A few weeks ago I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test(JLPT
) for the first time. After two years of Japanese classes and continued practice through self study and a weekly Language Exchange, I wanted to see how I would do on the test.
The Japanese Language proficiency test is divided into 5 levels with level N5 being the easiest and N1 the most difficult. Earlier in the year I bought an N4 practice test and did pretty well on it so I decided to try the N3 test.
The test is divided into three parts and is multiple choice. The fist and shortest section focuses on vocabulary and kanji. I think that the trickiest part of this section is remembering how to spell certain kanji in hiragana. Sometimes I’m not sure if I need a small っ or a long おう. The second part of the test focuses on reading and grammar. The grammar section is definitely challenging, but the reading section uses furigana for some of the harder kanji which makes things a little easier. The final section is all listening. Each question is only played once and some of the speakers talk quickly so there isn’t a lot of time to think about your answers.
I decided to focus on studying the grammar and vocabulary sections first. I was pretty comfortable with the kanji, and I thought that it would be easier to practice reading and listening after learning more words and sentence patterns. A few weeks before the test I downloaded sample listening questions so I could get used to how fast they were spoken. I took a few N3 practice tests before the real thing to try and see where I needed the most work. I usually did pretty well on everything except the grammar portion. I usually only got about 70% of the grammar questions right. At least I knew what I needed to focus on.
The test was held in several cities around the U.S. on Sunday December 6th. I took my test at a small university. At registration time everyone taking the test lined up according to level. Over 30 people had signed up for the N3 test, with even more taking N4 and N4. Once registration was complete, I went to the classroom where the N3 test was administered. There were three proctors in the classroom who checked everyone’s ID and made sure that we were all sitting in our assigned seats. Before the test began, we were handed three answer sheets, one for each section of the test. Once the vocabulary and kanji question booklets were handed out, one of the proctors read the instructions to us in English and we had 30 minutes to complete the section.
I finished with several minutes to spare, so I went back and looked over some of my answers. I felt pretty good after the first section, but I knew that the harder parts were still to come. After a twenty minute break, the proctors handed out the reading and grammar section of the test, which was considerably longer. We had 70 minutes to complete this part, and I used every second. I felt unsure about many of my answers and wished that I had a little more time to read some of the questions again. After another break, the proctors handed out the final question booklet for the listening portion of the test. This section lasted 40 minutes and all of the questions involved listening to a CD that was played over speakers in the classroom. I thought some of the questions were a little hard to hear, but I might have just been tired.
I’m not sure how I did on the test, but I’m glad I took it. It was a good experience and really encouraged me to focus on the parts of the language that I’m weak in. The results won’t be announced until February, but no matter the outcome it was definitely worth doing.