So, the moment of truth is almost upon me. This year’s Edexel AS Level Japanese Exam starts at 2 p.m. today. For the last two days, I have been running my own personal cram school, trying to bring to the front of my mind all of the grammar and vocabulary that I have been acquiring in class over the past 8 months.
It has been a hard task. Much harder than studying for the GCSE last year. One of the problems has been the lack of a vocabulary list. For GCSE there was a full list of all the words and verbs we were expected to know for the exam. This year there has only been a grammar list and a kanji list. Vocabulary has been built up for us by our teacher, who is second guessing what might be covered as much as we are. Past papers have helped, plus building vocabulary onto the 200 kanji we had to add to our existing 200 GCSE kanji.
Another problem is that the leap from GCSE to AS level is a big one. We had a 3 hour lesson once a week, and then we were expected to put at least that much time in again in our spare time at home. When you work an 8 hour day and have a family and friends that you want to spend time with, this is a hard thing to do.
One of my friends from the GCSE took a year out this year and spent time on his own building up his kanji knowledge. He intends to take the AS level next year. I’d thought that going straight into the AS from the GCSE would mean that I could maintain some momentum, but I’m wondering if he took the better option. I’m no slouch when it comes to studying, but I honestly think that I could have done with 2 years of study to prepare me for this exam!
I’ve been trying all sorts to help me retain the kanji. Kanjibox has helped, as has an app I have on my Android phone called Obenkyo. But most of all, copying and copying and copying out the 200 kanji has been necessary for my handwriting muscle memory to develop. I’m still not convinced I can remember them to write them from scratch, but at least I can recognise a good proportion of them.
My tactic today is to read through the paper, make a note of any vocabulary that I recognise from each of the questions, then head for the essay at the back of the paper. It’s worth more than 50% of the marks, so if I can get that out of the way first, then I can merrily take pot luck at the multiple choice comprehension questions and make a stab at the translation.
Of course, this is all dependent on me understanding the essay question. When our teacher showed us last year’s paper, I was completely flummoxed. That was an edifying moment, I can tell you.
So, by 4.45 tonight (BST), it will all be over. And sometime in August I will know whether it was pass or fail…