JLPT N1 Book review – April ’20

Shinkanzen Masuta N1 Dokkai [SKM]

This book gave me the familiar feeling of solving Dokkai which I had become so used to in N2. I am so so glad that I finished this book. It’s almost like conquering a mountain or may be it’s just a mental thing. Now that this one is done, I almost feel like the other books are a piece of cake. Strictly talking about the content of the book, it’s grueling. Lots of new vocab and interesting content as always. The passages to me, are really well chosen; which is so necessary if you are solving a long passage abundant with new vocab.

I have been a fan of the N2 book and this definitely didn’t disappoint. Undoubtedly, it was painful but if you persist it’s worth it. I did look forward to the interesting passages every day rather than being bogged down by the vocab. Some of the passages are too easy though. The challenging part being that I was under the impression that SKM N2 book gave me confidence in coming to the right answer even if I don’t everything in the passage and in N1 book I was wrong more than half the number of times while solving N1 passages. Initially, it was a bit disheartening but eventually it stopped bothering me and I wanted to understand more on why I was wrong.

The answers are definitely not easy to narrow down here. What I discovered was you can easily rule out 1 option, sometimes 2 if you are lucky enough. But the remaining 2 narrowed down answers are extremely confusing and they will take all the way down to hell. The problem inherently lies in the way the answers are written which is not at all in a straightforward manner to say the least. I think it teaches you an important but not much of a popular aspect of reading which is to strictly and literally stick to what the writer has written and not about what you think the writer has written or not about the feeling that you get after reading it. You will always “always” go wrong if you let your thoughts interrupt your reading process. Just stick with the writer’s words and opinions. Once, you master that though, you will mostly get all the answers right.

I was disappointed that this book didn’t have any passages in 縦書き(Tategaki-verticle writing). Of course, it’s eventually just text which you need to read vertically right to left instead of horizontally left to right. I don’t particularly find myself struggling while reading vertically but the speed would naturally be lower than normal. Hence, it would have been good to have had that practice as well. The notice-email-coupon type of exercises were too easy and many times while solving them I found myself going back again and again and trying to recheck if I had missed something because the answer seemed almost too easy to come by.

The long passages are definitely difficult. Sometimes I got the answers right but didn’t understand the passages even when I had all the vocab searched. In those cases, what helped was reading the answer explanations in the Kaitou(answer) section of the book. This has been my favourite part of the book as well. It explains why the correct option is correct and why the wrong options are wrong. Reading that was almost a grounding experience.

I am sure this will be my go-to book for the exam preparations. My focus next is on drilling the vocab in my head and rereading the passages to increase my reading speed and deeper understanding.

Unknown Grammar book:

Since this is an unknown book, I am aware that my review might not help a lot of people but I would still like to share my thoughts about this book (If I ever find out the name of this photocopied book, I will add it in). There were a total of 107 grammar patterns in the book and each grammar pattern has about 4 example sentences. It is not a book which will bog you down with the vocab and I think that’s a good thing while learning grammar- easier the sentences, better the understanding. All the example sentences were pretty basic which made the usage pretty interesting. Since I also fed in those grammar patterns in Anki, I do feel like I achieved a significant task.

The grammar patterns for N1 didn’t seem confusing – a big difference from N2, nor are they redundant or literary. I have heard many people saying N1 grammar is literary and you rarely get to see that grammar around- I would disagree with that. It doesn’t seem that way to me yet. Most patterns are just another way of saying a certain thing which you already know – sometimes a formal way of saying some things, but in no way does that seem outdated or literary.

Here’s a sneak peek into my Anki Grammar card – I follow a simple procedure about writing the pattern in the main field and example sentences accompanied by a short description of the pattern in the answer field.

Front Side
Eg1 : Front-Back (answer side)
Eg2 : Front-Back (answer side)

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