Anyone tried Kanken?

Is this offer open for others as well?

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I’ve watched your YouTube videos, they were really inspiring. I’m studying for level 3 right now, so the information you put in this thread is really helpful. My goal is to pass level 2 by the February test next year.

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thanks, and good luck with your studies

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I’ve always wanted to try to get the special 満点合格 certificates for the various Kanken levels.

Levels 7 to 2 can be done by computer test. So I can attempt those whenever. As such, I signed up to take level 7 a few weeks from now.

Levels 10-8 have to be taken in a group paper exam, and those are only offered 3 times a year, but the next sign up period is starting in July.

Levels pre-1 and 1 also need to be taken on paper, but I’m not going to be attempting perfect scores in those for a while, lol.

I think level 7 is doable without much special preparation. Just really gotta grind out practice questions so I can’t be surprised on the real exam.

For those who haven’t followed the full thread, I do already have certificates for everything from 5 to 2, but none were really ever close to being perfect scores.


Just over a week until the level 7 test to try to get a perfect score.

I got a perfect score on level 7 in the 3DS Kanken game for the first time today. The tests on the DS games differ from the real tests in some significant ways, so this perfect score isn’t anything to write home about (for instance, the game allows the same kanji to be repeated in different sections, so you could see writing problems for the same word 3 times or something). But it’s still a good sign.

EDIT: I also just remembered… a bunch of later kanji were moved to this level like a year ago IIRC, since they can be used to write prefecture names. I’ll have to review those specifically since my 3DS game won’t reflect the change.


I got perfect on grade 9 the first time I took it (not a brag, it’s a very simple test) and only missed one problem on grade 7 the first time because I couldn’t remember what the kanji for たい in ほうたい was (the correct answer being 包帯)…stupid bandages…

Level 5 I had actually forgotten to study for when it came up, so I was just happy to pass. Would be very interesting to try to get the golden certificate for all of the lower levels though! Right now prepping for the grade 4 exam is kicking my ass, namely the 異字同訓 and 四字熟語 sections in combination with less study time than I used to have.

Wish they’d release an updated Kanken Training 3 for Switch already. They could make so many improvements functionality wise and as you said, the grade list needs updating.


For sure. I was thinking about it the other day, and my number 1 request would be the option to evaluate your own answers as right or wrong. The handwriting recognition part is almost always my biggest source of frustration.

Sometimes it is totally wonky, refusing to recognize simplified characters and insisting on saying you wrote an old version, and it’s also possible to just exploit it if you’re not being careful about how you write. You can scribble something close and hope it guesses the kanji you wanted. Which is obviously the antithesis of what you’re supposed to be practicing on Kanken.

Just giving me the opition to say I got answers right or wrong would be a big improvement for me.


I am interested in taking the kanken but I am wondering what level would be appropriate.

  • Level 60 on Wanikani
  • I read books aimed at Japanese middle/high schoolers, but often have to look up the meaning of one or two words on each page
  • I know how to write about 150 kanji from memory, if it is a good day
  • Taking kanken for fun
  • Will take it online via CBT Solutions

I am mostly interested in testing the waters so to speak. I want to see what a kanken test is like, but don’t want to aim too low or too high. I am thinking maybe level 5 kanken might be the way to go, but please let me know if you have any advice.

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If you can write 150 kanji from memory now, it will take some grinding to get to level 5. Your best bet is trying some sample tests from the different levels and seeing how it goes. It’s not just the content that differs from level to level, the way they ask the questions gets progressively harder. So that’s something to consider.


Try the Kanken Start app. And work your way up from the lowest levels. It’s a little old but that’s what I used to work my way up to level 5. Level 5 was the first official test I took. I used the Kanji Study app (Android) to get my strokes right. For level 5 I bought one lesson book and a book of past tests. I’m still using the same system and am planning to take Level 3 next month. I was planning to take the Level 4 test about a year and a half ago but COVID.


Keep in mind that the entire point of Kanken, really, is writing from memory in a variety of contexts. Especially as the levels get higher and the questions more complex/difficult. Before I say anything else, I agree with the other suggestions of taking some sample tests to see how the questions work. The format in and of itself is part of the difficulty, kanji aside.

At 150 kanji, assuming they’re all “in order”, you’d be at around level 9 which was actually the first level I took. I was lucky to have the opportunity to take it with my students at the time, so I basically just signed up every time it came around. I took and passed 9, 7, then 5 within the span of about a year. Level 5 is roughly 1000 kanji, or roughly equivalent of being able to write all N2 kanji from memory if we put it in JLPT terms.

Using the Kanken Step books, I was able to progress at a pace of (on average) 2 Kanken grades per 3 months (of active, near daily studying). Starting with 4 it gets substantially harder as it becomes a “junior high school” level test and my pace has slowed significantly, though I have recently started passing practice tests on the 3DS training game more regularly.

I’ve run into this several times even in the lower levels, so I can only imagine how much worse it gets at the 準1級 level with the archaic forms you’ve mentioned.

For me personally, I’d like to see a better algorithm for randomization. I’ve had similar issues as others where repeat questions come up frequently, even on the 新規whatever setting. That paired with the issue of multiple appearances in different sections frustrates me a good bit.
I think a study by frequency function would be a nice addition too. Granted, I probably wouldn’t use it for its intended purpose of passing the test more easily, but rather to get more practice on the obscure problems.


One big problem is with the way they compiled the content, I think.

Like, there aren’t just 250 independently created writing problems for a given level or something.

What they did was just dump a bunch of past tests into a database. They then select randomly from the set of all problems when you’re doing new items.

The issue is that many problems are repeated from test to test. Common words might appear on 40% of all tests at a particular level it seems. Each instance of that word is just considered one unique question in the database. So you are doing “random new problems” and seeing tons of repeats, but the system thinks it’s giving you new stuff. It’s lazy.

They should tag the repeated items so that it handles distributing them to you better.


I hadn’t realized this was the case, and honestly I think it just frustrates me more. That sounds like an incredibly lazy approach to what’s supposed to be a study tool. Can’t say I’m surprised they didn’t foresee the issues that might cause, though.

Hopefully if and when the Switch version is released they’ll address it.


I took the level 7 computer-based test today, aiming for a perfect score. I was 100% confident on nearly everything, and the ones I was a little unsure of I was able to confirm that I got right when the test was done. This of course still leaves the possibility that I totally screwed something up and didn’t notice it, but I feel pretty good.

I’ll know for sure within the next 30 days or so.

Up next, the registration period for the next paper test begins in July. Sadly, it seems like all 3 levels I want to take, 10, 9, and 8, are held simultaneously. Probably because they’re all a shorter length than the rest of tests, and so they wouldn’t combine well with them in those slots.

So for now, I guess I’ll just sign up for level 10. It’s kind of hard to imagine not getting a perfect score on level 10, but I won’t slack off on practice tests.


Taking level 10 will all those 小学生. Oh the memories, lol

Yeah, the only time I took a paper test it was level 5. So, still 95% elementary school kids with the rest being parents. This time I wonder if the parent ratio will go up.

It’s too bad they don’t offer the CBT computer based test widely outside Japan. The only place I see that it may be offered is in California. I may try to sign up for the next paper test round in New York for 2級.