My JLPT Study Struggles in 2022

It’s been 4 years since my first attempt at the JLPT and I’m finally ready to give it another go…! I did not have effective study habits or a solid study plan or the first time around. I detailed the things that I learned in some recent posts that I made about getting out of a plateau. Now that I’m preparing for my second attempt, I’ve noticed a few things that are slowing me down and holding me back.

Studying for the JLPT requires a lot of memorization via repetition. It’s not as simple as finishing a Genki text or JapanesePod101 course. With those tools, for one, the grammar points are far less complex and nuanced. Also, both of those resources include a considerable number of practice activities. N2 grammar comes with many nuances and my resources don’t include enough immediate practice. When I look to other workbooks or sites for extra practice, I find that they are not in the same order as the textbooks I’m using and include far more vocabulary that I don’t know.

As a solution to this, I’m finding that customizing my own study tools is best. For example, making multiple grammar flashcard decks on Quizlet. One for translation, one for conjugation, and one for memorizing set phrases or words.

I’m not usually a procrastinator, but there’s something about the “big bad” JLPT that intimidates me. I find myself procrastinating just when I get into the thick of my regimen. I also tend not to use the same tools during the week. Don’t get me wrong, variety is a great way to liven up one’s studies. However, I’ll need to commit to a more finite plan if I want to pass the exam by the winter of 2023.

If you didn’t know, I come from a STEM background and have a lot of research experience. In my field, understanding something down to it’s subatomic nature is how you push the envelope. However, there are plenty of times that I could adjust my JLPT studies by not dissecting things too much. I recently learned to memorize set phrases when I’m in doubt, rather than go as far back to early Edo times to understand every aspect that made a grammar point what it is today.

In my book, I explain ways to determine the best study habits for yourself. However, I sometimes find myself ignoring my own helpful advice. I know that studying for more than 25 minutes at a time doesn’t work for me. I know that physically writing things down helps me to memorize information far better than (only using) digital flashcards and reading. Yet, I still sit down with the intention of having a 2 hour flash card session. Why? I honestly don’t know. I think it’s another way that I procrastinate.

The solution is to have a specific study plan, which includes how long I’ll study and which tools I’ll use, for each session that I intend to complete.

It’s hard not to fall victim to distractions. As interested as I am in studying Japanese, it’s the intimidation factor of the JLPT that makes me susceptible to procrastination. The best solution for me is to shorten my study sessions and opt for print worksheets on days that I can’t handle using an ebook.

This is a good goal that sometimes negatively impacts my JLPT progress. My goal is to settle down in Japan and possibly work in an environment where I only speak Japanese. As a result, I’m less keen on cramming information into my short-term memory for the sake of passing an exam. This causes me to spend far more time on interesting or difficult grammar, kanji, or vocabulary, because I’m trying to solidify it into my long-term memory. It also leads to burn out before I have progressed into another week’s objectives.

I supposed the solution, as much as I don’t like it, will be to move onto the next week’s content and return to it later. Of all the points I’ve listed, this is the one I haven’t quite figured out!

How about you? What are your JLPT struggles?

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