I passed the Level 3 JLPT with an 86% in December 2006. At this time, I was working for an eikaiwa and was not using Japanese at work. After changing jobs and working for public schools as an AET, I noticed a huge jump in my Japanese ability. Working in a Japanese environment is much better than just studying or using it in your personal life. Using a language at work and doing presentations can boost your abilities.
I took the exam at Nagoya Keizai University. There were so many Chinese people there! My exam room was probably 80% Chinese, 15% non-Chinese Asian, and 5% white or mixed-looking. Obviously the Chinese have a major advantage with Japanese thanks to their native writing system.
From what I saw in the Level 2 room, a lot of the Chinese had trouble with basic listening and instructions in Japanese. They couldn’t understand what the examiners were telling them. Speaking posed another problem for some. There is no speaking part on the exam, but during the break times, I chatted with a few of the Chinese people around me. They couldn’t maintain a basic conversation with me.
I took too much time on the grammar section, so I didn’t have enough time to finish the reading section. I guessed about five or six questions here. I didn’t read the passage. I just guessed the answers. For every other section, I’m happy I could confidently answer a lot of the questions. I think I’ll score between 60–80 per cent.