A few words about the exam…
There are 5 levels of JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) with N5 being the most basic and N1 being the most advanced. Beginning with N5 and all the way up to N1 none of the exams have a written or spoken section. To ensure objectivity in awarding marks, the JLPT exams follow “multiple-choice” pattern. You will just have to mark the correct answer on an answer sheet which will be read by a computer. https://www.jlpt.jp/ .
Sounds easy and good? So why do people struggle to clear this exam? In my view here’s why. Although N5 is supposed to be the most basic level, it covers a wide range of grammar topics involving a lot of verb conjugation, a whole lot of day to day conversational topics and last but not the least, a vocabulary of around 800 words. Of course the paper itself would be in Japanese which means one’s reading skills should be fairly good – decent mastery over Hiragana, Katakana plus around 100 Kanjis for N5. It is worth mentioning here that all the five levels have a section allotted just for reading comprehension passages.
So is the exam then too tough? Not really!! Not if you avoid the below mistakes that beginners tend to make
- Giving yourself very less time: This is a new language and might I say a new way of thinking and gateway to a whole new culture. For e.g. in Japanese it is usually “doing that is not good” (shite wa ikemasen) and not “don’t do that” or “you can’t do that!”(suru na or sore wa dame desu yo). Once you start enjoying these minor differences, learning becomes fun. You will need a minimum of 6 months to internalize the grammar and go through all the required material thoroughly.
- Being disorganized: Like I mentioned earlier, even the basic N5 is not an exam that you can clear by trying to cram things a few days before the exam. Use flash cards and cell phone apps to stay in touch with the language on a day to day basis.
- Sticking to just the books: This may seem like a minor point but it does help to use the wealth of materials available for free online. Watching animes/ dramas (viki.com is a legal streaming site) is a fun way pick up spoken Japanese. Free apps such as “kanji flash cards” have the Kanjis listed out level wise and even help with the stroke order. Learning from multiple sources can make the whole process of learning more interesting.
More about JLPT study materials to follow. Planning to put up all the materials that I have created over the years on this site. Watch this space!!