I thought I better give a follow-up on my big test adventure on Sunday. I left home at 10am, took a bus, then a train, then another train for a journey of about an hour and 45 minutes. At the station near the test site, a large swarm of gaikokujin (foreigners) rose bodily from the train and fell into a long marching line toward the university. Some kind of uniformed personnel (cops? transport authority? security guards?) kept the mass moving and out of traffic. Upon arriving at the university, we fell into a queue that snaked around through a few switchbacks leading into the building, where we then dispersed into our assigned rooms. I was in lecture hall with 154 other people (yes, I had time to count), and I would estimate there were maybe a thousand people overall at my test site. There were multiple sites in Tokyo, across Japan, and across the world. Go JLPT!
So I got into the classroom just after 12:00, and then the test instructions reading began at 12:30, including handing out of answer sheets and turning off of phones. We had to put our phones in clear plastic bags and then put it our own bags on the floor (not sure why exactly). Then, at 12:45, the vocabulary part of my test began. It ended at 13:15. Then the answer sheets were collected and counted (yes, all 155) for another 15 minutes. Then we had a break for another 15 minutes. Then, 15 minutes of instruction reading and paper distributing and watching the clock until it reached the official start time. Then 60 minutes of test, followed by 10 minutes of paper counting and a 20 minute break. Then 15 minutes of instructions and distribution, and 35 minutes of test. Then the final counting.
And then the journey home, beginning with the test-taking hoard’s collective walk to the train.
So, final tally: 9 hours away from home, for 2 hours and 5 minutes of actual test. (Just over 4 and a half hours in the testing site itself.)
And how did it go? I feel pretty confident about the whole thing, except the very last section: listening. I feel like my listening skills have improved dramatically and I practiced a lot specifically for the test. But the very last section is rapid-fire: you hear one sentence from a conversation, like “Oh, this bag is heavy”, and then you hear three possible responses to this statement by another person, e.g., “Thank you”; “Can I help you”; “Can you help me”. Or something along those lines. The tricky thing for me is that I need a little bit of time to think about who was speaking in scenario and who would answer, which has grammatical implications. But there’s no time to think before the next one begins. And after having been there for 4 and a half hours, my brain was not working particularly fast. I well may have failed that section, which would make me fail the listening section, which would make me fail the whole test. Well, we’ll see what happens, but regardless, I’m plowing ahead to the next level in July!