The full title for this book is 絶対合格！日本語能力試験 徹底トレーニング N1 文字・語彙 (Zettai Goukaku! Tettei Toreeningu Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken N1 Kanji Goi)
I’ve had, what I will call 徹底トレーニング, in my pile of textbooks for a while now, but it wasn’t until this article from SoraNews that I decided to use it for my main textbook for this year’s JLPT (Summer 2022).
The reason I hadn’t studied it properly sooner was because it was, for lack of a better word, intimidating.
Why is this book intimidating? Because the pages look like this,
There is a lot of vocabulary in this book without any explanations. However, that’s not a bad thing and once I got into studying the materials, I learned a lot. A lot more than I have with any other vocabulary book.
A Thorough Textbook
As this book’s title suggest is had some 徹底トレーニング “thorough training”!
The book is split into 4 parts; kanji vocabulary readings (漢字読み), kanji vocabulary in context (文脈規定), synonyms (言い換え類義), and vocabulary used in specific situations (用法) .
There is a total of 92 chapters, each with about 50-200 vocabulary. Most of these are divided into ★ common words that appeared in previous texts, ★★ rarer words that may likely appear on the test, and ★★★ ultra-rare words that may or may not appear on the test.
This means that if you don’t have time/energy you can focus just on the ★ and ★★ vocabulary and still learn a lot of important advanced Japanese.
Each chapter groups similar vocabulary together, whether based on the type of word, their kanji, and/or reading. This way you purposefully learn incredibly similar vocabulary which are more likely to appear together on the exam because they’re designed to trip you up.
Each chapter then has 12 practice questions. Each section also has about 30-60 practice questions at the end, giving you a total of roughly 1,300 questions in the whole book.
Other textbooks I’ve used in the past, such as Nihongo Soumatome (which is rubbish for JLPT N1) have only had about 30-50 words and 8 questions a page. There’s no beating Tettei Training when you’re studying 50-200 words a page with 12 practice questions.
I do still love my Nihongo Tango Speed Master books, but 徹底トレーニング takes it to a whole new level by specifically training you for the JLPT N1 exam.
How to Use 徹底トレーニング
As I mentioned, the vocabulary in this textbook don’t come with translations, explanations, or definitions. You need to look this up yourself.
But I found these following steps worked really well when studying with this book.
- Test your knowledge
Not having translations lets you test your own understanding of the word right from the start. I would cover the furigana and try to practice the reading as well as the meaning.
- Check dictionary
Check your Japanese to English dictionary to find out the meaning/check if you were right. (Even if you’re 90% sure you know the meaning, check it anyway. You might be surprised that you misunderstood something.)
- Add new/unfamiliar words to Anki
Anki is the best tool for this book because it’s perfect for easily customizable study.
- Study the vocab using Anki
When I was using this method, I made sure to add cards as regularly as I could (only had 30 minutes every other morning) then studied about 10 new cards and reviewed 100-200 cards a day (depending on energy/time.) This meant I was getting through about 1 page of the book a week.
Scott, the author of the SoraNews article, said he was able to study 1 page per day. Which meant he was able to finish the book in about 3 months. That is a lot of vocabulary in a single day and might be doable if you have the time/energy, but I have a full-time job that uses a lot of brain power, so 1 page a week was all I could manage.
1 page a week means it will take 92 weeks, or about 23 months (2 years!!!) to get through the whole book. (Which I’m still working on.)
The Pros and Cons of Using 徹底トレーニング
The pros and cons of using this book are pretty much two sides of the same coin. What might be appealing for some people might be a nightmare for others.
– Pros –
This is great for making sure you know the vocabulary.
There’s a lot to study
This book contains between 4,600-9,200 vocabulary, with some repetition in kanji and vocabulary chapters. But this means it makes sure you really know as much vocabulary as possible in just one book.
Data entry helps with studying
Data entry (putting all the information into a program like Anki) can help you learn the words because you’re looking over the information in detail as you add it.
Through practice questions
The practice questions use very similar vocabulary and kanji which are aimed to trip you up, which is a realistic reflection of the JLPT.
– Cons –
This is not great because it takes time to look up the vocabulary meanings.
There’s a lot to study
Because there’s so much in this book it can be overwhelming and take a long time to go through the whole book.
Data entry can take a long time
Depending on how much you already know and how you put your Anki cards together, it can take a long time to put all your new vocabulary into Anki yourself.
I think overall using the 徹底トレーニング to study takes a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. I think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever used for studying for the JLPT N1 and it certainly helped me in the long-run with my advanced Japanese.
However, this book might not be for everyone. I’ve seen plenty of people who swear by reading novels they can pass the N1 easily. I can’t remember vocabulary I’ve read once in a book though, so I need to focus on new vocabulary and drill it into my brain to get it to stick. And this was the perfect book for that.
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