Tips Japanese Language Proficieny Test
Executive Summary by Jed C. Jones, Ph.D.
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test, or JLPT, is administered only once per year and is taken by about 380,000 (1995 figures) non-native speakers of Japanese each year worldwide. The test is divided into four levels (1-5), with Level 1 being the most difficult. After 4 years of university study of Japanese in my native country, I doubt I would have passed anything beyond Level 3 of the JLPT upon graduation.
Tip #1: Buy and use blank note cards religiously: I prefer the type that comes in packs of 100 cards and are bound by a single metal ring. When studying for the JLPT, I filled 35 packs of these cards, or the equivalent of 3,500 words and phrases. I recommend using these cards over electronic kanji or word dictionaries.
Tip #2: Read the hard stuff every day: Read newspapers, books, and other forms of the written word every day – even if you are studying for the Level 4 test and even if you must spend 30 minutes to get through each sentence
Tip #3: Read aloud: Language leverages different parts of our brain depending upon whether we are reading, writing, speaking, or listening.
Tip #4: Speak with as many types of people you can: If you have the opportunity to visit or live in Japan while studying for the test, take the opportunity to speak with every Japanese person you meet: old, young, men, women, teachers, businesspeople, artists, economists, the local fruit vendor: everyone. Once you have filled your pack of cards, attack the cards regularly, testing yourself along the way.
Tip #5: Look up in a dictionary every single word you do not recognize: Treat every word you come across that you do not know as a gold nugget: write it down on one of your blank, ringed note cards (see Tip #1).