Imagine studying day after day for hours at a time. The JLPT is just 2 months away and you have half a book of grammar and thousands of words to study. It seems like there is no way you could possibly pass. You kill your social life in hopes that you might be able to pass. The day finally comes and you are sure you bombed it. A few months later the results confirm it.

You can look at this two ways. The first and most common is to focus on the failure and feel like crap about it. Yes, it means you may have to take the test again. Yes, it means you wasted precious money. And yes, it means your Japanese isn’t where you would like it to be. It is natural to be upset or depressed about these things. So it’s fine to feel a bit sad or angry. Try to get over it as soon as possible and realize quickly that your time wasn’t wasted. Try to build up the motivation to move on and make something productive out of it.

What you learned

Sure, you can say that a lot of the grammar and vocabulary are useless for real life and sometimes this may be true, especially once you reach level 2 and level 1. But if you are aiming for fluency, this isn’t the case for a large percentage of it. Those thousands of words and difficult grammar will help you to read a novel or have an interesting conversation. You are bound to come across those words somewhere and studying for the test motivated you to familiarize yourself with them. If it weren’t for the test, who knows if you would have been able to make that many flashcards or sit in front of a textbook for countless hours. Whether you passed or failed, if you studied Japanese you learned something. While you probably want to boast to yourself or your friends that you can speak Japanese well, and there may be other reasons for you to take the test (school, finding a job), the most important thing is actually fluency and you are still making your way towards that every time you open a textbook and study Japanese. I know foreigners in Japan who got jobs because of their fluency in Japanese and they have never taken the JLPT. Focus on the future.

Don’t stop there

If you think of the test as just part of your ongoing struggle to be fluent at Japanese, there is no reason you should stop once the test is over. I know many people who take a big test like the JLPT and as soon as it’s over, they take a break from studying until they receive the results and sometimes after. Their Japanese often returns to the level it was before they started studying for the tests. After coming so far, you don’t want to lose everything you worked for. Some of the most progress will be made if you can motivate yourself to frequently review all the test material after you take the test. This method of studying Japanese is likely to work wonders. It is often said that binge studying only helps for tests and that the things you learn won’t stick. If you bring yourself to review, it WILL stick. So quit whining about a poor grade, focus on the future and get back to the books!