Passed: In Theory

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Took sample test number 5 last night for the level 8 Kanji Kentei and passed handily. There are three more sample tests in my study book and one official sample test at school, which I will attack with a little more study injected between them. A couple weeks back I was sure this test (coming up on Friday) would be easy, but over the past several days of testing I was having a few doubts.

For grins I took a sample level 7 test last night as well. With no studying I was able to score around 50%. Level 7 only requires 70% to pass: maybe I stand a chance on Sunday’s test. Thursday night’s a Brazilian comes by to practice English with me. Her car is in the shop now, so my Thursday night is also freed up for more studying (or resting, since the first test is Friday.)

Passing the level 8 test will be official acknowledgement that I know the first 440 kanji, inside and out; however, it can also be viewed as merely knowing as much as a 3rd grader. (Well, actually, a 4th grader at the start of the year.)

Passing the level 7 test is a confirmation of understanding the first 640 kanji; or, all the kanji learned in 1st through 4th grade. These tests also evaluate knowledge of kanji vocabulary and compounds. I have encountered a bit of difficulty in that a lot of the vocab seems to focus on school life, religious practices, imperial family, and other topics in which I am not well versed. Fortunately, my shuji training has been good preparation for the stroke order and stroke count sections of the tests: I always get 90-100% in those.

Occasionally people ask me how many characters I know. It is a difficult question to answer for many reasons, but think of it like asking: “How many words do you know?”; or “How many prefixes and suffixes do you know?” In English also, counting such a thing is difficult. Another factor is when you can say you ‘know’ a kanji character: recognizing the main meaning in English; knowing the main readings; being able to select the proper reading in many compounds; ability to write the character (with correct stroke order, shape, and balance) …

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