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Mike Cash

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Actual scores won't be available until the 24th but pass/fail results were made available online today.

I passed both Levels pre-2 and 2.

Note that the JLPT N1 supposedly tests for about the same number of kanji as this. I passed the N1 with flying colors (98th percentile or around there) last December with zero study or preparation.....and starting in February it took me a full three hundred hours of studying before I could barely scrape a passing grade on a KK2 practice test. I did 429 hours by the test date, averaging over three hours a day. Most of it was done on the steering wheel of my truck.

I have remarked earlier that doing the KK, even at level 5 and 4, made me painfully aware of how much my vocabulary sucks. In the course of my study I had to create about 3700 SRS cards for (mostly) words I had never heard before. I also had to do that for about 600 four-character expressions, practically none of which I had heard of before and which I doubt any texts aimed at foreign learners of Japanese deal with at all....certainly not in any meaningful way.

Anyway....the Level 2 typically has a pass rate of about 20% and I am glad to be able to say I passed it on the first try. Statistically, of the roughly 50 people who sat the exam with me, only about 10 of us passed. Now I am just anxious to get the detailed results back and see if I pulled the averages up or down.
 

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madphysicist

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Congratulations!

Out of interest... which level do you think would actually correspond to N1 (or indeed N2) in terms of overall difficulty?

I'm wondering if I should have a go at this test sometime myself since I might be in Japan within the next year and I keep having to miss JLPT dates. But I feel a bit intimidated.
 

Mike Cash

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Well done!

Congratulations!

Out of interest... which level do you think would actually correspond to N1 (or indeed N2) in terms of overall difficulty?

I'm wondering if I should have a go at this test sometime myself since I might be in Japan within the next year and I keep having to miss JLPT dates. But I feel a bit intimidated.

Thank you both very much.

I think this unavoidably becomes a sort of "apples and oranges" problems if one tries to gauge how JLPT and KK levels correspond.

Since N1 is meant to be an indication that the person is at a point where they can function in a Japanese university it seems to me it would be reasonable to expect anyone who has passed N1 should also be able to pass KK2, which covers all the characters one should presumably learn by the time they finish high school in Japan. In actual practice, I suspect that with no preparation at all most passers of N1 would struggle to pass KK5 , which only tests through the Kyouiku Kanji... those taught in elementary school. I know I certainly needed several hours of reviewing and brushing up to get ready for KK5. Anything from KK4 and up, the presence of the 四字熟語 section and the fact that we as foreign learners are typically almost entirely ignorant of them would make passing the test exceedingly unlikely without preparation. That section of the test is such a huge chunk of the total score that even though it is possible to do poorly on it (or even score zero on it) and still pass the test overall, it would leave room for almost no incorrect answers on the other sections of the test.

I think anyone at N2 level should certainly be able to do KK5 as a bare minimum and perhaps KK4 or KK3, but I would stress very strongly that the nature of the JLPT and the KK are so different that one should absolutely familiarize themselves with the tests and materials beforehand and not operate on an assumption that x proficiency by the JLPT scale corresponds to x proficiency on the KK scale. What is meant and expected by "knowing kanji" as tested by the KK and by the JLPT are as different as day and night....and one would be very mistaken to assume that merely being familiar with a certain number of individual kanji and some (or even all) of their readings is sufficient to pass the test. Anyone who contemplates taking the Kanji Kentei is strongly encouraged to do preparation specifically geared toward the Kanji Kentei, especially anything from KK4 and up. Lack of sufficient specific preparation and perhaps not realizing what a buggerbear the 四字熟語 section can be is probably why the pass rate drops precipitously even for native speakers as the levels get higher.

Fortunately, there are tons of materials available, including mountains of actual questions from past exams (which get reused). There is no reason anyone with half a brain and the willingness to put in a little time and effort can't pass most levels of the exam and learn quite a bit along the way. Unlike the JLPT, it does require examinees to demonstrate that they can actually write Japanese, so it is particularly important to include kanji recall and active writing practice in one's preparation for the test.

You might find the option of taking the tests on an individual basis via a computer at a designated testing center works well for you if you can't be in Japan on one of the three days the test is given for the public at large each year. Days and times vary considerably by locality, but it should be pretty easy to arrange to take the test during a visit here. Note that it is possible to take multiple levels on the same day.

漢検CBT受検 | 日本漢字能力検定
 
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lincstreff

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I'm counting on you, Mike, to become the fourth person from outside the Chinese character cultural sphere to pass one of the KK level one tests.
Make us proud!
 

Mike Cash

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I'm counting on you, Mike, to become the fourth person from outside the Chinese character cultural sphere to pass one of the KK level one tests.
Make us proud!

I'm slowly moving in the general direction of pre-1. Let's just say I currently have no expectation of sitting the exam this November.
 

madphysicist

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Thanks for the detailed answer, Mike.

The reason for me signing up for the test in this case would largely be to give me an aim to structure my study, not only to have the certificate, so I'm prepared to put work in towards the test. (I have no specific career plans for Japan right now, but I imagine an employer would not be overly impressed by a level 4 or 5 certificate anyway since they're basically for kids...?). Without an aim I feel I've not managed to progress much since passing N2. I'm wondering what level of the KK would be appropriate to aim at if I were in Japan within one year.

Writing kanji by hand is certainly a weak point of mine. Maybe I'll look to take levels 4 and 5 as a goal within the next year, especially if I have to miss the JLPT date again in December.
 

Mike Cash

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The good thing is that there are so many study materials and most especially very good practice tests available that it is very easy to have an accurate idea of what your chances are on any given level, so there is really none of the apprehension of wondering if one has chosen the right level or not as with the JLPT.

There are plenty of apps that are very useful and physical books are plentiful and often available used at near giveaway prices.
 

Starbucks

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Actual scores won't be available until the 24th but pass/fail results were made available online today.

I passed both Levels pre-2 and 2.

Note that the JLPT N1 supposedly tests for about the same number of kanji as this. I passed the N1 with flying colors (98th percentile or around there) last December with zero study or preparation.....and starting in February it took me a full three hundred hours of studying before I could barely scrape a passing grade on a KK2 practice test. I did 429 hours by the test date, averaging over three hours a day. Most of it was done on the steering wheel of my truck.

I have remarked earlier that doing the KK, even at level 5 and 4, made me painfully aware of how much my vocabulary sucks. In the course of my study I had to create about 3700 SRS cards for (mostly) words I had never heard before. I also had to do that for about 600 four-character expressions, practically none of which I had heard of before and which I doubt any texts aimed at foreign learners of Japanese deal with at all....certainly not in any meaningful way.

Anyway....the Level 2 typically has a pass rate of about 20% and I am glad to be able to say I passed it on the first try. Statistically, of the roughly 50 people who sat the exam with me, only about 10 of us passed. Now I am just anxious to get the detailed results back and see if I pulled the averages up or down.
Mike, actually it is not fair to say that you did not study for the JLPT N1 when you had been studying the Kentei exams. That's a little like saying you missed your brown belt classes because you were too busy fighting 3rd degree black belts. JLPT should send you a 免許皆伝 certificate for passing Kentei 2kyu. You mastered all the 常用漢字. I hope to hear how those who told you that you couldn't do it will see you now. Just make sure they don't commit 切腹! And remember to tell them 俺に負けてそれでも日本人か、恥をかけ! in a very samurai way! Lol! Congratulations again by the way. I think you got the credentials to be a professional translator now.
 

Mike Cash

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Mike, actually it is not fair to say that you did not study for the JLPT N1 when you had been studying the Kentei exams

Re-read what I wrote.

I took the JLPT N1 in December 2015.

I started studying for the KK at the tail end of January 2016.

My whole point was that despite having just done very well on a test which supposedly tests knowledge of about 2000 kanji, I had to do several hours of preparation for KK5, which only covers about half that many and I actually required three hundred hours (I kept records) of study before I could barely pass a practice test of KK2, which covers a similar amount.

What I was driving at was what a bogus-assed joke the JLPT is and I suppose by extension the whole gaijin fixation on how many kanji we "know". If you ever want to stick a pin in some blowhard who thinks he knows x number of kanji because he got x level on the JLPT (or did RTK), just quietly hand him a KK test that covers roughly the same number of kanji and watch him deflate.

I think you got the credentials to be a professional translator now.

I have done just enough amateur translation to know that being a professional translator is not a thing I aspire to.
 

Mike Cash

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Certificates and score sheets arrived today.

On the pre-2 the average among all who took the test was 131.5. Passing was 140.

On level 2 the average among all who took the test was 133.6. Passing was 155.

I scored 184 on pre-2 and 175 on level 2. While I am thrilled to have passed, I am gratified not to have barely passed.

I did quite a number of level 2 practice tests and it speaks well of the people who put the practice tests together that my score on the actual exam was pretty much exactly in line with what I was getting on the practice tests.
 

Mike Cash

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Still not planning on a November pre-1?

I've got to learn around eight or nine hundred more kanji first, and their frequently oddball readings, before I can even consider starting on all the other crap that comes up on the test. The gap between 2 and pre-1 is, simply in terms of number of added kanji, similar to the gap between 5 and 2.

Nope. If I'm lucky I might be through a first run-through of the new characters by November.

Another very large limiting factor is that creating study materials has become vastly more tedious and time-consuming as the characters and vocabulary become less common. One can easily create SRS decks using just the built-in EDICT dictionary in StickyStudy up through about pre-2, and the decks of kanji are also included up through pre-2 broken down by KK level. For 2, you're on your own making decks but EDICT is still usually enough. When you get to pre-1 lots of the stuff is so obscure even most Japanese-Japanese dictionaries don't help, so there is tons of looking stuff up in a honking huge dictionary you would expect to find on a study stand at your public library.
 
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WonkoTheSane

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Well, if sounds like a hell of a project to sink your teeth into, I'm enjoying watching the ride!
 

Mike Cash

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Well, if sounds like a hell of a project to sink your teeth into, I'm enjoying watching the ride!

Hop on and come along. I wish that I had known way back when about using this stuff as graded learning materials.

Starting from Level 2, the certificates are double the size of all the others (B4 instead of B5). A point where they make JLPT look even worse than they did already. I think I might frame this one and see how their postcard looks jammed down in a corner.

 

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On a whim I popped over to look at the list and I actually know most of the level 10 ones. Perhaps I'll give it a shot. I just can't find any motivation to do the JLPT.
 

madphysicist

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Since we were discussing the JLPT (lack of) certificate before, I forgot to mention that the certificate and score report they gave me have some kind of magic ink in them so that when you photocopy them it says 複写 in big letters across the copy. Therefore you can create as many automatically verified copies as you want.

I thought that was really neat. I still don't understand why they sent me this stuff and you only the rubbish postcard. Maybe the price of the fancy certificate was included in the £75 I paid for the JLPT. For comparison it looks like this one:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/JLPT_N1.jpg
 

lincstreff

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Yes, I was kidding. Just having a little fun in the spirit of this forum.
 

Mike Cash

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On a whim I popped over to look at the list and I actually know most of the level 10 ones. Perhaps I'll give it a shot. I just can't find any motivation to do the JLPT.

I don't blame you. I went and took the old level 2 at the request of a co-worker who was trying it for the third time and believed in "misery loves company" and I took N1 more as a matter of curiosity and unfinished business than anything else. I certainly never based any of my learning Japanese on preparing for the blasted thing. I'm sort of the opinion that JLPT has done more to retard Japanese learning than it has to promote it. I can't understand why anybody who doesn't need the certificate bothers with it and I really can't understand why they would structure their learning around it.

I think you'll find the materials for KK a nice adjunct to your regular studies. As @Starbucks and I have both independently mentioned regarding looking at some rather low levels of KK materials after having passed N1, it is quite a shock to encounter lots of vocabulary that simply doesn't come up on JLPT stuff. The shock is magnified when one realizes that this is stuff Japanese elementary school children are being tested on, so it isn't unreasonable to expect foreigners to be familiar with it as well. I know you're a fan of the graded readers. Going through the KK levels, which are arranged by school grade level through KK5, also serves as graded learning/reading material. It doesn't really matter if you actually go take the tests or not; the boost in literacy in your daily life is its own reward.

Drop by practically any bookstore and ask them かんじけんていの本はどこですか and root around among the various books. The levels are on the covers and spines in Roman numerals as a general thing so it should be very easy. Alternately, you could go with apps. I like StickyStudy, which has the decks already arranged and integrates the EDICT Dictionary.
 

Mike Cash

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I still don't understand why they sent me this stuff and you only the rubbish postcard. Maybe the price of the fancy certificate was included in the £75 I paid for the JLPT. For comparison it looks like this one:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/JLPT_N1.jpg

That's what the old certificates looked like here too. I'll never understand why test takers in Japan get the crappy card while the rest of the world gets something proper.

I must say, the only positive thing that came of taking N1 is that I can now freely say what a low opinion I have of the JLPT organization without opening myself up to claims that I'm just bitter because I can't pass N1. I've passed it and may trash talk them to my heart's content.
 

madphysicist

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I can't understand why anybody who doesn't need the certificate bothers with it and I really can't understand why they would structure their learning around it.

I still haven't found any other recognised Japanese test available in Europe. So anyone here who wants to take a test to measure their progress or to study towards doesn't have other options.

I discussed my various issues with the JLPT in another thread, but I don't have quite as low an opinion as you. I benefitted a lot from using some of the JLPT books to study (not published by the JLPT organisation, but designed for a particular level/skill like "N2 reading"). I will try N1 if I have the opportunity; it's not that expensive as language tests go and it feels somehow "incomplete" not to have it. One of my friends just paid over 200 euro to prove his English was decent because apparently having a master's taught in English wasn't enough : /

That's what the old certificates looked like here too. I'll never understand why test takers in Japan get the crappy card while the rest of the world gets something proper.

I must say, the only positive thing that came of taking N1 is that I can now freely say what a low opinion I have of the JLPT organization without opening myself up to claims that I'm just bitter because I can't pass N1. I've passed it and may trash talk them to my heart's content.

Hmm well, people outside Asia don't have the choice of taking a different Japanese test that gives everyone a nice certificate so JLPT takes pity on them...? I've got nothing.

I'll have to work towards KK2 to get a super-fancy certificate like yours. It... might take a while.
 

Mike Cash

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I'll have to work towards KK2 to get a super-fancy certificate like yours. It... might take a while.

Actually, it isn't all that hard. Thanks to the way the levels are laid out it is a very linear process and it is possible to know exactly what you have to work on for each level. Hell, they publish the past test questions and reuse the questions. If you ever want some stuff to create SRS cards out of I can try to export my stuff to CSV files for you. I think knowledge gained through studying for the KK would be helpful for taking the JLPT but I have my doubts that the opposite is true.

By the way, my low opinion of the JLPT has more to do with the people who run it than with the test itself... although I will confess I don't hold it in high regard either.
 
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