Comprehension, N1, N2, N3

Tackling N1-N3 Comprehension questions Part 5: 速読 (Speed reading)


こんにちは。 Here’s Part 5, 速読。
On my previous trip to Japan, i chanced upon a good book on 速読 (speed reading) . Speed reading is good, especially when you don’t have time to read the passages.

The author, 椋木修三先生、introduces a few good techniques which i personally feel is good.

1) Reading the passage in blocks of 7 words (7文字)
Rather than reading the passage word by word, read it in block of 7 words. In this way, you can read about 2100 words in 1 min (assuming you read 7 words in 0.2 secs)

2) Don’t use a pencil to bring you through the passage
Your reading area will be restricted.

3) Reading in a N style

For those who wish to get a copy of this book, here are the book details.

Title: 「超」速読勉強法
ISBN: 978-4-415-40152-2
Price: 524円

For those who wish to get more information face to face, feel free to contact me for a free consultation on this.


Comprehension, N1, N2, N3

Tackling N1-N3 Comprehension questions Part 4: Giving yourself time to adapt



Part 4 of this article covers about giving yourself time to adapt.

Sometimes, i will take JLPT with my students for the sake of observing how others behave during the exam, especially when they are doing 読解。 I usually finish the paper in half the time required for N2 and N3 paper and the proctor will just stare at me…

I realize a mistake that a lot of people make. Once they hit a problem that they cannot understand the passage, they start to panic.

This is definitely not good.

Remember that taking the exam is not to stress yourself. When you attempt 読解 questions, yes, you need to do time allocation properly. At the same time, you need to read the passage in a calm manner, if not nothing will go into your head.

Most importantly, relax and treat the paper like a test that your sensei gives to you. If you can’t think of the answer, don’t waste your brain cells. Save the brain cells for your 聴解, which can help pull up your marks tremendously. Tell yourself, “even if i don’t make it, there’s still a next try. Do my best for the paper”

The more you stress yourself, the more you start to panic and do badly for your paper.

At any time you find that you cannot understand the passage well, skip it and come back to it later. The brain will tend to relax once you do another topic. Alternatively, if you are very very stress out, stop what you are doing and breath in and out for about 2 minutes and continue doing the paper.

Comprehension, N1, N2, N3

Tackling N1-N3 Comprehension questions Part 3: Reading the passage


こんばんは。Just finished my 7th teaching assignment. Another 3 more assignments before i get the 1st half of my teaching certificate awarded by the institution. (^_^)
Down with fever and flu and i thought maybe i should finish this post after my dose of paburon.

Today, i’ll cover how to read the passage.

Are you good with particles? If not, please revise your particles before the exam. Especially particles like 「を」、「に」、「で」、「から」、「まで」, etc. In 中文 and 長文、 all these particles can leave u reading the passage a lot of times, wasting a lot of time.

Step 1:If there’s a name of a title at the bottom, read it. It will help you identify the topic.

Step 2: Read all the nouns (circle them if you need). This will help you identify the topic very fast.

The following is taken from 新完全マスターN2読解.

Without circles
Free Image Hosting at

With circles
Free Image Hosting at

Step 3: Identify the words that appear more than once.

In this passage, words that appear more than once, 「お金」、「人間」、「人」、「苦労」、「物」、「必要」->Topic is about buying things?

Step 4: While reading the passage, try to relate back to real life.

Step 5: Reading the questions and options available. Box up all the nouns and underline all the ending portions of the sentences. You will be able to find out the differences between each sentence.

With lines and squares
Free Image Hosting at

Step 6: Solving the questions. The boxes will kinda correspond to what you are trying to find in the passage. So it will help you look for the answer more easily. Notice a lot of tricky particles like 「より」、「から」 and beginner grammar like 「くてもいいです」 all come into place? That’s why it’s very important that you remember what you learn in Beginner and Intermediate.
For N1 passages, at times, you need to guess and infer a bit (i.e the nouns that appear on the questions may not be the same as those in the passage). For N2 and N3, it’s quite straightforward.

Answers are

問い1:  4

問い2:  1

問い3:  3

Did you manage to get it? (^_^)

Different kinds of passages have different ways of solving, but the above is a general idea of how you should solve it.
I will try to write more of such techniques to solve the passages. Look out for part 4. (^_^)


Comprehension, N1, N2, N3

Tackling N1-N3 Comprehension questions Part 2: Time Allocation


こんばんは。 Yesterday, i covered about reading techniques.

Today i’ll talk about time allocation.

For N1: 110 mins (35-40 mins on Vocabulary and Grammar, the rest on Comprehension)

For N2: 105 mins (30-35 mins on Vocabulary and Grammar, the rest on Comprehension))

For N3: 70 mins for Grammar and Comprehension (20 mins on Grammar, the rest on Comprehension)

For N1 and N2, try to spend more time on Grammar rather than Vocabulary.
The following should be the order that you do your questions.


If you do it in this order and can get all answers correct in 情報検索, 短文,中文, i can guarantee you can at least get 29/60, which is enough for you to pass the section (19/60).

For each passage, max is 5 minutes per passage. If you find that you cannot do the question, circle what u think is the answer on the answer sheet first and come back to it later.

The idea here is not to leave any blanks, at the same time, don’t anyhow mark as well. Once you leave a blank in your answer sheet or anyhow mark, you are on your way to get a fail grade.

You will find that you will have quite a bit of spare time after doing this. Use the remaining spare time to do the questions that you are unsure of.

This technique has been proven to work since 2010 and this is not taught in language schools.

In the following parts to come, i will cover more about how to tackle each type of question. So stay tuned. (^_^)


Comprehension, N1, N2, N3

Tackling N1-N3 Comprehension questions



Recently, i read this post on moving towards comprehension and found it quite interesting. I find that a lot of people have different ways, effective and non-effective ways of reading
For us Singaporeans, especially for Chinese, i think we have the advantage of knowing Kanji, as compared to the other guys in the other countries (not to mention mainland Chinese).

Today, i’ll like to share on tackling N1-N3 Comprehension questions.

There are generally quite a few reading techniques when tackling N1-N3 comprehension questions.

P: Passage, Q: Question
A: Answer

1) P->Q->A->P->A

2) Q->A->P->A

3) Q->P->Q->A

4) P(read faster)->P->Q->A

5) P->Q->A

Which is your reading technique that you use for tackling comprehension questions?

To tell you the truth, every type of question, be it a 短文、中文、長文, 総合理解、情報検索 questions, you cannot apply the same reading technique. I found out after buying a reading guide written for Japanese 中学生 and 高校生. In that guide, the book presents 15 ways of answering different types of passages.

1) P->Q->A->P->A (The traditional reading technique)
In this reading technique, you will read the passage, read the questions, read the options available, read again parts of the passage to find the answer and then answer the questions.You will find that you will spend quite a lot of time reading and understanding the passage. This reading technique is not desirable, unless you have a lot of time to spare (which in N1 and N2 exam, this is seriously impossible)

2) Q->A->P->A (The reading technique taught in some language schools here in Singapore)
In this reading technique, you will read the questions, read the options available, read the passage, then answer the questions. This reading technique is quite good. But it has its flaws too. If you are reading a 長文, you will find that you will tire yourself out very fast. Cause you have 3-4 questions in your 長文 and after reading the whole 長文, you might not even remember what options are available. This reading technique should be used when doing your 中文。In some cases, using this reading technique for  短文 is also quite good, unless you find that the 短文 is too hard to comprehend.

3) Q->P->Q->A (Funny reading technique)
In this reading technique, it’s quite funny isn’t it? Reading the questions first, passage, question again and answers. This reading technique is surprising good for 情報検索 questions. In 情報検索 questions, there isn’t any lengthy passages to read. If you think about it, does it make more senses to read the question first to find out what they want, read the ad, then the questions again and answers straight away. =)

4) P(read faster)->P->Q->A (長文 Killer)
In this reading technique, i call it the 長文 killer, cause i often use to tackle 長文. Of course it doesn’t really work all the time, at times i had to often refer back to the passage. The first time, you will read the passage fast to get a gist of what the passage is all about. After you have read it, the idea here is to 想像 what kind of questions you think the questions will ask (while reading, ask yourself, if you are the examiner what kind of questions will you ask)  Then read again slowly to understand what the author is trying to say, read the questions, and answer.

5) P->Q->A (短文 Killer)
In this reading technique, my students love to use this for 短文, thus, i call it the 短文 Killer. Very good for tackling 短文。 (^_^)
I really have the joy of having my great students to help me test out all these answering techniques in the exam and sharing with me what works and what doesn’t. In the next article, I will share more about time allocation for 読解. I hope i have time for that cause i am going to Japan again! (^_^)