So, the big JLPT N4 test was yesterday, starting at 12:30 and ending at about 16:30. It took place a bit south of Kyoto in the Kyoto University of Education’s Fujinomori campus, but it was quite easy to reach. Two rooms were reserved for my level and there were 52 people in my room – a ratio of 50% Westerners 50% Asians by the way – so I guess there were 100 people on my level overall.
The test was conducted in a very strict, I’d almost say Japanese, manner. The room’s door was closed exactly on time, no way of being late even a single minute. First, general instructions were read: What was allowed on the table, phones off, etc. Then the answer sheets were handed out and afterwards the booklet with the questions for the first part. More instructions were given: “Check whether name and number on your answer sheet are correct. Now pick up your pencil and write your name and number on the question booklet.” Of course, all of those instructions were given in Japanese, which was, certainly on our level, of disputable usefulness. One hapless guy started to fill in his name the moment he received the question booklet and was promptly and loudly and in Japanese yelled at: “Put that pencil down. Put it down! NOW!” I could not help wondering if these people realized that we were all adults in there… After everything was explained, handed out and filled in, we had to wait for the exact minute the test was supposed to start, and after the allotted time was over, we were supposed to drop the pencil in that very second. We were only allowed to leave the room once all paper was collected, counted once and then again, just to be sure nothing went missing. And that three times with about 25 minutes break in between, until the final listening section was over and were free to leave. Results will be sent out in February next year.
How did I do? Well, I ran out of time in the first section and had to leave some questions unanswered – I didn’t even have time to fill in random answers. I may have done reasonably well on the reading section, but I was very tired and my mind started wandering during the listening part. Overall, I don’t think I made it.
There is this one question I remember that I’d like to share with you. It was in the vocabulary section where a sentence is given, and then there are four more sentences paraphrasing one of the words and you have to pick the answer sentence with the correct meaning. In this one the answers were:
I want a new bag and wallet.
I want a new desk and bed.
I want a new pen and notebook.
I want a new camera and video camera.
The question sentence was:
I want new *** – containing the only word in that whole part I didn’t know… And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is possible to know 90% of the stuff and still fail the exam.
Anyway, I will take today off – it will be a very nice and sunny day. I have chosen a direction and will take my camera for a walk. I’m curious as to what I’ll find this time…