Friday, June 6, 2014

Getting a Japanese driver's license - Part II, passing the theoretical tests

(for the first part see here)

The Theoretical Test
Wow, that's smart!
To begin with, one thing that could be good to know from the beginning is that the Level I test is by far the hardest! The theory you learn in Level II I would estimate to be just ~20% or so compared to what you need to learn for the Level I test! Basically, if you pass the Level I test you can feel pretty confident that you are capable of passing the final test as well. 

The reason for this is quite easy. In the Level I classes they stuff you full with as much information on the hardcore rules and regulations of the road as possible so you can get the conditional license and drive out in the real world. For Level II, sure, there are plenty of details and rules that you will need to remember in case they show up on the final exam, but not like in Level I where they need to stuff you full with information to let you drive out on the roads without killing anyone (including yourself). 

Level II also includes useful practical information such as first aid, regular car maintenance and stuff which is good to know.

For all the theoretical tests you need to pass 90% of the questions. In Level I there are 50 text question allowing you to get 5/50 wrong and still pass but any more than that and you're out of the game. Time was not an issue for me, but for those more methodical (read slower) I think it was around an hour for both tests.

All the questions in both Level I and Level II are in the form of statements and answered with "False" or "Correct" with no need to write any explanations or have any writing ability in Japanese. A sample question could be something like "It is permissible to park at an steep uphill slope but not allowed on a steep downward slope". 

For Level II (final exam) there are 90 text questions at 1 point each and 5 illustrated questions asking you how to behave in certain situation based on an illustration and written explanation. Each of these questions contain 3 sub-questions which you all need to get right to get 2 points (2/3 for an illustrated question gives 0). In total, you need to get 90 points our of 100 to pass.

For the Level I test, the school I took it in could give me the score, not that I cared that much as I was relieved just to pass it (46/50!). For the final Level II test at the license center I did not see the actual results, just that I had passed.

How to Study for the Tests
This is really individual as people learn in different ways, but basically what worked for me was 1) Listening quite attentively to the lectures and 2) Doing tons of practice questions.

I basically did not open the book after the lectures more than to check-up on a particular question that I needed to find out the why's and how's around. In hindsight, I would have purchased an English instruction book to supplement the Japanese one as reading Japanese takes quite a bit more concentration for me compared to reading English. But at the time I did my tests I was not aware of any English books. But fear not, in the next post I will point you in the right direction where to find the stuff.

In the end, what worked for me was doing practice questions again and again, looking up the answer to all the questions that I got wrong and step by step build up the necessary knowledge for passing the test. Having the lectures relatively fresh in the head also help quite a bit.

How to Pass
This is quite simple. Do the practice questions, do plenty of them and when you think you are starting to get ready, do a few complete tests (i.e. 50 questions for Level 1 and 100 questions for Level II) without looking up the answers until you finished the full test. If you manage to get ~95% correct answers I would say you have a fair chance at passing. If you are struggling between 80-90% you can always try, but chances are that you fail. 

Remember that the official tests are fresh from the authorities and might differ slightly from the test questions, so safest to make sure you can pass with some margin.

I passed both tests on the first try, but have the feeling that I got lucky on the Final test as there were quite a few "new" questions that I never had seen before. But if you have done your practice questions you should feel pretty confident.

That is it for this time, coming up next: Tips for passing the driving tests! If you have any questions, post it in the comments so other people can see if I bother to answer!


TokyoOctopus said...

Thanks again and keep up the good work (especially as I'll be starting lessons next week, hah).

Mr. Salaryman said...

Sorry Octo, been a bit preoccupied lately, send me a mail and I'll give you some quick info that might be useful to you!

Grace Buchele said...

Thank you thank you thank you. This is incredibly helpful.

I've been wondering for a while about the process for getting a license in Japan (I'm American, my husband is Japanese and I am DYING to be able to legally drive here).


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