I have often thought that the Japanese language proficiency test (JLPT) doesn’t really test your proficiency of the Japanese language at all. First, there is no speaking section in the test. Secondly, you are not required to write anything. There is a huge difference between being able to write and read kanji. Also, the test is multiple choice. So there is a good chance you can work out answers with a combination of elimination techniques and guessing. In fact, you are given all the answers in JLPT! You just need to be able to find them.
Proficiency is the state of being able to do something very well. For the JLPT, you do not need to speak or write Japanese to be certified as proficient. In fact, you don’t really need to be able to read Japanese well to pass the JLPT. To pass the JLPT you need to be proficient at answering multiple choice questions. You don’t need to be proficient at Japanese. You certainly need some understanding and knowledge of Japanese. However, if you take a look at what the JLPT asks you to do, you don’t need to be able to speak or communicate in the language well.
If you disagree, then think about it. You don’t communicate or express yourself by answering multiple choice questions in real life. At best, the JLPT tests your knowledge and understanding of certain aspects of the Japanese language. The only section that comes close to testing your proficiency is the listening section. However, in real life you would be part of or be listening to a long conversation. The listening section of the JLPT is just a bunch of random short conversations. Something you would never experience in real life. Also, in real life you are also given more than one chance to understand what someone is saying. Not in the JLPT – once chance and then you move on to the next question.
So, here is my point. If you want to pass the JLPT you need to proficient at answering multiple choice questions. Forget about speaking and real communication. It is all about logic and elimination. The best preparation you can do for the JLPT is to take lots of practice tests under test conditions.
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