Monday, September 12, 2011

Language Tests and Pretests

A few months ago, Stephen and I decided to challenge our language learning by taking the Basic level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) this coming December. Shortly after that, I jumped into the tangled maze that is the JLPT application process. Little did I know when I began that this particular test has several hurdles to jump, I can only assume, to weed out non-proficient people.

Let me fill you in on the madness.

Pretest 1: purchase the applications.
In the States when I applied for the many tests I had to take to get through college and credentialling (CBEST, 3 CSETs, & 2 CLEPs) it was always as easy as going online clicking a few buttons and voila! you are ready to test. For this test, I had to purchase the applications from "a book store in (my) area." That's really all the official website said.
I failed my first attempt at finding the test and ended up walking out of the store in shame.
After talking with a friend who took the test last year, I found the right bookstore, the right floor, and the right counter to find the application.
Pretest 1: PASS

Pretest 2: fill out the applications.
"No big deal," you are most likely thinking right now. NO! it WAS a big deal. Each application came with (I kid you not) a 53 page(!) instruction booklet. After my initial shock, I learned to love the instruction booklet, and I am sure it is the only reason I knew to do the next 3 steps.
Pretest 2: PASS

Pretest 3: take a passport style photo to include with your application.
WHAT?! Never in the history of education or test taking have I needed to included a photo in with my application. And of course it had to be a certain size and dimension. fortunately for us, our supervisor, Tim, pointed out the passport photo booth at the mall near our house, when we had just arrived in Japan.
Pretest 3: PASS (even if they weren't the prettiest pictures)

Pretest 4: Pay for application at the post office.
I mentioned in my last post about how Japan deals with the lack of checks. so, rather than including a check with my application we had to head to the post office and pay for each application, then include the receipt(with the id number that corresponded to the id number on the application) in the envelope.
Pretest 4: PASS (thanks to the very kind clerk)

Pretest 5: Mail the application via special certified mail.
I only knew how to ask for this because my now beloved instruction manual told me. And really, after all the other tests, this one was not only easy-breezy, it was my favorite one because it was the LAST!
Pretest 5: PASS

We are now just waiting for our test voucher to come in the mail, when I am sure we will have a whole new set of hurdles to jump. Oh, and studying Japanese, because after all this work, I'd kind of like to pass the REAL test in December.

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