How Not to Take the JLPT Level 2


December 2nd I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 2 (JLPT), also called 日本語能力試験 2級 (nihongo nouryoku shiken nikyuu) in Japanese. During my study process, I realized I wasn’t taking the best approach. While taking the test, it became clear that my testing method also was not ideal. I left the test feeling iffy about my chances of passing.

Today the mailman delivered my results and, as I feared, I received fugoukaku (不合格), or ‘failure’. I fell short by 16 points out of 400. An average score of 60 percent on three sections of the test is required to pass. Writing/Vocabulary (文字・語彙) is the first section and I passed with 63/100. Listening (聴解) is the second section normally has the lowest average score, but I pulled down 81/100, which might seem like a handy cushion going into the final section. Reading/Grammar (読解・文法) counts for half of the test, unfortunately I only got 80/200 here; squandering my cushion.

Since late summer I have been lazy about my studies and had I just studied a little more I would have had a good chance of passing, but as I stated above there were problems with both my prep and test taking. Generally, I feel it is smarter to study effectively than to study longer. I knew I could do well on the first two sections, but I studied in order. As we can see, focusing on the final section might have served me better. Also, during the test I misunderstood some directions which prevented me from finishing the test. I plan to write a post with a few study tips in the near future.

Next December I will have to retake the level 2 test. Based on what I have learned I think I can pass with flying colors. Presumably, I can also prepare myself for level 1 by December 2009. Ironically, my other studies have taught me a lot of difficult vocab, but none of the special jargon is on this test.


7 Responses to “How Not to Take the JLPT Level 2”

  1. Dorothy W. Says:

    Well — that’s good that you learned so much from this, and I’m sure you’ll pass next time!

  2. kevenker Says:

    Bummer! Too bad they make you wait a whole year to retake it!

  3. Never Give Up « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] Give Up So everyone knows that I failed the level 2 Japanese Language Proficiency Test (日本語能力試験・JLPT) in December. Also let it be known that I refuse to give up. Today I […]

  4. Ma Cho Oo Says:

    Thanks for this site
    I have a plan to take level 2 exam in 2009 Dec 6
    so please reassure me
    how to practice
    Thanks a lot

  5. びっくり Says:

    I will write up another post sometime soon, but here are a few tips:

    1. The last section, Reading/Grammar, is worth half the test. Learn this part well.

    2. Within that section the early sub-sections require lots of reading before answering a few tricky questions. The later sub-sections only require reading one sentence and choosing a correct answer. When taking the test, start with those questions because you can get more points per time.

    3. There are 500 grammar points on the level 2 test. Start studying now. There are many books available which list all of them. (sude ni, ni tai shite, …) A book that includes example sentences would be best.

    4. During the test, don’t be intimidated by the first section on kanji. Many Chinese students will be taking the test and will finish four pages before you finish the first page. Remember, you are not racing them – if you can finish in the alloted time, you’ll be fine.

  6. Kate Says:

    All-in-all, I think the easiest part to study is the Grammar. Compared to Vocabulary, there are considerably fewer items to remember. More than just remembering the meaning, you also have to remember the proper usage. Some grammar points seem to mean the same thing but they can’t be used interchangeably. Also, while you’re studying grammar, you get to encounter a lot of vocabulary/kanji used in the sample sentences so that’s a plus…

    * A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar
    If found that this book helped me a lot when studying grammar. I don’t think it has all the complete grammar points but the sample sentences were really useful.

    For practice, you might also want to try answering some questions of the past JLPT exams compiled here:
    JLPT 問題検索室 (

    Good luck! ^_^

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