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A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Tuesday 4 February 2020

How I passed the JLPT N1

lanterns in Shinsekai, Osaka

All right lads, it's time for me to chuck my study tips for the N1 into the internet- I passed it last year in July and my N2 post last time seemed to have been mildly helpful. My circumstances were different this time- instead of being an exchange student, I was working 6 days a week and was knackered, but I'd already paid for the test so I thought I might as well go for it.. I started properly studying in May, but I ended up cramming a lot in June. So this post will be my study tips- which books I used and how I found the test as a whole.

But first, my thoughts:

I was in Shizuoka, and I had to go to Mishima to take the N1. I'd never been to Mishima before, and it's a really cute little city! (I took loads of photos- blog post to come at some point...)

I was suuuper scared- everyone else seemed to be there in groups and seemed really confident- I was soo glad my friend came with me for moral support <3 (Thanks Tasha!!!)

It actually wasn't as hard as I thought- I had hyped it up to be really really hard in my head, but as it had been three years since I'd taken the N2- and I'd been studying Japanese for 5 years pretty solidly by this point- it was ok. Stressful, but ok. If you're prepared, it's totally doable

Doing it in Japan is cheaper than the UK, at 5500 yen it's about half the price. I decided to go for it, reasoning that even if I failed I'd still technically have saved money. Also when you're in Japan you get waay more immersion, especially if you're using Japanese at your job or uni.

It took a long time! The whole thing took like 4 hours... which was long. Wish I'd brought some little snack for the break.

The N1 does open doors- a lot of jobs only require N2, but some jobs really want N1. It doesn't hurt to have it, and it makes you look smart ;)

General Study tips//

Do as many practise tests as you can.
Make sure you get your timings- I like to blast through the multiple choice vocab questions first and go through the paper in the order it's in so I can spend more time on the reading questions, but experiment when you're doing practise questions- some
Make your study plan early! Doing a bit every day in the two month lead up is probably a good shout, but the earlier you start the less panicked you'll be.

JLPT tips//

get there early! The test centres can sometimes have loads of different rooms and you want to be calm and have plenty of time to get in, go to the loo etc. etc.

Plan your route there! You might have to travel a long way or be going somewhere unfamiliar.

Bring a watch! They don't have clocks in the rooms. I got a banging Casio for 999 yen in donki, so I was set.

You're not allowed to have water out while you're taking the test, so make sure you're hydrated and have some for the break. Maybe bring a snack too

Read the rules beforehand! There are some, like the aforementioned lack of a clock, which aren't intuitive for foreign students, so yeah, forewarned is forearmed.

There is no official Kanji list or vocab list, but there are official past papers.

Get some study books! I bought the 総まとめ series, which was fine but there was lots of furigana (too much) and I didn't think it was 'hard enough' so I didn't feel prepared. They do have a complete program though, you do a bit every day a couple of months beforehand (or cram it like I did... I can't completely recommend....) and you should be prepared to pass.
The 新完全マスター series also had too much furigana in the grammar book, but using both made me feel more prepared. Plus, the investment made me more motivated to study!
I also liked the
日本語能力試験N2ターゲット単語 book that I'd used when I was studying for N2, but I couldn't find it in Shizuoka and couldn't be bothered to order it on amazon.. I was fine without it buuut I'd probably have felt more secure with it. But also, these books add up! I probably spent about 8000 in yen total on books- that's a huge amount of money for someone who was scraping by on minimum wage at the time. Try and get them secondhand, and write your answers on a separate piece of paper not in the book so you can sell them back.

Practise listening by watching Japanese youtube, TV, anime... no subtitles obvs.

Plan something fun after! My friend came with me and we explored Mishima and went for sushi <3

Remember there's always next time - the JLPT runs twice a year in Japan, so try and forget about it until results, which will be in a couple of months time.

To anyone who's taking the JLPT, best of luck! ♡
You got this!!! And anyone thinking of doing the JLPT- I say go for it- it's really good to have a goal to work towards and focus your study, especially if you're studying by yourself like I was.

Thanks for reading! Is there anything I missed? Let me know~
-Amy xoxo

All about the JLPT N2- my experience and study tips//Having unnatural hair in Japan: How people react// My updated (huge) Japan bucket list


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