The Road to N1


This year is 23 days old, and except 3, it was a nightmare for me. Most of the time I have been sick, experienced yet unknown new qualities of pain, and on top of that my good old mother got hospitalized. So you can imagine that I haven’t had much time nor did I feel to do keep myself busy with anything Japanese. By now I had planned to release the second Kanji in Context deck, containing the contents of the second worbook. This will be delayed for a little while longer, I can’t work wonders, and it should receive the same care as the other one did. Still, now that I feel a little better, I will see to it to start kicking again.

To make a start, I will talk a little about the N1, and how I plan to prepare for it. From my experience in the 3 years, and especially last year that I dedicated solely to prepare for the big test, I learned the following. As odd as it sounds, I learned too much. Looking back at the past test, it is save to say that the content can be anything at all, as long as it is level appropriate. Actual knowledge of words and what follows them is very important, to answer some of the questions correctly, or to single out answers that look right, but aren’t. There have been Furigana on the test, which I didn’t expect to find there. This made reading a breeze. And on top of it all, the listening tasks, they were easy which I blame on my constantly listening to stuff in Japanese, mostly Talk shows on radio stations.

Considering the time I spent to work through book after book, how much time I spent to go over the basics, was altogether too much. Of course, one can never learn too much, but for the test it was just overkill. To prepare for the N1, I will only get a mock-test, and books for reading and grammar, most likely Kanzen Master. All the rest I will leave to immersion and exposure. This is the most important, since the test asks for knowledge about words, about sentences and grammar, not just memorization of facts. I will not waste any time on vocabulary, and much less on listening. Adding vocabulary would be an endless task, as there are so many words, that it just doesn’t make any sense, meaning immersion and exposure will take care of itself.

The immersion I have in mind will mean the trip to Japan, which will most likely not take 3 months as planned, as I will most likely have to travel alone. Some members of my group have also had a stroke of bad luck, went bankrupt, lost their job, so it is unlikely that they will make it. So, my trip will most likely be a one or two month one, meaning I would come back before december and before the test day, there will be just enough time to do some mock test or other. And from then on, it will be either pass or fail, as it is now with the N2. The results will soon be available online, and I still can only cross my fingers that it is a pass. If not, no biggy, it is just a test I got nothing to lose over a pass or fail.

2 responses to “The Road to N1

  1. Yeah, I studied my ass off for the N2 in 2011 and then the content of what I studied was so different from the material on the test that I had to wing it! But in the end I passed anyway: like you said, there’s the furigana and then the listening part was pretty easy coz I’m listening to Japanese all day.

    In December 2012 (or was it November..?) I took the N1, and my study method was just immersion, like you write about here. I feel like I did about as well as I did on the N2. Here’s hoping! I’ll get the results in the next couple of weeks.

    p.s. I hope your Mum is doing all right!

    • Welcome, and thanks for your comment!

      It is very reassuring that I seem to be on the right track. Learning from immersion, versus text-bookish learning, which isn’t really needed anymore. (Except grammar of course, still sooooo weak in it! And this is virtually the first language that grammar is my arch-nemesis. *haha*)

      I keep my fingers crossed for your having a sure pass on the N1. But I bet this isn’t even needed, but hope it does help. We’ll both find out in a couple of days. Though I don’t know i got the guts to look the results up online or just keep waiting until the certificate is in the mail. 😉

      My mom, well … she will recover, it will just take some months. And I will take care of her as good as I can. It is just her age, she being over 80, and this makes it just so much more complicated. *sighs*

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