1): Nobody in Saga-ken seems to have passed 2kyu this year. I blame the dialect for the thousandth time. Luckily I got a girl that doesn't speak English and eschews Saga-ben, so I look to improve. Also, I think a lot of people I saw that came here with good Japanese may have rested on their laurels a bit. Whereas I had trouble reading even kana 2.5 years back and desperately tried to catch up, which may lead us into:
2): I scored better on reading (84) than friends that passed the overall test when I didn't. This tells me I was on the right track somewhere. So look for my old posts on passing the JLPT and my video on which books to read if you are interested. 1kyu looks pretty possible right now.