Why do people keep taking the test over and over again… The world of Kanji Proficiency Exam Level 1 is too dangerous | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why do people keep taking the test over and over again… The world of Kanji Proficiency Exam Level 1 is too dangerous

Interview with a YouTuber who is the only person who has passed Kanken Level 1 and is still working

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The pass rate for Level 1 is 5-10% each time. Of those, 70 to 80% are “repeaters”!

Many elementary and junior high school students take the “Japan Kanji Aptitude Test,” commonly known as the “Kanken”.

When my daughter was in elementary school, I took the test with her and passed the second level with almost no study, but I failed the first level with the same feeling, so I had to study harder to pass it.

What I learned for the first time was that passing Kanken Level 1 is not a goal, but that many people who pass Level 1 are repeaters who keep taking the test over and over again. Passing Level 1 was not even the beginning of the mountain of kanji. What a crazy world.

Why in the world would someone who has passed Level 1 of the Kanken keep taking it over and over again? How difficult is Kanken Level 1? We asked Yohei Yasuhiko (21), aka “Abi”, the only active YouTuber who has passed Kankoku Level 1.

I think there is a gap between the public image of Kanken Level 1 and the reality.

I often hear On quiz shows, difficult-to-read kanji characters are often featured, such as “Kanken Level 1,” and what comes out are guesses such as “Hitode” ( ), or “rose” and “lemon,” which have many strokes and are difficult to write. The Graduates” are often used. It is true that these characters are asked in one of the major questions of the first level of the Chinese Proficiency Test (Kanken), “熟字訓・当て字,” but they actually account for only 5% of the total.

Therefore, there is a gap between knowing a lot of kanji with strange readings that appear in quiz shows and being able to pass the first level.

If you only know the kanji for the idiomatic readings and guesses, you can enjoy studying them like a quiz, but the remaining 95% is very hard.

The other 95% is very hard. “For example, there are many plants that we all know about, but we don’t actually know anything about, or have never even heard of, so while idiomatic kanji is a good entry point for studying kanji, it’s not very popular among Level 1 repeaters.

There are also a lot of Buddhist terms and historical terms that are difficult to remember unless you know the background of the word.

The word “stork” is the one that got Abi interested in kanji. He was shocked to learn that a single character has five sounds, and became increasingly addicted to difficult-to-read kanji.

In his second year of high school, he quit the rugby club and shifted his focus to kanji.

Abi first became interested in kanji when she learned the kanji for “hina” on a quiz show when she was in the fourth grade. At that time, “Yomigaeru de yomigaenai miseru kana (Easy-to-read kanji)” (published by Futami Shobo) was a bestseller, and when she saw a page full of kanji for birds and animals, she was shocked to learn that the kanji for “stork” had five sounds in one character, and she became more and more addicted to difficult-to-read kanji.

As a result, he started taking the Kanken test in elementary school, and attained Level 3 in the sixth grade, Level 2 in the second grade, and Level 1 in the first grade. However, “I knew I couldn’t pass Level 1 with half-hearted determination,” so in her second year of high school, she quit the rugby club and shifted her focus to kanji.

From that point on, he continued to take the Level 1 test and passed on his fifth attempt in his second year of university. Where did you get that persistence from ……?

I’ve always liked kanji, so by the time I was in high school, kanji had become my identity. However, simply saying that I like kanji does not tell you how good I am. When explaining to people, it would be easier to understand if I could say, “I’m a Kanken 1st grade student,” wouldn’t it?

However, one of the main features of the Kanken Level 1 test is that even if you do all the textbooks on the market and past exam questions, you will not be able to pass the test on your own. The passing standard is 80%, but even if you perfect all the commercial textbooks, you can only get 60-70% of the total.

In other words, for the remaining 10-20%, you have to read dictionaries, gather information on Twitter, read blogs written by Kanken Level 1 repeaters, and use various other means to steadily pick up words.

The Kanken was launched in 1992, and the examinations are held three times a year, and the pass rate for the first level is 5 to 10 percent each time, or about 50 to 100 people. However, 70 to 80 percent of them are “repeaters,” and the pass rate for newcomers is about 1 to 3 percent, and sometimes less than 1 percent for difficult exams.

Why do they keep coming back so many times?

One reason is that there has always been such a culture. There were people who had passed the test dozens of times when I first set out to become a Level 1 student, and once you actually pass Level 1, you realize that passing Level 1 is not the goal at all.

I myself have passed Level 1 many times, but even so, more and more words come out that I don’t know, and the range of words is truly endless. In addition, there are people who continue to take the exam as a test of strength or for maintenance, because they think it would be a shame to lose the ability to use the vast amount of knowledge they have accumulated until they passed the exam. There are some people who continue to take the exam as a test of strength and maintenance.

Some people take the test three times a year as if it were a theme park (laughs).

“First of all, the most important thing is the ‘Kanken Kanji Dictionary’ officially published by Kanken. First of all, the official Kanken Kanji Dictionary is the most important one. This is only a small part of the material…

Things I found useful after taking Level 1…

In Abi’s case, he has memorized about 10,000 idioms, plus 1,000 to 2,000 each of four-character phrases, kun-yomi, guessing words, proverbs, etc. What did he find useful after taking Level 1?

What was the most useful thing about taking Level 1?

People who read a lot of books are very strong. About half of the people who take the Kanken Level 1 test are over 60 years old, and old men who read historical novels are very strong.

Recently, a new wind has been blowing in the Kanken area, mainly through Twitter.

In addition to that. When I was in my first year of high school, before I took the Level 1 test, I joined a study group run by a repeater, and we gradually became friends.

Every time I attend a study group, there are 10 to 20 repeaters from all over Japan. They range in age from high school students to people in their 70s, and they take turns creating questions and explaining them to each other.

Furthermore, Abi started the “Kanken Level 1 YouTuber” about a year and a half ago. He says that he started his YouTubing career about a year and a half ago because there was no one with a Level 1 Kankoku-ken who was doing YouTube.

At that time, I was six points short of passing level 1, and I had a good feeling that I could pass next time, but I didn’t know how to study until then, so I took a long way.

I looked into the study methods of the repeaters, but they all did very difficult things. So, as a first-time student, I didn’t know the difference between words that were necessary to pass the exam and words that were not necessary, and there was a time when I was studying by myself, reading through a Chinese dictionary.

But it took me a year to realize that it wasn’t really necessary and that it was a super long way to go. It took me a year to realize that it wasn’t really necessary and that it was a very long way off.

I don’t want you to make the same mistake.”

So, how do you distinguish between words that are necessary for success and words that are not?

First of all, the most important thing is the official Kanken Kanji Dictionary. You need to memorize the words in this dictionary. You should memorize the words in this dictionary.

Next, words in 300,000-word dictionaries such as “Kojien”, “Daijirin”, and “Daijisen” (medium-sized dictionaries) are not essential for passing the test, but there is a possibility that they will appear. Beyond that, words that can only be found in the “Nihon Kokugo Daijiten” or “Kanwa Jiten” are not necessary.

The most important one, the “Kanji Dictionary of Japan,” alone is huge, but …… is a good place to start.

That’s right (laughs). (laughs) But lately, it’s getting harder and harder to find the words in the “Nihon Kokugo Daijiten” as well.

For example, 10 years ago, you could pass the first level of the test with just a commercial textbook, but now it’s much more difficult. It’s almost like a battle between the repeaters and the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation.

What Abi-san showed me was an original teaching material of synonyms, with about 2000 items compiled in Excel.

For example, the number of synonyms for “sun” alone is enormous! I said, “Why don’t you sell it?

The original teaching material of synonyms with about 2000 items compiled in Excel data.

But I also receive various materials in PDF format for free from my predecessors and repeaters at study meetings, so I don’t want to charge for them (laughs).

He also talked about the depth of kanji.

He went on to explain the depth of kanji, saying, “It’s only 6,000 characters that appear in the Kankoku-ken, but in the world of kanji, there are 50,000 characters in the Dai Kanwa Jiten, and even more in China. And even now, after having passed the first level of the Kanken test several times. I still encounter a lot of unfamiliar kanji when I read the dictionary. ( LOL! ). And don’t get me wrong.

And don’t get me wrong, the Kankan is not all about kanji. The Kanken is basically reading and writing, and I’m not familiar with the field of kanji studies, such as the formation of kanji, so I can’t say that I’m really good at kanji or that I’ve mastered kanji.

Click here for “Abi/YouTuber with Level 1 Chinese Proficiency Test”.

  • Interview and text by Wakako Tago

    Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, she became a freelance writer. In addition to conducting interviews with actors and others for weekly and monthly magazines, she writes drama columns for various media. JUMP 9 no Tobira ga Openitoki" (both published by Earl's Publishing).

  • Photography Mayumi Abe

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