There are three reading strategies that I am using to improve in this field. Deep reading, wide reading, and speed reading. The first aims at deepening my understanding by reading slowly and by taking my time to think about every sentence. The goal of the second is to read as much as possible about a wide range of things, from advertisements to manuals, everything goes. Lastly I use speed reading to improve both my reading speed, as well as my understanding of written text, under time-pressure. This technique should give me an advantage when sitting the JLPT N2. Currently I am not too pleased with the time it takes me to read a text of 2,100 characters. My last time of a random text in this length was 17’46”602.
On the actual test there are several reading passages. One that is approximately 900 characters in length and being the longest, 9 medium length sections of about 500 characters, and 5 short ones of around 200 characters. Doing the maths this comes down to 6400 plus something characters. Knowing that 200 characters takes roughly 1’24”107 being the lowest and 2’54”524 being the highest, and 500 taking up to 3’48”375 and up to 5’39”329 depending on the topics, there is a clear need for improvement. Taking into consideration that on the real test there is a time limit, and there are questions to answer and the content and wording to pay attention to, I feel that the time it takes to read for even those short passages is way too high. The official websites say that the Language Knowledge (Grammar) Reading section has a limit of 70 minutes. Based on the times so far I would have run out of time. Assuming the highest amount of time for the 500 section passages it comes down to 48’51”00 and 12’07”00 plus 12’16”192 as the highest for a 1,000 character passage, we are at 72+ minutes.
It is only an estimation, but my target should be 40 to 50 minutes total, with a maximum comprehension and some reading techniques in use such as scanning and skimming, to further improve speed. If I can pull it off, there is at least some time left to go over some sections once more, just to make sure that I made no mistakes. Aiming high, and being very ambitious, and taking into consideration that it is close to impossible, I can try 30 minutes reading, and answering questions. I have enough time for intensive training, almost 6 months, so I will work hard to achieve the 30 minutes as ultimate goal.
Having to do with being quick in thinking, is the quick answering questions section type on the JLPT. For this section I have several ideas. Questionnaires, timed, Job applications interviews, timed, Living Japanese which is a great textbook doing it in a question and answer type style, un-timed, Japanese for All Occasions which has many short to medium length question and answer type dialogues, un-timed, and to have some fun playing video games. Video games?! Dear reader, you read right, video games. One video game in particular is perfect for this question type. It is based on the rather dated Anime ラブひな, and it has exactly what is needed. There are only 10 or 20 seconds to answer with an appropriate questions to gain points, which also involves quick reading, another plus. Then there are some quiz type games that also leaves me with no choice but to answer fast, and, more importantly, to answer the questions correctly. Finally there are the real quiz programs uploaded to youtube, or other video sharing websites, that I could try out in a semi-interactive way.
These are my strategies for now. Knowing that there are readers out there who have been sitting the JLPT already, I bet they have better ideas and suggestions to make, to prepare for the test sections. So if you have any suggestions or ideas, or just want to talk about your own experiences, please leave a comment. I would love to hear all about it!