Thursday, August 17, 2006

Deferring my success?

You have to laugh at stuff like this: Pupils 'cannot be called clever'. It's not as if the pupils won't just pick on the ones who are labelled "successful" instead. But I'm rather warming to the idea of "deferred success" that is also mentioned...

As I mentioned, I'm going to take the JLPT 2 kyuu test this year. A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to visiting the Kinokuniya book shop in Shinjuku, which has a really good foreign language section (much better than the Yurindo in Yokohama's Landmark Plaza, which is more local to me), including lots of books on learning Japanese. One thing I bought was a book with two practice JLPT tests. The aim is to do one, work out your weak points, work on those, and then do the next test to see how much you've improved.

I did the first test at the start of the month...and got 43%. Ouch. The pass mark is 60%, and note that the entire test is made up of 4-way multi-choice questions, so there is a skill-free baseline of 25% to start with. It was a bit of a shock as I've already been looking through past test material with my teacher and was generally getting over 50%...or so I thought. But here, I was uniformly awful on everything except the kanji (which I actually got a decent score of about 70% on, but it's a small component of the overall score). I mostly learnt that the listening comprehension is a lot harder when the reading is properly performed on a CD compared to when a teacher reads it slowly, emphasising the critical parts! Also, the whole test (especially the reading comprehension) is very tightly timed, and I say that as one who usually doesn't struggle for time in exams. I also found out that the difficult questions are worth more points than the easy ones - that shouldn't have been a surprise but the exam paper itself doesn't indicate this, and neither had my teacher!

It looks a bit tight, but I don't think the situation is hopeless by any means. The improvement I need to achieve a pass works out at exactly 1% gain per week - that's less than one of the 5-point questions, or 2-3 of the easier ones. Assuming the material is do-able in one year (from JLPT 3), then that's about the rate of gain I should be making, and I certainly feel like I'm still making steady progress. So I rate my chances of a pass at about 50-50. In fact I could say it's "likely" in IPCC-speak (70% probability) that I'll be in the 55-65% range, and "very likely" (95%) in 50-70%. Eg, I'm pretty sure that, especially given the benefit of some further exam practice, 50% will be comfortably achievable (unlesss I have a complete meltdown on the day) and I'm equally confident that I've got far too much vocabulary still to learn to get past 70% (I'm also far too far off the pace for reading speed).

While I was at Kinokuniya, I got two more new books which seem pretty good. Both are from UNICOM, in the same series as the grammar book I mentioned previously. One is listening comprehension practice, the other is for reading. I'll churn through them and see where I've got to performance-wise in another couple of months.

But maybe, at the end of it all, I'll defer my success to next year :-)

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