This is it, the highest and final level: the dreaded Level 1. If I pass this test, I will never have to worry about the JLPT ever again, though I'm thinking I may habitually start studying for it every fall since I have donated so much of the last four fall seasons to this test.
The premise of Level 1 is quite simple really -- unlike previous levels which "cap" the amount of words / kanji characters / grammar points that can be used, Level 1 doesn't feel that's necessary. Basically, you need to know it all. The whole language. Of course, since the test doesn't require you to produce an ounce of Japanese you don't need to be a native to pass it, however reading "fluency" is required because there is a lot of reading. I'm happy to say that I've attained a fairly decent level of said reading fluency, and therefore I'm not pessimistic about my chances of passing.
One snag about Level 1 is that, unlike the lower 3 levels where the passing grade is 60%, you need 70% to pass this bad boy. In the past few weeks, I've taken identical copies of the Level 1 tests of the past few years and I'm hovering slightly above 70% which would give me confidence if the bar was 60%, but I'm a bit nervous about the higher mark.
I guess I'll say that, because of my performance on the tests of the past few years, I am kind of feeling it going into Sunday. However, I'm also quite certain that I won't be feeling it Sunday afternoon after the test because I have always underestimated my points each year.
My studying this year has been different than past years. The only thing that I have studied in the same fashion as I have in past years is grammar, in particular the many specific grammar points which are some of the most formal and rarely-used in the entire language. They require a flashcard system because I'll never see them anywhere else. However, for the rest of the test, I haven't done as much hardcore flashcard studying as in past years because I feel that it's impossible to memorize every word in the language. What I have done instead is read...a lot. This has contributed to the reading fluency I mentioned above. I've come to the point where, to a fair degree, I can "feel" if something is right and I can (in some cases easily) predict what should be coming next, the way that we do in our native language. Not that my Japanese is anywhere as good as a native's, but my reading in particular is getting up there. My listening has improved a lot too this past year. Speaking and writing still beg for more attention, but by reading and listening a lot, the other two are automatically supplemented in a way.
Anyway, if I pass I'm going to be very pleased because this will mean that I'm at a level where a more "natural" method of studying works.
As soon as the test is over I'm heading straight to Osaka to spent the evening with my host family, and then headed to a 5-day translation and interpreting conference (via the JET course) right next to Kyoto. It should be very useful and pretty fun as well.
Admin Note: My apologies but most of the pictures used in past entries on this journal are not showing up properly at the moment. This is something I intend to deal with in mid-December when my test and seminar are over.