Hello everyone! This is Japanese language tutor may, who is in charge of JLPT related articles. Are your studies going well? Have you already tried solving question 7 (information retrieval) from my previous article? I will continue to share the key points of solving the JLPT reading comprehension questions in this issue.
Reading comprehension composition
The general structure of the exam's reading comprehension section, including question 7 which I discussed in my previous article, is as follows:
|Question||Type of test items||Number of questions||Details||Key points|
|4||Short passages||1 question ×4||"Descriptions and directions regarding various topics including everyday life and work.
Approximately 150 to 200 characters"
|Understanding the content|
|5||Mid-size passages||3 questions ×2||"Commentary and essays.
Approximately 350 characters"
|Keywords, causal relations|
|6||Long passages||4 questions ×1||"Commentary, essays, and letters.
Approximately 550 characters,"
|Summary, logical development|
|7||Information retrieval||2 questions ×1||"Advertisements and brochures.
Approximately 600 characters"
|Retrieving necessary information|
I know this might be out of the blue, but please read the following passage:
This passage is approximately at N3 level and is exactly 200 characters long. Question 4 (short sentences) will have four questions of this length, including some in the form of e-mails, notes, and public notices. Let's go ahead and take a look at how to solve these types of questions.
Reading comprehension questions 4 to 6 should be solved like this:
1. First read the question carefully before going on to the main text.
The questions will tell you what is being asked, so be sure to read through it before you go on to the main text. If you are being asked for reasons, the key words should be "なぜなら (nazenara)," "～の理由は (no riyūwa)," and "～から／ので (kara/node)." If you are being asked for the author's opinion, focus on the "私は～と思います／考えています (watashiwa...to omimasu/kangaeteimasu)" sections rather than the general or objective facts.
2. Deciphering the context and understanding the content
When solving questions that ask about the content, you must be able to read the entire sentence correctly. In order to do so, it is important to understand conjunctions. When you find "だから (dakara)," "しかし (shikashi)," "でも (demo)," and so on, you need to pay attention to the relationship between the words that come before and after these conjunctions.
3. Looking for similar expressions
In my last article, I said that "what is not written in the questions cannot be the answer." However, it is important to note that the options and the text may be worded slightly differently from the original text. By guessing the author's intention and understanding the meaning of the text in depth, it will be easier to find the answer.
Three tips to improve your reading comprehension skills!
1. Try reading Japanese texts on a daily basis
It is alright to skim through short passages about topics that interest you at first, even if you don't understand some of the terms. Once you get into the habit of reading every day, try to describe the key points used in the passages in a few words or summarize the content.
2. Working on practice exercises
For example, "日本語総まとめN3読解 (Nihongo Sō-matome: N3 Reading Comprehension)" is designed to be completed in 6 weeks by studying 2 pages a day. It is a well-balanced approach to learning Japanese, with sample texts from catalogs, instructions, emails, letters, postcards, headlines, graphs, diaries, novels, opinion pieces, as well as explanatory texts all included in one book.
If you want to practice more, I also recommend the "新完全マスターN3読解 (Shin Kanzen Masutā N3 Dokkai)" textbook. This textbook offers a wide variety of questions, with plenty of materials to work with. If you have already mastered the basics to a certain extent in the previous textbook "総まとめ~ (Sō-matome…)," you can skip the first three sections of the "新完全~ (Shin Kanzen…)" textbook, and move on to the fourth section "Practice Tests" without much of an issue. You will have plenty of practice with 4 short, 9 medium, and 10 long sentence questions here. After the long sentences questions, there are also 13 questions on information retrieval, which I introduced in my previous article, so you may be able to clarify what you are good at and what you are not so good at through these practice questions.
3. Familiarize yourself with the question format
Here are some format examples from question 4 (short text):
(1) From the "JLPT Official Practice Workbook" (published in 2012)
メモ ： ～さんがしなければならないことは何か
Notes: What does Mx.____ have to do?
メール ： このメールを見て、～しない人はどうしなければならないか。
Email: What should people do in case they do not plan on doing ____?
日記 ： （本文中の下線部を指し）○○とあるが、どのようなことか。
Diary: (Referring to the underlined part of the text) What does ____ mean?
意見文 ： この文章を書いた人は、どんな人が～だと考えているか。
Opinion statement: What kind of person does the writer of this statement consider a ____?
(2) From the "JLPT Official Practice Workbook vol. 2" (published in 2018)Ｎ３－Ｆ 言語知識・読解（修正版）／本文 (jlpt.jp)
メール ： このメールからわかることは何か。
Email: What can be interpreted from this email?
Essay: What is the author's opinion on ____?
説明文 ： （本文中の下線部を指し）○○が作られることになったのは、どうしてか。
Descriptions: (Referring to the underlined part of the text) How did ____ come to be created?
メモ ： このメモを読んで、～さんがしなければならないことは何か。
Notes: What does Mx. ____ have to do after reading this note?
In addition, questions 5 and 6 ask the following questions.
Questions regarding demonstrative words:
・What is/are they referring to with ____?
・What are they referring to?
Questions that ask for specific examples:
・What does this sentence say the ____ has for example?
・What do they mean by ____?
Question based on reasoning:
・The author thinks that the reason for ____ is because of ____.
・It says ____, but what is the reasoning for this?
Questions asking the author's opinion:
・What is the author's opinion on ____?
・What is the most important thing that the author wants to say in this sentence?
・Which of the following is the correct description for "____"?
・What does the group that started "____" want ____ to do?
・What is the overall theme of this text?
・What are some of the things that ____ has found out through their research?
There will be a variety of passages both short and long, but once you are able to grasp the basic format patterns used in these questions, the points you need to pay attention to will be the same.
For the next article, I will be focusing on Japanese characters, vocabulary, and grammar. We will mainly be looking at prefixes, suffixes, and compound words, so please look forward to it!