Wednesday, February 4, 2015

So the JLPT

Someday I will know my results.
Another JLPT come and gone, and results came out this week. I always resolve to talk a little bit more about it after I take the test, because honestly, something seems to get lost in the shuffle every time...with National Novel Writing Month happening in November, I often end up not thinking about the JLPT at all between October 31 and December 1. Not a great habit, I know, but one of these years...

The JLPT in Toronto administered by York University is one of two locations where the test is given in Canada. (The other is in Edmonton, AB.) Now, as a person who lives in The Big Smoke, I have no right to complain about how "far away" York is. (I may have done a little bit of complaining prior to my move here from the Atlantic provinces, though.) I can't even complain about the distance from my house, seeing how I chose to move away from Downsview the year before last. That doesn't mean that on test day, getting to the JLPT is a picnic!

So here is my advice for next year's JLPT applicants; common sense, to be sure, but maybe they're more of a reminder to myself for next year...?

  • Aim to arrive midway through the registration period. The lineups taper off a bit towards the middle and end of the registration period. Of course, you don't want to cut it too close, and have the TTC or something else make you too late to write the test, but too early isn't great either, and you'll be lined up awhile before sitting around for an hour just waiting. And getting nervous. Not to mention that aiming to arrive for 8 AM on a day when the subways are not running (meaning leaving my house at 6:30, meaning rising at 6) is asking for you to open up that test book and be so glassy-eyed that you don't know where to start. Don't panic if something goes wrong and you're going to get there right at the end of registration time. You have a few minutes' leeway while the orientation is taking place!
  • Expect to hear from York not too long after you sign up for the test. I say "not too long" because I'm not positive when it is actually supposed to come; for the last two years, I didn't receive my email with my voucher at all, and I waited far too long expecting it to come before I reached out to them. You need the voucher to write the test. Perhaps even more importantly, if you don't receive the voucher, you should still show up. Last year (2013, that is) I thought about the fact that I didn't have a voucher yet about 2 weeks before, and I contacted JLPT support. I was able to get it. This year (2014) I remembered the night before the test, as I ran through the checklist of things I needed to bring the following morning. That's why I was awake at 2 AM Googling phrases like "forgot JLPT voucher" and "JLPT York reprint voucher" and the like. I weighed whether or not it was going to be necessary to rise at 6 and go to York only to be turned away at the door. Luckily, buried somewhere on the site, I read that vouchers could be reprinted at registration. And I wasn't the only one not to receive their email - the line to reprint vouchers was much longer than any other line that morning. In short: You should receive a voucher with your test number. If you don't receive it within a few weeks of registering, ask. 
  • Bring something to eat. This test is long and the breaks just barely give you enough time to inhale a small snack. Our group had technical difficulties and started late, which meant that our breaks were cut down. (For the final one, the time of the break's end even was shortened and changed after many of us had left the room.) It took much longer to finish the test than expected, by something like 45 minutes, and I was ravenous enough that after every section I was wolfing down Polish chocolates that I had won the night before as a prize at a Polish wedding reception. Not sure what I would have done without that Jezyki Kokos,  Delicje cookies and especially Katarzynki, chocolate-covered soft gingerbreads. I might not be alive right now, without Katarzynki.
As for the test itself, I don't actually know how I did on it. That's because you need the voucher to log in online to see your results, and of course, there's no voucher in my email for me to refer back to. I emailed York to get my voucher number, but the password I was provided (generated by them, not by myself) doesn't work in the login page. So did I pass? Hard to say. I guess I'll find out when the paper results are dispatched the month after next...?

Maybe next year I will be able to choose between the JLPT and NaNoWriMo as a focus. Fingers crossed for the July version making its way east someday!