After quite a while, I finally went to another soroban test last Sunday. I reached first kyu last year, and I want to go one more step further, to first dan, which in a martial arts context would be equivalent to a black belt.
I have to admit that I did not train hard enough to pass the exam – and I knew that beforehand. A big part of the reason is surely that I don’t go to class any longer, and it is hard to keep up regular training when there are so many other things keeping you busy. This is why I wanted to take the exam anyway, just to get me back into the training rut. Passing any of the dan grades are essentially a question of speed.
The exam was as expected, interestingly this time it was my own soroban sensei who was in charge of overseeing the test. He is not one to scream and shout like other people I have met, so this was not a problem. For all of the dan tests, there is the same exam – your level depends on the number of exercises you can solve correctly. You need to have more than 10 correct on all three basic ones – multiplication, division, addition – as well as more than 10 on the four additional ones – dempyo, mental arithmetic, word problems and roots – for the first dan level.
I passed the additions only, all the others I had 7 to 9 exercises correct, so I think it is just a question of getting a bit faster and a bit more accurate. The next test will be end of July, and I will try again. It took me five attempts to receive the first kyu grade, I am certainly willing to go that far for the first dan as well.