Happy News


Tuesday night I received a notice from the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Examination Society (日本漢字能力協会) informing me of my failure to pass the level 7 test. My prediction was right on target: 136 of 200; just 4 points shy of passing.

I got the news on the same day that I: got rejected by the licensing center for another 5 weeks; got soaked returning to school afterwards in the ‘cloudy’ weather; was scolded for arriving later than hoped for and laughed at for being dirty and dripping wet. Still damp hours later, why would I be happy to read a notice of failure?

First, my expectations were set appropriately five weeks ago, so there was no shock or sudden disappointment. Second, I really want to learn this stuff, not just collect a bunch of certificates. Passing with 140 points (70 percent) is pretty weak. Because of my shuji studies I am particularly strong on the stroke order and stroke count section. On that part of the test and on the Chinese/Japanese-based reading comparisons I received 100 percent. I also determined a set of rules for the okurigana, phonetic characters that follow kanji to express conjugation, and missed only one question there.

Scoring high in these categories means I could pass the with 50 percent scores in the weak areas. Those areas are the ones most closely connected with ability to read and speak. So, putting the certificate on my wall would not carry much meaning. Going all the way to level 2 with 50 percent scores in reading related skills would not satisfy my goals.

Receiving this feedback was a good way to mark my current status, and the failure prevents me from thinking I studied this level enough to move on. Upcoming test opportunities are on January 19th (at computer based test facility), February 2nd (at the junior high), and February 4th (at the general public test facility).

Wanting to try the CBT I will probably study up for a 90 percent score on January 19th on the level 7 test. February 4th I will probably take a stab at the level 6 test with the kids at the junior high; this being my last chance to test at school. Like my first level 7 attempt, I won’t expect to be ready for level 6 in such a short time, but it will give me a check and some motivation to not break from the studies. Eventually, when I pass level 5, I can finally say I know more than elementary school kids.

Last night I received a publication from the society. One article was about an American that passed the level 2 test. Theoretically, any Japanese high school graduate should be able to pass that test; however, theory and practice are a little different (particularly for people who graduated awhile back and have had time to forget stuff.) Anyhow this story gives me hope: I wonder if any American has ever made it to level 1…


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