Today I started working with this book, and I plan to work through 1 lesson per day. Today, or rather yesterday, I finished the first lesson. Contrary to my expectation it is not very difficult at all! The first lesson was about comparing different things. There are 3 reading sections in the beginning, with a longer explanation on the opposite page, which is followed by 4 additional reading passages. All of them are approximately 500 characters in length according to the information in the introductory part of the book. Before working on the problems, I decided to set a time limit of 5 minutes per question. It turned out that this was enough to read and comprehend the passages, to read the 4 answers once more, to answer the questions, and still have two minutes before the time limit was up.
For the 5 problem questions that followed, I set a time limit of 20 minutes, which I managed to answer with 4 minutes left to think things over. Of the eight questions in total, I managed to answer 4 questions correctly, and two that I almost answered correctly but then decided for a wrong answer, the rest was flat-out wrong. All in all 9 minutes for 3 questions and 16 minutes for the other 5 takes way too long. The actual test will contain 9 reading passages of this length, my aim has to be 8 minutes for both reading and answering the questions. What is important right now is not so much the time factor, but to understand what I have to pay attention to, and how to solve the problems correctly without having to guess. The real test for now awaits at the end of the book. By the time I reach the 模擬試験 part, I am hopefully down to the expected 8 minutes, or even below that.
Comparing my performance to native speakers is easy when it comes to reading. I compare it to the average time it takes a moderator to read a passage of 500 characters is. And their speed on average is, lo and behold, less than a minute or close to that. For one with around 1000 characters less than 4:30. This estimation is based on watching and observing news that are closely matching the written content. This 1000 character length text is only taking around 4:30 when spoken at “FNN speed” or “NHK speed”, while it would only take about 2 minutes or even a little less than that at “ANN speed”. My aim is ANN speed, but NHK and FNN speed are also OK for now. Being able to read fast is not only useful for a test, but beyond that, think of having to read important messages in a short amount of time. This alone is why it is worth the extra effort for me.
For now it is enough to know that this book is almost as hard as the real test. According to others who used this book to prepare for the test, it is even more difficult than the actual test will be. Knowing this, the 4 points gained yesterday are a good start, even though an 8 out of 8 would have been better. I don’t complain, as it was also a good confidence boost after all the struggle with grammar, and my bad scores there. I love both books, though. And if I had known sooner how good they really are, I would also have ordered the 聴解 and 語彙 books. It is too late to get them now, but there is still the N1 some time in the future. For this test I will surely order the full set if it means to up my chances for a pass.