Is it true that even natives Japanese people will struggle on JLPT N1?

Sorry, I got mixed up. The two (reasonably big) bookstores I can think of in Kyoto at the moment are the one on Shijou street and the one near Shiyakusho-mae station in the underground mall. In both there's about an equal quantity of JLPT and 日本語検定 books. There's a lot of foreigners in Kyoto anyway..

I think the kind of person who'd take 日本語検定 would be someone aiming to become a 国語 teacher or something. It's nowhere near Kanken in terms of popularity.
Edited: 2012-12-09, 10:05 am
It's definitely true that the Kanken is a more popular test.
The Junkudo on Shijou has a pretty good selection of English language books and JaaSL books.

I would agree that pretty much any bookstore's selection of 日本語検定 books is very small, but it's still plausible that most Japanese people would have some idea what it is and no idea what the JLPT is.
Edited: 2012-12-09, 10:16 am
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Not true. Just about any native Japanese person can pass JLPT N1.

I'm talking high school drop-outs, uneducated thugs and gangsters...they can pass it easily (note that I said PASS, not do well on it). The listening portions would be a joke to them, and the parts with the pictures and stuff.
JimmySeal Wrote:The Junkudo on Shijou has a pretty good selection of English language books and JaaSL books.
For some reason I never even though of checking that one out though I've walked by it a bunch of times. I go to the Junkudo in the BAL building on Kawaramachi between Sanjo and Shijo. Do you know which has the better English seletion?
I didn't look very closely but I think they have a similar range on sale.
For comparison try taking the highest level of TOEIC and see if you can pass it. A few of the questions in my opinion could have had multiple answers and I think I got a few wrong when I took it, but for the most part it's really easy and pretty much everyone I know could pass it easily.
Hi! Just a quick question: I have the KanKen 2 game for Nintendo DS. Can I use this as a supplement to JLPT N1?
sherlock Wrote:Hi! Just a quick question: I have the KanKen 2 game for Nintendo DS. Can I use this as a supplement to JLPT N1?
I wouldn't recommend it. You'd probably be much better off using something like Core 10k.
sherlock Wrote:Hi! Just a quick question: I have the KanKen 2 game for Nintendo DS. Can I use this as a supplement to JLPT N1?
What do you mean by "a supplement to JLPT N1"? The Kanken game won't be much help aside from passing the Kanken, but I'm not sure what you're looking for exactly.
I have personally found that doing Kanken improves your ability to use the correct characters, keep them distinct, and also get a deeper understanding of them. But I couldn't say it's effective use of time in order to pass JLPT. As with most things, it's a good idea to make your own opinion based on what information you find and what's important to you.

I'm sure it is true, for a significant percentage of natives. Doesn't mean there's something wrong with the test, though. I suspect anyone taking JLPT N1 does so looking to prove that they have a high level of literacy.

Plenty of Americans or Brits would struggle with any kind of an advanced English test as well. If you look deeper into the literacy scores of high school graduates in the US or most European countries, (deeper than the official government figures on literacy, which are usually 99% or more), you'll find that a large percentage (30-40%) are actually functionally illiterate. They are only classified as literate by bureaucrats using absurdly low standards, in an effort to pad the numbers.

It comes as no surprise that the same thing is being done in Japan. Education is socialized pretty much across the world, and all socialist systems pad the numbers.
Socialism may refer to "absurd" standards in your opinion, but I doubt that this kind of statement belongs to the present thread…

I would suggest that we refrain from igniting flame wars here ;-)
Seriously, most high schoolers would pass the JLPT1 with flying colors, it is challenging enough for foreign students but it doesn't include especially hard Japanese. Kanken 2 and up are way harder.
Edited: 2014-07-21, 3:01 pm
Though JLPT N1 is -in theory- totally do-able for Japanese natives, I believe it could pose problems to certain kinds of people.

I've had Japanese natives look at my JLPT books, even as low as N3, and they were finding words/phrases that "no one uses" - which I totally believe. If N3 contains uncommon terms/grammar, then N1 must be chock full of it.

So, it's not that N1 is 'too hard' for natives, it just has uncommon words (and an ungodly list of rare synonyms for simple words) that you should know to be considered fluent BUT don't necessarily use in your daily life.
It's the same as if you were to look at TOEIC books... I'm like 'wow no one says that' or 'oh, I know that word but would never need to use it.'
Edited: 2015-11-29, 9:55 am
As I said 3 years ago when this topic first came up, when Japanese people say "no one uses this", they (mostly) don't mean it. And that's certainly true of N3 -- there is nothing on that test that no one uses. What "No one uses this" means is "I would not use this in casual conversation with friends", or sometimes "I can see you're struggling, I will make you feel better by downgrading the importance of what you're struggling with."

When you're talking about N1 it might be more accurate if a native speaker says that they don't use it -- some of the grammar on N1 is only used in formal writing, and if the Japanese person in question doesn't do any formal writing, they may very well not use that N1 grammar.
I've seen a lot of 'N1 vocab' and 'N1 grammar points' in books written for elementary school kids. People who say that 'no one uses this' are being untruthful in a way that's extremely common socially in Japan.
(2015-11-29, 12:46 pm)Tzadeck Wrote: I've seen a lot of 'N1 vocab' and 'N1 grammar points' in books written for elementary school kids.  People who say that 'no one uses this' are being untruthful in a way that's extremely common socially in Japan.

I'm glad you say that. I often run into this problem when learning vocab and deciding which words to put into anki or not. For example, yesterday I was watching this commercial on fluentu that had the word for "planet" in it. That seemed like a pretty obvious word, but when I went to it listed it as an "N1" word. So I had this debate with myself about whether, since I'm only studying for N3, I should bother adding it into anki. I wound up adding it Smile
I've only gotten comments to the extent of "that question was a bit mean" from my tutor. The points themselves aren't hard, but standardized tests are standardized tests, and from what I understand, Japanese standardized tests are especially mean with some of the questions they ask (given the answers they provide). That is, they give you answers that are really easy to confuse if you don't pay close attention to the question and know the point perfectly.

Saying that, I've only gotten that comment on maybe two questions I had problems with, the rest were more along the lines of 'here's what this <word, grammar, phrase> means, it's pretty easy now, right?', and they were. (One of the reasons I've stuck with this tutor for a year; I don't appreciate being patronized when I'm trying to learn, learning won't happen without mistakes.)
"Is it true that even natives Japanese people will struggle on JLPT N1?" --> Definitely. However there is a difference when the native fails the test compared to the foreigner:

The foreigner is trying to find the correct answer to the questions in the test, and when he fails, it means he didn't find enough correct answers.

The native is trying to find the answer to the question: "Why are they asking these stupid assinine questions in this test???" By the time they come up with a correct answer the time is up. Thus they fail as well Big Grin
Kinokuniya in Shinjuku has -tons- of JLPT books just like you find on Amazon or whatever. It's a huge book store though - I wouldn't expect to find much of anything geared towards foreigners in the smaller stores. It's really refreshing seeing so many bookstores in Tokyo - it's like going back in time to pre-Amazon in the US.

Just to give my two cents regarding the N1 and natives. I agree it's hard to believe that a native speaking adult would fail to -pass- the test but I could see them getting stuff wrong too. I've shown 新完全マスター N2 grammar exercises to Japanese tutors online via Skype. It's really a good litmus test on how good your tutor is at language. I had a tutor from Japanese Online University, a really good website for studying I think, and she was dead on balls accurate regarding the answers to the questions and had no hesitation whatsoever. I had a girl from iTalki (who was really cute and fun to study with) who got stumped on some of the questions and was just plain wrong at times. As a native speaker I'm sure the Japanese coming out of her mouth was perfect but she just didn't know the finer grammar points and got tripped up a little.

Also, I had an American co-worker at my company who did an exchange program where she studied for a year (or 2 I'm not sure) at a Japanese high school, not a few weeks but the academic year, and then went back to teach English with JET four a couple years. Per what she told me, a lot of Japanese high school kids struggle with kanji. She herself failed to pass the N2 after doing JET because she's weak at kanji. Depending on what kanji they get on the N1 they might have a hard time if they're weak at kanji. I think that clears up more after they've become adults however. But I was studying with a girl studying English using some NHK TOEIC material... it had a script and as the speaker spoke the Japanese for 遭う she wrote in furigana above it. I teased her a bit. It's a Heisig kanji after all, everyone should know it but I guess people have their kanji weak points. Don't get me wrong - she's better at kanji than I am I'm sure but kanji are hard.

I still think any educated Japanese person would pass the N1 without any preparation whatsoever and not the barely passing scores we foreigners often get but a good strong one.
I was reading this thread yesterday before I left to go to a club meeting. I got there early so I could study for N2 a little bit, and one of my Japanese friends stopped to chat for a little bit before going to class, so I showed her some of the grammar problems I worked on the day before (which kicked my ass, to be honest). For the record, this is from the 模擬試験 第1回 in 新完全マスターN2 文法 book. These are the two questions she tried:

1) 就職する( )、林先生には大変お世話になりました。
1 において 2 にあたって 3 にかけて 4 にともなって

2) このメーカーは、デジタルカメラや携帯電話( )製品を多く作っている。
1 という 2 といった 3 とする 4 とした

She never gave me an answer for the first question before asking me what the right answer was, so I don't know if she got it right or not. For the second, she narrowed it down to "という", "といった", and "とした" before narrowing it down further to "という" and "といった". After forcing her to pick one, she decided on "といった" (the right answer), but was still adamant that "という" could be valid as well. In this girl's case, judging by how much time and debating she had to do for both questions, she would probably run out of time before she could answer everything on N1. Tongue

My other experiences have usually been showing friends a random question from the reading section that I got completely wrong and couldn't figure out why my answer wasn't right, so I would ask them what they thought the answer was and why my answer wasn't right. *Almost* every time they gave me the right answer but sometimes they would also say that the passage/problem was worded to be intentionally tricky and why, then try to explain why my answer wasn't right.

Overall, I'd say I have as much faith in a random Japanese person being able to pass the JLPT N1 as I do a random American being able to pass something equivalent to JLPT N1 for English. I can think quite a few people off the top of my head that I think would probably struggle to pass an equivalent English test, and I can also think of a lot of people who I think wouldn't have any issue with it.
That page contains the questions for the hardest level of the Eiken English exam that is popular in Japan. From those past questions I'm fairly sure any decently-educated native English speaker could pass it.
Is the Eiken 1級 even comparable to the N1 on the JLPT? I've always placed the TOEIC as more comparable to the JLPT.