If you are reading this I assume you know what the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (short JLPT) is.

Did you also know that there is an official practice test for the JLPT?
I didn’t, until I got an invitation from the organizers of the JLPT to take that practice test some weeks ago!

But first things first:
To be completely honest, I don’t believe the JLPT to be an accurate tool to measure someone’s Japanese linguistic abilities. Unfortunately, while I don’t believe in the JLPT, most employers in Japan do. (Probably because they have never taken the test themselves…)

If you like it or not, in many cases you will need the JLPT to prove to your (future) employers that you can speak Japanese. Currently I’m in that situation, so I have to swallow my negative feelings and just get the “JLPT ritual” over with.

So finally, this spring, I signed up to take the JLPT this July (2017).

In May I received a letter from the organizer of the JLPT, offering me the chance to take part in an official practice test. Until I had received that invitation I had never heard of this practice test before but according to some older blogs I found, it seems they started doing these practice tests around 2010 when the JLPT was revised.

A certain number of JLPT applicants are chosen randomly and invited to the JLPT practice test, which is held 2 weeks before the real one. I couldn’t find any official information on how many people are invited and if the selection process is completely random or if there is a quota of some sort.

As I also don’t have a history of taking the JLPT multiple times over the past years, I’m not sure how high the odds are to be chosen for the practice test.

Anyone here who is more experienced with the JLPT and got invited to the practice test more than one time? Please share your experience!

This is what the invitation looked like. There was also a postcard attached, that you had to send back to the organization to confirm that you take the practice test.

That’s nice, I thought.
An extra chance to simulate the JLPT ritual beforehand. Just getting familiar with the flow of the ritual (how to behave on the test side, how to manage your time during the test etc.) can be a big help and a confidence boost.

Disliking the test doesn’t keep me from being nervous about taking it, so any kind of mental preparation is very welcome!

Plus, it is not only for free, participants will even receive a 2000 Yen reward for their troubles!

I sent the attached postcard back to the organizer. About 3 weeks later I received the test voucher for the practice test.
The test site I was appointed to was much farther away than I had thought. From my place in west Tokyo I had to do a more than 90 minutes train ride (costing a little more than 1000 Yen for one way, thus completely eating up the 2000 Yen reward they would give me to take the test).

Oh well, it is a chance to see parts of Japan I would probably have never seen under normal circumstances.
Off we go to Sagamihara Campus of Aoyama Gakuin University!

I like to explore train stations and their surrounding so I came a little early and enjoyed the area. Fuchinobe Station is not a big station but there are enough shops to cover basic needs.

Since I had enough time I stopped by the local St.Marc Café before I started looking for the test site.

You could feel the JLPT atmosphere right when you came out of the ticket gates of the Fuchinobe station.
For one there were some JLPT staff standing around holding up signs that point test takers in the right direction. Also the small station was packed with many nervous looking young people, who were obviously having the same purpose to be here as I did.

After a short walk I arrived at the university campus where the practice test would be held.
Oh my, Sagamihara Campus of the Aoyama Gakuin University is beautiful!

Good for the people actually coming here every day! (That alone was already almost worth the long train ride!)

Below are some photos of the campus. I would have liked to explore the campus more, but the JLPT staff (while being friendly) were hinting that we shouldn’t run around the campus too much and just wait in the designated area until the doors open.
Fair enough, wouldn’t want to bother the local students here. (If they decided to come in on a Sunday to study all the more!)

I expected there to be some kind of reception desk where they first check your voucher before letting you into the building but there was none. But instead you just look up your number on the chart below and find your room and seat and wait there for test to start.

Wow, very modern! This was my first time seeing escalators inside a university building!
Maybe it has been too long since I graduated… is the norm now?

After taking some photos of the campus I headed to the test room I was assigned to.

So, how was the practice test? Find out in the next part!