Anyone tried Kanken?

There are supposed to be two green test books full of questions per level. It shouldn’t be repeating so soon. The DS 3 version doesn’t and I think it only has one test book per level. There is definitely an issue.


a good example how sometimes
no matter how hard you may try
and how close you may get,
just almost making it does not count:

Kanken level 1:
max score: 200
passing score: 160
your score: 158

(which is just 1 correct 2-point answer)


Of course it’s not even close to comparable, but I feel your pain @efugeni


ruthless… …


if you have ever wondered whether your Kanken answer sheets are anonymized during grading


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Ugh. I had gone through the 四字熟語 list from Bret Mayer’s home page since the explanations were good and there were only around 2,000 words through 2級. This is in contrast to the 四字熟語 deck from Anki based on yojijiten which I believe has around 4000 or so words through 2級. The deck is just named 四字熟語. After studying Brett Mayer’s list, I looked at the frequency based list in one of the 2級 frequency workbooks. There are tons missing from the Brett Mayer list which is really disappointing! Should I just study the ones I don’t know from the frequency list or should I see what is missing between the Brett Mayer list and the Anki yojijiten 四字熟語 list and study them all (maybe limiting it to 2級 and 準2級?)

I thought I was in the home stretch but maybe not. I went through the writing of all the jouyou kanji again because of me lacking hane/tome and other fine points of writing. I am now about a month away from finishing an Anki deck to reinforce the writing I already practiced and also learn the 部首 for each kanji. I’m just not sure what to do about the 四字熟語. Should I just brush up on the frequency list or go through the more complete yojijiten deck? I checked and every frequency based word in the workbook is in the yojijiten Anki deck.

Edit: i think my numbers are off. The Bret Mayer list through 2kyuu is only about 1000 words. So it was probably wishful thinking it had good coverage. The yojijiten deck through 2kyuu has about 4000 words. So I was off there as well. So 3000 more words. But I think there are only a couple hundred from 2kyuu and pre 2kyuu so it might be manageable if I find that most of the words are from those levels for the 2kyuu exam.

Edit2: I just noticed in the yojijiten Anki deck, out of the 6000 words, about 2000 don’t have a level so I guess maybe they are out of scope? If you take away 1級 and 準1級 and the ones I already studied in the Bret Mayer list, there are around 975 or so left. I think I can handle studying like 2級 and 準2級 from the remaining words.

to all Kanken enthusiasts:

for a long time i have been thinking of creating a compilation of
熟字訓・当て字・難読語 (special / difficult reading words)
mostly for my personal use, but if someone else needs it - i don’t mind sharing

although, this list, consisting of 5500 words, is not totally comprehensive,
i would guess it comprises quite a substantial part of such words
(including those you most likely to encounter on Kanken test)

the words in the list are taken from various dictionaries of difficult words as well as what I could find and gather on Internet

the list includes words from different categories such as names of plants, animals, natural phenomena, famous people’s names, geographic names, historic terms, etc.

the list can be easily copied in its entirety


for your reference


I have a list of 6384 unique yojijukugo (7500ish if you count alternate forms/pronunciation) sorted by BCCWJ order if that is something you are interested in.

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Is it just a list or does it have definitions as well? I’ll probably stick with the 四字熟語 deck from Anki because it the has kanken level for each word. Strangely, out of the 6000 or so compounds in this deck, 2000 of them don’t have a kanken level. I asked the author of the deck and he is not sure where the level on the yojijiten site (where the deck was sourced from) comes from but thinks it may be from the Kanken’s yojijukugo official dictionary. Some of those words though seemingly should have a level. I decided to add the words from pre-2 and 2kyuu as well as those from the high frequency list in the workbook I have (how often they show up on the 2kyuu test). If I have time later, I’ll unsuspend the cards from 3 and 4kyuu. I just decided that the list from Bret Meyer wasn’t inclusive enough so I am adding the words from the yojijiten sourced deck in order of importance.

I never scraped the definitions, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to get those as well. I could also get the listed kanken level, though I think the source only bases it based of kanji rather than frequency (which is a better predictor for the kanken).

As for that anki deck, I assume, like me, they pulled from 漢字辞典オンライン which only associates around half with a kanken level, and it has nothing to do with commonality. For example, 意思表示 is not considered to be kanken while 減価償却 is. I have no clue what criteria it does it off of, but I don’t think list inclusion/exclusion is useful for actually studying for the kanken, unless they follow whatever strange rule this does as well.

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to anyone using 漢字辞典オンライン to prepare for levels below pre-1
i would advise to be careful about level designation there:

in some cases, it more or less corresponds to what you can expect for a particular level
(e.g. 意気衝天 for level 3);
however, sometimes yojijukugo consisting of simple kanji
are designated for levels where they would very unlikely be used for questions
(e.g. 貴種流離 for level 4)


Thank you for the warning. I’ll probably wind up studying all the compounds 2級 and lower so if there is a mistake it would not matter too much for me. I’m just stuck in that in a few cases there is no level assigned to compounds that probably should have a level.

I made this list into a kotoba quiz bot which anyone can access on discord by typing k!quiz ef_1k. Assuming kotoba bot is in your server, ofc.

Good luck, lol.

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thank you but having no familiarity with discord and bots, i was not able to figure out how that could be used

this >page< mentions “k!quiz” but does not allow you to do anything about it

by “in your server” - do you mean some sort of a script or plugin should be hosted on the same server as the site (in this case the one where i uploaded the list above?)

(i am a bit of an uneducated troglodyte in this field so have no idea)

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Usually how these things work is, you invite the bot into your server (it can be interacted with just like any user), and then you give it commands in a text channel by sending the commands to the channel. Then the bot replies in the same channel with whatever you asked it to do.

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Jneapan gave an explanation already, but if you make a discord account and give me your name (including the 4 numbers) I can just invite you to the server so you dont have to worry about making one yourself and inviting the bot. Its just a few people and we pretty much just use it for kanji quizzes with the bot nowadays lol.

I plan to take the test down the road, but right now just working on getting to Wanikani level 10.

Baby steps and all that :grin:

Now then I know it won’t do me much good for getting a job or anything, but as of right now the list of 外人 who’ve passed it is small, only three people, and I think it would be awesome to be numbered as one of the first to pass. By the time I’m ready I’m sure their will be more but I hope to make it into the first ten to pass.


Just an update of what I have been doing. I had first gone through the Kanji Study app and cleaned up my handwriting, taking note of the hane endings and the like. I then started a Jouyou kanji Anki deck to reinforce the writing and learn the 部首 for each kanji. I previously didn’t know anything about 部首 so I also have a small deck with the 部首 and it’s name and type taken from the Kanji Alive! web site. I also restudied the keyword for each kanji which had faded from memory long ago because I think it helps to associate keywords with kanji.

For 四字熟語, I first studied a deck derived from Bret Mayer’s web site for everything through 2級. But after going through a frequency list from one of the 2級 study workbooks, the Bret Meyer list didn’t seem large enough. It is comprised of about 950 compounds. I then took a deck based on the yojijiten online site, and removed the duplicates from the Bret Meyer list, and added about another 950 compounds. This seems pretty good coverage. About only 8 四字熟語 matched yojijiten compounds not associated with a Kanken level. There are about 2000 compounds in the yojijiten online database which don’t have a Kanken level for some reason. But only about 8 of those appeared in the frequency list so maybe it is not too worrisome. All in all I think the approximate 2000 四字熟語 is good coverage through 2級. I have about 120 more new cards in my Anki deck then it’s just review. I am already in review mode for the kanji/bushu deck.

All in all I have been in Anki hell since for these decks since I have been adding 30 new cards a day per deck which results in a lot of reviews. But this will quiet down now that I am just about finished adding new cards (just the 120 in the 四字熟語 deck left.). But now that I am going into review mode, I can finally relax a bit. I will take a break from hard studying for a while and then go through a workbook sorted by frequency and maybe take some full tests.


Just as an update. I basically finished studying new material for 2 級. I went through the kanji again to clean up my writing and to learn 部首. I also went through about 2k 四字熟語. I added some material on 異字同訓 and studied a frequency based guide for the test.

Unfortunately I have some personal problems at home so I don’t know when I can take the exam. I am in New York City and there are two places near by that offer the exam but I don’t think I can make a commitment to register at this point. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but there are very few places in the USA where the computer based test is offered. Ideally, I could run in and take it with a few days notice. But I think I only saw one test site in California offered it.


for those who are preparing for the Kanji Kentei specifically
or simply studying Japanese language in general:

a collection of about 6000 proverbs / classical expressions
that can be used for Kanken questions
(including, but not limited, on Kanken level 1)

took me quite time and effort to compile this collection
and i would dare to guess that this is the biggest database
of related material collected in 1 place that exists on the internet