The exam

Like 15,000 other victims I took the mismanaged and poorly organised Japanese Proficiency Test last December but this is not only a test of Japanese Language but also a test of patience. I’ve no gripe with the test itself. 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.
The actual exam lasts only 90 minutes in three separate sessions but we had to be there from 10.15 until 16.00.
The test uses computer forms, 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.
I had to fill in the exam application back in September and send 3 photos with it. One of them came back attached to my test invitation, one was given to the examiner so they could corroborate my test invitation with their file but the 3rd one? Probably held in some secret file!
Test starts at 10.15 or that what I thought as before the test we had a lecture in very fast Japanese on the things we were not allowed to do. Like having our mobile phone switched on (despite this, during the test a couple of phones rang!), no speaking and no
looking at books. Then the examiners went through the tables and checked that we had displayed our invitation with picture on the table. Then went trough again to check their file picture with our actual faces. Once all this completed we were allowed to start.
The test sheet did say that we should write with an HB pencil, I did consider using a B4 one but I thought is might be construed as some sort of individuality claim on my part so I did not.
The first test, which was Kanji and vocabulary questions lasted for 25 minutes, we were then sent outside until 1pm when the next exam took place.
Second exam was listening comprehension, before the exam we had again, the lecture about what we were not allowed to do again the picture check and then we started. This one only lasted 15 minutes. We were then again let out for 1 hour.
Final test, grammar! This one lasts for 50 minutes, we were again given the lecture and the picture check.
I went home at 4pm relieved that this was finally over.
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 yon-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? So can I say “Last year I was a yon-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.
Any way, I passed!

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