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2016 JLPT N2/N1 Thread: A New Hope

#1
Per popular demand - share your tips, tricks, and travails regarding prep for the 2016 N2/N1 tests!
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#2
Since I did so poorly on grammar last time, I've been working on that the most. I recently finished adding the cards from the Grammar Domination deck, but I might find some other example sentences to review for those same points, based on how I do on the grammar quizzes I have.

I haven't studied any new vocabulary in Anki, but I've been more harsh on reviews; .

My plan to conquer the reading section is to read the things posted on 社説比較くん on top of my pleasure reading (for which I've been trying to find time to continue some web novels I like, since the games I had been playing are getting a bit too easy to read).

For listening practice, I've been watching YouTube videos and listening to some audio dramas (which are a great medium, but I've only found a couple that I like). I'm also doing conversation practice with my tutor, but that's focusing more on my production than my listening comprehension, so I don't think the level is high enough to count all that much towards the JLPT (even though its listening section isn't really that high of a level either).

And this site has been really overhauled, so if I linked to it in the past, those links are probably broken now:
https://ashitane.edutown.jp/quiz/subject/11/
That's just the 国語 quizzes (they have some for all subjects, but it seems to be aimed primarily at elementary and middle school students); I haven't looked through them all yet, but I know they have quizzes on idioms and particles; it's probably good for the N3 thread as well.
I just took the idiom quiz to see if you can still use the site without signing up. Good news: you can. Bad news: I suck at fourth grade level idioms...
Edited: 2016-05-12, 10:55 am
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#3
(2016-05-12, 10:53 am)sholum Wrote: Bad news: I suck at fourth grade level idioms...
I did barely better than average on that one. Thanks for lowering the average, I guess Smile (I got 75, average is 71).
Edited: 2016-05-12, 12:33 pm
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JapanesePod101
#4
For some listening resources:

http://nihongo.hum.tmu.ac.jp/mic-j/home-e.html
Practice listening tests.

http://delvinlanguage.com/
Using clips from media as practice

Both sites for all jlpt levels. Also mentioned in the N4-N5 thread. I've mentioned these resources in N3 thread in the past.
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#5
I'm trying to decide if I should take the n2 or n1 this december. I'm around n2 level right now, so I think I could somewhat easily pass the n2 if I were to take it in december (thus ensuring the "safe" option), but I think I would really be missing a chance to push myself by not signing up for the n1 (and likely fail).
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#6
(2016-05-12, 1:16 pm)sokino Wrote: I'm trying to decide if I should take the n2 or n1 this december. I'm around n2 level right now, so I think I could somewhat easily pass the n2 if I were to take it in december (thus ensuring the "safe" option), but I think I would really be missing a chance to push myself by not signing up for the n1 (and likely fail).

My outlook on this situation (which is how I thought of myself last year) is this:
Unless you need the N2 or N1 qualification in the next year or two, just go for N1. If your ultimate goal for the JLPT is to pass N1, then failing the N1 and passing the N2 have the same result: no N1 certificate this time.
% chance of passing the N1 this year:
By taking the N2: 0%
By taking the N1: X% ; X>0
So take the N1.

That's how I see it at least (I had to explain it to a couple of people who asked why I didn't start lower).
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#7
@gaia, long time no see - I was wondering how you were doing. The last post I saw from you was that you got engaged. Did you guys tie the knot already?

Ari
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#8
I briefly thought about having a "working vacation" somewhere that offered the July test, but realistically, I need the time until December to have a shot at passing N1.

I'm back using Anki again, mostly for vocab. I'm doing a Core 10k sweep, to make sure I have all 10k under my belt, so it's pretty quick for me. Still, I find a decent chunk of words I just haven't seen enough to learn, so it's a good way to pick up vocab I didn't know, but the review speed is pretty fast. Since I'm focusing on vocab readings and definitions only, I'm not getting wrapped up in a crapton of sentences, or long sentences, or any of that, so reviewing is a LOT faster, which makes it a lot less painful.

I'm aiming to finish Core10k by early July. I don't have a problem with adding around 100 new cards a day, since a lot of them are words I already know. I'm not sure about what I'm going to do after that, but I want something that covers all of the vocab and kanji in those N1 review books. (Well, that's a wish, anyway.)

The other thing I'm focusing on is 読解. I mentioned this in another thread, but this book is great:
http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4757419295/

You get a 5-6 paragraph essay (48 essays in 14 topics), a clump of multiple-choice questions (some are grammar, some are reading comp), then 2-3 written essay-style questions, and a couple of "discussion" questions that could also be written, too. Since reading comp has been my real weak spot, I've been using this book with my tutor, and I feel like I've been improving. I suppose I should drag out some 読解 books and double-check at some point.

There's a 中級 level version, too:
http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/4757416229/
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#9
I originally decided a few months ago that I was going to take N1 this year and even wrote such in my resume, but holy crap dealing with school while job searching and taking interviews (with Japanese companies!) takes up so much more time than I thought. My goal is to start working in Japan next year (as a programmer) and I feel fairly confident about my chances now, so I will probably resume my attempt at N1 maybe at the end of next year or summer of 2018. I figure a year or so of working in a Japanese office should help me score those precious listening points that I would probably miss out on this year. I might still take N1 this December just to take it and see where I stand at least.

(2016-05-12, 1:16 pm)sokino Wrote: I'm trying to decide if I should take the n2 or n1 this december. I'm around n2 level right now, so I think I could somewhat easily pass the n2 if I were to take it in december (thus ensuring the "safe" option), but I think I would really be missing a chance to push myself by not signing up for the n1 (and likely fail).
Just going to agree with what sholum said: If you need to have N2 for something then take that one, but if your goal is just to get N1 then try taking N1 and see what you need to improve on.
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#10
(2016-05-12, 3:19 pm)ariariari Wrote: @gaia, long time no see - I was wondering how you were doing. The last post I saw from you was that you got engaged. Did you guys tie the knot already?

Ari

Hi, Ari - thanks for asking. YES! Aya and I returned to the US on January 30th. We were married on March 3rd. We're currently settling in, building a life, and, of course, waiting on her green card. (I'll have to post about that whole process sometime. It's...interesting.) 

I've been keeping up with studies but been a little too busy to post. Hopefully that will change. Missed you folks!
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#11
So some more details on what I've been doing:

- Vocab. No Anki. I just really got sick of it. I feel like I wanted more time studying words, not just watching them fly by on a screen. I'm keeping paper-based word lists in a yellow legal pad, and working through them using a few techniques. First, I'm writing the words down a few times to ensure I have the kanji down. Second, I'm using them in sentences and looking up words I don't know how to use at yourei.jp, through Google, or in 大辞林. Lastly, I'm using a technique I picked up from another learner, and taking the individual kanji in a word and trying to write as many related words using the same kanji as I can remember.

Obviously, this is a lot slower. But the retention rate's a lot higher, and it's a lot more fun to me than Anki. (I know, my definition of "fun" is a little odd...)

- Reading. Just finished my fourth 東野圭吾 novel (眠りの森), and am watching the TBS adaptation now. I read 東洋経済 and a few other sites daily, and am working through some nonfiction, business/essay-type books at the moment. Trying to make a daily habit of visiting and reading 社説比較くん as well.

- Writing. I'm journaling (handwritten journal) consistently every day in Japanese; it's the first thing I try and do while drinking my first cup of coffee in the am. This is hard, because I haven't written in a LONG time outside of the computer. It's shocking just how much my knowledge of writing kanji has deteriorated as a result. I'm going to keep this up, as it's a fun way to produce Japanese, and I feel it's helping me refresh on the different 部首used in similar characters.

- Listening. A combinatiion of NHK ジャーナル、Japanese TV (currently, mainly 相棒), and talking to my wife.

- Speaking. Talking to wife and friends. I'm restarted once a week sessions with one of my iTalki teachers as well.
Edited: 2016-05-13, 10:42 am
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#12
(2016-05-12, 3:07 pm)sholum Wrote:
(2016-05-12, 1:16 pm)sokino Wrote: I'm trying to decide if I should take the n2 or n1 this december. I'm around n2 level right now, so I think I could somewhat easily pass the n2 if I were to take it in december (thus ensuring the "safe" option), but I think I would really be missing a chance to push myself by not signing up for the n1 (and likely fail).

My outlook on this situation (which is how I thought of myself last year) is this:
Unless you need the N2 or N1 qualification in the next year or two, just go for N1. If your ultimate goal for the JLPT is to pass N1, then failing the N1 and passing the N2 have the same result: no N1 certificate this time.
% chance of passing the N1 this year:
By taking the N2: 0%
By taking the N1: X% ; X>0
So take the N1.

That's how I see it at least (I had to explain it to a couple of people who asked why I didn't start lower).

That's a good point. The ultimate goal is n1 for me, I don't really need to the certification (yet), so I think I am now decided to go all out and see how much I fail the n1 by. It can only help my Japanese in any case. Should be an interesting experience.
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#13
(2016-05-12, 6:40 pm)rich_f Wrote: I'm aiming to finish Core10k by early July. I don't have a problem with adding around 100 new cards a day, since a lot of them are words I already know. I'm not sure about what I'm going to do after that, but I want something that covers all of the vocab and kanji in those N1 review books. (Well, that's a wish, anyway.)


How's this been going for you?  Vocab is a weak point of mine, but I've not touched the 10k deck and starting it seems a little intimidating/hard to stay motivated because I know I'll know probably 60% or more of them.  When you say you're doing a sweep do you mean you're working through it again, or for the first time?

How long have you been working on it?
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#14
@Kuma_sensei
On my second go through of core6k, I just suspended the cards that I new I wouldn't forget. You might even just delete them.
That way, you're not wasting time reviewing 一番 and 私 when there are words you only kinda remember or new ones that you could spend that time on.

It's really quick on the Android and PC versions.
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#15
I`m going for the N2 in July. I recently took a practice test and got 82 / 180 with a few lucky guess among my answers. So I`m anxious to whether I`ll pass or not.

A peculiar thing is that my reading is now my weakest skill, where it used to be the strongest. I find the texts very hard to read. Usually I grasp the themes but not really what point the author tries to bring across. I found this has in part to do with my limited vocabulary. There is simply too many words I don`t understand, both kanji compounds and all those small “supporting words”.

My lack of vocabulary has to do with my card design in Anki. I have combined Core6K and Nayr`s core decks, doing a recognition card setup with the kanji, sentence and audio presented at the same time. The result has been that I have good retention rate for the cards, but when I see words in the wild, I don`t recognize them. Basically because I`ve learned the sentences instead of really learning the words and kanji compounds. At lower levels this might not be a problem as you get a lot of exposure to the same words over and over along with your Anki training. But that`s not the case anymore as the vocabulary I study is becoming rarer. Now I have changed my deck layout so I only see words without context. I have also made a filtered deck with all of my N3 and N2 vocabulary that is due after the test. My retention rates are dropping and I`m trying to plow through it all. It`s not very fun, but it`s necessary. And it`s also the beauty of the test: it pushes you to study more Wink

Besides the vocab thing, I’m getting in some fairly consistent study. I try to get up an hour earlier each day and use half for listening (Jpod101) and half for reading (Kanzen Master, but with great trouble and a dictionary). I`m considering if I should try to find something a bit easier to read. I would definitely do that if the test wasn`t only one and a half months away. But now I feel I don`t have so much time left. I do some extensive reading on my commute anyways (total 45 minutes a day), reading material aimed at 6th graders.

Whether I pass the test or not I plan to change my focus after it. I now live in Japan, so becoming a better speaker with a more solid grasp of the basics has gotten much more important for me. After July 3rd it will be no new grammar in the foreseeable future (been through the Kanzen N2 book this spring), but just lots of listening, finding conversation partners, easy reading on the train and maybe some occasional brush ups of what I`m already supposed to know. I`m looking forward to not having the pressure of a test hanging over me all the time – I have more or less had that for 2 years now.

I wish the best of luck to everybody! Smile
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#16
(2016-05-19, 9:31 pm)Kuma_sensei Wrote:
(2016-05-12, 6:40 pm)rich_f Wrote: I'm aiming to finish Core10k by early July. I don't have a problem with adding around 100 new cards a day, since a lot of them are words I already know. I'm not sure about what I'm going to do after that, but I want something that covers all of the vocab and kanji in those N1 review books. (Well, that's a wish, anyway.)


How's this been going for you?  Vocab is a weak point of mine, but I've not touched the 10k deck and starting it seems a little intimidating/hard to stay motivated because I know I'll know probably 60% or more of them.  When you say you're doing a sweep do you mean you're working through it again, or for the first time?

How long have you been working on it?
I fired it up in mid-April. I got the deck with the pictures in it. (v23, I think it's called.) It's been enlightening. I've been studying for a long time, so I've picked up a lot of vocab along the way, but there will always be gaps. Can't be helped.

I never did any of the Core stuff, because it wasn't around when I started studying. The Kanji Odyssey stuff was popular when I got into vocab. That was super slow, because I was studying full sentences. (long-ass full sentences!) I didn't set up my cards right, and my reviews got all bogged down because I got all obsessive over "I MUST UNDERSTAND THE WHOLE SENTENCE!" which in retrospect is dumb. 

I just needed to fill my brain with a ton of vocab.

From my experience with N1, vocab is the MOST IMPORTANT part of this stuff, because you need to be able read and understand quickly. If your vocab is weak, you WILL fail. Grammar and reading comprehension are both super important, too, but without vocab, it all just falls apart for me, mainly because on the N1, there's no time to puzzle stuff through. So I'm taking extra time to pummel as much vocab into my brain as is humanly possible.

Sentences aren't really an issue for me. I read books. By reading books, I practice sentence comprehension all I want. So I don't bother with special cards for that. (Ugh, so much time wasted on that!)

So coming into Core10k, I had no expectations, I just wanted to find the weak spots in my vocab, and fix them ASAP.
I dumped the production cards in Core 10k, because for me, those are a waste of time. Going from EN to JP feels icky. If I'm talking or writing in JP, I don't think in EN much at all, so doing EN-> JP cards feels  like stepping backwards. I suspended all of those, and I won't un-suspend them. If I want to practice writing, I work on writing. Same for speaking. 

So coming from that standpoint, I set up my recognition cards for quick reviews. Vocab word, example sentence on front, answer, sound file, and funny picture on the back. I can plow through 500 reviews in about 40 minutes pretty easily now. If I don't know a word right away, I fail it. Know = knowing how to say it in Japanese, and knowing the meaning in either JP or EN. 

I'm going for speed. I don't want to struggle to remember stuff, I want it to be immediate recognition.

Also, there was research about the "Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon," which said that if you struggle and eventually remember something, you train your brain to put it somewhere where you'll always have to struggle to remember it. I don't want that! It's better to give up right away, and retrain your brain to be less lazy.

I suspended a bunch of cards early on, because the first few hundred are easy for me. There were some cards that made me cringe, and I still don't know how useful they are (like the kanji-fied versions of あちら、こちら、あそこ, etc.) but now I realize I see those every now and then, so they are useful. Ish. I got sick of suspending, though, and just pounded them into Easy-land. Not a big deal.

I don't really worry too much about statistics. I just make sure my reviews are done, and move on. Some words are leeches, but I'm okay with that. I'll learn them eventually. (I hope!)

The only thing that's taking WAY too much time is replacing images. I don't like a lot of the images in this deck. It's totally a personal preference thing, so I'm just being anal about it. But I find that if I have a good, funny animated GIF (Giphy is your friend) or a good screenshot of a show I liked, that helps a ton. But it also means my version of the deck is pretty damn useless for anyone else.

I used to think that adding pictures/sound was a waste of time, but I feel like it really does help my reviewing a LOT. But it does add time to the process, that part is undeniable.

So for motivation, use images you like of things you like. If you like politics, use politics. Anime, use anime. Sumo, use sumo (Yes, I have 白鵬 in my deck, because he's an incredible 相撲取り. I also have Hakase from Nichijou, because well, why not?) Whatever works. When I see a funny animated GIF in the deck somewhere, it amuses me and lightens the mood a little when I review. I'm always looking to see what's coming up next.

Sorry for the long-ass post. Hope it helps.

TL;DR: Don't stress. Just do it. Use funny pictures, too.
Edited: 2016-05-20, 10:38 am
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#17
(2016-05-20, 10:35 am)rich_f Wrote: Also, there was research about the "Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon," which said that if you struggle and eventually remember something, you train your brain to put it somewhere where you'll always have to struggle to remember it. I don't want that! It's better to give up right away, and retrain your brain to be less lazy.


I found this to be really interesting and something I should try to work with! Do you know where the research can be found?
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#18
It was this article:
http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/wha...henomenon/

Which I'm pretty sure someone posted a link to on here somewhere a long time ago. I'm not sure if the research actually panned out, but it works for me.
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#19
(2016-05-19, 9:31 pm)Kuma_sensei Wrote: How's this been going for you?  Vocab is a weak point of mine, but I've not touched the 10k deck and starting it seems a little intimidating/hard to stay motivated because I know I'll know probably 60% or more of them.  When you say you're doing a sweep do you mean you're working through it again, or for the first time?
I've been going through a 10k deck and what I did was start off with adding a lot of cards a day and just suspending all the ones I felt completely comfortable with. Personally I found this pretty good for motivation because you start off by tearing through the deck at hundreds of cards a day (and because you're suspending most of them it doesn't result in huge review load). Then gradually as the number of known words dropped off later in the deck I reduced the new-cards-per-day count. Right now I have about 1400 still-unseen cards in the deck and am adding at only 5 a day. (I will probably push that back up to 15 or so in a week or so when I feel like the review load is down; I try to aim for a total 20-30 minutes a day of anki reps. That isn't going to get me through the full 10K before JLPT time, but that's OK -- I'd rather have a routine I can keep up than try to go faster and burn out.)

I did find that the deck I downloaded has a few minor issues I've had to correct as I go along -- it's a bit overenthusiastic about showing the kanji versions of vocab which are in practice almost always written in kana. I just made sure my card template was showing me the normal-vocab card field and not the kanjified-vocab field, and suspended some of the cards I thought were silly. Also some words have multiple cards so if you're reviewing with just the word on the card front and not a sentence then they're ambiguous -- getting anki to list the duplicates so you can disambiguate with a note or just suspend one or both cards is a good idea.
Edited: 2016-05-21, 8:41 am
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#20
Just got  back from a trip to Japan and felt super motivated to study again.

There's something I noticed, it's not really major but ...
opinion question - what do you think or feel is the dividing line between N2 and N1?

As I am going through my N2 読解 book and looking up words I dont know, jisho.org is telling me many are N1 level.
I know jisho isn't the be-all end-all and there is probably no concrete list of words/ideas for each exam level
but I just feel Confused
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#21
There is no public list anymore (as of JLPT N*) and a certain percentage of the words was always allowed to come from outside of the list anyway.
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#22
N2 is aimed at middle school graduates/first year high school, and N1 is aimed at high school graduates/first year college students. So the difference doesn't seem like much, but it's pretty big.

To me the N1 feels like twice as much coverage as the N2, with less time to do it in. Double the vocab, double the grammar, longer reading passages, harder answers to parse, and faster listening comp (which is harder if you struggle in the first part and blow through all of your energy.)

The N1 goals are for test takers to be able to read newspapers, function in a daily job, read academic-level papers, etc. (Goals, not necessarily reality.)
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#23
N1 is not academic-level papers, really, and I find that N2 usually requires basic newspaper-reading skills to pass. Editorials or pop-sci is about as high as it goes. It's also not enough to function in a daily job since it doesn't go into higher-level keigo (YMMV since many people have daily jobs without being fluent, ofc).

I didn't feel that big of a gap between N2 and N1. I think that the biggest difference is felt in scoring distribution due to 50% of competitiors suddenly being Chinese.
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#24
(2016-05-13, 10:42 am)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: So some more details on what I've been doing:

- Vocab. No Anki. I just really got sick of it. I feel like I wanted more time studying words, not just watching them fly by on a screen. I'm keeping paper-based word lists in a yellow legal pad, and working through them using a few techniques. First, I'm writing the words down a few times to ensure I have the kanji down. Second, I'm using them in sentences and looking up words I don't know how to use at yourei.jp, through Google, or in 大辞林. Lastly, I'm using a technique I picked up from another learner, and taking the individual kanji in a word and trying to write as many related words using the same kanji as I can remember.

Obviously, this is a lot slower. But the retention rate's a lot higher, and it's a lot more fun to me than Anki. (I know, my definition of "fun" is a little odd...)

I found that your method reminded me a bit on this blog entry, How to Keep a Samurai Mind Notebook. I especially liked this point:

Quote:Review the notebook every day.  If you’ve put interesting and valuable information it will become a fun process.  I put a date on the review and mark how many days from the original date.  I try to review according to the following schedule 1, 2, 3 or four days, and a week after the original review.  After that it is one week, two weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.  I use a timer and review five minutes every morning.  I also review if I feel like it on train rides, appointments, etc.
This was someone who used to use Anki all the time but went onto using paper notebooks or "Samurai Mind Notebooks" as he calls them. I thought this might be an interesting read for you Smile
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#25
When you guys finished going through most grammar points and vocab required for N3, could you listen to podcasts like hotcast at all? And while I'm at it, how about when you finished going over most N2 vocab/grammar?

Not that I'm interested in this specific podcast per se, but I've been told it's one of the easiest ones to get started. The thing is, despite having studied all vocabulary and grammar points in Tobira, it still seems impossible to follow podcast conversations. I mean, I did study these things in advance, so I'm still halfway through the book when it comes to reading and listening. But on the other hand, it seems easy enough to go through the reading and listening sections of a chapter in a single day at this point, as long as there's enough time.

If the answer is no, do you think there was something in particular that helped you bridge this gap?
Edited: 2016-05-22, 10:17 pm
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