Exactly a year ago, I set out to learn Japanese, starting from nothing. In my research, Wanikani frequently came up recommended, so I gave it a try, and over the course of the year, it came to dominant my study time, practically defining my life by the SRS schedules.
I’ve dabbled in many things, but apart from WK, I’ve spent by far the most time watching anime and listening to Japanese podcasts and music in the background. I’ve tried to practice reading, but it’s so hard and frustrating and boring that I always quickly give up, even with stuff like NHK News Easy or Yotsuba.
Initially WK was exciting, as I learned all the common kanji and words required to understand anything. But towards the end, when it was all obscure words and kanij you’ll never see, and as I banged my head against 150+ review piles late at night with a 70% accuracy rate on a good day, I really started to question my sanity. I wondered whether there was even any point in doing the higher levels of WK, especially without high level reading to reinforce the material.
However, today everything changed. Yesterday and today, I did a bunch of practice JLPT tests to try to gauge my progress over the year objectively. I took the 2012 N5 and N4 tests here, as well as small parts of the N3, N2, and N1 tests.
There’s sadly no score scaling information provided, but I’d guess that overall, the highest level I could pass right now is N4. Grammar appears to my weakest point, and I struggled even with the grammar questions on the N5 test.
However, I also took the first section of the N3 test (Language Knowledge) just for fun, and despite having to guess a lot, I managed to get 21/33 right, including 13/14 of the kanji knowledge questions and 8/19 of the vocab questions.
To further assess my kanji skills, I also answered the kanji questions on the N2 and N1 tests for fun. Despite having no idea what the sentences even meant, I managed to get 9/10 of the N2 kanji questions and 5/6 of the N1 kanji questions. It was almost magical, seeing all those seemingly useless words and kanji of the last few months suddenly reappear on the JLPT practice exam.
Admittedly, I probably got a bit lucky there, since WK doesn’t cover everything, and as my 74% review accuracy rate shows, I’ve forgotten much of what WK does cover. But it was still cool to finally see all those leeches actually be good for something. Even on the N1 exam, all the kanji and readings they were asking about looked familiar to me.