For most people, whether they celebrate Christmas or not, this time of year means something special. It’s the end of the year and a time to reflect and make new plans – or if you’re learning Japanese – a time to take the JLPT exam.
The JLPT is held twice a year in July and December. However, most countries only offer the December test, and Denmark is no different. I passed the N4 level last year and this year I decided to challenge myself to the N3 level. The N3 is an intermediate level, that covers mostly daily spoken Japanese. You can see here below how the level is officially defined.
I took the test at Copenhagen Business School just as I did last year. It’s only a 3-hour train ride from my house, so I decided to just make a day trip out of it. Given that there might be train delays this strategy is perhaps a bit risky for an exam, but thankfully everything went smoothly.
I arrived at the test site more than an hour before the test began, so I had plenty of time to find the correct classroom and do a quick bathroom run. There were people lined up outside the rooms for all the levels (N5 through N1). In my N3 we were just over 20 people taking the test.
I had prepared for the exam by reading the first volume of the Quartet textbooks and the first half of the second half. This should cover most of the N3 level grammar and vocabulary plus a little extra. On top of that, for the past few months, I had systematically studied with a Korean prep book for the JLPT that contained tons of exercises, tips, and examples. I always say that cramming for a language test doesn’t make me better at the language but I do become extremely good at taking the test. On the plus side, I find that cramming intensively does make me better at acquiring and retaining vocabulary and grammar, so it definitely expands my knowledge of the language.
The test consisted of three parts – vocabulary, grammar & reading, and listening. I didn’t feel I had any particular weak spots, but the listening part of last year’s test was much harder than I had expected, so I had made sure to practice extra hard for that. That meant that for the entire week leading up to the exam, I only listened to Japanese – and preferably N3 listening exercises. Maybe it helped, maybe this test was easier, but I didn’t find listening to be that hard this time around. In fact, I had a feeling when I left the room that the whole test hat been a breeze. I’m confident that I have passed, although I won’t know the actual result until the end of January. Hopefully the score will match my evalution of my own performance.
I haven’t yet decided whether or not to make an attempt at the N2 next year, but knowing myself I very well might just do that. In the meantime, I’m enjoying having time to study Japanese for fun again, and also to finally have some more time for studying Korean.