Anyone tried Kanken?


My view is softening a bit on the overall value of the game, as I continue. Last night I passed 7級 in the game, where I only got one kanji wrong from not being able to get it recognized. I just have to accept that the writing part isn’t there, but I still want to try all those other question formats.

Good luck on the test. Definitely grab a practice booklet if you can, a lot of the same things will appear on the real test. And cram the grade 6 kanji if you want to do 5級, because 90% or so of the questions will include at least one of those kanji, even though the idea is that any of the previous 5 levels can also be on there.


Most younger Japanese people I know who have 1.5 or 1 have said they think it would’ve been better to just work on getting a better TOEFL / TOEIC score on their resume.


Ah, if the writing is the only weak point, then I may consider it after all. O: Writing, strangely enough, is one of my stronger Japanese skills and the part of the test I’m least worried about. I’m planning to look ahead and try to cram the G6 音読み, as I’m familiar with most meaning-wise from past translations I’ve done, and 訓読み just come much easier to remembering for me for some reason.

Haven’t picked up the 5級 booklet yet, but the 6級 seemed comfortable for me, so I’m pushing myself for the next level (plus, feels nice if I can say I’m competent at the level of compulsory education). Thanks for the advice. ^^


Well, about half of all questions require you to write kanji, so that’s a big problem for the game, but still, it only grinds to a complete halt every 1 out of 100 kanji or so. Still terrible, but you just have to know how to pick your battles. If it doesn’t recognize within 3 tries, I just pass now.


Finally got a chance to show the game to my girlfriend and she miraculously got 員 to work. But it didn’t come from writing it “better”. She just made it about 5 times smaller than I ever tried, it was freakin tiny, just as a joke. And it worked! It only works like once every 5 tries, but that’s better than never. Of course, the game booklet tells you to write the characters with the correct full balance, so it goes against their own instructions, but eh. It sometimes works.


Oh, by the way, that reminds me I forgot to post about it, but I went to the Japanese school that is loosely connected to my work and took a placement test for kanken. They were utterly confused as my reading skill was pretty damn high, but I couldn’t draw a kanji (beyond G1) for the life of me.

In the end, they decided I should go with 8級… I did a practice test and almost passed it. As expected, producing the kanji was near impossible :confused:
I haven’t been there since then. I don’t really know how to adress the problem, but I also feel it’s silly to spend money and time “just” for 8級.


Yeah, if your reading ability is fine, I recommend picking a higher level and cramming those kanji. You can skim over the lower level kanji here and there, but almost every question on any individual level focuses on that level’s kanji.

It doesn’t take that long to review the writing for the lower levels though, if you already know the reading. A couple weeks at most, I’d say.


Hi Leebo, so since then do you give a shot to kanji kentei ?
You’re not the only interested, just for the accomplishment I want to pass it until level 2 max ! (because pre 1 and 1 are way too complicated).

I’m interested on your experience on that


I’m studying for level 4 now, probably to take it in June again like last year. Level 3 is also possible, but we’ll see. It’s possible to take both on the same day.

Good luck on your Kanken journey.


Nice, thanks for your reply.
Good luck for yours !


So, I completed my review of writing practice for the level 4 kanji, of which there are 316 (according to this PDF). It took about 3 weeks. I knew all but 3 of those 316 thanks to WK. The new ones included 薪 (たきぎ) which means firewood/kindling, and shares its onyomi with 新 as well. Also new were 壱 and 弐, which are more formal ways to write 1 and 2. Exciting.

So, having completed that review, I jumped into the level 4 test for Kanken Training 2.

Wow, there is a huge difference between level 5 and level 4.

I scored 119/200. With passing at 140, as always.

A standard thing with Kanken is that they don’t just add new kanji as you go up in levels, but the sections become increasingly difficult as well. Initially you’re just answering the most basic things about kanji, but by level 4 things pick up quite a bit.

For instance 四字熟語 is a standard section on like, levels 8 through 5. Except, they’re not what most people think of as 四字熟語 on those levels. They’re just words that have 4 kanji. Like 南極探検 or something. That’s not idiomatic or like a proverb or anything, it’s just a noun.

Starting at level 4, it’s the real deal. Real 四字熟語. I got no points on that section. Not only did I just plain not understand what the specified 四字熟語 meant most of the time, they did not limit themselves to having the answers be from level 4.

The answers could come from all levels before as well. That existed before as well, but it felt more prominent here. Like, wow, this is really testing on everything leading up to this, just cramming for level 4’s kanji list won’t be enough to pass this.


That sounds intense.

Well, I’m currently cramming (slowly) writing kanjis and trying some sample tests. I could already see an increase a jump in difficulty at level 7.

Not sure I’ll be able to pass, but I’ll register for level 5 anyway this time around.


@Leebo hey quick question where can one find a list of the Japanese radicals with the Japanese names? I like to know cuz I want to start studying for kanken


Here’s a site that lists them.

Though, I would recommend just finding a site/book/app that will contain the radical info for a particular kanji you are studying, rather than trying to absorb the list.


I was just going to make my own Anki Deck with them


Ah, well, it’s just that the way the test is set up, I just feel like knowing the radicals of the kanji that are the focus of that test will be a better utilization of your time. For instance, if you take level 8, the focus of the test is the grade 3 kanji, of which there are 200, and so spending time learning the radicals for those kanji will be more effective than just learning random radicals.

Also, it’s worth 5-10 percent of the Kanken score, and you can often guess without much effort.


Well what I was thinking is to do radicals for each kanken level and then the kanji afterward


Let us know how it goes / tell us about your Kanken plans when you know :slight_smile:


Hey Leebo - congrats on passing kanken lvl 5. I passed level 10 last year and came out the level 9 test in February feeling I’d done enough to pass (wasn’t perfect, I know I wrote turtle instead of electricity … whoops … dragonball must have been on my mind!). I’m using the step books and practice question book … what I find is that, when I first start testing myself, thanks to WK, I do pretty well in the reading sections, but not good in the writing sections … then that swaps around as I practice writing … and then, and saying I’ve only done levels 10 and 9 … but the actual test compared to the practice books always seems a fair bit easier. Did you think that at level 5?


Congrats on passing level 10 and good luck with your future tries.

As I noted above, I mostly prepared by doing past tests. Kanken sells their old tests in book collections, so those were real tests for someone, just in previous years. Those are the only kind of books I did. The test given on the official day was one of my better scoring ones, but not the best. Still, because all the ones I had done were real tests at some point, I don’t think I would be able to say the same thing.