The results are in: in 3 sessions starting yesterday and finishing this afternoon I have completed my first trial JLPT test – in fact the 2003 test which you can buy at good book stores (including the listening test on CD).

Where to begin? Well, starting with the bad news, I failed. What’s the good news? I didn’t fail in the spectacular way in which I’d expected.

There are 3 parts to the test and for 2 kyu the passing grade is 60%. The vocabulary/kanji and the listening tests are worth 25% each, while the killer grammar/reading test is worth a massive 50% of the entire exam.


I was expecting all parts of the test to be a nightmare but there is one area which I was more than happy with: listening. Compared to last year’s 3 kyu I could hear everything much more easily and with less strain. I scored 77%!

Even though I found the vocabulary/kanji test extremely difficult I scored 57%. I lost 20% soley due to not giving answers. I had intended to return to these questions at the end of the test but time ran out. For no answer you can be assured a zero. So…

When I skip a question I’m going to fill in what I believe to be the most likely answer before moving on. If I have no time to come back to it I stand a chance of scoring some points, especially as I’ve probably ruled out one if not two red herrings. Should I have time at the end I can always revise my answers. Yeah, sorry, I know its obvious…

Finally, the grammar & reading section. I knew it was going to be a bitch. When you open the booklet you just can’t believe how long it is. I chose to skip the essays with questions and head straight for the smaller grammar questions towards the end of the paper. If you’re like me then you are eager to score a few points to build some confidence. Bare in mind, however, that these questions obviously carry fewer marks.

As I suspected, I had nowhere near enough time to finish and the Japanese was way above my ability. I was guessing my whole way through! By the end I had scored around 50%… uh-oh. I carried on after the 70 minutes to see how many extra marks I could accumulate if given extra time. Remarkably it took me an extra 35 minutes to get to the end of the paper! But this would have bumped up my marks considerably.


So, to summarise, the listening was pretty good, the vocab/kanji test was pretty borderline and the reading/grammar was too long and difficult for me. End result, 58%.

This is just shy of the pass mark and given that I have one month to speed up my reading, improve my grammar and add a few kanji to my muddled brain there still may be a slim chance of passing.