After years of putting it off, I finally took the JLPT N4 exam last July. The JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) is made up of 5 exams, from N5 (super basic) going up to N1 (fluent).  This test certifies your level of fluency in Japanese which you can use for various purposes such as applying for work, studies, or just self-assessment. I have already completed the first exam in 2009. Back then, there were only 4 levels, and Level 4 was the equivalent of the current N5 exam. I have also applied for the N4 around 3 times prior this, but I never really took it seriously and ended up not studying and skipping the exams on the test date.

This year, I’ve realized that I have wasted so many years not progressing in Japanese.  So, I decided to take the N4 exam, whether I was confident or not. I had 4-5 months to prepare, but as usual, I was procrastinating for the most part. Still, I studied more this time around versus previous attempts.

Forced myself to study by going to coffee shops – expensive coffee equals determination to study

I blocked 8PM of every night for studying, although it wasn’t consistent

Japanese Karaoke helps you practice Reading (both kana and kanji).

I ditched Romaji and used Japanese writing for my exercises and notes.

Practice with mock exams on the final days before the test date

The actual exam was a bit more difficult than the mock exams I’ve taken. So, I wasn’t really feeling confident with the results. There were so many words that I did not encounter in my studies that I ended up making educated guesses for around half of the questions. I realized I was still not prepared enough for the exam and just hoped that I’d get a passing grade.

They’ve released the results today, and my efforts paid off!

I (barely) passed!

I’m really glad I passed N4 because I’m now more motivated than ever to continue studying for N3. I won’t be able to take the N3 exam this December because of schedule conflicts, but that buys me more time to prepare for July next year. I hope I get a better grade (at least 75%), but more important than the grade is the actual improvement of my Japanese. Slow progress is better than no progress and my goal is to reach N2 by next year!

For those of you who are interested in learning Japanese, or are taking the JLPT, I will share some Japanese lessons, resources, or studying tips in future posts.  You will find them under 日本語 in the menu above!