Hello folks! I started Wanikani maybe five years ago now, not knowing a single word of Japanese, and today, after living in Japan for three years, I am proud to say that I passed the Kanji Kentei ２級！I don’t think I would have been able to do this so quickly without Wanikani, (probably wouldn’t have passed the N1 last December either to be honest…)
I have since moved on from Wanikani - - but I have to come back to see where it all started. For those of you who are just starting out, welcome! It’s a long road, but eventually it will pay off in the end!
So I bought a book of past tests, organized by appearance in the exam frequency, and put them into Anki. It takes time but it’s worth tracking what questions you can answer, and what ones you cannot. (The link to Amazon Japan for the book I used is at the bottom of the page.)
The Kanji stroke order font was incredibly useful for my Anki Cards, all of my answers are displayed with that. Having a Japanese teacher grade my handwriting in language school was also helpful. You get this rhythm for understanding how they grade these tests. This did mean when I sat down to do Anki, I was writing a whole lot. The week before the exam, I was cramming about 500 writing cards a day. The night before was about 1200. Yikes.
The hardest part for me was making sure I was familiar with a word’s meaning in a “natural way”. So one example might be the word 射る, I learned the set phrase 的を射る, but a test question just gave you 目をいる、and to write the Kanji for 射る. Because I learned 射る as “to shoot”, it didn’t cross my mind this was the 射る they wanted, as it would be weird to “shoot an eye” I thought. So I went with 要る haha.
The point is, learning the words organically by reading as much as you can, if your grammar skills permit you to is extremely helpful. Properly studying the Japanese words is helpful, like learning to use the 四字熟語 saves loads of time and is helpful; many of them at this level are still used in everyday conversation. Outside of that, it was a lot of learning, and a lot of reading. Making sure that your other Japanese skills are to snuff before you take the exam is extremely helpful.
Yup, gonna go for 準1級 next. However I’m going to be focusing on career related things for a while. So maybe in like 3 years I’ll pass.
The next level is pretty daunting, I barely recognized any of the Kanji, and many of the words are not something you’d use in everyday life. Even in my reading, game playing etc. they come up very infrequently.
Some of the words are pretty out there, like a word I recently learned for this level include 曝書, the periodic opening and laying out of books to remove moisture from them. Another was 叡慮, which Jisho wonderfully translates as “the emperor’s pleasure.” While these words are “cool as heck,” they aren’t words you can just say and expect everyone to know what you’re talking about. A lot of the words are written in 旧字体, and I had trouble finding online references to them – but that’s partly because google books on older Japanese texts is lacking, to say the least.
I haven’t passed it yet, but I think the most important thing to learn while studying for the 準一級漢検 are patience, and an appreciation for all things Japanese – you don’t have to be an expert on the history of books of in Japan or 最高敬語(the form of Japanese you speak to the emperor), but learning to appreciate the nuances of Japan and its history is perhaps the most invaluable thing to getting the most out of the highest levels of Kanken.