JLPT past exam papers
(Japan Educational Exchanges and Services and The Japan Foundation)
Every year JEES and the Japan Foundation publish the previous December’s test papers. They come in 2 volumes. One with level 4 and 3, one with level 2 and 1. You can usually find some past years but they do go out of print. I wonder if I shouldn’t start buying level 2 test papers now, but it’ll be a few years before I’m ready for level 2.
Basically what you get is the test paper reproduced exactly; A CD of the listening section; the answers and marking scheme; transcripts of the listening dialogues and statistics on the years scores.
I must say the price is a bit steep (at least in the UK). I’d recommend this book as being more useful. Also it may be possible to get past test papers online, but you’ll need to google for them. It’s useful to have them on paper.
You might find that your teacher may have copies you can borrow or people who have taken the test before might have copies too.
Taking these test papers is a good way to prepare for the test. You should take them against the clock. Check your incorrect and guessed answers to make sure you understand the questions. Check all the vocabulary you didn’t know. Re-listen to the dialogues. This is probably the only way you can get listening exercises that are completely geared to the test and the level of Japanese required for the test.
I’d suggest that you could study 1 exam paper in a week or two. Practice makes perfect!
It’s worth pointing out that kanji account for only 47 marks out of 400; about 12%. You wouldn’t think that from the amount of attention on the internet given to kanji for JLPT. Grammar is far more important. If you don’t have grammar you might not be able to understand the listening section.
In it’s own right grammar accounts for 128 marks out of 400; 32%. The rest is vocabulary and that’s probably the most important part. If you study a good grammar with example sentences you should be studying kanji and vocabulary as a by-product and I think it’s easier to remember vocabulary if learnt in context and with other words.
Since the JLPT changed 2 years ago official past exam papers are no longer published, however various publishers are printing example papers.