So. Yesterday I took my first-ever test for entrance to a Japanese company. There seem to be various forms of these tests depending on your
specialization, but mine was a simple aptitude test--essentially an interest-based career test of the kind given employees in big companies to sort people based on their
inclinations and core thinking abilities.
The test was in two parts, the first being an online personality test that I did at home: Choose between two options and indicate how strongly you favor the option you chose. Indicate how close a
statement is to your own feelings.
There were three sections, each with a 15-minute time limit. I never got through more than half of the questions in any section, even using Rikai-kun to do most of the kanji for me. The final section was made up of questions selected based on my previous responses to check for consistency and differentiate between close calls. It even told me up-front that the answers to similar questions would be used to cross-check consistency and ensure that I wasn't just faking to get good results.
My big takeaway: in the last two years, I have stopped deferring to the opinions of others. Someone please get my cane and porch ready so I can start yelling at kids to get off my lawn.
At the end of the online test, I was asked to select a time for the on-site aptitude test, which is held roughly hourly all day every Saturday at a testing center in Ochanomizu.
Perhaps not surprisingly for Japan, there is an entire floor of a huge office building in the middle of Tokyo dedicated to nothing but testing people for things. It feels a little like an airport, actually.
At the entrance, you hand in your registration form (printed from the online reservation you made, which reminds you to be 15 minutes early), and the lovely lady at the counter will slip it into a clear file with your photo ID in a pocket on top. You are then advised that you will no longer be able to pee until you're done, so you'd better take care of that right now.
You are also given a laminated sheet with a map to your testing room and your number on it. Beyond the broad bay door, you will find a hypochondriac's locker room, a quiet, maze-like space with thin carpets and white walls stocked with anxious people on soft benches. You pick a locker and put everything in it: your bag, your jacket, anything in your pockets--everything but your laminated sheet, your registration form and your ID. Since I had a cold, my tissue packs were checked by a proctor at the interior door. I was advised not to put these in my pockets, either. It seems that putting a hand to a pocket will result in the blast doors descending and the room filling with gas as the SWAT team secures the area.
Having been handed some yellow scratch paper (which was collected at the end) I entered a glass-walled room with a bunch of cubicles not unlike the ones from my language lab tests in Japanese class. There was a computer in front of me, where I logged in using the registration info on that sheet I'd printed; it seems the system just loads up the test you're taking. I also got yellow noise-blocking headphones and three mechanical pencils in a cup. There were about a dozen other people in the room taking a variety of other tests. I wondered if I would be placed in manacles if I took off my sweater.
This test is essentially your standard SAT-style set of basic logic and math puzzles in multiple choice form: What does the underlined word in this sentence mean? A is to B as C is to what? In this paragraph, what does the "it" (その) refer to?
As you go, a time bar at the bottom of the screen goes from green to yellow to red. As soon as the bar touches the frustratingly short red bar, you have about three seconds before it automatically moves on to the next question. This resulted in my hands waved in the air on a number of occasions, much like that feeling of Microsoft shutting Windows down for an update just as you're about to click "save."
There was no Rikai-kun for me here, so very often I was just skimming and making what I'd like to call educated guesses--but as a functional illiterate in this country, I don't think the word "educated" really applies to what I was doing.
Imagine my surprise, however, when the time bar finally started to give me what must have been minutes to spare and I thought, "Wow, I must be getting smart at this!" Then, of course, I realized this was the first of four sub-questions on little tabs, and I had spent half the time on question 1. If I'd had the leeway to read the instructions, I suppose I might have known about that.
When it finally moved to math, the test stopped feeling like the awkward embarrassment of my JLPT 2級 test. Except, of course, when it started to give tricky wording to make sure I could get the logic of the scenario and I was sitting there wondering if "none of the above" was the real answer or if I had just read the question wrong--with doubt increasing as the next question looked exactly the same, and they surely wouldn't be angling for that response twice in a row. Then, of course, the bar touched the red and I ended up with no answers at all.
The last time I took a MAPP test in English, I got nearly 100% on the math. Ain't happenin' here.
Overall, though I'd been scheduled from 10am to 11:20, it actually took only about 45 minutes. They'd let me walk in basically as soon as I arrived, so it wasn't even as strict as I'd thought--I think they just set strict times to avoid congestion.
Now, of course, the real question is: will the company use this to check my skills on a relative scale to one another, or will it draw the conclusion that I just have no skills?
Will find out in a few weeks.