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Japanese Ab Initio General Questions

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Hello! As indicated in the title, I have some questions about the Japanese Ab Initio exam. If it would help, here is some background on why I might have some of these questions, but feel free to skip this. Our IB Japanese teacher is a little laidback, and most of my class was a bit too slow for the IB curriculum. So to avoid lecturing and then having 3/4 of the class not understand them, my teacher went a little slowly and explained more so the class retains information better. This resulted in us not finishing, and our teacher left us a stack of japanese notes that they said we can read to prepare for the exam. I am currently in the process of doing this, but I have some questions:

1) What are the main forms of grammar I should know? I know the following: Te- form, Dictionary form, Tai- form, Past tense, location indication(de,ni,e,wo), please do/do not, may I do x, and such. I'm not sure if I should know a bit more than this, as I've seen some people mention stuff like tsumori, Ta-form, hou ga/yori, but I'm not sure if this is required for Ab initio.

2) Around how many kanji should I be able to read(all readings) and write? The notes we got is around 230 kanji, but I think I would die if I tried to learn all the readings and associated words of each kanji along with how to write them.

3) I have heard that there are changes made to the exam for this year, something about text D, but I don't entirely understand. As far as I know, Paper 1 is responses to text, ranging from long answers, to quotes, to multiple choice, to matching, and Paper 2 is a written prompt on a random topic. If this is wrong or incomplete, I would appreciate if anyone can give a thorough explanation.

4) Any general tips on the exam is also appreciated! I have looked far through the internet, but most seem to be about Japanese B and I'm not sure if the two are necessarily all that similar.

Thank you for reading and if anyone can help(preferably before next Monday because that is when my exam is!), I would be very grateful.

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Hey there! I am doing Japanese Ab too so I kinda know how you feel haha. But anyway in terms of grammar, the ones you have mentioned are considered 'complicated' grammar points (according to the examiner's report) so you are doing VERY well. What I probably suggest is that you learn AS MUCH grammar points as you possibly can because there are a lot of marks you can get by going 'beyond the basics'.



In terms of Kanji, the IB have given us a list on Kanji that we MUST be able to write (as a bare minimum) and a list on what we MUST be able to read. If you have the list I suggest you just go through it and make sure you know how to read and write the ones on the list. In my opinion, writing Kanji at Ab inito level is just an extension, you can still get a really good mark in paper 2 just by writing in Hiragana. But if you want to set a good impression on the examiner, I recommend learning the bare minimum on the 'ones you must be able to write' Kanji list. In the criteria, it doesn't actually state anything to do with writing Kanji, they are all focused on grammar structures and accuracy. Paper 1 is a MASSIVE DRAG when it comes to recognizing Kanji so be careful (as they can put in weird combinations and sometimes the 'half kanji, half hiragana' words which can be confusing). The good news is that they cannot put any Kanji that is not on the Kanji list that the IB has given out so every Kanji that can appear is on that list!



Yeah you are right about both paper 1 and paper 2. But it doesn't make a difference, the text D in paper 1 has just been made easier so you don't have to do a mini essay.



Have you done paper 1 past papers? You may want to get some practice as it is a massive drag and they are very sneaky. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask me :) I mentioned a lot about the Kanji guide and I feel like you don't have it since you said your teacher is 'laid back'. If you need it please tell me and I'll take a photo of it and send it somehow... If you struggle to find past papers feel free to ask :)



I am predicted a 7 in Japanese Ab inito but I think i'll end up with a 6 because it really is a difficult subject and it doesn't help when you've got to revise Maths studies the next day (I suck at Maths so its one of my priorities :P)







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Hi, Chewy, thanks for replying!

It's good to hear that the grammar is all there for me! I am currently googling random japanese grammar so even if they throw a few curveballs, I should be fine, I think. Maybe I can even show off a little!

On kanji, you are correct in that I do not have the list you mentioned(I had no idea it even existed!), so it would be extremely helpful if you are able to show it. I think I will focus more on the meaning of the kanji, as I have about 100 kanji to learn the meaning of from the stack of notes my teacher left us, I can usually memorize the meaning of the kanji, but all the different readings and stroke order just leave me in a mess. I have looked at a previous exam(2010), and I was able to go through the easier portion, the multiple choice and matching, and get a good amount of them correct, around 80%, but the later parts had me in tears.

I have found some more past exams on the internet, four of them ranging from 2005 to 2010, I'm not sure if those are recent enough though. My IB teachers always recommended doing the most recent ones first as the curriculums change over years, if you know of where to find more of them I would appreciate it as well!

As for the struggle with having Japanese and Math so close together, I understand it completely! Although my situation is a little reversed in that I do better at Math generally and my teacher wants me to get a 7 on it. I don't know if I can do it though, because my Japanese Exam and Math Exam Paper 1 are on the same day! Truly unfortunate for me I guess.

Good luck on your exams and thanks for helping, Chewy!

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Yeah, I think it is very important you show off as much as you can to the examiner and really show him/her how much you've learnt in these 2 years! Also, I forgot to mention but apparently you get ALOT of marks for showing cultural awareness in paper 2 (for example, you mention Akihabara as being an Anime/Manga are or saying that you went to a flower viewing in spring). Examiners really like this!



I have attached the list and the top half of the list says 'Kanji that students must be able to write' (although even if you didn't know it still wouldn't matter, its just a matter of making an impression really). It must be implied that if you can write it then you can read/recognize it :)


The bottom list says 'Kanji that students must be able to read/recognize ONLY' but of course if you want to learn how to write them it will set a REALLY good impression on the examiner but its not necessary to get the high marks. For the reading Kanji list there is potentially a lot of combinations that the IB can put but don't panic because all the Kanji that they can use is on that list. Try to go over the last few years papers as the same Kanji and vocab show up every year. Btw sorry about the random ticks in it, my teacher is very strict so I constantly have to tick off ones that I know but I stopped ticking when my teacher stopped caring about it :P



Hmmm well that's a little old you may want to do May 2011 - November 2013. As a matter of fact I actually have all of these papers and I am more than happy to give it to you! I just find it harsh that the IB wants us to pay for them... Do you have an email I can send it to? (If I send it privately instead of on here I wont get destroyed by the IB for illegal uploading)



:o yeah in my opinion the fact they are so close together is a bit of a drag haha but I'll get through it somehow O.O



Hope you did well on the other exams so far and good luck with studying for the rest of the exams!







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Sorry for the late reply, I just got back from a full day study session for Math,

For the cultural awareness I think I can do pretty well too, my school actually had a Japan Trip over Spring Break and we got to see a lot of neat things(Including hanami, but the cherry blossoms didn't go vibrant pink this year). The kanji list is a godsend, and the tick marks are no problem at all.

As for the exams, I sent you a message with my email in it, so send it whenever.

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On 5/10/2014 at 6:49 PM, Chewybumfluf said:

Hmmm well that's a little old you may want to do May 2011 - November 2013. As a matter of fact I actually have all of these papers and I am more than happy to give it to you! I just find it harsh that the IB wants us to pay for them... Do you have an email I can send it to? (If I send it privately instead of on here I wont get destroyed by the IB for illegal uploading)

If you happen to still have these, I'd really appreciate it if you could send them over my email ? thanks !! 

Edited by 93vyd

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