So I did a test last Thursday and I got my results back today. They were...pretty much what I expected.
The breakdown of my first test
(There wasn't a reading section thankfully, because I'm pretty certain I would do badly in that...)
What is my view on tests?
Personally, I don't give tests to my students unless there is a specific need to do so. My primary focus is to make students feel comfortable with experimenting with English and then, I can give corrections, feedback and notes.
Tests are useful when you need to measure your language ability for something. However, the score itself shouldn't be the most important factor. Communication in real life is often much more useful.
Especially in Asia, testing has a strong emphasis in measuring your ability. There's enough pressure for adults already and not everyone is learning a language for a good test score. Some are learning for fun. Some learn for themselves, their family, their friends, their romantic interests or even to play games!
My main point is that language shouldn't be seen as a 'subject'. It's a tool to communicate.
A formal test can check your understanding quite well and it will help you see what you are weak with.
But a low overall score does not make you 'bad' at communicating. Similarly, a high overall score does not mean you are able to communicate well with people.
Also, real life conversations are the real tests!!
How do I feel about my results?
I didn't do well at all on the listening section, mainly because I was totally not paying attention at the start so that was my own fault. But luckily, it was worth only 15 marks out of a total 150 so it wasn't such a big deal.
For the speaking section, I got 40 marks which I think was fair, maybe even a little better than I was expecting honestly. There was a big misunderstanding when I was talking about time and that was a slip of my tongue but it did take a while for me to catch my mistake.
The speaking took 5 minutes which felt longer than it was but I think that was down to my own lack of preparation.
For the writing section, the mark I got sounds about right considering the amount of revision I did. I'm satisfied with it but I know which parts I'm weak with - mainly forming questions.
What would I do differently?
I need to do more general listening practice. So I just bought a subscription to Netflix. I definitely need more exposure to the speed of the speaking.
Meetup groups are an option and ideally, I would try to find Japanese people to go drinking with as this is a great opportunity to learn a lot. But definitely not now under Corona.
For the speaking part, I know which parts I didn't do so well in and what I would do if I took the test again. For the end-of-term test, I should do better preparation - such as imagining scenarios or possible topics and practise talking about them out loud to myself.
Some friends have suggested finding a partner to talk with which makes sense. There are a few apps that can help with that but I'll talk about it if/when I use them.
I made some silly mistakes in the writing and I'll need to go through some exercises just to iron out any misunderstandings that I have. I also need to have a firmer grasp on vocabulary as I foresee this becoming an issue for me.
What can I take from this test?
We were only allowed to briefly look through our paper (unfortunately due to school policy) so we weren't able to go through the paper.
Teacher: My response would be to go through one or two grammar points that the class as a whole made mistakes with. It would be useful as revision and students would feel much better about the test having use as a learning aid rather than a static test.
For this test, I only studied for a few hours the night before and was definitely not as prepared or confident as I would have liked. ...It was just down to life/work as usual so I can't complain too much.
I was relying on my knowledge to do the test which seemed good enough for this stage but I know the end-of-term test will be more comprehensive so it's important to get these fundamental grammar points solid.
Teacher: There are sometimes students who reach an intermediate stage of communication but they hit a big wall stopping them progressing further. Sometimes, it is just a gap in their knowledge with some simple grammar. There's no need to be embarrassed by it! But it's important to either identify it yourself, or your teacher can identify it for you (most likely through your written work).
For the final test, I'd like a much better grade - above 80% would be good for me. So improving my listening and having a better grasp on my writing/grammar is the way forward. It'll also be important to become smooth with the sentence patterns that we've learned. A lot more talking is needed - most likely to myself.
We've started kanji too.