The time has come for another application to the JLPT, Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. Since I took the test the last time I have had my eyes set on the N2 test. But now as I’ve come closer to the end and (by tomorrow) have to decide which level to take. It seems very, very unlikely that I would be able to pass the N2 level test.
It bugs me extremely much that I have to say that I will not succeed in something I’ve tried to succeed in. A particular thing that bugs me is that a lot of people come to Japan to study Japanese to “find themselves” or just escape from real life for a year. This is absolutely not the case for me. I’ve “found myself” (if such a thing is even possible) long, long ago and I certainly do not see this trip as a vacation.
The thing is, that with only an N3 to show for it after a year, it could very well have been a vacation. According to Wikipedia it should take around 500-750 hours of study to be able to pass level 3. I have until today studied almost exactly 550 hours in class and maybe a maximum of 100 hours (almost all of that in the beginning months) outside of class during the past year. I have two months left so around another 150 hours or so will be studied in school. That means I will have around 800 hours when I take the test. 900 hours if I get my shit together and start studying now. 800 (or even 900) hours in a year means not only that I am even slightly below average if I am at level 3, it also means I’ve worked at about 40% of full-time.
I can’t change the fact that I’ve only worked slightly below half-time for a year, there are many excuses but really, what relevant excuse can exist other than laziness? However I used to feel that even if I’ve been terribly unproductive, if I managed to get the N2 then I have the equivalent knowledge of working full-time for a year as that usually takes 1400-2000 hours of study (again, according to Wikipedia). And somehow that would make up for the laziness.
Well, it’s time to face reality. If you don’t put in the work, you don’t get the results. I have to admit defeat in my quest for over-achieving and accept that most people will think I did this for the vacation.
The passing grade for the JLPT tests are usually between 50 and 60 percent correct answers. That means that even if I only know about 75% of what I should know (accounting for randomness), I could pass the test. That’s what I’ve been aiming for. Right now I doubt I will even be able to get up to 75% though and passing seems so improbable that I just see taking it as a waste of time and money.
I will finish this blog post on a positive note though. When I have the N3 and come back to Sweden, getting the N2 will act as an excellent motivator and goal for the coming 6 months of Japanese study parallell to my real studies. I have searched for a tangible goal and study plan for my self-studies and going from N3 to N2 is (I think) an excellent choice.
Update: I found a flaw in my calculations right after I posted this yesterday and thought I wouldn’t correct it because it’s not really that relevant to my point. But for the sake of correctness and my own self-asteem I will.
This is a quick little graph of the data I took from Wikipedia. For every test JLPT does a short survey of test-takes (all of them, on the application form) of how many hours you’ve studied and where you’re from. So that’s where the average study hours come from. But the results for the new tests have not been published yet as it’s not really very well established either. Though they have said some general things like the N1 is slightly more difficult and what you can see in the graph above.
This means that when I took N4 about 6 months ago, I actually took the old number 3 which requires the amount of hours I’ve studied right now. So for N4 I actually was over-achieving a little bit. And no-one knows for sure but the N3 is in the middle of old 2 and 3 so the amount of study hours should be pretty much exactly the amount I will have done in 2 months. So in other words, if I take the N3 at least I wont be below average in study speed. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve only worked half-time this year, but it makes that half-time work a bit more fruitful.