think the best part about the channel is the fact that the teachers are native Japanese speakers. The explanations are all in Japanese and this had a major role in increasing my listening proficiency. Overall, the videos were enjoyable and I was able to learn so many new grammar forms. I would also highly recommend using their channel to study the other levels of JLPT.
Finally, the last tool I used was the Shinkanzen Master, one of the most highly recommended books for preparing for the JLPT exams. I will say that although the book was extremely thorough, I found myself being overwhelmed. I actually did not end of finish the book before the exam, but it’s definitely useful for students who want a more comprehensive understanding of Japanese grammar.
Overall, I’m glad to have finally taken the JLPT exam. It was a grueling four hours, but I was able to get a deeper understanding of where I still lacked in my Japanese studies. Through my preparation, I was able to learn new grammar, kanji, and reestablish my love for the Japanese language. I won’t find out until later in the year if I passed the N3 exam or not, but I’m eager to see the results. Until next time!