JLPT: Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
Consists of levels 5 through 1, with level 1 being fluent, and level 5 meaning you have approximately the communicative competency of a 5-year-old.
Someone I know (*ahem*) happens to have decided to take the level 4 test the first weekend in December. She has adopted some really effective study strategies, and thought it prudent to share them.
(1) Assess your current level of Japanese proficiency. You think you're somewhere around level 5? Good. Sign up for the test that is a level ABOVE...to *challenge* yourself.
(2) Before you can begin to "properly" study, invest in some good coloured pens so you can write impressive colour-coded study notes. This not only feels more productive, it looks more productive!
(3) Order study materials that are designed to take you three solid months to get through. But be sure to order them with just over two months until the test. Wait two weeks before cracking open these books, and once you've done so, only open them a few times for the first week or two.
(4) In the time you have left, try to learn about 150 new kanji. At least they aren't all entirely "new"; you're already "familiar" with a lot of them, but definitely don't have all of the various readings memorized. Ganbatte ne!
(5) Feel awesome about the amount of Japanese you are learning - listen to the teachers in the staff room when they express how impressed they are with your studies. Because they are most definitely genuinely impressed! Way to go you!! You can pat yourself on the back. Immediately after, feel deflated when they flip through your textbooks and comment that, Wow, you are learning the kanji of a fourth grader!
She may be feeling overwhelmed at the sheer volume of material to go through and study and review and review again, but at least the looming test date is giving her ample motivation to study Japanese, and studying Japanese more intensely gives her a feeling of satisfaction. All good things, even if the outcome is a "Fail".