This is was also my first time taking the JLPT (yay for leaping into N2 together!), and I had taken a mock test two weeks before, which I failed. I knew my chances of passing this time were slim, but I tried my best, and I was surprisingly focused and awake throughout the test.
I knew grammar would be a weak point for me since I didn’t study that much at all, and so I had less time to do the reading sections, which I probably should have allocated more time. It always takes longer to read than I expect, especially if I need to reread for comprehension… I also got tripped up by the reading section about personality quirks, so I almost gave up on it… In the end, for the two language knowledge sections, I didn’t complete 4 questions, I think.
The listening was more difficult than my mock exam, but I think it was appropriate for the level, even if it meant I didn’t catch everything that I maybe should have. I still feel the most confident for this section, at least comparatively to the other two. However, my room was “unlucky”… Our audio started to fade out in the beginning, so they tried to continue with some tech help, but that failed… So they stopped it, waited for back-up materials, and replayed all the listening, including section 5 because some of the audio skipped. It skipped in the second playing too, but it was honestly enough to guess the answers, but they were at least generous in replaying it for us. Basically everyone started complaining (groaning) when the audio was faulty, and at the end it was clear we just wanted to be done. We were let out an hour later than the projected time on our vouchers. (And yet, there was still a massive line for the bus when I got out.)
In terms of rules and strictness, honestly, I feel like they could have been more strict. Taking it in a university in Japan, I was in a lecture classroom with rows of tables and two spaces in between myself and the person next to me (and an aisle separating myself and the person to my other side). They gave us vinyl bags for our phones and told them to put in our bags, and didn’t allow bags to be put on the chair next to us. We were supposed to put our bags on the ground next to us or below our table. However, it seemed like my coat placed on the seat next to me (and the person next to me did the same) was alright. I swear I heard vibrating during the listening section, but they didn’t stop or seem to hear/check to see if it was cellphone, and it kept going for a long time. Right after they stopped the listening the first time when the audio was faulty, everyone took out their phones and sent messages or whatever they were doing. The proctors didn’t say anything about it, and it was the same for when we finished the test - they weren’t finished collecting everything when people already pulled out their phones and gathered their things to leave. Anxious, I suppose. Also, I’m pretty certain some people copied their answers on erasers and things. To what end, I’m not sure, but in general it didn’t seem as strict as I expected.
In any case, I tried to do what I could, and I figure if I don’t pass, hopefully by July I’ll be better prepared to sit the test, and when I pass, I’ll be done because I don’t really have any reason to take the N1 at the moment. I got lucky with 和やか - I know someone whose name is 和 (なごみ) and I knew the kanji for 穏やか（おだやか）, so I’m glad I got that one at least. I was surprised to see a lot of kana and furigana for kanji I expected to be tested for N2, but perhaps all for the best. I hope others felt that they got something out of the experience, even if they’re not as confident as they would hope. Either way, we all have goals to work towards~ がんばりましょう！