The results for the JLPT July 2015 have been announced online. I took the N1 in December 2014 and July 2015. Long story short, I didn’t pass. However, I didn’t miss passing by too much, so let’s look at my score compared to the previous test and see how I improved and what I need to do for the future.
I was worried after I took the test in July because I realized I had a difficult time on the listening test, but not for the reason you may think.
When I took the test, I noticed that everything on the listening section sounded muffled. You see, I did listening practice on a small iPhone in a quiet room. I could understand everything when I did the listening practice. However, the sound of the listening can change greatly going from a small device with speakers to listening to big stand speakers in the corner of a room.
I was so used to listening to small speakers close to me that my ears were not accustomed to the sound pattern coming from different, bigger speakers far away from me. I know this sounds strange, but when practicing for any sort of language test, be sure to practice listening in different ways.
If you only listen with headphones or small speakers from your smartphone, make sure to try it on big stereo speakers or a jukebox. This will help you be more adaptable at listening. Maybe some people don’t need this, but my ears were not used to the big speakers this time around. It’s frustrating because I consider my Japanese listening ability to be pretty good.
Actually, I didn’t fail the listening section. In fact, I technically passed it. The reason I didn’t pass the test was my low score in the reading section.
The reading section on the JLPT consists of different articles that have been taken from newspapers, magazines, etc. Many of them are academic and use a lot of vocabulary and phrases that are not used in daily life. Even if you understand the main content, the tricky part is answering the comprehension questions that are difficult even for native speakers. Some answers are so close that the difference between the right and wrong answer is paper-thin.
Here are my results for the JLPT July N1 2015. I’ve added in green and red the difference between my Dec. 2014 test results and July’s. In most sections, I increased my score. The funny thing is my reading score went down by 1 point. Hmm..
To pass the JLPT, you have to first have a total of 100 points or more. Next, you have to have 18 points or more in each individual section. You can’t do well in one section but fail another one. You have to do decent in each section, which is what makes the test difficult. In my case, if I would have done better in reading and been stronger in listening, I would have passed.
So, what am I going to do? This is the second time I didn’t pass N1. Well, I’ve come this far and I’m not about to give up. I can’t take it easy until I have passed N1. It may not directly help me if I pass it, but it’s a personal achievement that would mean a lot to me. Even if I pass the N1, it doesn’t make me an expert in Japanese. I’d still be learning until the day I die, but by passing the N1, it symbolize the amount of time and work I’ve put into studying Japanese.
Preparing for the December 2015 JLPT
So I’ve got to prepare, but what will I do to improve my scores? More reading, for sure. I’ve got to read Japanese content every day so my speed and comprehension will be in top shape by the time the test comes around in December.
I have a massive bookshelf of reading material that I’ve collected over the years and it’s time I started going through everything and reading. I will probably also try to read more magazines and newspapers. If I don’t look at academic articles or news for a while, I start to forget the essential vocabulary for those fields.
Another thing I plan to do is more listening practice but through bigger speakers and sit far away from them. This way my ears will be used to listening from a distance.