JLPT Test Day: Frustrations and Reflection

(How I spent my Saturday)

As many of you know, the JLPT was on Sunday, December 3rd.  I took the N4 during university and I passed the language and grammar/reading sections, but I had never been to Japan then and my listening skills were terrible, so I failed that section and the whole test. After being in Japan for two years, I felt taking the N4 again would be a waste of time and money, so I jumped to N3 (intermediate). This post will share my feelings about test day.


The JLPT is the top proficiency test for Japanese in the world, and you need it as proof of your ability if you want to get a job using Japanese. Because of the significance of the test, the proctors are pretty strict. If you do a small thing wrong, you get a warning (indicated by a yellow card). If you do something so wrong that your test results are deemed invalid, you get a red card.

There were some special rules for this test. Phones had to be turned off (of course) and placed in a plastic bag, which then had to be put inside of your own bag. Your bag and coat/jacket had to be under your chair at all times during testing. You had to use a traditional wristwatch without sounds or timers, as our room did not have any clocks. Erasers had to have the paper cover taken off. You could use mechanical pencils, but you could not have led cases on the desk during the test.

It amazed me at how many people didn’t know proper test taking procedures. During the test, a man behind me kept mumbling to himself. Every time the proctors gave instructions, he complained (in Japanese, so everyone could understand him) about how pointless it was, and that everyone knew the rules, so we should just get on with it. He was angry when he got a yellow card. Another woman continued furiously filling in bubbles after time had been called, and was also confused and even scoffed when she got a yellow card. At the very end of the test, people got up and started to leave before we were given the “okay” from the proctors, and some of them said nasty things directed at the proctors. I can’t understand why you would pay money and then sit through such a long test just to possibly have your results thrown out because you were too impatient and couldn’t wait two minutes for an explanation of then the test results would be released and how to access them. It’s a test, guys, take it seriously or don’t take it at all.

Rant Finished…

Overall, I think it was a pretty good experience. I didn’t feel totally lost, but I know for a fact that I made some stupid mistakes. I surprisingly had time to finish the test, look over my answers again, make some changes, and then still had five or ten minutes left. When I struggled, it wasn’t because of grammar, as I was expecting, but instead was because my vocabulary skills were lacking. Soon, I’ll post some resources for studying, advice for taking the test, and talk about a few aspects of the test that I know for sure I made mistakes on. I hope to help you get 100% on your test.

Stay tuned~.