I sat the JLPT on July the 2nd, and I have taken some rest during the whole month of July (meaning, still doing some Japanese regularly but not studying grammar or anything related to the JLPT). And now I realise that there are only four months left before the next test in December 😱
When self-studying, taking the JLPT gives you a straight road to follow when most textbooks leave you in the wild pretty soon
I tried the N2 level in July, but I don’t think that I will pass it and anyway, prepare for N1 in 4 months would be 無理・むり. So, I’ll try N2 once more, but this time I MUST have it! 😤
To pass the test in July, I studied with the So-matome series. I love this series, I recommend it to anyone who is studying Japanese, not only test takers. It was as fun as a textbook can be, with exactly the proper amount of new information in each chapter. I will maybe do a review of this series, but I must say that there was one disadvantage: the series is too easy compared to the JLPT, at least for the N2 series that I used.
So, for the exam of December, I will prepare with the Shin Kanzen Master series! Opening the books is enough to understand that you have left behind you the comfortable and comforting world of the So-matome series to a somewhat more austere material. You will find no funny drawings that help you memorise your words, kanji and grammar, no English translations, and almost no blank space at all!
So let’s study this austere book and get a perfect score in December!
The following is how I plan to work with the Shin Kanzen Master series for the next four months. (I love doing study plans 😊😋)
Material to study
I went rapidly through all 5 books to determine how many lessons I have to study.
- Vocabulary: 37 lessons. (Each lesson is composed of a list of words and exercises)
- Grammar: 26 lessons which contain several grammar points and exercises + 7 lessons that seem to put together already learned grammar + 15 other lessons that appear to focus on how to use the learned grammar in long sentences correctly. A total of 48 lessons.
- Kanji: There is first a list of 1046 kanji sorted by “sessions”. Then, there are 53 sessions which are composed of exercises using the kanji associated with the session in question.
- Reading: 15 lessons, each very long + a series of reading training exercises that appear in the JLPT.
- Listening: 18 lessons mainly composed of listening activities, each focused on improving a particular skill.
4 months = 120 days
Why make a study plan
Making a study plan doesn’t mean stick to it at any cost (well, in fact, you should ), but it helps to study on a daily basis and keep the goal in sight, especially when you are studying for a test. It’s easy to open your book only when you have the time and realise too late that you won’t be able to complete your book before the test.
That’s especially true with the JLPT where you do have a certain amount of words, kanji and grammar to know. If you skip one day, it is easy to skip two and to end up doing nothing for a week without even realising it. But if you write down your study plan on a calendar, it will be easy to see if you are keeping the pace or not. I use my agenda and write what I need to study every day and what I did study.
I sometimes feel bad when I must admit, face to face with my agenda, that I am far behind my study plan, but I also know that I just need to study two lessons per day instead of one, and to do this for one week, to catch up on the days I skipped. Without study plan, I would probably restart my study where I left it and realise one week before the test that I have only gone through the half of each book.
My study plan for N2 in 4 months
I will start on Monday 31st, to have a full week.
Vocabulary: 3 lessons/week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I don’t think that I can do the exercises the same day that I learnt the vocabulary, I can’t see how this can be effective because you will obviously have to check the new words to complete the exercises. That’s why I will leave a gap of two weeks between the moment when I learn the words of a lesson and the day I do the exercises. Concretely, I will start learning the words of lesson 1 on Monday 31st but I will do the exercises of lesson 1 on Monday 14th, and so on. In other words, from Monday 14th, I will study two lessons per day: the lesson of the day where I just learn the new words, and the exercises of the lesson I learnt two weeks ago.
Grammar: 2 lessons/week, on Tuesday and Thursday. For the grammar, I will do the exercises the same day I learn the grammar because the activities help to understand the grammar point and how or when to use it.
Kanji: learn 10 kanji/day. Here again, I will keep the exercises for later and start them two weeks after. I will make 4 sessions per week, 2 on Tuesday and 2 on Thursday. (I don’t feel like studying vocabulary and kanji on the same day). Concretely, I will start the first two kanji sessions on Tuesday 15th.
Reading/Listening: one lesson every weekend.
End of August
- Vocabulary: 14 lessons studied (words), but only 8 lessons completed (words and exercises)
- Grammar: 10 lessons completed
- Kanji: 320 kanji learned, 12 exercises done.
- Reading/Listening: 4 lessons each
End of September
- Vocabulary: 27 lessons studied, 21 lessons completed
- Grammar: 18 lessons completed
- Kanji: 620 kanji learned, 20 exercises
- Reading/Listening: 9 lessons each
End of October
- Vocabulary: All 37 lessons studied, 34 lessons completed
- Grammar: 27 lessons completed
- Kanji: 930 kanji learned, 38 sessions
- Reading/Listening: 13 lessons each
End of November, and end of the 4 months preparation
- Vocabulary: All lessons studied and completed!! I will also have most of the month to revise the N2 words and make special study session with Anki.
- Grammar: only 36 lessons completed… 😬😨 I know I can’t count correctly… 😩 Well, as I will have finished the vocabulary book by the beginning of the month, I will have to use my free Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to complete the Grammar book, too.
- Kanji: all 1046 kanji learned! The 53 sessions completed!
- Reading: all 15 lessons completed
- Listening: only 17 lessons completed, so I will have to make two lessons on the last week-end.
At the end of November, as I will have finished most of the lessons, I will have time to do the mock tests that are at the end of each book.
By making this study plan, I realise that 4 months are very short to go through all the 5 books of the series. I think that I can do it because I already studied for N2, so most of the material will be revisions and not new material to digest. If you are studying for N2 for the first time, I think that 4 months are a little short. But study plans are flexible!
I will try to hold on to this 4 months plan and get a perfect score at the next JLPT.