On Sunday I finished the JLPT, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, called the 日本語能力試験 in Japanese. This is kind of like the TOEIC test, but to measure Japanese ability for foreigners. Unfortunately, unlike TOEIC it’s only available once a year, meaning if you mess up and fail the level you take, you have to wait an entire year to re-take the test. There are 4 levels (級), with 4 being very basic (I passed this back in high school), and 1 being the most difficult. I took 2級 since I looked at last year’s 1級 exam and it would require a lot more studying than I wanted to do. Level 2 was pretty do-able I think. According to the official site, the requirements to pass level 2 are as follows:
The examinee has mastered grammar to a relatively high level, knows around 1,000 Kanji and 6,000 words, and has the ability to converse, read, and write about matters of a general nature. This level is normally reached after studying Japanese for around 600 hours and after completion of an intermediate course.
While I certainly don’t consider myself anywhere near fluent in Japanese, I’d like to think that my abilities are at least better than just being able to communicate about “matters of a general nature.” The official description for Level 1 says to pass you need to have “an integrated command of the language sufficient for life in Japanese society.” I’m pretty sure that I have been living a pretty sufficient life for the past 15 months, but oh well. I think the descriptions are just off, because like I said, that test looked ridiculous, with kanji and vocabulary that even Japanese people don’t use realistically.
I registered for the test back in September, and even bought some books to help prepare for the test. As should have been expected, I didn’t really do any prep for the test until mid November when I did last year’s exam as a practice test, then some actual studying the week leading up to the actual exam. Oh well. The test went pretty well overall, though more difficult than I was expecting. I think last year’s test seemed easier to me, but I could be wrong. As you only need a 60% (yes, that’s right) to pass levels 2-4, I’m fairly confident I’ll have a certificate being sent to me in February. I’m not going to count my chickens too early though. And yes, we have to wait that long for the results of a scantron test.
No real stories to tell about the test, although during the second section, Listening, some girl in the back of the room’s cell phone went off. At first it was a short alarm, maybe an e-mail, but then it started going off even more. While she may have been able to get by if she’d have shut it off really quickly and acted like it wasn’t her, the proctor finally got up and red carded her, ejecting her from the room and disqualifying her completely. Girl even tried to argue a little bit. Ha, ha. Yes, I have the right to laugh at this girl since the distraction probably cost me a question. Also a Thai girl sitting next to me didn’t even show up until the second test, meaning she already lost 100 of 400 points. On top of that, she didn’t understand the instructions in Japanese that one of the assistant proctors was saying, so I’m under the impression that 2級 was hopeless for her anyway. Overall, the people taking the test were more interesting than the test itself, so that leads me to the next post…