A.k.a. the JLPT. I'm currently prepping for level 2, which I'll be taking in one week (!!!) from now on December 5th. I've been studying for it since about September, although with my work schedule and tendency to become distracted by books I haven't been as diligent as I could've been. I've been trying to make up for that by studying like crazy lately.
I thought I'd do a post on the JLPT since I know a lot of people who come over here end up taking it. Level 2 is broken up into 3 sections: grammar, kanji and listening. The grammar is really obnoxious. It's a lot of nit-picky comparisons between grammatical patterns that are almost identical. Here is one example for those of you who can read Japanese, which should illustrate just how obnoxious it really is:
１．上に ２．上で ３．上は ４．上では
The correct answer, by the way, is 1. I found a good book for studying grammar, called 日本語総まとめ. It works on a weekly program- you study 2 pages everyday, and at the end of the week you take a 15 minute practice test. If you follow the schedule, you should finish the book in 8 weeks (good luck with that!).
A couple other resources I use for studying are:
1. The Kanji Box - This site is great for practicing kanji. You can select which level of the JLPT you're studying for, and it's also good for practicing vocabulary.
2. Smart.fm - I love this website. It's kind of hard to believe it's free, actually. It's a basic program for studying vocabulary, but you can create a profile and then choose lists out of thousands of vocab lists from different languages to study. And it keeps track of your study info- how often you do it, what words/lists you need to work on more, etc. Definitely one of my favorite resources.
3. Tutoring - I go to a free tutoring program in Sendai called Hands. The tutors are all volunteers from the local college. Since there are a lot more volunteers then students, I usually have a group of several native speakers teaching me each time. But wherever you are, I would highly recommend finding a tutor somewhere. Many of the grammar patterns require a native speaker's intuition to differentiate them from a similar pattern.
And there ends my post of Japanese nerdiness. Good luck to anyone else taking the exam! And good luck to me, I will definitely need it. >.<
Next up, a post about all the costuming stuff I've been up to lately (when I should have been studying more...).