See, it doesn't come up a whole lot or anything, but occasionally we hear about JLPT. Dun dun DUN!! The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test. Translators and aspiring translators will bring it up when talking about, like, credentials and stuff, like, "Do I need to get my JLPT?" kind of thing. We got our job without taking the JLPT at all, so we never paid much attention to it.
But then we failed that one translation test way back in January, and before that we had that one jerky translator bashing our writing, so we've been kind of wondering about our competence. Not all the time, though--a lot of the time we'd think about it and be like, "We totally know what we're doing! Those other guys are just picky." And sometimes that would sound like an empty attempt at self-consolation.
So! when the JLPT came up most recently (like a couple days ago), we had some free time and happened to remember that we wanted to look into it at the same time! So we did. Tadah! We were kind of sad to find out that the Wikipedia article is at the top of the list of Google hits, while the official website is second, but that doesn't matter because the important thing is we found the website. ...And there's not another test until December. That's just as well, because we don't want to figure out how to get to LA to take it (although that probably wouldn't be too difficult).
But! they had sample questions! Tadah! The JLPT is divided up into five difficulty levels, with N5 being easiest and N1 being hardest. The discussion it had gotten mentioned on was started by a new translator who had just passed N2, and one of the veterans said, "You might want to see about getting that N1 pretty quick, because employers will raise eyebrows at N2." And we were like, "Oooohhhhh noooooo!!" because we hadn't taken any of the tests, so we had no idea whether or not we'd be able to pass N1 or N2, or even N5 for all we knew. (Actually, we were pretty confident we'd be able to pass N5.)
So we answered the sample questions! We decided to jump right in with N1, and tadah! we got most of them right! Of course, we'd feel even better about it if we'd gotten them all right, but we felt pretty good about it anyway. Just a little extra study, and we should pass with no problems! If we had more money to spare, we would totally buy a book or two to study.
As for the test itself, it felt a lot like taking a standardized English test, only it was in Japanese. It was kind of a relief that they didn't test our speaking skills... and our writing skills, actually. It's really easy to see a kanji and know what it means, but trying to write it from memory is another thing entirely. But on the other hand, the fact that it's a relief that they didn't test those things means we really need to work on them. We need to figure out a good way to practice our speaking skills that's low pressure and doesn't require long-distance phone calls overseas.
Anyway, for now, we'll just be pleased that we did as well as we did.
Today I'm thankful for confidence boosts, ways to test our skills, having an assignment to work on next week, sample questions, and official websites.