|RANT 'N' RAVE
Illustration by Yukiko Leitch
About 15,000 victims suffered through the
mismanaged and poorly organized Japanese Language Proficiency Test again this year. It's
about time someone ranted about it. It may as well be me. Sure, failing the ni-kyu (level
two) three times is something to be upset about, but that's not the problem. I've no gripe
with the test. It's that the breaks are too long, it's once a year, the results take too
long, the assignment of testing locations is ridiculous, and the level of the test varies
according to how many people pass in preceding years.
First, those taking the test have waited for one long year, so we don't need a two-hour
break after the first 35 minute section. (Lunch doesn't take two hours anyway.) A one-hour
break after the next 50 minute section is also not necessary. What are we supposed to do
in these breaks? If others testees are like me, we've been assigned to a test location in
the middle of nowhere, usually with people we don't know.
And who is responsible for assigning people to each location? During my two-hour trip to
Asia University, I passed another testee on his two hour trip towards my town to take the
test. Since there are several locations, wouldn't it be reasonable to go to the test site
closest to home? But I guess since we tolerate a test which is more than half
"breaks" anyway, the test makers think it wouldn't bother us to spend the
remainder of our precious Sunday traveling to their inconsiderately chosen sites.
The test uses computer forms, number two pencils and anything else that'd give the
impression of a high-tech test. So why does it take almost three months to get the
results? The Eiken English test takes only three weeks to score. I imagine a line of 100
desks, each with a hanko-holding tester, each taking 30 minutes to decide whether to stamp
it or not, then passing it to the next guy. In February, one of them drops the results in
Rumor has it that the difficulty of each level is adjusted depending on how many get a
certain score the previous year. If this is true, why call it a ni-kyu? How are testees
supposed to know whether or not our one year of studying has paid off if the actual
difficulty of the test fluctuates? I can say during my next job interview "Last year
I was a ni-kyu but this year after noticeable improvement and much study, the test was
adjusted so my level dropped."
If the test was more effectively managed, I'd understand why it took place only once a
year. What are they doing for the whole year? They certainly aren't busy considering some
very important aspect of the test.
Many thanks to readerReid Greco for this Rant and Rave.