Well, it's just two weeks to the 2011 Japanese Language Proficiency Test at Chennai. Before we get to the tips, a quick word of advice:
- Don't forget your hall ticket! Also bring along one item of photo-identification, preferably your passport. I'm not sure about PAN cards and the like, but with the passport, you can't go wrong.
- You cannot bring any hand-bags or backpacks into the hall, so leave them outside, in the hallway, at your own risk.
- Absolutely no mobile phones to be carried on your person! That means, NO mobile phones at all! Not switched off, not in vibration mode or silent mode.
- Wear a simple, no nonsense watch for the exam. No alarms watches, mind. If your watch vibrates or so much beeps, you will be ejected from the premises and your exam invalidated. Borrow your grandpa's watch and leave the high-tech chronometer at home. :-D
- Bring your own writing requirements: an eraser, a couple of HB or No.2 pencils and a pencil sharpener.
- And be at the exam premises a good 15 minutes before the exam is scheduled to begin. Once the listening section begins, you will NOT be allowed inside.
By now you should be clear with both sets of kana; be able to read simple sentences in Japanese and also clear on the 700 odd word vocabulary.
Some last minute tips:
- Don't waste too much time practicing old N4 papers; instead familiarize yourself with the layout of the N5 and be prepared for the type of questions expected in this examination. These include identification of correct kanji from options that include incorrect but similar looking kanji that has a radical or a stroke missing/different, rearranging a jumbled sentence and reading comprehension.
- Visit the Meguro Language Center website and download some of their earlier "Grammar and Kanji that appeared in previous exams" pdf files and see if you can answer them.
- Try purchasing or reading a copy of Minna no Nihongo I: Honsatsu on the Scribd website. This will help immensely in reading Japanese preparation and also for polishing grammar. There are around 24 chapters, but getting through 15 or more should be sufficient.
- There is no easy way to prepare for the listening section. But be absolutely thorough in counting, telling time in Japanese, as well as adjectives and verbs. Usually there will be red herrings where we might hear the word for "tall" and hurriedly select the answer, when ctually the speaker would have said, "tonari", indicating the person standing near the tall person. You could download some free episodes from the absolute beginner series of the JapanesePod 101 podcast to get a feel for the language. I would recommend that you get the episodes via an RSS feed as opposed to subscribing for free on their website- you WILL be spammed otherwise.
- Finally a quick and easy way to revise (assuming your reading speed and accuracy are up to speed) is to flip through the latter half of Teach yourself Japanese by Helen Ballhatchet (available at Landmark stores in Chennai and elsewhere). The text is in romaji, but that's a small price to pay when you have so little time to revise at the end.
All the best for the exam!