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Unlucky breaks
Unlucky breaks

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 the mail.

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.

Metropolis Online
248.9: Unlucky breaks
Japanese Language Proficiency Test
247: Anglo phonies
Unreadable English
246: A clean sweep
Filthy leaves littering the streets
245: Out to lunch?
Eating in Japan
244: Taken for a ride
Popular bike theft
243: 'Tis the season
Christmas comes early in Tokyo
242: Food for thought
Looking down on English teachers
241: Pacemakers
Tokyo's slow walkers
240: Below the belt
Seeing someone on the side
239: Strike three!
Short baseball telecasts
238: Mean beans
Natto, evil incarnate in food form
237: How unsporting
Real sports vs. the fake ones
236: Saddo sando
The land of sandwich deception
234: Aircon abuse
Aircon turns summer into winter
233: Police me!
Tokyo's courageous signalmen

ISSUES 350-381
ISSUES 300-349
ISSUES 250-299