Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Tony-S10

I am just wondering if anyone else has booked in for this test while registration periods are open. They are only held twice a year.

I have taken the plunge and booked in and paid for the test to take this December in Sydney. There are 5 levels to select from and I opted to go for one level below what I thought I was capable of just to be sure. There are many books and examples that I have managed to get a hold of and unlike the testing parts here all of the test is in Japanese with absolutely no English in the questions at all. I am confident but also nervous about it and look forward to sitting the test to see how my skills stand up to their official levels of certification.

I have been to Japan about 6 times now for holidays and karate training and while I am confident to get around the country, I have to admit it is one tough language to learn. You either use it or lose it and no matter what you think you know there are always other ways of speaking that you keep learning about.

By sitting the test in December I will not have the results until January some time but I can view my scores online some time after.

WilliamW14

Hi Tony I did the N5 in July whilst I was in Japan and passed. As you will know the test is in three sections. The best advice I can give for parts 1 and 2 (Kanji then Grammar) is get hold of the past papers and then try and answer the questions in the time allowed.The more practice the faster you'll get. This is really important for the later questions in the 2nd section where you have to read passages and then answer questions. The last section is the listening test, same again, download or somehow get a hold of sample Q & A and practice regularly. Best of luck

ClaudiaR13

Tony, please let us know how you did, and whatever remarks about it you care to share.  I'd be interested in hearing about it.  Thanks!

Tony-S10

I will keep everyone posted here when it is done in December. I have over 5 books including sample tests to go through. At the moment by putting pen to paper I can confidently write about 180 kanji and can read or understand just over 200.

It is the vocabulary I am more worried about as I know to expect many more words that I have not covered in any of the areas I study Japanese.

WilliamW14

Hi Tony, if that is your main concern then I recommend you go to the nihongoichiban.com web site. There you can download a pdf of all of the vocabulary you need for N5 (800 words), N4 (1500 words). There are other pdfs for adjectives & verbs, it's quite good material most importantly it's free. Your kanji skills are impressive, the vocab pdfs have the kanji you need to know alongside the hiragana in red so you'll quite easily be able to see which kanji you don't know. I hope this helps.

Tony-S10

I am working on vocabulary at the moment. I have a computer program that is no longer sold but still works where I use flash cards. It used to be called BYKI or Before You Know it sold by Transparent Languages. The benefit of the flash card program was that you could create your own flash cards and save the audio files for memory retention. While some people hate flashcards, I love them as the pronunciation is the one key factor that they are helpful with rather than just looking it up in a dictionary.

At the moment I have arranged to meet a Japanese student in Sydney who is looking for work and I am actually paying her to recite into an audio recorder all the 1500 words in the N4 vocabulary book as well as other words and sentences. Once I have it on audio I can then create the flash cards I need with a native Japanese voice and then keep smashing through the flash cards for the next two months. 

WilliamW14

I agree with you on the flash cards, it's one of the reasons I like Rocket. It sounds like you've got your bases covered. I'm fortunate enough to have a Japanese fiancee to keep my skills in shape, I'll be doing the N4 next July as the exams date fits in with my leave pattern. The one thing I will advise you on is the time you have to complete each paper, make sure you have a watch, in Japan they don't call out how much time you have left, I don't know about Oz. The good thing is it's multiple choice, one answer from four choices, so if you are running out of time with the longer questions just pick an answer and hope it's right. Don't forget a 2B pencil and eraser.

Tony-S10

Just an update about the upcoming test.

I have been working the flash cards big time including my own program where I have created my own custom cards. 

I hope to have my vocabulary over 3500 words by the time I take it.

I have taken a series of past tests to test myself and it is the silly mistakes I worry about like knowing the answer but selecting the wrong corresponding selection box for the answer. 

When I take the N5 tests everything seems easy and clear to do. N4 is weird because I can get through it but there are always obscure kanji that I cannot recognise despite pushing around the 200 mark of kanji learnt.

From the instructions on the email it appears there are different rooms to enter for each section. We are not permitted to enter the listening section room late under any circumstances. 

ClaudiaR13

It sounds tough.  I can't wait to hear an update after the test.  Maybe one day I'll give it a try, too.

WilliamW14

One of the most important things to remember Tony is that everyone makes mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Keep up with the test practice you'll be amazed what happens when you get to the exams, suddenly it will all come into focus.  As for the Kanji I'm afraid that the examiners have a nasty habit of putting in some of the more obscure ones  just to see how much you actually have been studying, the number you need to know at this level is 320. Don't focus too much on the onyomi and kunyomi readings at the moment that is required more for the N3, just try and memorise the relevant hirigana (occasionally katakana) words. 

Tony-S10

Thanks for that information. I suppose with the Kanji being multiple choice it can be somewhat easier to recognise in a list if you have seen the kanji before but not necessarily know how to write it. When I say I know Kanji it is not just reading it, it is being able to put pen to paper and write it as well. If I cannot do that then I do not count it as knowing the kanji.

From all the practice papers it appears there are trick questions as I like to call them. It is designed to test Japanese ability so I suppose they are to be expected. Particularly the audio questions You could be listening to an audio conversation in a practice exam and two people agree on  meeting each other at a particular time then at the very last part of the sentence they slip in a like lets make it 15 minutes beforehand to be better. Obviously it leads you in one direction but if you are not paying attention you will get the question wrong.

This week I am going to book and pay for a hotel room in Sydney the night before and will take the drive to Sydney the day before and get to know the bus route to the University campus where the Japanese association does the exam. I have lived close to the university before when I was in the Navy so know the area but the city is still some distance from where I live now. I am looking forward to it and am excited but I know it is not something I can take for granted or be overly confident with.

WilliamW14

The thing I find with Kanji is to make lists with the ones that look similar to each other because that is where I found most of my mistakes were coming from. Different people have different approaches to exams, my technique is to blitz through a paper answering the questions I know 100% then going back over the ones I'm less sure of. As I said before time is your greatest enemy in this test format, with the N5 I did manage to complete the first two sections with time to spare for checking but it was tight, that's why having a watch is important (no smart watches allowed by the way). Keep practicing and best of luck on the day, strangely enough the harder you study the luckier you get.

Tony-S10

Thanks for that other bit of information. I am guessing a fitbit watch is not allowed on my wrist then....

I think my test technique is the same as yours. I have blitzed through books last night and surprised myself.

I am not sure if you have ever hear of BYKI or a flashcard program by transparent language. They no longer market the PC based flash card program but I still have the program on my computer and can custom load cards made relevant to N4 test. The benefit is that it has a game/quiz where the reverse of the cards are flashed from anywhere up to the 2000 to 3000 I have in the system and I have to identify the back from the Kanji. I will use that in the lead up to the test more.

My conundrum is that I can understand much more Japanese than I can produce. With audio listening I have been to the JLPT website and tried the practice questions. By the time I got to N2 I could not answer many written questions but by the time I got to audio I scored 4 out of 5 questions. N1 I could not get any and gave up.

WilliamW14

I'm afraid the fit bit watch is out if, as I suspect , the examination rules are uniformly applied. I know about BYKI, I used it many years ago for learning German, I'll have to see if I still have it lurking around somewhere on a hard-drive. The understanding/ producing issue you have will only be resolved by spending more time using what you have learnt. I'm fortunate in that I am in Japan regularly enough to keep my skills up and I am improving a little bit more each day that I'm here, so please don't give up. For your audio skills the Minna Na Nihongo series actually have books that comprise of audio and questions only and the speech is delivered at normal (a lot faster than N5 & 4 ) pace. They have 25 test tracks, each one getting progressively harder,the good thing is that each of the passages is written in the back with the answers so you can practice both listening and reading at the same time, it's also a handy way of making sure you are getting the grammar right.

Tony-S10

Thanks, looks like I will be wearing a proper watch.

BYKI was good. I had to manually change many things to correct the translation as I got better. Americanisations are one major problem with some flash cards and English words that Australians and British people do not use at all or use for an entirely different purpose. Overall I think this Rocket Website was better managed as it taught grammar and sentence structure to a point but has some random oddities about it. If I combine both then it seems to work best for me.

As for my trips to Japan they are becoming more frequent and with my Karate training it appears my club would like to do more exchanges in Japan so I anticipate more trips there.

WilliamW14

Thanks for the BYKI tips Tony, much appreciated. Like anything else trying to find out what type of learning is best for any individual is a bit hit and miss. I use a blended learning approach using various data sources, books, Rocket and private tuition (I do 2 hours a week at the Kobe YMCA). The main reason I like this particular product is that it is very good for casual conversation, I'm now understanding a lot more of what is going on around me out here. just like English, very few people talk formally all of the time. In the meantime, Claudia, if you are reading in, the next exam date for the JLPT tests is 7th July 2019, applications can be done on line, you'll be able to find your closest examination centre on the JLPT website. All of the different levels N5 to N1 are carried out on the same day, why not try the N5, the test is all multiple choice and there is no oral test so you won't ave to worry about your speaking skills.

ClaudiaR13

I might well take the N5 one day.  Not sure I'd be ready next July, but that's something to aspire to.  Thanks, WilliamW14.

WilliamW14

It's always good to set yourself a target Claudia, why not get on line and try some self testing on N5 to see how far you have progressed. There are plenty of free sites out there, taking the small tests show you where you need to improve on your grammar skills, vocabulary skills etc. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you actually know. If you are worried about the Kanji look at it this way, you need  to know 120 Kanji for N5, there are about 230 days to the next exam, so that works out at learning less than one kanji per day.

ClaudiaR13

Maybe I will sign up for the N5.   I'm learning Kanji on Wanikani and, according to their stats, I'm almost ready for N5 Kanjiwise.  The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. 

WilliamW14

There's plenty of time to consider before the application date next year Claudia, but why not ? If you need any help I'm sure that both myself and Tony will help you get on the right track .

ClaudiaR13

I will count on that, WilliamW14, if I decide to spring for it.  Thanks!

Tony-S10

Thank, I have never heard of Wanikani before. I have been mainly using the PG O'Neil Essential Kanji book.

To be very honest with you I was certain that I could pass the N4 exam. However given that I am a self learning adult and only had two years of this in high school about 24 years ago I decided it would be sensible to start at N5 and then to N4 on the following test.

If you go to the JLPT website you can do test questions. That may help you.

By looking at the website I am assuming it is 120 written questions and 60 listening questions. 

I know the pen to paper questions you can go over but I am not sure if the listening ones are once only or if you are given a device that you can replay in your own time.

WilliamW14

Hi Tony, I'm not sure if I read this right but just in case the JLPT N5 exam goes as follows-:
1st paper- 25 minutes , 33 questions multiple choice ( any one from 4)  1-10 pick the Hiragana/Katakana
11-18 pick the Kanji  19-33 pick the correct word for the sentence

2nd paper -50 minutes, this is the grammar paper, 32 questions, multiple choice as above
1-16 pick the correct particle, copula and statement
17-21 re-arrange the words to make a sentence, four words, then pick the word where the star in the spaces should fit.
22-26 two reading passages, pick the correct word to fit in where the question numbers are
27 a reading passage, pick the correct answer from the information in the passage
28 a reading passage, pick the correct picture from the information in the passage
29 a reading passage, this time a letter or e-mail pick the correct answer from the information in the passage
30 & 31  a very big reading passage, pick the correct answer from the information given, make sure you interpret the questions correctly
32 an information mining question, could be on garbage days, supermarket best price day, hotels for holidays, usually contains a possible two correct answer answer (if that makes sense)
29-32 are the real problem as they can really consume your time, if you are hitting the time barrier at this point just mark an answer and hope for the best. (I was told this by my delightful teacher)
3rd paper - the audio part, 30 minutes. The passages are read out over a pa system they are only read out ONCE they are not repeated so please listen carefully.
4 sections
1 - 7 questions pick the correct picture 5 questions, two questions are pick the correct amount
2- 6 questions, pick the correct place, telephone number,object, colour etc
3- 5 picture questions, what is the person saying, this is where it gets difficult. The answers are spoken (which one from the four given)not written down, once again they will not be repeated
4- 6 questions, you are allowed to take notes, having a good memory is an advantage at this point. You can actually take notes, the one time you are actually allowed to write on the paper.  
A passage will be read out, then the each question will be read out followed by the four possible answers to that question.
I know it sounds a bit daunting but if you put in the practice you'll be fine.
By the way I'm a bit like yourself, a self learning adult with occasional extra bits, I started 2 years back, but I'm a wee bit older I think as I've been at sea these past 37 years.
 

ClaudiaR13

This is incredible information!  It sounds like it would take some practice.  But it's great to have an idea of what to expect.  I'd really have to practice the audio part, as I am a serious visual learner and don't remember much I hear.  Thanks.
 

ClaudiaR13

Wanikani.com is a very good Kanji learning program.  It is a spaced repetitive program.  You are introduced to various radicals, kanji, and vocabulary written in kanji, and then get lots of review.  They provide extra review on items you miss more often.  It covers, I think, 2000 common kanji and is aligned to the JLPT.  It's a tough program, and that's why I like it.  You actually learn.  It's also a paid program, but I think well worth the price.

WilliamW14

Hi Claudia, the JLPT people The Japan Foundation (JEES) actually print a mock exam book that comes with a CD for  the audio part of the test. I got my copy from Amazon, the ISBN code is
ISBN978-4-89358-821-9. I'm not sure how much it will be it cost £10.42 in the UK. It is worthwhile getting a copy because then you can see how the actual exam is laid out. They stopped producing past papers when they changed to the new exam format, because they suspected that people were memorising the answers from the past paper. It's one of the reasons that some of the more difficult suddenly appear in the questions

ClaudiaR13

I will get that.  I like a challenge, and the JLPT sounds like a challenge.  Thanks for the information.  This is great motivation.

WilliamW14

Forgot to mention, in the audio sections 3 and 4 you only have to pick one from three possible answers. Also they always read out an example question at the start each section, the answer will be marked on the answer sheet. As for the Kanji program, I'll give that a whirl after I've done the N4 as I think it'll come in really handy for the N3.

ClaudiaR13

Yes, I think you would like the Wanikani program.  It is a paid program like Rocket, but I hear they have a big sale around Christmas time.  I'll be buying a lifetime subscription when the sale comes on this year.

Thanks again for the information on the test.  I just may try it this time next year.

Tony-S10

Thanks for the info and Claudia I suggest you do look into those books. I have several mock question books as well as text/learning books.

I am feeling a boost of confidence now as I just took out the final CD I have not listened to and scored 22 out of 24 audio questions in the N5 book supplied by ASK Publishing ISBN978-4-86339-076-5.

I believe I may also have the same one above as William but with a final digit 0 in the ISBN instead of 9. With that book I am doing very well and has made me think that I can pass the test.

I think for me personally it will just be the grammar that will be the drama as I am known to stuff up particle positions my skimming and misreading and that is my biggest weakness.
 

ClaudiaR13

Tony, I will get those books.  I might be surprised at what I already know.  It will also be grammar that I have to study more at this point.  Thanks to Rocket, my vocabulary is pretty good for the stage I'm in.  Kanji is coming along steadily.    So grammar and listening will be my work points.

WilliamW14

Thanks for correcting my typo Tony, the final number is a 0 not a 9, once again modern tech baffles old git.

ClaudiaR13

Thanks, Tony.  That will help me when I order the books.

Tony-S10

Not a problem. I think the books really supplement the course in a big way because you get to put pen to paper and there are self tests as well. Unlike the tests in this module where questions are in English, there is no English in the practice tests in the text books. I am really liking the Nihongo So-matome N5 book at the moment. It is helping me a great deal.

ClaudiaR13

Sounds like they would be a big help to me as well.

I just came back from an International Festival in Alabama where I spoke to several Nihon-jin in Japanese.  They gave me the answers I was expecting, so I assume I spoke pretty good Japanese, even if it was just baby Japanese.   They seemed surprised to hear their own language spoken, but pleased at the same time, and it was amazing  how much time they gave me to speak with them.  It made me feel more confident in my speaking ability, even if it was on a low level. 

WilliamW14

I had a wee bit of fun at the weekend as well, I was helping my friend out at his place during the Kobe marathon, selling hotdogs and beer of all things. My Japanese customers were pleasantly surprised and very kind in complimenting my language skills, although to be honest I think they were just being kind. But it was a very good way of getting over my small fear of talking to complete Japanese strangers in public. I think I'll have to do it more often as, as you say, it gives the confidence levels a real boost.

Tony-S10

I have got to admit I have done it before in Japan and wondered how I did it. I was there in July at a random train station close to Kanazawa and had to call a taxi to the train station to get me back to the cruise ship. I asked if anyone at the station could call for me and they showed me the list of numbers and told me which one was the fastest taxi service and left me to call them. It was the first time I mad a phone call entirely in Japanese where the operator could not speak English and I am surprised that it worked and I got the taxi in a quick amount of time and taken to where I needed to go.

Back to the test. It is the grammar example questions that are making my head spin.

Take this for example straight from the book.

* に入るものはどれですか。1,2,3,4から一番いい物を一つ選んで下さい。

リンさん、魚は好きですか。

はい、好きです。私 ____ ____ __*_ ____ 人参だけです

1きらいな 2 は 3 の 4 もの

Basically you have to complete the sentence with the words below it but it also means you need to know all the vocabulary and cannot guess. Many of the questions are structured in such a deliberate way that you cannot fluke it and get it right with just one word mixed up unless you simply do not know the language.

The answer where the star is is the number that corresponds to the multiple choice answer form. However I have been trying to answer all of them just to be sure. I am fairly accurate, the one above I got right straight away but a few others I am stumbling on.

WilliamW14

Hi Tony, this, I'm afraid, is where the book (grammatical) learning bit comes in. At N5 it's always the correct grammatical form of rearrangement that they are looking for. The less formal ways, the language is actually flexible up to a point as you are aware, are not part of the test. So the only way to get things right I'm afraid is............... more practice. Keep going and you'll be fine.

ClaudiaR13

It looks like I have plenty more to cover, too.

Tony-S10

Keep going for it and I hope you try the test too. One thing I can say about this course is that it really helps with pronunciation better than anything else particularly if you are like me and attempt the rocket record and are not satisfied with 100% recording on everything. The best feedback I have had from native Japanese people is that my pronunciation is perfect and in some sentences could pass as native. That is what I really like about this website.

If you did not get the above the answer is 3, 1, 4, 2. Which would make the sentence 私のきらいなものは人参だけです。 So the answer of the multiple choice where the star is would be 4. Translation would be something like "The only food I dislike is carrots"

As with what William says above speaking it in Japan is one thing and how they speak is interesting. Doing a grammar test is something totally different.

ClaudiaR13

Tony, although the people I met at the Festival didn't say so, their body language seemed to suggest that I was pronouncing things well.  They were all smiles and bows and continued conversation.  I know smiles and bows are probably just polite, but they didn't cut me off to talk to any of the other people.  I also was giving Rocket Japanese all the credit for that.  I'm sure I would not have been able to say anything without Rocket.   SO, THANK YOU ROCKET JAPANESE!!!

I can guarantee I'll be doing lots more grammar from here to whenever I take the test.  I'm seriously considering next year around this time.  I think I've seen they do the test in Memphis, and I'm only a few hours from there.  I will order the test book in December when I get my pension cost-of-living check!

Thanks for the sample question.  I can get my Japanese-speaking aide to make some of those to play around with.  That would be a huge help.

WilliamW14

Hi Claudia, you can also get plenty of sample questions for free on-line, just type JLPT N5 test in a search and see what pops up. Also there are lots of free downloads, nihongoichiban, Meguro Learning Centre (MLC are based in Tokyo), lots of learning tips as well, nihongoshark,jlptbootcamp etc. With the downloads for vocabulary and  Kanji the handy thing is that they only list what you need to know for that level of test. For example, you may know 300 Kanji off by heart, you only need to know 103 (although some say 120) for the test. However as you know here are thousands of Kanji,so which of those 300 that you know are in the list of the 103 you need to know for the test ? The same goes for the vocabulary, if you have a list you can go through it and see which words you do not know. This means you can then focus your efforts on the things you need to know for the test. As I mentioned to Tony the grammar is important, a lot of people have trouble with particle placement (that is in the test)me included. You have to learn the sentence patterns. I know it sounds difficult but keep practicing, I find that learning to read simple passages helps. Read them out out loud, and you will notice that certain patterns repeat themselves. Eventually you'll find yourself naturally filling in the particles in your head, as well as the correct grammar forms for adjectives, verbs etc.

ClaudiaR13

You and Tony are really encouraging and very helpful.  You make me WANT to do the test.  Thanks, both of you!

WilliamW14

Your are more than welcome Claudia, apart from anything else it gives you something tangible to show for all of your hard efforts. Many years back a high school teacher gave me some excellent advice and that was " Never stop learning".

ClaudiaR13

My father told us the same thing, and he kept learning new things well into his 80's.  Then he got dementia.  That's part of the reason I am learning Japanese, to keep my brain healthy.  Anyway, I would love to have a "Pass" certificate hanging on my wall for the N5 and then more.

WilliamW14

A healthy, positive attitude like that will get you anywhere you wish to go Claudia, keep it up.

ClaudiaR13

Thank you!

Tony-S10

One week to go now for the test. I think I am ready but still need plenty of study and revision. 

ClaudiaR13

Good luck with it.
 

Tony-S10

Thanks. I am pushing it with my ability but I am probably going to enrol for the N4 in December and attempt it in July and will try and aim for N3 by next year. I know it will be tough but if I set the challenge ahead of me and know there is a set deadline then it motivates me.

I do not think I will ever get to N1 level. If I can achieve N3 then I will be very happy.

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