So, I found that taking the JLPT4 was a great way to motivate myself to study. Now that it's over, I'm already starting to slack off. I plan on taking JLPT3 next year, but that's too far away to keep me studying every day. What are some other things I can do in the meantime to stay motivated? Learning Japanese is something I want to do, but I find it way too easy to put off unless there's a deadline or something.
I was in roughly the same situation last year. I didn't actually take the test, but I thought I was around JLPT3 level, and I decided I wanted to take level 2 in one year as a concrete goal to work towards. For me, the biggest motivating factor was taking the placement test for level two on Kanji Step
just to see how much I understood. I didn't even make it through half the test, but I think I got less than 25%, the average for people who are randomly guessing!
This is what kicked me into gear! It was still 10 months before the test, but I printed out a list of the level 2 kanji (from this site), bought a level 2 grammar book, and started reading a page or two from the Narnia series every day (happened to be what I could get my hands on, not actually my #1 recommendation, though).
So I recommend that you take the practice test to see how far away your goal is! Also, I don't know what your financial situation is, but at the 3/4 level, I think you would really benefit from following a textbook, like Genki or Japanese for Busy People. The latter is what I used to get myself up to JLPT3 level (I bought the whole series, 1-3). If you have a textbook that will get you to level 3, just figure out how many lessons and how much time you have, so you can create a schedule for yourself and break your big goal into smaller, closer goals.
Disclaimer: The one difference about my situation is that I live in Japan, so I had constant listening practice and an immediate motivation to learn more. But your goal is definitely doable if you put your mind to it. Maybe you can get extra motivation by resolving to prove the TJP doubters wrong! They
've gotten past level 3, and they're betting that you